Saturday, December 31, 2005

Holiday-ing up north

My holiday hiatus is coming to a close, and I could pretty much just fill this post with the all the pics I took on my new super slim, red Sony digital camera that Haydn gave me for Christmas. I gave him one of the Jamie Oliver cookbooks, so that and the camera are complimentary gifts true to the spirit of this blog.

We took off for Brisbane last Wednesday and I procured some very Australian, very soft, no-sodium licorice. Aussie licoriceSuch good car food, nearly like taffy. We made it a two-day trek north to Brisbane, with the first night's stop in small-ish town Taree, where the only place serving food after 9:30pm was Jin-Hong's Chinese, which didn't give us utensils, so we sat in the hotel eating off of the teacup saucers with spoons. We were definitely on the road.

The next day was Byron Bay, maybe a kindred spirit to Santa Cruz, ie a beach town where you can mellow out and cater to your chakras. We made a major upgrade from the Taree accommodations and stayed at the Byron at Byron, where Haydn stayed with Interpol last year. Very "adult" resort in a very quiet, serene way: no running or diving at the pool, facials and hot stone massage services and very breezy feng shui rooms. We had a great breakfast the next day at Succulent in town, I didn't take pics but I think "chorizo and grilled mushrooms with greens over sourdough toast" pretty much explains it. We did some sight-seeing at the Lighthouse there (most easterly mainland point in Australia) and very nearly melted in the late morning sun.

It was then onto Brisbane for the Official Scorcher Christmas 2005 with temps in mid to upper 30s Celsius and 90s F. It was hot. Very hot, but great to be around Haydn's parents who take such good care of us. Four grandkids between ages 7-3 make for lots of excitement, too. And check out the pic of the totally festival city bus.

The last 5 days were spent at the Johnston family compound at Stradbroke Island, with Haydn's parents, his brother Nick, wife Tash, and their kids Jack, age 5, and Ella, age 3. Stradbroke is an island about a 20-minute ferry ride from Brisbane. Haydn dubbed it Rancho Relaxo -- even with kids who wake up at the crack of dawn!

The days are breakfast, coffee, reading, beaching, reading, eating, playing, happy hour on the veranda, dinner, bed before 10. Island life, with lots of Christmas ham -- it was even used in the fried rice Haydn and Nick made one night. And featured pictorially is the Won Ton soup Nick made, so delicious and flavorful.

We had Joeley over for a night and the three of us made a couple of afternoon appearances at the island pub for "pots" of Carlton beer after a swim. There are varying sizes of beer glasses, and in Queensland a pot is 10 oz, the same size is a Midi in New South Wales. Very important to make note of, culturally, esp if you go to Queensland in summer -- smaller glasses of beer don't last long enough to get too warm.

And then all of a sudden it is Saturday and New Year's Eve and we had our goodbye fry-up breakfast this morning and made the journey back to Sydney via ferry-cab-airplane-cab. Here's to 2006...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The fancified time of year

I hate to break it to the readers back in the northern hemisphere, but it's been another beautiful day in Sydney. I would say low 80s and requisite sun and blue skies. Times like this is when I realize I am pretty far away from the old stomping grounds of the midwest and east coast, because I can't really fathom the cold and snow. I think I might just be getting used to this as holiday weather...especially as Haydn and I ready for a trip up north. We're going to drive up to Brisbane starting tomorrow and make it a two day trip, and I'm thinking at last I will see a kangaroo out in the wild (or on the roadside where they are unfortunately rather prevalent).

It was a busy weekend with a holiday party in Surry Hills on Friday, a Mess Hall show at Annandale on Saturday night, and then the Tsubi (too-cool-for-school jeans label) and Modular record label party that Haydn coordinated down at Bondi. There was a wee bit of anxiety about the event at the beach what with the terrible rioting of late at other beaches, but with cops on every corner and with clearance to check cars, it was a pretty quiet beachfront. However, the fashion at the party was loud, and I am still smarting that I left my camera charging in the kitchen, so there are no shots to share. But a word of advice for next summer -- those 1980s one-piece shorts jumpsuits seem to be back, preferably in terry cloth! Yikes.

