Posts from — March 2013
March 29, 2013
An end of week ritual – a wordless post, a personal photograph that captures a moment to be savoured, relished and preserved for looking back on. One photograph from Hannah, in the Southern Hemisphere and one from Ria, in the Northern Hemisphere. Feel free to post your questions, thoughts and comments. Have a great weekend!
March 27, 2013
Oh, you tease. Go on and taunt me with macarons. See if I don’t return the favour with something equally delectible…
But actually, your post inspired me to look around for a new eatery to discover. We have our faves around here: Japanese Izakaya, Mexican standby, bakery of epic bread proportions. But you know what we lack? Breakfast. Which is fine because we make fricking amazing breakfast at our house, if I do say so myself. But sometimes you just want to go out for breakfast, you know? It’s my favourite meal and favourite meal to eat out. I can never decide between sweet or savoury, and if I do decide, I spend half the meal wondering what the other choice would taste like. DH will tell you (beleagueredly) that I tend to snag a taste off his plate before he’s even had a chance to himself. I am in heaven when I can order a bit of both worlds–say, a stack of apple pancakes and a side of hashbrowns with hollandaise. Okay, I think I just gave myself a food craving right there.
But I digress.
We were out the other day and stopped by a place we’d heard had recently opened up. The previous incarnation in the building had been okay, but we’d heard great things about the new restaurant–and that they did only breakfast and lunch. Sounded good to me. It’s called Jar. I know. It wasn’t at all obvious from the photo above. But I love the wood and glass, the blackboard. It’s clean, unpretentious and bright. They make their own jams. For some reason, that seems really honest to me. The mandarin orange marmalade is amazing.
You know the other thing I love about breakfast out? It’s such an optimistic thing to do. It’s the first meal of the day. Good things happen after breakfast. You feel satisfied, fortified. It’s social, loud and sometimes colourful. You almost never get dirty looks from childless tables when your toddler throws half her meal on the floor/staggers around the room, nearly missing table corners with her forehead. You know why? Because everyone knows kids get up early (stupidly, stupidly early), and where else would you go when you’ve been up since five and just want to eat something and be out of the house? Taking a kid to dinner and having them terrorize innocent people out of procreating is one thing, but who gets a babysitter to go out for breakfast? Well, I’m sure some people do. It would be nice. But there’s something optimistic, no matter the carnage left behind, about taking your kid and your husband out for breakfast. We will eat. We will talk. Yes, we will leave a huge tip for the poor soul who has to mop the floor behind us, but we will have a good time. And whatever we have to do next–errands, chores, a walk in the woods, will be a bit nicer because we have full bellies and smiles on our faces. One of us also ketchup.
[I know that doesn’t look like breakfast. Forgive me. I inhaled the pancakes and hashbrowns with hollandaise so quickly I forgot to get a photo. This is also what happens with a toddler: speed eating becomes the ugly norm. But rest assured the lunch at Jar is also very tasty, as Little e will attest.]
Where is your favourite breakfast place? Or better yet: favourite breakfast place in different countries?
March 25, 2013
“Eatable Marshmallow Pillows. Lickable Wallpaper for Nurseries. Hot Ice Creams for Cold Days. Cows that give Chocolate Milk. Fizzy Lifting Drinks. Square Sweets that look Round.”― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Who wouldn’t want to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? Even better, without that strange and unstable Wonka around, playing tricks and turning people into blueberries…
Minus that shudder-worthy creepiness, Adriano Zumbo has to be the closest thing to Wonka the real world has to offer. I’ve been, ahem, a bit obsessed with his work for a while now. Anyone who knows me knows I love me a macaron but I am very difficult to please. They have to be perfect, really perfect and I’ve tasted every classic flavour under the sun. Pistachio, chocolate, vanilla, rose… The genius of Zumbo is that he creates flavours that are not only new are inventions you hadn’t even imagined in a macaron before: Salt & Vinegar, Malted Milkshake, Cinnamon doughnut, for example. His store, at The Star in Pyrmont, Sydney, is an adventure too – neon, vibrant, featuring a dessert train (!) and unlike any patisserie you’ve ever been into. A bathtub full of biscuits, emergency glass cabinets of chocolate bunnies. And, as a little research uncovers, the design was inspired by none other than Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Aha!
