today’s zumbo macaron: pear and vanilla. a lovely pale thing filled with a fresh pear ganache. sigh.
Monthly Archives: May 2007
quick! before i forget…
i went to new zealand, and all i got was this lousy photograph of a lousy airline meal. well, an exaggeration maybe: it wasn’t “lousy” so much as “lacking”. the pie gravy was gummy, but at least there were actual chunks of meat glued into it; there was cake, but it was cold, hard and dry; there was no fruit or veg, unless you count the tomato sauce. ok, lousy.
also, i did take more than this one photograph. just, surprisingly, nothing more of food.
we were in christchurch, because my father had a conference to attend, and invited everyone along for the ride. so while he met with colleagues and ate convention center fare all day, my mother, maeve and i…
walked the streets;
[ looking at the street map in the hotel room, we'd plan our expedition and set out for a long walk to something at the other end of the city. what we discovered is that christchurch is pretty small though, so we'd always reach our destination in about ten minutes. ]
went to the art gallery;
[ the christchurch art gallery is a just-right-sized museum for a couple of hours' exploration, and has a large activity room set up for children with puzzles and magnetic walls. when we were there, there was a gargantuan inflated rabbit sprawled across the main foyer, and another smaller one hiding in one of the galleries. just what a kid needs to be engaged with art: bunnies! ]
and explored the arts centre.
[ which is a city block worth of working studios, galleries, cafes and shops --including a much-lauded fudge shop -- and whose courtyard we stumbled into, to find ourselves amidst a cluster of medieval mosaic pillars. lovely. ]
except that as you got closer, you discovered that each pillar had been wrapped with printouts of intricate kaleidoscopes of people, an installation by korean artist, lee joong keun. lovely and amazing! ]
there was a lot of public art in that one city block.
but eventually, a kid gets tired of art, and starts asking to see penguins. we breezed through the international antarctic centre (in which there is a snow-filled room where you can put on a high-tech jacket and experience an antarctic storm with 40km/h winds — breezy indeed! it may seem like a fun idea to start with, with the layer of powder snow on the ground, the cave in which to take shelter from the storm, and the slippery dip made of ice, but by the end, it will be a somewhat traumatic experience from which the kid cannot wait to escape), pausing long enough for the kid to throw the shriekiest of tantrums in the penguin enclosure. the penguins didn’t care though; they were behind glass.
eventually, too, a father gets tired of conferencing, and we climbed aboard a rental car and headed out to the jade-green countryside. barely two hours out of the city, the kid painted the upholstery a fetching shade of vomit, so we stopped for a little rest at little river.
we spent the next three days in akaroa, a town where a volcano used to be. everywhere we turned, it was like looking at a picture postcard. a postcard on which a picture of a kid has been superimposed on it, eating a pink ice cream.
there was a lot of good eating, in particular a dinner by the cosy fireplace at ma maison, where every one of my three courses was perfect: akaroa salmon and caramelised scallops, resting on a salad of pickled diakon, mung bean and paw paw, finished with a lemon butter nage and a vanilla balsamic glace; followed by pressed terrine of confit duck and veal, with crispy bread and a seedless grape chutney; followed by double chocolate tart with maple syrup, vanilla bean ice-cream and a black forest sauce. what they did not say on the menu was that the tart also came with a great dollop of marscarpone, and that the black forest sauce was actually a little bowl of macerated cherries, which really pushed it that bit beyond just “perfect”.
there was a lot of wool purchased. possumerino in fact, a non-pilling, lightweight, extra warm mix of sheep wool and possum fur. my mother must have been up for a special-service-in-pest-control award for keeping the pesky possum population down, because by the end of the trip she’d bought possum merino hat, gloves, socks, cardigans (three!), and had scored a scarf from the conference folk. oh! oh! and a possum fur collar!
unstoppable, my mother.
there was a lot of broken crockery in the artist’s garden at linton. these days i am wary of too much whimsy, but the kid seemed to enjoy the crockery-covered cats and dogs, the ballerina table, the grand piano which housed a collection of succulents and played a selection of french cabaret standards sung by the local piaf… me? i found a small corridor, tiled with shards of mirror, just wide enough for a bench to sit and reflect upon this ex-volcano hanging off a little island in the south pacific ocean, and what a pretty good place it was to be.
this just in from our correspondent in the field:
baby had a great time. no nap.
on arrival, fed the guinea pigs, then off to michel for babycino.
then to playground where she spun and spun on an axis, and chased the cockatoos and ducks.
played stephen’s drums like a maestro, then the trumpet, then the guitar.
enjoyed the braised pork and the rice drenched with its gravy. even dipped all her veg in the gravy.
(have you marinated the pork? she lives for that)
the to cecilia’s for cupcake with icing and cream and charmed the pants off the folks there.
came back with 2 goodybags of cupcakes.
had her bath and was read many stories and sank contently into dreamland past 10 o’clock.
my mother’s been trying to bond with the kid, but maevis has been playing to get.
“on tuesday po-po will take you to ee-po’s house to see the rabbits and guinea pigs,” she offered last week.
“actually,” replied the kid, “you stay here and mummy will take me.”
but so, after music class this morning, and dimsum this afternoon, i strapped her into the carseat and waved her off with my aunt and my mother, who were bubbling with gentle trepidation up front.
and then i went off to watch zodiac. and then leisurely browsed the aisles of jusco, where i found some yummy lychee-and-grapefruit hard candy and a box of double-maccha-dipped chocolate pretzel sticks.
a good day for all, then.
and so a month goes by. it kicked off with a txt from a concerned well-wisher, letting me know that all the pictures on this page had been replaced by a dramatic highway-by-night photograph. dramatic indeed! my domain had quietly expired, who knows when, and evidently my registrar is not the kind that sends out a renewal reminder. after an almost frenzied exchange with the helpdesk, who helpfully sent an email which confirmed, “your domain name expired. you were supposed to log in and renew the domain…”, i typed my credit card details into a box, hoped for the best, and then left a few hours later for new zealand.
my good mother is visiting this month. her first week here, we did the rounds: about life, circle cafe, bar contessa, david jones food hall… we had every intention of doing sopra, but barrelling up crown street, we passed by bills and our plan came undone. she’d been talking about trying the ricotta hotcakes for years, and i figured it was now or never. and now, perhaps, never again; is it neccessary to have that much pancake on a plate? tchk. we shall try again for sopra this friday: as part of the sydney italian festival, they are presenting “special prosciutto menus“!
we had cupcakes from cupcakes on pitt (the promising sticky date cupcake was a bit dry and quite heavy and strangely muffin-like — i am not recommending it; the strawberries and cream was much more delightful — pretty pink cake with fresh cream and a single sliced up strawberry), and cupcakes from the colonial bakery at the milsons point train station (the lemon cupcake had a generous dollop of whipped cream and a splodge of dayglo yellow lemon jellycandycurd), and then my mum briefly talked about a new cupcake cookbook and how she might buy it and bake cupcakes in her impending retirement. (she has since recanted, and will now be baking muffins, which really sums up the difference between us, i think.)
we did circle cafe again…
and for a week in-between, we went — my olds, my kid and me — to new zealand, where babycinos are called “fluffies”, and the marshmallows that come with them are invariably a little stale. the lamb is delicious though, in all its forms: lamb pie, lamb burgers, more lamb pie, lamb salad. somehow i photographed none of it.
this lamb salad is from about life, and is one of the best things i’ve eaten, ever. tender roasted meat, shaved fennel, pomegranate seeds, this gorgeous beast i captured.