And last night, the esteemed principals of Level One Agency, Haydn and Adam, hosted a Christmas party for the bands they manage, The Mess Hall and Gerling, respectively. We headed to a pub, the Cricketers Arms, for tapas and drinks.

There were some lively little dishes, I must say, with the cauliflower fritter being a battered puff of crispy goodness. And how could I not think of my dear Greggums with the goat cheese-stuffed chilis? That's right: fancy j-poppers! And man, the red chili had some heat as you can see from my sort of hesitant/glazed look in the pic as I eat one. There was also pate with preserved onions (or jelly or marmaladed onions, something like that, pictured), sausage skewers, wonderful chips, marinated mushrooms. Delicious.

I should be able to get a post or two in up at Brisbane and the picturesque Stradbroke Island, but for now Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day -- I finally get to experience the day that is always on calendars as a UK, CAN, AUS holiday!

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Southern Hemisphere style

Well, the sun continues to shine, the skies stay blue, and while the beach calls out to me for a visit, I think I might just opt for some internet time today. I love the sun, but am wondering how a lady of leisure keeps it at a healthy amount without becoming too weathered, shall we say?

Yesterday, I took a little public transporation adventure over to the Annandale, in a neighboring suburb. In order to do this, I had to transfer buses -- something I had not yet attempted in my time here. Very brave of me, yes. Unfortunately, even though it was, in theory, one trip, transfers are not available within public transport here and I paid two separate fares. While I waited for the bus at Town hall, I snapped this pic, a spirited holiday display in the center of the city at Town Hall.

What I really would have liked to take a picture of is the little nativity scene the bus driver to Annandale had set up next to his fare box -- a lovely little snowy scene with the manger and everything. I think the snow was his own added yuletide effect. I can't help but to think of the Freedom From Relgion movement in Madison would have had a field day with that one. Anyway, I thought it might look a bit odd to snap a pic of his Christmas scene after he helped me figure out where I was going.

And true to the chunkytoast spirit, I did enjoy a lovely chili basil vegetarian stir fry at the Annandale, it had some heat to it, just as it should.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sea legs to go with chicken wings

This might be a brief post, as I have just been alerted that the water at Bondi is perfect for a swim -- well, perfect for a whimp of the waves like myself. I am starting to get a bit more brave about diving into waves, but I have also been knocked over a couple of times, too. After one such knock-over, it took me a good 15 minutes to relocate my towel on the beach, altho that was mostly because the person next to me had left and I couldn't spot my landmark. So, it sounds like the water is quiet and very welcoming to the novice.

But, first, very important is the wondrous BBQ we had the other night. Thank goodness Pops and Michelle acquired that grill, and they acquired a Fisheroo too, a contraption for grilling fish. They picked up the fish, bream, Haydn got the chicken wings and away we went. Sadly, there aren't really Buffalo wings down here, so this was especially special with a lovely Thai marinade. I realize the picture of the bream and wings might be a bit graphic, but I don't think words do justice. It was one of those dinners of self-congratulations because it all turned out so well, and concluded with a sight I so treasure -- men doing dishes. Oh and a little warm apple pie a la mode was dessert, for good measure of course.

And, now, you understand why it is imperative to stop what I'm doing to go enjoy some calm ocean water, time for some fitness, without getting knocked over by the waves and tossed back onto the beach like the landlocked native I am. I will watch out for sharks (one was at Bondi last week) and these heinous surfer gangs and their meathead friends wreaking havoc at other beaches. Far, far away from being your typical Aussies, that is for sure.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

A tale of two breakfasts

It has been a good, productive weekend as I have set a deadline of Monday for shipping Christmas gifts overseas. This means it was essential to start each day with the hearty Aussie breakfast. Saturday morning was bright sun, blue skies, a quick run to the Waverly Cemetery before it got too hot, and then Haydn and I strolled down to Baristas -- my treat. He opted for the Big Breakfast and a flat white -- the big breakfast consisting of eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Seriously. I think this would usually be referred to as a Lumberjack Special or something along those lines in the US. As you can see in the pic, there might just be a certain Paul Bunyan air to Haydn with that breakfast in front of him. I went the way of the British and had beans and chunkytoast(!) with jam, and I opted for an iced latte. Usually ordering this from a cafe means getting a scoop of ice cream in it, but I elected for sans ice cream.

