Monthly Archives: June 2007
i chanced upon this new ride at the mall this afternoon.
i thought you might like to see it too.
don’t it make you smile?
nonetheless. i am crashing forth with our plan to meet up with boy and kid in melbourne next week. cleverly, i am even getting there two days before they do, on an amazing $70 plane ticket (one that leaves at 7am, but. anyway.).
so far the itinerary is:
did i miss anything?
i don’t get to wear my rainboots too often, a birthday gift from a few years ago, from my sister — one gift of thirty that she mailed me, madly, when i turned thirty. but today they kept my feet warm and dry in the big wet.
my house is the big empty this week; boy and maeve gone bush. yesterday, after waking at 5.30am to wave them off into the not-quite-sunrise, i tried to get back to sleep and then stayed in bed until ten-thirty, finishing off the novel that’s taken me many months and false starts and week-long lapses to get through. then, feeling unsettled, i tidied the house. i popped out to buy some art supplies, and lunch from bagel house. the NY reuben: pastrami, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, all steaming in a toasted dill bagel. i rented a DVD from a hole in the wall. you reserve your movie online, show up at the great dispensing machine on the street, swipe your card, listen to the chunk-chunk of machinery, and then “infernal affairs 3” slides out the slot. (video store clerks? so 90s.) i bought tofu. i came home, and drew.
today, i drew (work) and painted (a dollhouse, pink). put on my boots, went back to the hole in the wall, got out “the devil wears prada”. at the post office, i bought the selvage of reg mombassa’s big things stamps. at about life, i propped myself up at the counter with a bottle of honey ginger beer, and ate a plate of bruschetta: three slices of perfectly toasted, garlic-infused bread, topped with marinated button mushrooms; artichoke puree; marinated peppers with pesto and goat cheese. and then because i could, i stopped at the fine food store and bought a tub of gundowring raspberry ice cream. for later.
i came home and drew some more. i’m working on a publication for an arts organisation — a sort of legal-aid-for-artists organisation. so i sent them a bunch of sketches for the cover design, and thought (hopefully) that they might go for the… dare i say, spunky, quirky, striking one. instead, they picked the ultra-traditional one: drawings of various artists’ tools contained within a grid. sigh. at least it will be the easiest one to produce.
i put on the heater, and a radio birdman LP. i lit my spicy tea-scented candle. i traced the roughs i had drawn this morning. because i have no lightbox, i trace standing up, with my paper flat against the window. i can only trace in the daytime, and it makes my arms ache.
my house is the big empty, and this hole that has opened up inside me, sunday night, things were said about mistakes made, shaky ground shifts again.
i stopped by my new favourite shop the other day — adriano zumbo — for a chorizo-and-olive baguette, to have with a bowl of the cauliflower and cumin soup i’d made the day before, with a whole cauliflower i’d bought for $1.82.
down the other end of the counter, a vision in pink caught my eye. little blocks lined up in a tidy row, and at the very front was a little card that said:
pain d’epice and pistachio base, baked white chocolate cheesecake, raspberry mousse, creme fraiche.
ostensibly a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. a fairly classic combination… but with all sorts of insane detail. look! plump raspberries. chopped pistachios. white chocolate shards with arty marbling. squiggles of pink-tinged creme fraiche.
it was a fairly straightforward transaction up until this point: i was immediately won over by this cake, i had to have one, i placed my order…
and then the counterboy said, “that website, ragingyoghurt, is that you?”
happily, the only chastisement i received was, “stop calling me ‘the counterboy’!”
so, the boy behind the counter, his name is charlie. and in case you were wondering, the macarons that day were mandarin, and hazelnut.
but i had my mind on other things.
the coughing started towards the end of matt moran‘s masterchef theatre at the good food and wine show. as matt moran arranged raspberries atop a creme base, the one sharp point at the back of my throat grew into a great spluttering fit. i don’t think it caused too much disruption; the applause for the raspberry tart drowned me out.
but i have been coughing for just over two weeks now. at its worst it was the kind of cough that brings up brown and lumpy from my lungs. now, the germs seem to have all gone, but i wake up at four in the morning, still coughing, and the only way to get back to sleep is to watch cindy crawford’s informercial (“i never thought i’d be in an informercial…” she says, not batting an eyelid.) and read another chapter of “snow“.
