Bright colours, patterns and music filled the Arts Village as all nationalities united at the Love & Peace Multicultural Charity Concert.
Coming together as a community in love and peace was the centre of the day and people were able to make a gold coin donation for Christchurch’s Victim Support.
Pasifika drumming made many sway their hips but the crowd was invited to show just how it was done including Kuldeep Dhiman.
“It was a first for me but it is always good to be involved in other cultures.”
Hailing from India, Dhiman has always enjoyed his own cultural dance called Bhangra which originated as a folk dance celebrated during the time of the harvest.
“It was similar to my dancing and I found my rhythm eventually. It was fun.”
Tere Piua from the Cook Islands led the crowd together while tamariki in their newly formed group, Te Pua Inano, taught them how it’s done.
She said having the children dance was important as it was the next generation that would hold their culture.
“We’re losing our culture. The majority of our children are New Zealand born we just want to hold on to our culture and make sure it is going to be furthered on with the next generation.
“I think it is really important because that is our identity and that is what makes us a people.”
She said being born and bred in Rotorua meant Pasifika people missed home but they always found their connection again through the water.
“When we try and interpret our dance moves through swaying its the waves and the expression of our love for our culture.”
Organiser Paul Howell said although they were trying to raise funds, the main aim of the event is showing co-operation between different ethnic groups in the community, and trying to be inclusive with the Muslim community too.
Earlier in the day the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology music students, Taiko Japanese Drumming, African drumming, an African Dance mini workout with Koffie Fugah also performed.
If your day doesn’t really begin until you’ve had your first sip of coffee, you need a decent coffee maker in your kitchen. Maybe even something programmable so the coffee is ready when you walk into the kitchen every morning. Seriously, why wait till you can get to the coffee shop when you can buy a decent coffee maker for well under $100?
If you’re spending $5 a day on java at the coffee shop, one of these machines will pay for itself in just a couple of weeks.
Why We Chose it It truly is a classic style coffee maker, percolating water through a basket of coffee grounds for the best brew. The pot has a non-drip spout for easy pouring, a light to show when it’s ready, and a reusable filter basket. The base stays cool so no one gets burned and you can put it on any surface.
Why We Chose It The Capresso 5-cup model is the perfect size for a one- or two-coffee-drinker household. This coffee maker is programmable with a 24-hour timer, so you can wake up to fresh coffee. The machine is designed with multiple nozzles to spray water evenly over the coffee grounds, extracting all the flavors thanks to complete saturation. The permanent filter eliminates the need for wasteful disposable filters.
Why We Chose It The BrewStation makes coffee just like a drip maker but holds it in an internal tank so you don’t need a carafe. Just press the bar and it’ll dispense one cup at a time. You can set the brewing options to match your tastes, whether that’s bold, regular, or a small pot of coffee. You can remove the water tank for easy fill-ups, and the machine is programmable up to 24 hours in advance.
Why We Chose It With all your controls up front and center, it’s easy to get exactly the brew you want from this coffee maker. Adjustments include a keep-warm time ranging from 30 minutes to two hours, and brew sizes ranging from four and 12 servings. The machine uses a showerhead design to saturate the grounds to get the most flavor out of them. The Sneak-a-Cup feature allows you to pour a cup of coffee while the machine’s still brewing.
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KABUL, Afghanistan — On some days, life as a young woman in Kabul can feel suffocating for Hadis Lessani Delijam, a 17-year-old high school senior.
Once, a man on the street harangued her for her makeup and Western clothes; they are shameful, he bellowed. A middle-aged woman cursed her for strolling and chatting with a young man.
“She called me things that are so terrible I can’t repeat them,” Ms. Delijam said.
For solace, Ms. Delijam retreats to an unlikely venue — the humble coffee shop.
“This is the only place where I can relax and feel free, even if it’s only for a few hours,” Ms. Delijam said recently as she sat at a coffee shop, her hair uncovered, and chatted with two young men.
Trendy new cafes have sprung up across Kabul in the past three years, evolving into emblems of women’s progress.
The cafes are sanctuaries for women in an Islamic culture that still dictates how they should dress, behave in public and interact with men. Those traditions endure 18 years after the toppling of the Taliban, who banned girls’ education, confined women to their homes and forced them to wear burqas in public.
These days, conversations at the cafes often turn to the Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar, between the United States and the Taliban. Many women worry their rights will be bargained away under pressure from the fundamentalist, all-male Taliban delegation.
“We are so frightened,” said Maryam Ghulam Ali, 28, an artist who was sharing chocolate cake with a friend at a coffee shop called Simple. “We ask each other what will happen to women if the Taliban come back.”
“When we come to cafes, we feel liberated,” she added. “No one forces us to put on our head scarves.”
Many young women in Kabul’s emerging cafe society were infants under Taliban rule. Ms. Delijam had not yet been born. They have come of age during the post-Taliban struggle by many young Afghans to break free of the harsh contours of a patriarchal society.
The women have grown up with cellphones, social media and the right to express themselves freely. They cannot imagine returning to the puritanical dictates of the Taliban, who sometimes stoned women to death on suspicion of adultery — and still do in areas they control.
Farahnaz Forotan, 26, a journalist and coffee shop regular, has created a social media campaign, #myredline, that implores women to stand up for their rights. Her Facebook page is studded with photos of herself inside coffee shops, symbols of her own red line.
“Going to a cafe and talking with friends brings me great happiness,” Ms. Forotan said as she sat inside a Kabul coffee shop. “I refuse to sacrifice it.”
But those freedoms could disappear if the peace talks bring the Taliban back into government, she said.
“I don’t want to be recognized as someone’s sister or daughter,” she said. “I want to be recognized as a human being.”
Beyond cafe walls, progress is painfully slow.
“Even today, we can’t walk on the streets without being harassed,” Ms. Forotan said. “People call us prostitutes, Westernized, from the ‘democracy generation.’”
Afghanistan is consistently ranked the worst, or among the worst, countries for woman.
One Afghan tradition dictates that single women belong to their fathers and married women to their husbands. Arranged marriages are common, often to a cousin or other relative.
In the countryside, young girls are sold as brides to older men. Honor killings — women killed by male relatives for contact with an unapproved male — still occur. Protections provided by the Afghan Constitution and a landmark 2009 women’s rights law are not always rigorously enforced.
In 2014, the Taliban launched a series of attacks against cafes and restaurants in Kabul, including a suicide bombing and gunfire that killed 21 customers at the popular Taverna du Liban cafe, where alcohol was served, and Afghan men and women mingled among Westerners.
Afterward, the government forced a host of cafes and guesthouses to shut down for fear they would draw more violence.
For the next two years, much of westernized social life in Kabul moved to private homes. But in 2016, new coffee shops began to open, catering to young women and men eager to mingle in public again.
Still, except for urban outposts like Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, there are few cafes in Afghanistan where women can mingle with men. Most restaurants reserve their main rooms for men and set aside secluded “family” sections for women and children.
That is why the Kabul cafes are so treasured by Afghan women, who seek kindred souls there.
“Human instinct is as powerful as religion,” said Fereshta Kazemi, an Afghan-American actress and development executive who often frequents Kabul coffee shops.
“The need to connect, to share and love, to make eye contact, is instinctual,” she said.
After the Taliban fell in 2001, those instincts were nurtured as girls and women in Kabul began attending schools and universities, working beside men in private and government jobs, and living alone or with friends in apartments. The Afghan Constitution reserves 68 out of 250 seats for women, at least two women from each of 34 provinces.
Protecting those achievements dominates cafe conversation.
Mina Rezaee, 30, who opened the Simple coffee shop in Kabul a year ago, makes sure no one harasses her female customers for wearing trendy clothes or sitting with men.
“Women make the culture here, not men,” she said.
She gestured to a table where several women, their head scarves removed, sat laughing and talking with young men.
“Look at them — I love it,” Ms. Rezaee said. “It’s the Taliban who needs to change their ideology, not us. That’s my red line.”
Tahira Mohammadzai, 19, was an infant in the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban headquarters, when the militants ruled Afghanistan. Her family fled to Iran and returned seven years ago to Kabul, where she is a university student.
“I heard stories from my mother about how different life was then,” she said at the Jackson coffee shop, named for Michael Jackson. “It’s impossible now to go back to the way things were.”
Her red line? She said she would rather continue living with the war, now in its 18th year, than face a postwar government that included the Taliban.
“If they come back, I’ll be the first one to flee Afghanistan,” Ms. Mohammadzai said.
Ms. Forotan, the #myredline founder, said she was determined to stay no matter what happens. Relaxing inside the coffee shop, her short dark hair uncovered, she longed for another type of cafe.
“I wish there was a cafe full of male politicians who had one priority — peace,” she said.
On my first visit to one of Maine’s unbridged, yet well-inhabited islands, I chatted with a woman who told me she had to get to bed early for a medical procedure the next day. To complete it, she told me, she had to travel by ferry off-island, then by taxi. The journey promised to be quite a slog.