Then it was running around, getting some things together to send away. A stop at a vintage clothing sale with Joeley. All good stuff. Joeley and I and some other girls headed to the Beach Road Hotel in Bondi for a wee bit of Saturday night fun, and we had missed the Miss Bondi pageant that happened earlier in the day. Oh drat.

But this morning, was the return of how weekend breakfast should be -- executive produced and cooked by none other than Haydn. On the menu we had eggs, rye toast, organic bacon from Sam the Organic Butcher, avocado, salsa, and cantaloupe (otherwise referred to as rockmelon here). I've included a shot of my breakfast, as we dined oh so civilly in the sun room complete with tablecloth (ok, still on the table from Thanksgiving) and a favorite smutty coffee mug.

And now, before me is much wrapping to do. I've downloaded the Charlie Brown Christmas album from iTunes to help invoke the spirit. It is just a bit hard here to grasp Christmas with the sun, blue skies, and beach and lack of elaborate neighborhood light displays and Christmas carols piped in everywhere you go. A few other Northern Hemisphere expats who have been here for some time have said it's just never quite the same, or moreso just different in its own right. Here's to something a bit different...


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Festival foray

At last, I have a bit of gumption, a little time, and a high-speed connection, which means I can post pictures from Homebake and my mini-foray back into the working world and music. I was working for the promoter of Homebake, an all-Australian one-day festival in the middle of Sydney that draws about 25,000 people. I've done some guest lists in my time, but this was pretty massive and I became well-acquainted with the labelmaker and laminator in order to make all those All-Access passes. Haydn, esteemed production coordinator of the festival, captured my industriousness for y'alls.

And for those of you requesting some Aussie fashion pictorials, I tried to capture a couple of pics of rock n roll fashionistas. It was a day of skinny jeans, Olsen twin-sized sunglasses, and girls in bikini tops perched atop shoulders in the crowd.

Some musical highlights for me were The Mess Hall, Ben Lee and his rainbow-and-butterlies positivity, The Dirty Three, and most of all the Finn Brothers. Pretty cool to hear all those people singing the chorus to Don't Dream It's Over and Four Seasons in One Day, very anthemic. And...a pretty good Aussie celeb spotting backstage at the Finns -- Toni Collette, who looks younger and prettier than most of the roles she plays. I also made sure to have my own little photo op with a Finn -- not the more familiar Neil, but the just as well-coiffed Tim.

All in all a very good learning and cultural experience (Aussie hip-hop?!). And lots of good catering too, as that is the kind of thing that helps power me through the day -- spaghetti and meatballs, fish n chips, stir fry. Thank goodness for that.

Nice to be back in the blogosphere...

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

like a freelancer

Dear readers,

I'm a bit out of commission as of late, as I am working this week at Homebake, a great music festival on a big green lawn right in the center of the city. In a strangely reassuring way, it is good to know that people at record labels the world over ask for way too much at the last minute. And of course, commuting in a whole new town is pretty novel, too. Instead of the 1 train, it's the 380 bus for me now.

But check out the line-up of all Oz music (not sure if the Finn Bros -- from New Zealand originally-- count, I think they are adopted countrymen) and I will post lots of pics and stuff in the coming days. And with the espresso machine in catering, I'm hoping to be able to proudly say soon that I, too, can make a flat white.

There ya go.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Lingering a bit

In the wake of Thanksgiving, not much blogging or movement really occured. The highlight of Saturday was sunshine and finishing off the Thanksgiving dishes that lingered, and perhaps a bacon, avocado and BBQ sauce sandwich from Three Steps. Simple, easy.

Sunday, my goodness, was pure Seattle. I think it might have been the most rain and wind since my arrival. But this gave good reason to sleep til noon, read all the newspapers and laze about. And it was the return of good Sunday TV + takeout -- one of my favorite things dating back to NYC and Marie, Gregg, Lucy, Six Feet Under, and Kobma Thai. Last night was a made-for-tv movie of Kath & Kim, a Christmas special "Da Kath & Kim Code." Suburban Australian comedy at its best, it is sometimes on Trio in the US, and like The Office it takes an episode or two to get used to the accents. And there will always be slang that goes right over your head. But it went great with Thai food from up the hill -- red curry, basil chili with cashews. And for dessert...Marquee ice cream bars. My dad recently recently posed a very serious question: "How is the ice cream down there?" And, I can say it is outstanding, especially these ice cream bars. As popular and widespread as Good Humor, but a bit more up-market. I had an ice cream bar "Ego Caramel" -- vanilla coated in chocolate, then a caramel coating, and another chocolate coating. For good measure.

And with the start of the week...more rain, but in true Sydney fashion, things can change fast, and the afternoon ended up sunny and pleasant. Or as they say in the weather reports here "fine." As I write I have a big pot of vegetarian chili stewing away, and I'm hoping it reduces a bit. I thought for the sake of photos and a little public service announcement, I'd show y'all the green re-useable bags here that everyone uses for grocery shopping. These bags are good for the beach, too. Oh and the green pepper in the picture is actually referred to as capsicum here and I have no idea of the origin of that one.

Also included a picture of a street I walked down that was littered with shopping carts. Do we think those people who leave carts outside use green bags for their groceries? Things to ponder when wandering around the streets of Bondi.

so long,

Friday, November 25, 2005

A very special Thanksgiving edition

Of all things Americana, I think Thanksgiving is pretty much the best thing to spread the world over. It's very much an equal opportunity holiday, only concerned with food, good company, and maybe an afternoon post-turkey doze. And, so we hosted a big Thanksgiving dinner in Bondi last night, in part to give the Aussies the goodness of the holiday and also to help me feel that much more at home here. And it was a rousing success on both counts.

Haydn was self-appointed tour manager of the holiday and nobly did all the cooking. let the basting beginI did peel ALL the potatoes, tho, which was really the only time he let someone else be in the kitchen with him. The day started with the ceremonial cooking of our 6.3 kilo/14 lb. organic, free-range turkey. It lived a good life up at Byron Bay and did a swell job in our oven. The afternoon was all about the pies, and Haydn made the pie crusts, including a gluten-free one. I peeled potatoes. He took on the stuffing and sweet potatoes. I peeled the other potatoes. The pies finished and when I finished my illustrious peeling duties, I was kindly excused from the kitchen.

And with all the right and comforting smells wafting through the apartment, guests started to arrive, I did a bit of cultural ambassadorship by recalling some historical points on the holiday and the importance of getting up at 5am the day after to start your Christmas shopping as early as possible. All the food was timed perfectly and in the true all-inclusive spirit of Thanksgiving, our dear friend and vegan, Adam, did the honor of carving the bird. All the trimmings (in vegan and gluten-free form when possible) accompanied the turkey -- mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry (as it should be, from a jar), and stuffing.Alert PETA!
at ye olde feed troughL-R: Joeley, Tara, Anthea (a veteran of photo I have to say, the stuffing took first prize with apples, walnuts, raisins. Including Haydn, Joeley (lovely lady in red top) and me, there were 14 people and there was quite a bit of build-up to the pumpkin pie, which people here are a bit leery of -- perphaps because pumpkin is so common as a side dish, it seems a bit strange as a dessert. But throw some whipped cream on it, and I think we made some believers.
Popsy, savoring his turkey until the very end
Girl with pumpkin pie
Emily and Langers
Popsy, James, Michelle post-turkey

As the evening winded down, the turkey kicked in and made for a bit of sleepiness. I now understand how football has become such an integral part of the holiday, as it provides a good opportunity for a nap without really offending anyone. And, so, with that my first Thanksgiving in Oz was true to spirit, filled with wonderful, thoughtful people and the food you wait all year for. One more round of applause for Haydn's cooking, please...
Awww...this one's for the immigration peeps

Enjoy the leftovers back in the US!

p.s. -- I had captions for all the photos, but alas they are not showing up...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Preparation commences

Here on Francis Street, we are pretty much fixated on Thanksgiving. We have to pick up the turkey from Sam the Organic Butcher this afternoon and then do a big grocery shopping for all the other goods. Meanwhile, we're also figuring out stuffing and pie crusts and things like that. Up until this year, the only thing I prepared for Thanksgiving was green bean casserole complete with fried onion rings on top, which could prove itself daunting. But am looking very forward to the familiar scents wafting through the apartment when the oven gets going and Haydn is totally in the cooking zone.

There is, of course, a part of me that misses the excitement of the holiday at home. That feeling of a short work week, packing bags and hustling to the complete madness of Penn Station to head up to Ann's in Boston for the annual gathering of East Coast orphans, and then the official ushering in of the Christmas season. Or there is the Madison celebration too, with my grandparent's stuffing of all ages with raisins in it, maybe a late afternoon trivia showdown, and of course, the kids table.

It's a bit grey and overcast today, a bit autumnal actually, so this should further help us get in the spirit. And of course, it is good to know that the Butterball hotline is 24 hours a day, what with the time difference.

And that's about it from this side of the world...


Monday, November 21, 2005

Coming through in the clutch

For those of you losing sleep over my seemingly ill-fated quest for canned pumpkin, you can sleep well tonight. My dear flatmate, Joeley, ventured to a different David Jones Market on Saturday and bought 2 of the last 3 cans of Libby's Pumpkin. There will be pumpkin pie as intended -- from a can -- for a traditional American Thanksgiving! I thought the pic of the pumpkin and vegemite proved a good visual metaphor for our Aussie and American cultures meeting and getting on like old chums.

And I have to say it was a really successful weekend, as far as weekends go. At last, I got to see my favorite Aussie band Art of Fighting on Friday night and lead singer Ollie's voice is seriously as wondrous to behold in person as on cd. Thank goodness for a pure singing voice in a day of rather "artful" (ahem, strange) voices in alternative and indie music (re: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Neutral Milk Hotel).

Another great band was on Saturday aftertoon at the Hopetoun Pub, The Kill Devil Hills, from Perth. A rather rag-tag bunch of guys who looked like they should be driving Ford F-10s in Backwater, USA, playing really cool alt/country/rock what-have-you. We're talking big, burly guys in boots playing mandolin and fiddle. Awesome.

Sunday, I must say, was really Haydn's day to shine. The man can barbecue, folks. Not that any of you that have met him would be surprised. After big ol' Sunday breakfast of the bacon, beans n' toast variety, and then some couch time, we headed to the pub markets at the Annandale. Yes, there seem to be reasons to go to the Annandale any time of day. They have these great little markets of handmade clothes, vintage stuff, and artisanal sausage named for dead rock stars. I bought what can probably be categorized as a mu-mu and Haydn took the helm at the grill. He even pulled his pants up high to do so, because he thinks pants up high is always funny and that it has something to do with manning the grill.

But, yes, that was only BBQ #1 of the day. Our pals Jimmy and Michelle just moved into a new place with a spacious veranda, and they acquired a second-hand deluxo BBQ. Last night was the first BBQ at the new place. Kebabs, shrimp, and lamb cutlets were all on the menu. Haydn multi-tasked with pants at an appropriate waist-level, and then with food aplenty we just sat around the table and ate, talked, laugh. It was another co-mingling of Aussie, Irish, English, and American. Sometime we must find a Canadian!