having only vicariously experienced the good food show of previous years via grab your fork, i asked helen for some tips. “bring a backpack… get $25 worth of samples,” she offered helpfully.
so we hit the ground eating, deborah and i: lavosh bread topped with figs and white cheese, unusual jams — strawberry-balsamic vinegar-black pepper — on bite-sized scones, little cups of ready-peeled crabmeat, south australian pasta sauce made with south australian tomatoes, pomegranate green tea, chocolate…
for me, the show was all about chocolate. five minutes in we had found an organic chocolate stand with samples of buttermilk chocolate (“it is very sweet,” warned the samplegirl. and it was.) then we found the lindt stand, where a lady distributed raspberry lindor balls, and right behind her stood another lady handing out orange lindor balls. then the adora stand, where you present your hand, palm up, and the kind counter ladies filled it with callebaut chocolate buttons. the ikea stand missed a great opportunity to supermarket their range of swedish food (they were selling kitchens) but there was an enormous bowl of daim candies for the taking. not an hour into the show, we were walking down the aisles, woozy and lightheaded. but not one to let a feeling of unwellness stop me from eating chocolate, i plundered the sample trays of the three or four other organic chocolate stands, a generous hunk of a triple chocolate cookie and a teaspoon of wattle seed white chocolate mousse.
we sampled savoury for a bit — dried figs, fish tofu, curry on rice (twice!), corn chips — and then we bought the donna hay magazine show bag. curiously, it contained no donna hay products (besides the magazine, which irritates me), but was startlingly value for money. $7.95 bought us a couple of mini samples: a small packet of cardboard corn cakes and a tiny bottle of shower oil, but also a host of full-sized products like a pump pack of liquid hand soap, a tin of moroccan spice flavour rub, a 750g carton of raw sugar, a dozen dishwasher tablets, a pack of disposable plates edged with blue daisies, and a loaf of bread (!). [edit 22/06: and a three-pack of chocolate brownie-muffin bites, and a bottle of fiji water.]
across the aisle, the delicious magazine showbag upped the stakes with gourmet samples and a bottle of wine and a coffee voucher and a lindt chocolate cupcake, but you only got the showbag if you took out a subscription to the magazine. fair enough. but in a glorious twist of fate, deborah bought herself a subscription, and then handed me the cupcake. thanks, lady!
and so it was this moist, dark cupcake with the lush chocolate ganache that sat in my lap during the matt moran cooking show, though it didn’t really make it past the first few minutes. being in row g, we missed out on the plate of salt and pepper squid that got passed ’round the early birds up front, but he sure made it look easy, cleaning the squishy beast. “even simple enough for donna,” he quipped. then he picked up his cookbook several times, stroking the cover gently, like a proud papa.
the theatre disgorged right by the glitzy display of curtis stone’s new cookware range. silicone sheets with shallow star-shaped moulds for making wafers. double-walled glass ramekins. nice, and of course, we need more celebrity chef cookware. but the bright yellow C logo all lit up like broadway gave us the giggles.
we did a last lap around the exhibition hall, to buy the things which we’d been listing in our heads. there were other things we might have bought, at special show prices, if those prices hadn’t been tied to unmanageable quantities like five tins of powdered stock, or four bottles of soy sauce, for $10. (though at the kikkoman stand, we learnt that a teaspoon or a tablespoon of soy sauce in a dessert such as a lemon tart could really bring out the… tartness. when quizzed further, the counterman admitted that a tablespoon would actually be a lot, and the recipe developer actually recommended more like a teaspoon. perhaps the recommendation should actually be no soy sauce whatsoever in your dessert. anyone care to try this?)
so for me, what ended up in my shopping bag were three bars of single-region lindt dark chocolate (and a coupon for a free lindt macaron at the lindt cafe) for $5; the $25 adora chocolate showbag containing one each of their sixteen truffles, a dark chocolate bar, a bag of chocolate-enrobed turkish delight (from iran), and another mini belgian chocolate bar; and a carton of the organic triple chocolate cookies sampled earlier in the day.