“That seems like a lot of trouble for something so straightforward,” I remarked. “Why not do it here?”
“Oh, there are no doctors on the island,” she replied.
Seeing the alarm on my face, my new friend tried to allay my concerns: “But don’t worry. If you get sick while you’re here, we have a veterinarian. That’s pretty close.”
I have been reminded of that conversation quite a bit this week, every time I look back at my notes from a recent meal at Freeport’s Azure Café.
Open since early 2003, Azure Café quickly became known for its fine-dining, multi-course, mostly Italian menu and romantic setting. “We actually had white tablecloths on the tables for the first year,” owner and general manager Jonas Werner told me. “But I think people were a little intimidated by the formality of the place, so we got rid of them, but we kept the food the same.”
During the subsequent dozen years, under former executive chef Christopher Bassett, Azure Café won awards from Wine Spectator, Yankee Magazine and TripAdvisor, as well as a 3 1/2-star review from this paper in 2014.
Things changed abruptly a little over three years ago, when Bassett departed to become a baker and manager at Slab Sicilian Street Food in Portland.
The owners chose not to replace him.
“No chef. It’s just my kitchen supervisors and me,” Werner said. “We come up with new recipes, and we’re trying to transform the restaurant and the menu into something we believe is more palatable to today’s diners, especially between 21 and 40 who are used to what I call chef-run restaurants. Places where they don’t allow for substitutions, you get more small plates and food is sent out of the kitchen when it’s ready.”
With brighter lighting, terra-cotta paint to replace olive drab on the walls and Pandora spinning a soundtrack called Hipster BBQ at lunchtime and Hipster Cocktail Party during dinner, Azure Café is jockeying to become both more casual and trendy – a cool, “chef-run” restaurant … with no chef.
Some of Bassett’s dishes remain on the menu and continue to impress. There’s a bitsy sliver of flourless chocolate torte ($7.25), lavish with bittersweet ganache and accessorized with a smoky, Knob Creek Bourbon caramel drizzle; the Insalata Mescolare ($7/$11), a simple spinach salad brightened up with a grilled-strawberry vinaigrette and a scattering of candied pistachios. Or the best item I tasted on my recent visit, a bountiful cioppino ($34) with a half-lobster, countneck clams and mussels plunged into a crimson broth that prickled with peppery heat.
Still, a good recipe only takes you so far, as my side dish of parmesan risotto ($7) showed. Glopped carelessly onto a small plate, the unbudging mound of rice was too oniony and fatty, having been loosened before service with cream, rather than an extra ladleful of vegetable broth. It’s hard not to imagine that with a good chef on the pass, this plate never would have made it into the dining room.
Alongside legacy dishes are newer additions designed, as Werner told me, to “appeal to a non-traditional Azure Café customer, a diner looking for something more interesting.” One, the chickpea fritters ($7), really just Werner’s take on falafel, were lovely: crisp little garlicky quenelles fried to a walnut-brown and served still steaming inside. The accompanying Sriracha aioli was also a smart way to add kick to the dish.
Much less successful, the chicken and waffles ($18) came from the “From Azure” portion of the menu that our server explained elliptically “means things that aren’t necessarily from Italy, or Maine, or anywhere.” Featuring boneless, double-breaded chicken breasts that were more like chicken fingers than traditional fried chicken, and cardamom-infused maple syrup on a too-sweet, excessively cinnamon-spiced waffle, this entrée tasted like a brunch dish engineered to appeal to an 8-year-old.
Judging from the mostly middle-aged patrons eating in the dining room with me, most of whom had opted for Italian-American dishes like eggplant parmesan ($22) and linguine with meatballs ($19.75), it seems safe to say that Azure Café’s recent bid to lure more youthful diners with its eclectic menu isn’t paying dividends yet.
Indeed, the youngest people in the place were the staff, and while they weren’t paying guests, several were active participants in the drive toward informality. In the open kitchen, one of the line cooks sported a beachy black tank top – no apron. Worse, the host, who wore droopy, unhemmed khakis and an unlaced pair of the filthiest sneakers I have seen outside of a tractor pull.
“Careful of the door in there,” he cautioned me on my way to the men’s bathroom. I tried pushing and pulling, but his warning was apt: The door refused to shut until it was slammed. Exhausted, I could only manage to wedge it roughly into the jamb. It would have to do, I reasoned. Not what I needed, but it was pretty close.
Andrew Ross has written about food and dining in New York and the United Kingdom. He and his work have been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio and in The New York Times. He is the recipient of two 2018 Critic’s Awards from the Maine Press Association.
Contact him at: [email protected]