July 24, 2018

Sweet As Hutt Chocolate Challenge

The winter school holidays are a perfect time to throw a hot chocolate challenge. Who doesn't love sugared up children? This year there are added events in hopes that in future years it might become a festival.

There are 16 cafes participating this year from small Chai to more established chains like Muffin Break (incidentally the only one in Queensgate).

If you'd like to taste some you'd better get in quick as the last day is Sunday (29th).

Here's a brief review of each of the offerings:

Fellow on the Green: Melted Snowman
The Hutt War Memorial Library has a new café! The hot chocolate is excellent but the snowman is more for show than eating.

Fix Federation: Salted Caramel Fix
The highlight of the challenge. Actual salted caramel sauce throughout the hot chocolate. The drink and the accompanying cookie are divine. Not to be missed.

Roadhouse Bar and Grill: Cookies and Dreams
They rebranded just in time for the challenge. A bar rather than a café which means there's an alcoholic option! Presentation is nice but the hot chocolate is average.

Bellbird Eatery: Lovely Little Lavender
The new café at The Dowse. Surprisingly pleasant and beautifully presented. The kids will love the purple sparkles and making their white chocolate melt.

Buzz: Creamy Peanut Butter
The cream cheese on top was lovely but I didn't manage to get any peanut butter somehow.

Hot Gossip Café: Spiced Maple Hot Chocolate
The maple is lovely but sadly the hot chocolate is too spicy to drink. Points for cinnamon shortbread dipped in chocolate.

Fellow on the Drive: Fellow Hot Cocoa
Simple, traditional with a lovely hint of cardamom.

Chai Coffee: Red Velvet
The colour of this is beautiful but be careful the kids don't get it on their hands. The cream cheese topping was also a big winner.

Colab Café: Flowering Blossoms
It was fun to watch the marshmallow blossom but the drink was too rich and bitter for even the adults to finish.

Gotham: Hazelnut Hot Chocolate
Nice, not terribly different from a regular hot chocolate. The brownie is good.

Muffin Break Queensgate: Hot Choc Ginger Ninja
I'm not sure why you'd put ginger in a hot chocolate but the gingerbread man was great.

Shine Café: Vegan Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
If you pick the right options this is great! Go for the coconut milk and vegan chocolate. Hits of coconut, chocolate and peanut butter.

Beforetime Express: The Time Machine
Why would you put coffee in a hot chocolate? Normally people drink hot chocolate because they don't drink coffee...also kids...having said that, you can't taste the coffee and the presentation is better than the picture.

Cuffs Café: S'morelicious
Standard hot chocolate but excellent side pieces - melted marshmallow between biscuits.

Giuseppes: Mid Winter Christmas at Giuseppes
They only opened on Saturday (21st) and I'm not sure what the big changes were. Another white hot chocolate but reasonably good.

Small Batch: Four Hot Singles
Easy to drive past, not many food options. The hot chocolates are presented well but taste like raw cocoa. One to miss.

You can find out more on the Facebook page or at your favourite participating Lower Hutt café

July 12, 2018

The Vicar of Dibley

Why sit in a cold theatre when you could be home in bed? You might need to keep your jacket on or even take a blanket and make sure you had a good sleep the night before (the show doesn't finish till 10:30) but watching The Vicar of Dibley at Hutt Repertory Theatre is worth it.

If it weren't for the frequent changing of scenes, which cause a lull, you wouldn't notice the length of the show at all. The actors are excellent, you could almost believe you were watching the TV programme. The stage is, well, obviously a stage but they've worked out how to use the limited space well for two separate sets.

You should go see it - but you can't - the whole season is sold out.

July 11, 2018

The Don

The subject matter of The Don is troubling in the time of #metoo. Not only does the guy rape women but somehow he makes them love him! (Can you tell the original was written by a guy?) That is really the only problem with this production. With all the other modern touches it would have been nice to have the performer mention the ludicrousness of the rape-turning-to-love and maybe assure the audience that the "bad guy" will get his comeuppance.

That aside this one man show is hilarious. Try to count how many different song lyrics he slides into the dialogue, marvel at how he dashes about the stage (and into the audience) distinguishable as five separate characters. At times it feels like a pantomime and there are certainly elements of that - singing, talking to the audience, oohs and aahs, but sadly we don't get to sing along at any point. It's also as ridiculous as a panto, the content was there in the original but it takes a modern hand to point it out so obviously.

Performances: 7-14 July, 6:30pm
Tickets: $27.50

July 8, 2018

Songs for Nobodies

If you've seen her other shows you know she's a great singer, Songs for Nobodies will reveal that Ali Harper is also an excellent character actress. She's graduated to the main theatre, Circa One, a move that's well deserved.

All the characters, both the singers and the nobodies they sing to, seem to lead tragic lives. It's an interesting concept, no one notices the usher, than nanny, or the bathroom attendant, no one knows their stories. The show asks, who would I be if I were someone else?

Whether it was because it has set heavily in the 1940's, with World War Two as a backdrop, or if it was just because it was someone else's script, this lacked the lightness, the joy, that usually emanates from Ali's shows. You'll still get goosebumps, you'll still cry, but you'll feel heavier.

Performances: 7 July-4 August; Tues-Thurs 6.30pm, Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $52