Saturday, December 29, 2007

Barneys Co-op

I stumbled across Barneys Co-op today and despite the current shopping hiatus I decided to peak in. The sales are on after all, it would have been rude not to ...

Twenty minutes later I emerged with a smile, and a silver cashmere 'Kate Moss for Topshop' swing dress. Not one to follow hype, but seeing it hanging there I was in love. I think I am done on the NYE outfit.

The joys of red tape

After months of avoiding it, yesterday I decided to finally make the ten block trip to the closest social security office and apply for a Social Security Number... The building, the waiting area, public servants with attitude, all reminiscent of that visit to get a NI number (UK equivalent of a social security or tax file number) back in 2002. That little exercise required an appointment and half a day of waiting. A good opportunity to interact with society's participants whom you would not encounter in everyday life. I was prepared for it, but this was that and more.

The stoner with attitude walked in right after me. The muttering in the lift should have been a sure sign. Moving his chair in the aisle and then very very reluctantly, over a ten min period, inching it (sort of) back into place, with urge from the burly security guard. All while meticulously taking stuff out of his buttoned up pockets, buttoning them up and repeating the process when replacing each item back. A fisherman hat low over his eyes and muttering. As soon as someone sat next to him he moved away muttering insults. Nice! What looked like a rolled up skipping rope firmly in his hands ... I don't even want to go there.

Two society ladies in their casual cashmere and shawls. Sighing with impatience having to deal with this 'common' situation. Another Park Avenue Princess drooping in diamonds looked far from impressed. I think single, as she spotted the one borderline ok looking guy and did not hesitate to plonk herself next him, all while trying to crack a lame joke. The average single NYC woman gives the rest of us a bad name!

Nervous guy, who I sat next to, started muttering to me about having to replace his SS card, and not understanding why. He eventually got called and was turned away for not having the right documents. All that made him more nervous. He was quivering and repeating the instructions given by the helpful public servant, more than once. Something about being nervous to lose something or other. Poor guy, but on the 4th round of repeating instructions I joined the rest of the waiting room in a collective eye roll. Thankfully, he then rushed off in a huff.

Eventually my number was called. So many better ways to spend a Friday afternoon.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sunny winter's day

Sometimes you don't need the obvious in order to glow

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mum's Birthday

This year for Mum's birthday my treat was to cook all day. Not sure if it was more of a gift for me or her ... I got to stretch my skills a bit, discovering cooking for 6 is not as simple as cooking for 4 or 2. Preparation time for each dish suddenly becomes more important, and the last 30 minutes before we sat down to the starter at lunch were a bit stressful. Looking back it was a bit of a rush, akin to what I sometimes experience at work. Thankfully, everyone (except Mum) stepped in as a willing sous chef, swallowing their pride and eagerly following my snappy instructions. There was a lot of 'don't touch that', 'chop this', 'garnish those with basil', 'no, wash the basil first' ... and my favourite 'stop eating the fondant mixture' ...

I learnt something new with this exercise. Making delicious food, even if it takes all day - Easy! Photographing it in all it's glory - Not So Easy! Hope that explains the not-so-great photos, but I was just too excited not to share them.

I started the day recreating Bill Granger's ricotta hotcakes to much acclaim. We substituted the honeycomb butter with Vermont maple syrup (my brother's girlfriend praising it above the Canadian version).

Lunch kicked off with Mushroom Stacks. A recipe I found in an old Marie Claire cookbook. Eggplant, fennel, field mushrooms spread with pesto, topped with feta cheese and cherry tomatoes. Stack all ingredients in that order and bake at 200C for 30 mins. Sprinkle with black pepper and fresh basil. Serve immediately. (I cheated a little and first baked the eggplant pieces by themselves for 30 mins.)

The main event lemon and basil chicken accompanied by Roasted Peppers topped with Halloumi. The recipe I found in a yellowed page from the SMH Good Weekend dating back to the mid 1990s. I used roasted peppers (drain well or even better go for a variety not marinated in vinegar, if available), layering with halloumi, topping with 2 finely sliced cloves of garlic, black olives, capers and parsley. Sprinkle with olive oil. Bake for 20 mins at 200C. Serve immediately.

