If there's lessons I continuously learn, one of them is that things come naturally, just like the creative process. As much as we would like to sometimes believe, the better part of creativity is not something that can be forced on command. For me, it comes late in the night, when most people are sleeping.

With the recent news of yet another big earthquake in/near Christchurch, New Zealand, I decided to use this time to reflect on my recent trip out there. It was my first time in Kiwi-land and let me tell you, it's a really beautiful country to visit, see, and even live in. And if you make it out there, allow yourself plenty of time (a minimum of 3 weeks if you're doing both the north and south island).

There's something special about knowing where your food comes from. My last night in Auckland included a salad with vegetables and herbs picked straight from the garden accompanied by some corn fritters for a calming, healthy vegetarian dinner.

I fell in love with Fidel's Cafe in Wellington on Cuba Street. With its colorfully painted walls and decor, it made the carrot cake and coffee I ordered taste even better! We also went camping but that's not to say we were going to have bad food. No, no. Thanks to chef Ricky (and his assistant, me), there was only room in our stomachs for the good stuff, like curry to keep ourselves warm in the slightly unexpected cold weather. There was also an attempt to make s'mores around the campfire with our handmade sticks. Not a failed effort entirely, but having (honey) graham cracker definitely makes a big difference!

Dinner in Picton on our first night there, cleverly and freshly made mixed berry yogurt somewhere in between Takaka and Nelson, and a "Pop Eye" pizza (smoked chicken, mozzarella, red onion, fresh spinach, and honey mustard) at the "Best Cafe in Marlborough," the Slip Inn Restaurant in Havelock, on our way to hitchhike.

Wise words in Puponga, the Abel Tasman sunset, sushi at a hidden gem called Sachi in Nelson, and their PORK BELLY with salt and mustard!!

Christchurch: Lunch at Govinda's for a pumpkin and lentil pie, the Christchurch Cathedral, SOL Square for Open Mic Night at Fat Eddie's, dinner at The Coffee House Cafe & Restaurant.

It's a bit scary to think that I was just there a couple weeks ago driving down the street as my friend showed me the damaged buildings and streets from the previous big earthquake in September 2010. It definitely gets me to appreciate what I have now: the opportunity to travel and eat good food in great company and be able to share the joys it brings me. My thoughts go out to those affected.