Let me take you inside with me…
The goodies that came home with me were four little macarons: Raspberry lamington, Hot Cross Bun (Happy Easter!), Caramel (for Matt) and Gingernut, plus a cake called Wunderbar.
The cake got a little smashed around in the car ride home but the flavours reminded me of trifle – cream, sweet, sticky fruit, biscuit. I am a biiiiiiiiiig trifle fan. It has a restraining order out on me so I can’t get within 200 yards of a bowl of it. I’ve only ever tried Zumbo’s macarons before so the cake was a real treat especially the textures – creamy, crunchy, juicy pineapple bits, velvety raspberries. Drooling yet? And, of the macarons my favourite , by a country mile, was the raspberry lamington: rich chocolate flavoured, sprinkled with toasted coconut and featuring a sweet, gooey raspberry jam centre. Hmmmm-mmmm.
Zumbo has just started producing “bake-at-home kits” for a couple of his macaron flavours. I know I should be interested in trying one but truthfully, I’m not. There is something fairy-tale, something Dahl, about venturing into one of his stores and seeing the treats on display. It’s a visual feast and a surprise every time. I don’t want to know Zumbo’s secrets the same way I don’t want to know Wonka’s and know I could never write like Roald Dahl. Nope, I’m not keen on DIY in this case. The way both the author and the chef weave everything with fantasy, mischief and delight, that’s the pleasure of it for me.
Of course my only disappointment is that I couldn’t take you with me to this “Wonka-land”. Although, if I could, would you ever leave?
HUGS, Hannah x
March 22, 2013
March 20, 2013
Don’t you just love reading about food? I mean really love it. Search-out-the-most-delicious-descriptions-in-fiction love it. When I was a kid, and a complete bookworm, I loved to eat whatever the characters in my books were eating. I recall one summer day reading about some children in a now-forgotten story eating peas and butter. I marched right up to the freezer, microwaved me some peas and melted some butter (shudder–in those days it may have been margarine) on top. Food always tasted more real, almost four dimensional, when I let my lunch be decided by the stories I was reading. I could pretend to be the characters through the food. I was transported, even in a small way, into the story.
Which is, by the way, why I found your book so rapturous. It wasn’t the gripping tension or sex scenes (those were good too, though). It was the food. The tasty language. The edible imagery. Don’t we all love a good drool-worthy description? I think this is why Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks and writing about food make me a little hot under the collar. She seduces with her language about the simplest foods. Add gorgeous photos and I’m pretty much in Fork&Fiction heaven.
So the other day Little e was reading through her book collection and came upon the classic, your favourite and mine, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. We sat down to it together. I started reading this book more than a decade ago, when I taught preschool classes. It went on my mental list of books to stock my future children’s bookshelves with. [Having a long and established list of books you must have for your kids makes it a tad hard to not tell people which books to buy them for birthdays and Christmas. I end up buying all my favourite books for other people’s kids and hoping they will love them so much they’ll buy us a copy in turn!] I never get tired of reading it, especially the part where the caterpillar eats all that food. I mean, he’s a serious glutton. I can’t wait for Little e to be old enough to revel in his terrible eating habits with me.
But part of the charm of this book, surely, is the image of the food–a slice of Swiss cheese, a piece of cherry pie–that we can relate to, taste in our mind’s mouth. It connects us to the caterpillar. And isn’t that what happens, on it’s most basic level, with all food in books? My daughter is still too young to understand what she’s seeing (other than pointing out the “appu” and “orn”), but she knows it’s food. It’s colourful. It makes her, and the protagonist of the story, happy.
So I guess I’m hoping this book starts her on a lifelong love affair with reading about food. Not just in novels or stories, but in magazines, cookbooks, non-fiction, newspapers–wherever she finds it. As a good friend of mine says, food is love. And you can’t go wrong with that, can you?
What are your favourite books with memorable food in them?