The crowning event was Chocolate Fondants with Dulce de Leche sauce, courtesy of The Stone Soup via Initiales JB. Finally got to put my Pavina glasses and JB's Avanti serving dish to good use. Thank you, JB! Not only for the gifts, but for the inspiration.

Ta - Da!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Heart Holidays

Being on holiday is marvelous. You sleep in every day, have all the time in the world to write, cook, do all the stuff you like doing but never quite manage to make part of a regular daily routine. Ahh ... the bliss

Now back to work tomorrow ...

Turning 30

Seeing her dancing on the bar without a care in the world. Surrounded by all her closest friends What a beautiful feeling

Just hope I can be so brave when I get there

Friday, December 14, 2007

Living Dangerously?

What would you do if you fooled around with a friend's friend, but you never told the friend. Then everyone goes on their merry way. One day you find yourself having dinner with your friend, his friend who you had a thing with, and one of your closest buddies (who as expected knows all about the little liaison). Sometimes I wonder how people get themselves into these situations ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

High Tea

The first time I experienced, the very English Afternoon Tea ritual was in Hong Kong, just about two years ago. Minky and I were seeking refuge from the humidity after a day of shopping and wondering around the island. We stumbled across Harvey Nics, with its very own Fifth Floor restaurant. At that time I was frequenting the London version a lot and figured it would be a good option for the well needed rest. Mid afternoon, like most HK western style establishments (I was to discover later), they served Tea. While in London it is something you need to plan and book well in advance, in the Far East former colony you just wonder in and the warm scones follow. What happened next for Minky and I, is a memory we will still be laughing about in the old age home. It involved a usually well-composed lady (me), accidentally dropping a mini chicken-mushroom pie in my latte (why was I drinking a latte and not tea? small detail), splashing it all over the pristine white tablecloth, both of us laughing with tears streaming down our faces, much to the entertainment and/or dismay of fellow diners. The full story is much better told in person with both of us there.

Shortly after I gave it another try. For Mum's birthday - Mum, me and Gran went to Cliveden House, which serves the coveted mid-afternoon meal in what Gran called 'hunting lodge surrounds'. It was a nice way to spend a winter's afternoon in the country, but we hadn't been eager to go again.

This week as the male to female ratio in our house went to an all time high - with my brother's girlfriend it will stand at 4 to 2 during the holidays - a quick gaze at The Ritz website we had a booking. In London a lot of hotels put their best pastry chefs and superior tea selections forward when it comes to Afternoon Tea, but the most famous is that of The Ritz. Now that I have one foot firmly in New York, I definitely feel the need to do some things, which before I would have dismissed as simply touristy. (I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge in January, which I would have never done had I still been living there).

The drive to Piccadilly was almost as exciting as the tea itself. Harrods was lit up and festive, and there was (fake) snow falling on the Brompton Road. Confusion all round as traffic was slowing down to witness the 'miracle'. I have been to The Ritz for drinks before and did not rate its formality and clientele, but tonight it all fell into place. The primed ladies and distinguished gentlemen, giggling tourists, well tuned out staff at every step, the string quartet. Seated in the opulent Palm Court after a glass of champagne, the selection of teas was expertly served, the finger sandwiches kept coming, the scones (always main event for me) were warm, and the cakes divine. Half way through Gran turned to me and excitedly noted - "What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon ... I think this is much better than the previous place (Cliveden)..."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Going Comando

Given my recent encounter with Tom Ford I googled him a bit today with intention of finding a dishy photo to post. Instead I came across this ... So Tom, like someone else I dig, likes to go commando. There is something really sexy about a boxer-less man.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I could not be back in London without making the pilgrimage back to the place I had called home last. The big house was renovated and divided into smaller apartments and it had been this time of year two years prior that I had first laid eyes on the flat I was to later call my own. The rest of the neighbours all moved in within weeks of each other, and the casual get togethers quickly became a tradition. One that has continued and they all welcomed me back for the Christmas CG Dinner.

