Tags: food

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mothering

In our family for the past several years I have organised a Mothering Sunday lunch, which we hold as is the British tradition, on the fourth Sunday in lent. We have it at this time to avoid the crass commercialism and 'day of obligation' nature of the usual Australian Mothers Day in early May.

The weather was great for ours and we ate al fresco in the warm autumn Sydney sunshine. We ate Ricotta al forno, (and fillet steak for the carnivores) with green salad, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes and a soft white bread called 'damper' by the local bakery.

[Ricotta al forno]



For dessert, I made an upside -down pear and ginger pudding, with custard (and ice-cream for the carnivores). It turned out quite well.

[Upside-down pear & ginger pudding]



We finished off with Paddington chocolates  (we used to live a few doors down from the original factory) and Mecca coffee.

We had quite a good talk about a wide range of topics, including some 'big issues' in our lives, although we didn't go too far into the murky underworld. 

There were two mothers in attendance, mine, and my children's, and two sons, the senior one in both generations. Matt literally got out of his sick bed to attend and he even managed to get through most of the main course before he retired sick again. It was a day of mixed emotions, and mixed culinary success, but I think it was worth doing.

I had a purchased Conrad Torte 'up my sleeve' in case the pudding was inedible (and for I-suspect-he-doesn't-like-ginger-Matt; but he didn't make it as far as dessert), but it turned out to be redundant. Anyone want a second-hand German hazelnut-almond-chocolate cake?
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crazy

bagel

I had a great brekky with daiskmeliadorn  this morning. Back at Charlie Lovett's again. daiskmeliadorn had a bagel with ricotta and Charlie's own jam, and while she chewed through that, we both chewed over these questions:
  • are all families crazy?
  • how much should you confide in your boss?...in co-workers?
  • how should daiskmeliadorn  dress in order to be a workchoices zombie on the union float in the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade on Saturday? ...and what is the best recipe for fake blood?
  • should you stand up for your principles (such as being against marriage), even if it might offend your good friends (who invite you to their wedding/engagement party/hens night)?
  • are Charlie Lovett employees "on something"?
  • how should we feel about seeing two movies by the same director (e.g. Tim Burton) which are remarkably similar?...or two books by the same author?
  • why are bagels chewy anyway?
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the passage of time

Went to L's old stamping ground (Haberfield) on the weekend to savour the gastronomic delights and celebrate 34 years together. Neither of us is a foodie, as such, but we did enjoy our meal at the old post office. The food was good, especially the desserts, but the atmosphere of a real Italian family-run business was what appealed most to me.



Apparently Haberfield, once known almost exclusively for its urban design and early 20th century domestic architecture, has become a food-based tourist destination, with foodie tours coming through regularly. My work friend who lives there, Graham, told me the best places to go. The restaurant was his recommendation. Interestingly, it was opened by local MP Anthony Albanese after its conversion from a Post Office some time ago. 

We strolled past a few of the places that Graham recommended. The  Paesanella cheese shop was so crowded! We didn't even think about going in, let alone buying something.  Similarly busy was the Papa Pasticceria pastry shop. Lots and lots of people sitting, eating, drinking, talking, buying, gawking. We strolled around the aisles of Zanetti's Five Star Deli, gazing at the huge number of Italian ingredients - jars and tins of all sorts of vegetables, pasta by the tonne, cheeses, hams, etc.

The one place we did make a purchase was Colefax Chocolates. I couldn't resist the sentimentality of this intertwined hearts design....and the raspberry truffle filling!
 
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Charlie is my darling


Another day, another café.


Today I met daiskmeliadorn  for a coffee before work.

I had to hand over a couple of things that L had not gotten round to giving her:
  • her winnings from last November's Melbourne Cup sweep (which her mother had entered her into)
  • her New Year present: the 3CR Seeds of Dissent calendar 

[calendar image is on 3CR web site]

After my experience yesterday at the Lush Bucket I wasn't prepared to go back there, so we decided to meet at Charlie Lovett's - a new-ish café which bakes a lot (all?) of its bakery items on the premises.  They're located on Broadway at Railway Square, so that's convenient for both of us. 
 

[Charlie Lovett]


They make excellent coffee and their pastries and breads are really good. The orange chairs you can see above are surprisingly comfortable and they do have a variety of seating styles (lounge chairs and coffee table; bar chairs at a bench; these orange chairs or cane chairs at a table).  Everything they have is a whole class or two above their neighbour on Broadway, Gloria Jeans. Why anyone would ever go to GJ's is a bit of a mystery to me, but to choose it ahead of Charlie Lovett's you'd have to be either American or someone who thinks bigger is always better.
 

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I'm angry....with who?


In recent times I've been regularly going to the Lush Bucket for breakfast on Mondays to put myself in a good mood for the start of the work week. I order a fruit salad, with yoghurt and rhubarb compote, to have with my long black. OK, it's an expensive breakfast, but the fruit salad is very good.

Today was the first day after Marilyn's departure from the Lush Bucket. The person who served me remembered me though (although I don't know her name). "Just the long black?", she asked. I told her, "No, I'll also have a medium fruit salad with yoghurt and compote please".

I noticed that the fruit salad hadn't arrived at the serving section yet, although muesli, yoghurt and compote were already there. It's often a little late, but I don't mind waiting a while, because I usually stay about an hour anyway.  

I sat down and started reading my book, listening to Emma on ABC Classic FM on my phone radio, over the top of the Lush Bucket music. A few minutes later the person brought me the coffee and said something which I didn't quite catch (I was probably focusing on what Emma was saying)...but I presumed she was saying that the fruit salad would be coming soon, so I smiled and nodded. 