way earlier. a week ago, i asked helen if two hours would be enough to see everything. wisely, she’d said to budget for three. as we left the exhibition hall, an announcement came through that the show would be closing in 15 minutes. i guess this means we’d been there close to six hours.
the show closed at six, but by five, the exhibitors had already begun scrubbing down their counters, and the samples were long gone. en route to the exit though, we were stopped in our tracks, because the good man at king island dairy was still handing out little tubs of chocolate creme dessert. what it is, is pure thick cream (53% milk fat, no vegetable gums or whatever) combined with belgian chocolate. genius.
i immediately wanted more, but it was dark outside, and there was a healthy walk to the buses ahead of us, and how were we to know that halfway through, it would begin raining sideways?
in the vicinity of about life yesterday, i discovered that i had less money in my bank account than i thought. like, five cents short of the minimum amount needed to make an atm withdrawal. KLA!
still, the $15 in my wallet was just enough to buy me a loaf of 7-grain sourdough, a small tub of roast pork, green apple and red cabbage salad (a very small tub, because the countergirl didn’t fill it up all the way; $5.50 for a handful of thinly sliced apple and cabbage, and two pieces of pork is a little steep, methinks.), and, best of all, a fat, round house-baked beetroot bread roll.
not too dense, not too fluffy, and a beguiling shade of pink. the taste of beetroot is not strong, but it does have a faintly earthy flavour. i sandwiched the pork salad into it for lunch, and it was good.
this morning i awoke to deborah’s magnificent and austere breakfast, and it became clear to me that i would have to follow suit; lightly toasted beetroot bread is made for buttery avocado and boiled egg.
and it’s true what they say: if you give your egg a good swirl after immersing it in the pot, the yolk centres itself perfectly.
another day, another macaron. or two! monday lunchtime, post-park, saw us tumble once again into adriano zumbo. my primary mission, because i had finally run out of bread in the house, was to try the chorizo-and-olive-stuffed baguette which i’d been eyeing for a couple of weeks: a club of bread into which had been baked sliced-up sausage and olives (and today, the counterboy informed me, also mushrooms and tomato.) you have questions, i’m sure: is it still a baguette if it has all this stuff in it, and cheese on top? the jury is still out on that one. is it tasty? oh yes. warmed up in the microwave, it was all moist salty bits all the way through a satisfyingly chewy dough. definitely not the featherweight baguette you might find around these parts (though who am i to judge them when i haven’t actually set teeth on an actual frainch baguette).
and the macarons? the pistachio was plump and hefty, and very, very sweet. i would rather have had a stronger pistachio flavour, and maybe some discernable nuttiness. the lavender was intensely perfumed, very lavendery, which is terrific if you are a fan of the herb. i love it in a handcream or a fancy soap, but i’ve always been a bit overwhelmed by the floweriness when i’ve eaten it. so it was with this encounter. still, i was impressed with its true flavour and luscious texture.
i was drawn to these macarons because of their pale, dusty hues. i am working on a brand-redevelopment project at the moment, and one of the tasks has been to come up with a new colour palette of muted tones. i don’t actually have to come up with the colours (or the layout, woohoo!) — it’s a collaborative project, and i get to discuss colours and typefaces and columns and footers with two other designers. it’s great!
what i do get to do is draw the pictures. it’s both a good thing and a bad thing, because i haven’t done an illustration job in years, and i’ve been itching to get back into it, but because i haven’t drawn to a brief in, well, years, it’s been quite a challenge to get my head into that space. i think i may have the main character worked out though; now i have to get cracking on the host of crafty monsters.
anyway. while i was sitting here doodling blobby shapes holding paintbrushes this evening, i discovered the storm that was brewing over the new london olympic logo. (yes, i’m aware that i would probably get more drawing done if i weren’t drawing at the edge of my desk with the internet on.) several clicks later, all i want to say at this point is, “how come i (will) never get paid £400,000 to design a logo?”.
and also, why have they used that hideous font?
oh ok. and also, the logo was designed (according to the press release), “reflecting a brand savvy world where people, especially young people, no longer relate to static logos but respond to a dynamic brand that works with new technology and across traditional and new media networks.” and so, the promotional video of coloured shards sweeping through the streets of london (in time with a slightly stressful and irritating soundtrack) actually works quite well. but then every time it appears — the static logo, frozen onscreen — argh!
the outline! the drop shadow! argh!
maybe they’ll have to “print” it — animated — on e-paper.