Recounting my first Halloween in NYC, I was describing the 'costume in lift episode'. Dressed as a devil complete with a tail, horns, pitchfork and massive fake eyelashes I got into the lift, which was full of guys some of whom I recognised from my somewhat conservative corporate job ... Just as I was cringing at the memory Gingercake pipes in:

"You should have said 'Someone press Hell for me, will ya?!?' ..."


We finish off the night with Disarono over ice, as is the habit. There are more stories to tell, but there is always next time.

Falling in through the front door, the familiar smell takes back 4 months, to a different time and place. I look around, the apartment is there but now someone else's home.

Ciao CG. I miss you x

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Mish Mash and Maddy

Three months is not a short time to be away. Last night K threw a fantastic party. Nearly all my favourite people in London were there. Those who weren't made it in spirit. There was a lot of champagne, mini frittata and sausage rolls, olives and dips, honey mustard sausages, marinated chicken floated around on a platter, baked brie with cranberry sauce, and of course mince pies with brandy butter. Later we migrated to the local. Mish Mash should have a plaque at the front to commemorate the Friday nights K and I have spent there perfecting our pole dancing skills, flirting and being generally outrageous. When I think back I sometimes cringe, but mostly those priceless moments make me giggle.

Maddy has grown and is nothing like the little puppy who had a fight with my natural bristle brush the day I was packing. This morning as I started washing the 30 odd wine glasses scattered throughout K's place, Maddy jumped up paws on the kitchen counter wanting to play, still thinking she is a tiny ball of fluff. Later over scrambled eggs and pancakes with Vermont maple syrup K admitted having Maddy was the best decision she had made. And I have to agree.

Now after a delicious coffee I am curling up with the Sunday Times Style magazine. Oh, how I have missed the British press. Reading it online is just not the same.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Shopping strike ?!?

When I moved to New York I said something along the lines of "I have a lot of clothes and will not be buying more in the next few months ...'. Imagine Mum's surprise as I started unpacking this morning:

Mum: "So you haven't been shopping much ....?"
Me: "Mmmmm ... no"
Mum: "Funny then how I don't recognise anything that has come out of your case so far ..."

Oh, yes! Funny that! I had been in a false security mode and complete denial about having added to the already HUGE clothes, shoes, bags, accessory stack.

Always looking your best

It is one of those things your Mum will say. Now I really know why ...

Last night after hours of tiresome packing, a stressful ride to JFK and nearly missing my flight, I quickly passed through security to steal a few moments in the lounge. As I rounded the corner at the lounge entry, I stood back to let a stunning somewhat familiar man pass. I was impatient and distracted, but as he walked past he caught my eye and smiled. I rushed into the lounge and breathlessly whispered:

"Was that Tom Ford??"

The Lounge receptionist smiled sweetly, confirming my enquiry, before quickly redirecting me to the Business lounge. Ooppss ...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Me, German?

This evening having called it an early night, just coming up to midnight (in NYC that is when it all begins) I stumble into my building and sleepily float toward the lift. I impatiently press on 10 drifting in warm fussy thoughts of being minutes away from my warm bed. The day dream is interrupted as a cute (and very camp) 20 something hold the door open and rushes in. He takes one look at me and starts off on a rant about doctors. How you should not marry them, not date them, just don't get involved period. Clearly a lovers' quarrel with .. you guessed it ... a doctor. The rant lasts to the 9th floor. As he exits he turns back:

Him: Are you German?

Me: No I'm Australian

Him: Oh ... I've never met an Australian ... well ... put another shrimp on the barby ...

Winks, and stomps off.

Not sure which is more confusing. That he has never met an Australian or that he thought I was German!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mani Pedi

Him: You get pedicures in winter ?!?

Me: Yeah

Him: But ... no one sees your toes ...

Me: (smirking) Hmmm ... that's what you think

Probably not the most appropriate conversation to have with your boss. Although ... cab driver seemed to enjoy it immensely.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Friendship in words

Minky said the something to me yesterday as we said goodbye :
Have a great day babe! ... Take a bite out of the Big Apple for me!!

Walking home tonight, I realised just how sweet it was ...