What I Ate: With Black Lover actor Cameron Rhodes. Photo: Supplied

What I Ate: With Black Lover actor Cameron Rhodes

Welcome to the first instalment of Metro's What I Ate for 2020, an ongoing (if highly irregular) food diary by New Zealand's artists, hospo stars, writers, singers etc. This week: Cameron Rhodes from the Auckland Arts festival show Black Lover tells us what he eats when he's rehearsing. 

In Black Lover, directed by NZ-Zimbabwean Stanley Makuwe ,Cameron stars as Sir Garfield Todd, a white man from Invercargill who became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) in the 1950’s.

Flexitarians! We’re the next big thing. Cutting down on red meat, and leaning towards more plant-based eating, but allowing fish, chicken. After years of random eating, I’ve decided to try this new approach.  A recent trip to LA inspired me to change my eating habits. I stayed with fantastic vegan friends for 10 days, and only ate vegan meals. I felt great!  Being a complete vegan is too full-on for me, so being a flexitarian is a good compromise. 

I’m diarising a Friday to Thursday week, including a busy Sunday. My rehearsals are in full swing with Auckland Theatre Company, for the play Black Lover, so I need to eat well to sustain energy levels!

Wholemeal penne pasta and a glass of shiraz. Photo: Cameron Rhodes

Friday

I’m up at 5am to learn lines then go to the gym before a 9am-4pm rehearsal day. Breakfast is pretty much the same every morning, starting with a large water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar plus half a Berocca to make it more palatable. Then a snack of pumpernickel toast with peanut butter or avocado. A strong coffee, with almond milk and a dash of MCT coconut oil, good for raising the ketones.

8am is a smoothie: Thermogenic protein powder, peanut butter, coconut Greek yogurt (a revelation!) spinach, garlic, ginger, olive oil, linseeds, cinnamon (good for blood sugar levels) some rolled oats and almond milk. It’s full-on, but I don’t feel hungry until mid- morning.

Snacks: a boiled egg. Oat cakes with avocado. Almonds.
Lunch: Salmon egg scramble with avocado.
I’ve been good all day, but there are post-rehearsal Friday night drinks at Auckland Theatre Company.  Gossip, letting off steam and naughty chips and several glasses of shiraz!
Dinner: Wholemeal penne with chicken, red onion, peas, mushrooms, plus mesclun salad.

Saturday

A rehearsal day, so MCT coconut oil coffee, smoothie, same as yesterday.
Lunch: leftover pasta from last night.
I resist going out and have a very disciplined Saturday night in with a bulk dahl cook up. One of nutritionist Patrick Holford’s recipes, this dahl is basically orange lentils, tomatoes, onion, garlic and curry powder. I’m a curry wimp, so go for extra mild. I make a double recipe and freeze for the coming weeks. A recent revelation for me is cauliflower rice, that is grated cauli, fried or baked instead of rice-rice, so I have this with the dahl, and I chuck on some grated cheese for extra protein. It’s yummy!

Catching up with friends for a drink. Photo: Cameron Rhodes

Sunday:

Technically a day off, but it’s chocka with meetings. I’ve been away from Auckland working in Sydney and visiting LA, so it’s a good time to reconnect with people.

I have my usual pumpernickel toast before a 7.15am virtual Grit class at Les Mills Newmarket. I’ve been a member for more than 20 years.  A virtual class is great for the odd hours, like early Sunday morning.

Home for a smoothie, then learning lines, lines, lines!  I make a salmon and asparagus omelette and dine al fresco on the deck of the fab place I’m staying at in Freemans bay.

Then it’s a meeting with a director about a new play later in the year. I suggest we meet at Cezanne in Three Lamps, Ponsonby, an old fave from the 90s. I’ve had many coffee meetings there over years. Great coffee and an outside wooden table.

The retro theme continues with another meeting at Verona on K Rd.  Verona is another 90’s favourite, from my Mercury and Watershed Theatre days. I’ve spent many a long, intense, post-rehearsal beer session there, over pints and nachos. Today it’s a meeting with an acting student from The Actors’ Program, over an IPA (it’s Sunday arvo after all!).