It wasn't long, however, before my breakfast arrived.

 
Unfortunately, this wasn't what I wanted. I didn't want muesli as well...and when I poked around in it I found I didn't have any fruit salad. Bugger. Was this their fault or mine? Maybe she had said "The fruit salad is not ready, do you want muesli?" when I didn't hear her? 
I was really pissed off.

I didn't eat any of the food and now I'm in a really bad mood. It was such a negative experience that right now I don't feel like going back there again. 

So much for starting the week in the right mood.


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celebrations

 A mid-week public holiday such as today (officially "Australia Day") is a chance to spend a little extra time in the kitchen and invite my mother over for lunch. 

We also have something to celebrate - my youngest being accepted into the course he wanted at Sydney University (maybe in this field). 

[chick pean pancake]

As we all know, it's also Indian Republic Day, so we had these spicy chick pea pancakes for lunch, as some sort of vague recognition of the sub-continental celebrations. I had never made this recipe before, so I was pleased that it turned out well. I don't think it's really Indian, but the recipe does include some spices which are used in India. As you can see, there's also rosemary, so it's a multi-cultural mix. That seems appropriate.

To celebrate S getting into Sydney Uni I bought a sponge cake and made a very crude attempt to represent the University's coat of arms and motto on it.

[Sydney Uni admission cake]

The motto is meant to read: Sidere mens eadem mutato 

It tasted OK, anyway. Thanks Thai!
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It's Friday!

I went for my usual Friday session at the Lush Bucket today. Had a nice chat with a worker there, Marilyn. She remembers my order even though I only go there twice a week and she doesn't even make the coffees. Marilyn told me her baby is due on March 2, but she leaves work at the end of next week. The boss is putting on a baby shower at the Bucket on next Friday afternoon. That's nice. Not too many bosses would be that generous. That's the thing I like about the Lush Bucket...sure the food and coffee are great, but it's the people that keep me coming back.

I wasn't able to stay as long as normal because I had to come back to work to check that (one of) my boss's Skype session was going OK. She had borrowed a microphone on a previous occasion and it hadn't worked at all - she could hear conversation but couldn't join in (it was a "webinar", so she didn't have to speak). This time I lent her my web cam and a microphone and we tried it beforehand and it seemed to work, but I didn't want to risk leaving her on her own and having the system crash, because on this occasion it was a real (three-way) conversation. Anyway, Marilyn told me she'd put a muffin aside for me so I wouldn't miss out on my Friday treat. What a nice person she is. If she can make a passing customer feel special, imagine how her child will feel. After our chat I then sat down with my long black and continued reading The Prince of Tides. I was up to a part where the main character (who at this stage is a young boy) prays that his violent and cold father will die in the Korean War. 

It turned out that Skype worked OK. I went back later and got my apple & raspberry muffin.


[Lush Bucket muffin]
 
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Let down . . . again. What should I expect?

When I was around 13 years old I was introduced to the finger bun by a sort-of friend of mine, Mark Hewitt ("fingered bun" he jokingly wrote on his school lunch order form). He was the handsome son of a Qantas pilot, lived at Newport Beach, Sydney, but he told me he preferred to swim/surf at Bungan Beach. I pictured him as a surf lifesaver, strong chin, blue eyes, standing on the sand in his budgie smugglers, gazing out to sea with the wind in his hair. 

I've been addicted to finger buns ever since then. They're highly variable in format: some have fruit, some have coconut on top. I guess the only "essential" attribute to earn the moniker is that they're long, and have some sort of icing.

Today I went to one of my favorite sources of these, the High Street Bakery. "We're open every day over Christmas and New Year!". their poster screamed.  This is what I wanted:


"We're not baking finger buns today"
they said.

Well, why would they? 
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celebration

Our christmas family gathering was pretty good this year.

The food contained the traditional elements (ham, prawns, potato salad, green salad, carrot salad, baby beetroot) but there were also some variations on the theme. Our visitors from the UK brought turkey & cranberry sauce and some small sausages wrapped in bacon (similar to the item which is popular in Scotland where they live - but our sausages are fatter and our bacon is thicker). There being two vegetarians present, I made pumpkin-tofu stir fry, vegetable frittata, and palak paneer.



We washed it down with a couple of bottles of Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon (Thomas Hyland and Bin 407) and a bottle of Tyrrells Heritage Chardonnay.

And, in a nod to her ancestral (Italian) heritage, one of our UK visitors also brought panettone.



Our guests also made chocolate normies and some other chocolate coated things according to my mother's recipe, (handed down from her mother-in-law, who in turn acquired it from a Scottish friend?).

Of course, we were stuffed afterwards, and had to partake of the family tradition of walking the suburb to avoid going to sleep after we'd finished the crossword.
 

We went through the local patch of bush with the hope of possibly playing Pooh sticks, but the creek (and the bush in general) was pretty dry.

 

 
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predictable disappointment

I'm not surprised...in fact I predicted it, but that doesn't make it any the more palatable.

I planned to have breakfast on my last work-day of the year at the Lush Bucket - switching my usual Friday 'you've-made-it-to-the-end-of-the-week' reward to today, christmas eve.

Of course, in keeping with my thesis on how the world works, they were closed. No sign saying "Closed until 4 January, Happy Christmas", just a dark, empty shop. Who knows when they'll be open next? At least the people at Mecca reminded me about their forthcoming closure and suggested I stock up on their coffee beans (which I did).

So I sat at my desk and wrote a review of a book I finished yesterday (Death in Summer by William Trevor).