[ edit: mere hours later, you will not find the colour shards video at the link above, because “new olympic logo causes epileptic fits“. PAH.
two weeks ago, the kid and i stood at the kitchen counter — she, perched, with toes curled around the very edge of a dining chair — sifting maccha powder into flour. we melted butter, we cracked eggs. we were finally giving the maccha madeleines a go (ref: the post, “the ethnic paris cookbook“).
it started off great. a newly acquired madeleine pan, a pale green batter that had to sit overnight in the fridge. “and now, can we make the shell cakes?” asked the kid, periodically.
and finally, the next day, it was time. i tried to fill the madeleine tray to two-third’s [is this apostrophe correct?] capacity as specified in the recipe, but there was so much of it that it came up to the brim. i whacked them in the oven for as long as the recipe said, and waited for it to be a bit puffed up, before turning down the temperature for a little more baking. and even given the unevenness and hotness of my oven, and the little blurb on the back of the madeleine tray packaging that extolled the superconducting properties of silicone, i wasn’t quite expecting this:
they were puffed up way more than you might think possible, and yet, not quite enough, for each one had broken out the top of itself. the single one that hadn’t blown its top seemed to have sprung a leak out of its side. a leaky tumour. when i removed them after the recommended baking time, it became clear that even though the outsides of the madeleines had browned quite nicely, and they had risen to majestic (ok, monstrous) heights in the oven, they still had quite runny insides. that tumour? it was still molten.
i gingerly removed one from the tray and bit into it, and it was not horrible. in fact, the parts that had cooked through had a nice spongy texture, slightly chewy, and a mild maccha-and-honey taste. i left the others to cool while i decided what to do. and when i returned, my alien pod cakes had turned into alien vagina cakes of doom.
clearly some temperature tweaking is ahead of me. [grumble]
a week ago, my mum and i walked the gauntlet of cleveland street to stand in line at sopra, for a taste of the sydney italian festival prosciutto promotion. we stood for a long while, almost as long as it took to walk to waterloo from glebe, and then we gazed upon the handwritten board at the three-item-long special menu.
it was written all in italian, but “melone” in the first one was pretty easy to decipher and came, tantalisingly with “gamberi”, and i vaguely remembered that “agnello” in the third one is lamb, so twenty minutes later, when a waiter came ’round to see if we were waiting for something (“um, actually, yes, we are waiting for our orders to be taken”), that is what we ordered.
the middle option involved some sort of pasta and melanzane, and when it arrived at the next table, it turned out to be a penne-moulded-around-chopped-vegetables-and-baked sort of thing.
the prosciutto and melon salad was all colour and light, and the surprise thing (if you don’t read so much italian) was that the third party was a tangle of fennel salad topped with two grilled prawns, tasting of sea and salt. the prosciutto was pink and springy, and tasted strongly of fresh pig. all delicious.
the lamb was a backstrap, wrapped in prosciutto, perched atop a small heap of baby vegetables — carrots, potatoes, tiny artichokes, green beans — and fat, flavoursome field mushrooms. it was very tasty, but the lamb was disappointingly tough. halfway through i figured that taking much smaller bites made it more manageable.
we shared it all, as well as a rocket and parmesan salad, because what our waiter said when i asked if the meals came with vegetables, was, “no”. it was not a bad thing though, because if you have had another rocket and parmesan salad elsewhere, you might be expecting some dressed leaves crowned with a few shards of cheese. but. at sopra, the dressing is the cheese! tiny ground up bits of salty parmesan mixed into the oil, coating each rocket leaf, so you get cheesy flavour in every bite. genius! and the flakes of sea salt! so very salty!
as we cleaned our plates, we noticed that all the other tables had attentive waitpeople who explained the italian menu in great detail, and that the guest chef, massimo spigaroli (president of the italian prosciutto consortium) stopped at most of the tables to ask how everything was. we were afforded no such pleasantries, and so were equally tough (like a lamb backstrap) when it came to leaving a tip.