Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Frighteningly real

I love basil for its fresh minty taste that spells summer.  These were from my mum's garden from which I had gleefully picked a massive bunch.  I'll return them as a pot of pesto soon.

Pesto one of the first things I've made, back in early uni days, I think.  I was always too clumsy and my mum was a great cook, so I hardly ever ventured into the kitchen.  But my parents were away that year, so I had free reign.  I made some pesto pasta and gave some to my grandparents to try.  My grandfather screwed up his face and couldn't get away from it fast enough.  Grandma glared at him and said he should be grateful that I had made an effort, while eating the bowl of pasta. Waste not, want not.  It was pretty hilarious!

Little did they, or I, knew that I would contemplate a career in food?

I'm back home a few weeks now, and have gotten back into the swing of things, like a 9-5 desk job.  I'm finding it so difficult to focus, just as I was before the trip.  Being away hasn't helped and neither has the variety of work (setting up software on a virtual machine is as mind numbing as it sounds.)  Even looking at code is no longer engaging, let alone fun.  But still, it's work, and they are very kind to let me come back from a long break.  Guilt for my lack of productivity is both frustrating and depressing.

I've been a bit quiet for the last few weeks, wrestling with some big decisions.  Both my favourite cafe (with a newly opened bakery) and restaurant have vacancies and I'm jumping at this chance to work for them.  Nothing special, just as a kitchen hand, but last year's stint in the kitchen has left me no doubt that this is what I want to do.  It's going to be a lot hard work, but more importantly, I'll learn lots.  I'm super excited to say the least.

I would love to give up my day job and work for them, but it's not the right thing to do.  It's not just the pay.  Work has been too good to me and I can't turn around and resign.  What if I really suck as a kitchen hand?  Can I live on the new wage?  Maybe I should rent a room out?  What's my back out plan?  Permutations of arrangements swimming round and round in my head. 

Brood.  BroodBrood.  And email and talk.

Life is propelling me in this direction and all my vague dreams have become frighteningly real. When I left my last job about two years ago, my boss asked what I would really like to do, to which I replied "Hmm... Maybe something in food or photography."  I didn't think I'll be at this point so soon.

Just a few more days and it will all be settled. 

Wish me luck.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

I've missed my kitchen

This is from a recipe from the book recently purchased Bourke Street Bakery, after a quick visit to the bakery on my way through Sydney.  I couldn't resist it: new book and new mixer.  I had to.  Meringues are also very photogenic, so even if they are not edible, they still look very, very pretty. 

I may have overdone the chocolate a little and could have sprinkled a little more cinnamon on top.  They still need a bit more work, but are by far the best meringue to come out from my little oven.

This is my last weekend of my holiday and I'm not so secretly looking forward to work.  I'm so glad to have travelled and have seen some pretty spectacular places.  Despite, or perhaps because of, all the places I've been to, I still love Tasmania, more so than ever.  

I had a few expectations before I went on the break.  I thought if I travelled the world, then I would find clarity and peace.  

But it hadn't.  

Some things will be with you no matter where you are, although travel does offers a welcomed relieve.  Even though I still don't know how to solves these problems, one thing I am sure.  As long as I am in a kitchen (anywhere it seems), and as long as I can always have my camera at the ready, everything is going to be alright.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Home. Sweet. Home.

I'm finally home, after the shortest, longest trip.

Long sunny days, fresh breeze and early mornings.  Hot sun on my deathly wintery skin.  Ears ringing from the quietness.

It's good to be back.

The garlic that I've planted just before I left has grown into a little purply papery crop.  Some Garlic confit, maybe.

My mixer is calling out to me and there's flour to be bought to make sourdough starter.

It's good to be home!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Last day as a tourist

That's it.  Four and a half months had come and gone so quickly, yet it seemed so long ago.

My friend Colleen took me around the city.  First Manhattan, then Brooklyn to see the other side of New York.  I adored Park Slope, a little bit Haight Ashbury but with a NY slant.  Hm... maybe I could live in New York (completely ignoring the outrageous rents and all).

I loved the Union Square market, full of interesting produce and came away with a little jar of maple syrup and some purple popping corn.  I didn't get any of the dried chillies, fearing that they won't make it past the customs, but took a picture anyway.

We also visited another market next to the city ice skating rink, right next to the amazing New York Public Library.  There, we've found a shop that make these ridiculous and cute looking bear gloves.  Had to go back and get them the next day.

The next day, we walked around a bit more (a lot more actually!) across the Brooklyn Bridge.  I saw the Statue of Liberty off into the distance.

And on the Brooklyn side, we saw a squirrel, my last shot on the camera.

I'm catching a flight back home tonight, back to the future, back to reality.  It's been a blast, and I've learnt a little about myself.

And I am scheming for my next trip already.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New York, take 2

New York for one last time!  I saw this strange looking building...

And visited a beautiful library...

Walked past a church, full of ribbons...

A flower shop that seemed to have a story, but it was closed...

And a much anticipated visit to this bakery...

I'm hoping to make it to the farmers market on Saturday, and this little shop tomorrow.  

Watch out piggy bank...!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Goodbye 2011

2011 ended with a bang, literally.  Locked out and without power to the garage door, we kicked out way into the house and spent a few hours huddling around the fireplace for warmth.

With power restored, we celebrated the New Year by cooking a small lunch for Cindy and Tom's family.  We've baked a few loaves of olive bread and made this gorgeous snakebite cake below.  It so good!  The cake was moist and chocolatey with a slight crust.  The best part was the pear cider frosting, all dribbling down the side so invitingly.

We went up to the Rocky Mountains today, to Estes Park.  The air was fresh and so cold that my fingers tingled despite the brilliant sun.  It was great to be up in the mountains again.  I took a few photos with the now working camera:

I'm sad that 2011 has ended and it's so strange to be up here, in the foothills of Colorado.  It feels like this has been one long dream.  Lost, without the regiment of work.  Maybe it's the snow outside the window.  Maybe, it's because it's been such an overwhelming year.

But what an adventurous year it has been: I've "sailed" to Adelaide (on a whim); walked the Camino (also on a whim) and slept in the Sahara desert.

I've been so damn lucky too: took photos at the Agrarian Kitchen and at Garagistes; worked at Pigeon Hole and loved every moment of it; met Chad at Tartine.

It was filled with many wonderful and not so wonderful moments: living with mum; crumbled completely at work; cooked at the Source Winterfeast; found a small orchard with my sister and bought some fruit in broken French; tasted delicate lavender ice cream and watched unforgettable street performances in Nice; first light at Sacre Coeur; getting lost all the time; physically and mentally broken at Najera; lost and found friends again; the intensely emotion walk into Santiago; shared a table with a stranger and had the best conversation outside Tartine, just to name a few...

All because of a small New Years resolution: throw caution to the wind and be more spontaneous.

I have a few resolution for this year, close to my heart and tucked away in my head.  I hope 2012 will be as fulfilling and as memorable as 2011.  I can't wait to see what it will bring.

Happy New Year :)