Peak Desire #1

I have a fascination with a mountain I knew when I was young. Then it was Mt Egmont. Now it is Mt Taranaki, having reverted to the original Maori name. This extinct volcano is located on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, and boasts being the second most “regular” volcano, after Mt Fuji in Japan. Anyway it rises about 2300m (~7550ft) from the surrounding land to a total elevation of 2518m (~8260ft).

Its been a while since I have climbed it. In March 2011 I went with some friends to have a go. Initially I was excited as the weather looked like it was going to actually be fine. However the fine weather followed on the heels of a short cold snap which we found had deposited a layer of snow on the upper reaches. A bit unseasonal, but quite the normal weather for this mountain.

Undeterred by the snow we set off before sunrise, expecting that with the now warmish weather, it would melt or at least soften before we got there. Wrong! Unfortunately the heat never quite eventuated and when we reached the snow it was still hazardously frozen showing no signs of yielding to our desires.

Oh well, another attempt failed. Still, there is another year…

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Mt Egmont/Taranaki before sunrise

Mt Egmont/Taranaki at sunrise

Mt Egmont/Taranaki at sunrise

Mt Egmont/Taranaki after sunrise

Mt Egmont/Taranaki after sunrise

Mt Egmont/Taranaki after sunrise

Mt Egmont/Taranaki after sunrise

Looking back from our turn-around point

Looking back from our turn-around point

Mt Egmont/Taranaki from the water tower in Hawera

Mt Egmont/Taranaki from the water tower in Hawera

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Extreme Gelato

Photos: Kathy Chan c/- New York Serious Eats

Extreme is the new norm. These days if its not extreme, its passé. Old Fashioned. Out of the running.

It seems that even the humble ice cream is subject to this more. Recently when venturing into the city of Sydney I happened to walk past a Shop called N2 Extreme Gelato on Dixon St.

Intrigued, I went inside, half expecting the ice cream makers to be doing double backflips or somesuch while they assembled the ice cream, all the while dodging razor sharp knives whizzing through the air.

But no. Instead I was confronted with a couple of gentlemen in chemistry-lab white coats (or should that be Loony Bin white coats??) and a lot of smoke or mist. The set was complete with a display window filled with large chemistry-lab mixing or measuring beakers filled with a whitish liquid – presumably milk.

It turns out that that the ice-creams are not simply “assembled” as per normal ice cream cones. The ice cream is quite literally made on the spot – to order. And the flavour choices are very exotic too, although there is not a large selection.

How does Strawberry, Rhubarb and Orange Blossom sound. Or perhaps Black Salted Caramel. Maybe Coconut, Lime & Lychee is closer to your tastes.

It turns out that the smoke or mist is from the Liquid Nitrogen (−196 °C; 77 K; −321 °F) used in the making of your “instant” ice-cream. I can’t speak for them all, but my Black Salted Caramel was very smooth and delicious, but perhaps not as dense as traditional gelato. This is a great eat – even if only for the novelty factor.

It turns out the method using liquid nitrogen has resulted in a World Record for the fastest manufacture of a litre of ice cream – a stunning 18.78 seconds!!!

Photo: Viola Zuppa (aka Kimari)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

Image

Glacier calving – Alaska

For this challenge I have chosen a picture that captures an action, as action represents change most fundamentally. However at a more philosophical level, the significance of this particular picture is that it shows water in all its three states – solid, liquid and gas. Water, and its change between these three states, is arguably one of the most powerful agents of change on earth. From basic changes through erosion, to the more derivative changes brought about by its support for life and therefore all change wrought by life. Included in this list is the fact that water (as vapour) is the single strongest direct agent for climate change and also the means by which man powered its industrial revolution (via steam) –  therefore enabling modern man’s impact on the earth and its climate.