Sunday, September 23, 2012
One of the most popular blog posts I've ever written was about the time I embarrassed myself at a party after chatting to a cute guy all night and then him kissing my mate (update: they dated briefly, and she has told me numerous times that I 'really dodged a bullet', which is good to know). I truly didn't think that nearly two years down the track I'd be engaging in similar or even worse behaviour. But sometimes we surprise ourselves and sometimes you might get a bit cosy on a dance floor at a heinous bar with someone inappropriate all dressed up before your lunch is well and truly cut by a friend. Again. Champagne and dressing up does silly things to people.
Today took two attempts at getting out of bed. It was extremely difficult to muster the energy to feed the cats I'm looking after. It took two coffees and a banana smoothie at a local cafe, and it was a struggle to pull myself together to hold a decent conversation with family members of ex-boyfriends, that of course I ran into, make-up less and a bit shaky. The sunglasses were permanently on, and a phone call telling tales of Saturday night to my out of town dwelling friend brought tears of laughter (and despair?). I was sure the universe was taunting me when the Backstreet Boys Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely beamed out through the car radio on my way home. A friend texted from Wellington to say Hi, and asked how things went with a guy I'd recently dated. "He wasn't interested" I was able to reply. I was bullied into an excellent hungover lunch of a Kimchi pancake though, before spending my entire weekly salary at the supermarket, rallying around some mates for the Silver Ferns game and the roasting of a delicious leg of lamb. There were many jokes at my expense, but there was also leftovers for lunch. We had perfect roast potatoes, a variation of this beetroot salad, and minty cabbage. I perfected gravy, and it made for the sloppiest of second helpings. So appropriate.
Gravy: I'd roasted the lamb leg with blended up garlic and rosemary, and olive oil and salt and pepper. Once it was cooked (a good couple of hours), I removed the meat to rest, and put the roasting tray straight on to the oven's element, full of all the pan juices. I added some cheap red wine and a decent sprinkling of flour, and then just stirred it constantly with a whisk. It was some of the best gravy I've ever made. About as satisfying as perfectly parallel parking in my woeful state earlier in the day. Along with throwing together a damn tasty meal for 12, I'm slowly again beginning to believe I really am a functioning adult and not a total shambles. Cooking really does make me feel better, which is nice to sometimes be reminded of. A happy Sunday night laughing with great mates and a great meal, and just, only just, all is well with the world.
Monday, September 10, 2012
And so the winter of both my discontent and my broken wrist has ended, tomorrow being the lucky-13 week anniversary of that gumby fall on the netball court. Thankfully too, the physio has begun and the very unattractive purple splint I've been sporting has been relegated to sleep time and heavy lifting. Freedom! Nearly. My first broken bone has turned me into a bit of a whiney tart to be honest, and there's been a distinct lack of cooking, to which a functioning right hand is quite useful. There's also been a cold and a flu, and also a lack of scandal, and exercise, and 3am kebabs. I've been babysitting a room in a friend's flat for the last couple of months, and that's been plenty of fun but with too much baking and far too much eating out but also lots of laughs, and rice paper rolls and banter and awkward but hilarious bathroom encounters. Chubbier cheeks, a change of plan, some different ideas; time for a Spring clean, roll on Summer.
The lack of cooking and blogging has phased me a bit, but I figure if I can pull out 4 courses for 6 of us whilst feeling rubbish on a Monday night then that's at least a little bit blog-worthy. Over dinner I declared 2012 a write-off, but such a suggestion was shut down with haste, what with the 3+ months remaining. There's the silly season to look forward to, they cried, so time to get back in the game. Should probably start with a run (and some chocolate cake).
Monday night's easy 4 courses:
To begin we had a fresh baguette from Nosh (and crawling there in post-work traffic I was ready to cry if it was closed. Luckily for me, it shuts at 7pm! Handy hint) and dunked it unceremoniously in the very delicious Moon over Martinborough olive oil. Jared, who started his blog of the same name, told us the story of how the olive oil came about at the Food Blogger's conference in Wellington a couple of weeks back. He gave us each a bottle to take home, and it's so so good.
For an easy to assemble vegetarian entree, I simply laid out fresh rocket, some thinly sliced fennel, and a wedge of lemon and a drizzle of the aforementioned oil on each plate, and then added two slices each of fried haloumi. I love this stuff, I cooked it as I did here, and it was free thanks to the voucher in the aforementioned goody bag from Collective Dairy. Thanks!
For the main, I went with really simple. So often I'm overwhelmed with indecision at the supermarket, and because 1/6th of dinner was vegetarian I needed something that could accomodate. I also wanted to be thrifty, as tempting as the scotch fillet and fresh spring lamb was. I made Sausage, Tomato and Olive Pissaladière (goodness knows how you pronounce it) and doubled the dough and separated some out with mushrooms and feta for the vege. Alongside a balsamic dressed rocket salad, it was well received. Except by the one flatmate who it turns out doesn't eat onions (he politely scraped them off).
And for pudding, because I had, in a moment of madness recently, shelled out $17.99 for some fancy-pants valrhona cocoa powder, and because I had some stout sniffing around, made Nigella's Guinness Cake. But! With a bit of patriotic glory, I subbed the Irish for the Kiwi and used instead of Guinness the rich and dark and glorious Renaissance Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (see note re goody bag, above). I also replaced the sour cream with thick natural yoghurt, and I was pretty shabby with my measuring. I made them as mini cakes, topped them with mascarpone, and garnished them with some goodies I had from Equagold: sprinkled with chilli chocolate nibs and drizzled in a little Tahitian vanilla syrup (which is rather lovely, and also apparently great on crepes).
Pretty simple stuff, but a successful farewell dinner with good banter, and as always, funny stories to be told along with lots of food for thought. I think my days of being a whiney tart are numbered; time to get moving and get positive. After one more slice of cake. It's incredible.
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Some mornings can only be navigated with an extra shot of coffee in your flat white and a carroty-beetrooty-gingery-detoxy fresh juice. My go-to on such days, and many others, is The Grassy Knoll, a brightly lit, adorable little cafe on Auckland's Shortland St.
Finding coffee spots in Auckland's CBD which serve consistently excellent coffee has been a lot harder than initially expected, and I'm grateful that the GK opened it's doors about a week after I moved here. It's a great meeting place, it's a good back-up for forget-your-lunch emergencies, but it's also a lovely little spot to escape the office. It has a small but well-formed menu (smashed avocado on toast anyone?) and I'm hoping they'll add great salads to their sourdough sandwich filled cabinet as this weather gets warmer. The staff are friendly, and went the extra mile recently to help a regular customer (ahem) who happened to drop their broken-wrist-X-rays down the back of the cute new booth seats. Hot tip: don't place important documents on the booth seat as there is a very small gap between the cushion and the wall.
I'm on a salad binge and I've been drinking a lot of green tea after both my time in Wellington and doing some blogging for Auckland Restaurant Month. I'm making my lunch for the foreseeable future to assist with both the reduction of my waistline and the increase of dollars in my bank account. Detoxy September begins again, but amongst all the salads and depressing Monday mornings a beautifully made coffee can do amazing things for one's outlook on life. I have a feeling tomorrow will be one of those days, but as I've said a hundred times before, oh what a difference a day makes.
The Grassy Knoll, 21 Shortland St, Auckland's CBD.