Then to an Actor’s Equity panel discussion about working in LA , that I am chairing, at Samoa House on K’ Rd. Samoa House, the former Samoan consulate, is now a thriving arts hub with Equity NZ, The Actors’ Program drama school and various theatre companies resident there. It’s a lively, well attended meeting followed by naughty chips and dips, with assorted cheeses and a shiraz. It’s Sunday cheat day!!

For dinner it’s an impromptu visit to an old friend who recently moved back to Auckland from Sydney. He lives in an apartment one level up on K' Rd. Bruce makes excellent dumplings, and I have more shiraz. The bustling K' Rd energy is a great backdrop after a busy day. We can hear the music from the cafes across the street and view the stream of scooters whizzing past.

I lapse from no red meat with fantastic pork dumplings. Flexi- time!

Excellent dumplings, made by Bruce. Photo: Cameron Rhodes

Monday

Rehearsals are ramping up for Black Lover, so it’s back to high protein, good fats and slow-burning carbs.

Breakfast: Smoothie. Lunch Mushroom, Onion and cheese omelette.
Snacks: Oatcakes and Avocado.
Dinner: Too tired to cook, so a vegan pizza from New World Vic Park. ONE glass of shiraz!

Tuesday

Breakfast: Default usual.
Snack: A boiled egg midmorning. Great when needing a protein boost.

I’m drinking too much coffee, but avoiding sugar, so feel it’s a good trade off!

Lunch: Oatcakes and tuna.
Dinner: I cook a fantastic borlotti bean bolognese, if I say so myself. Borlotti beans are amazing and this is a hearty meat-free version of a spag-bol. A Flexitarian delight!  I should have used wholemeal pasta, but only had Budget fettuccini in the cupboard. It was great.

Wednesday

Wide awake at 4am, so last of the lines are learnt. 4.30 am pumpernickel toast and avo.
6am smoothie. MCT coffees followed by some callisthenics at home and 15 minutes meditation, then biking to rehearsal.
Lunch: Last night’s pasta.

A night out! Feeling virtuous with lines learnt, so I organise a long overdue catch-up with old friends.  It’s time to head to Kingsland. When I lived in Kingsland in the 90’s it was a Cona coffee and the only restaurant was Café Canton. Now it’s cafe and bar central.

I head to Citizen Park for IPA’s, with friends Curtis and Eryn. It’s buzzing at 6pm, with after work catchups, and we are surrounded by Tinder dates: mirroring body language, unflinching eyegaze, enthusiastic nodding and overly loud laughing at jokes. One drink turns into three, then we have dinner at The Kingslander. My friends have hardcore meat, I have a halloumi burger and fries. It's Salsa night and we're surrounded by a dance class, and tacky South American dance videos play on giant screens. Then it’s a nightcap at old fav The Portland Public House. A house shiraz and more mass Tinder dates, plus an 80s and 90s music quiz in the front part of the bar. We are out the back, but can hear the tunes…it’s our era and we correctly guess every song!

The Kingslander's halloumi burger. Photo: Cameron Rhodes

Thursday

Apple cider vinegar with extra Berocca. Followed by multiple coffees. Smoothie.

Snack: Sardines on pumpernickel
Lunch: Walnut and chickpea and apple salad, with balsamic and olive oil dressing
Dinner:  Homemade chicken stir fry with cauliflower rice.

Phew- it’s been a big week! I’ve strayed, but been true-ish to Flexitarian principals and had some sprinkling of Keto and low GL. Another weekend looms with Kingsland catch ups, IPA and shiraz on the cards. Next week we move into the Q Theatre, for a big production week and opening the show. 

Auckland, it’s great to be back!

Last time: What I Ate with James Maeva

Auckland Theatre Company’s season of Black Lover by NZ-Zimbabwean Stanley Makuwe is tipped as the must-see new NZ work in the Auckland Arts Festival, and plays 6 March to 4 April at Q Theatre. Tickets here.

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