And in good ol' campfire tradition, the night segued into some kind of acoustic sing-a-long with Haydn on guitar and Morgan on voice and percussion.

And in case all of the meat consumption sounded a bit alarming, don't fret -- I had tofu and vegetables for lunch before heading to the library.

Some follow-up on the last couple of comments:
Sweet Thai Chili Sauce -- here is the description from the very side of the bottle: A delicious hot sauce made from fresh Thai chili and Thai spices. It will add flavor and spice, not just heat. Use in place of hot sauce or ketchup. Add to your salad dressing, chili, soup, or a few drops to your favorite dip or pasta.

Christmas in Oz -- the seasonal decor is slowly appearing. Without Halloween or Thanksgiving to sound the opening bell on the season, it just seems to sort of pop up. Like for instance, the little island of wrapping paper at the local IGA that you might bump into on your way to the bananas. But as I walked through the Central Business District today, the big department stores have their windows decked out with finery, although I'm sure Australian retail won't be staying open 24 hours a day or having too many door-busters, which is kind of nice, really. And as far as Christmas specials and cartoons, I'll keep you posted. Please, please let there be A Charlie Brown Christmas -- I am "sore afraid" there might not be!

Keep posting comments, I lurve it! And, Ann, can you give us some tips on the polenta you are stuffing your turkey with?!


Friday, November 18, 2005

Sweet chili sauce stops the nation

It's the great outdoors here, that's for sure, and I'm exhausted. I'm still without camera too, as it continues to be on hiatus in the glove compartment of the car. Must take pictures this weekend, because blogging is kind of boring without it, right? It was a really sunny, fresh air Friday. I started with yoga at Tamarama and then took a bit of an adventure to Coogee Beach. The trail that I run keeps going that far, probably farther, and I decided to head there today for a more mellow beach scene.

It is more than a walk and more like a hike, so upon my arrival there I went to Oporto for a chicken burger. It is is a chain around here, but pretty good if you ask me. The chicken burgers (filets), come with sweet chili sauce, which is an accompaniment here I am coming to love. Then I laid on the beach, but the walk back seemed a bit daunting so I bussed it to Bondi Junction and then walked home. I have that post-sun, sandy feeling.

In additional sweet chili sauce the soccer match the other night we got a huge order of seasoned potato wedges which came with a bowl of sour cream and sweet chili sauce for dipping. Talk about good living. And talk about a victory for the "Socceroos." Right down to the penalty kicks and all that. Australia will be back in the World Cup for the first time in over 30 years. Makes me think of those glory days with Madison soccer power, the Gremlins.

And it seems that the soccer match was a moment that stopped Australia. I was watching a special called 20 Moments that Stopped Australia last night, and they already inserted that moment in the top 10. Seems a bit ambitious perhaps, but I'll take it. I have actually been in Oz for one other country-stopping moment, this year's Melbourne Cup, when the horse won for the third time in a row. 10% of monumental moments in about 6 weeks, not too bad.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Aussie Aussie Oi Oi!

Not a whole lot to cover today, it is so terribly windy and dreary out, that the couch is pretty much the most welcoming place. The weather here seems to toy with one's emotions just as it does in the Midwest and East Coast. I did get a run in this morning after a completely captivating episode of Little House on the Prairie. But the rest of the day has been dedicated to scoping out Thanksgiving type recipes and whatnot.

For the last 24 hours, an amazing batch of Mexican food has kept me going and kept me warm. In Haydn's words, he "winged it" last night and just bought a bunch of Old El Paso products and went to town. We had beef and bean enchiladas with rice for dinner. He even made the rice yellow with tumeric. Who woulda known?

So the rice, beans, and meat made for wonderful burrito fixins today. Thank goodness for that.

But, now, despite the rather Seattle-esque weather, I'm heading out to meet Joeley at a pub called The Light Brigade to watch Australia play Uruguay for a World Cup berth. I'm considering this a cultural experience, watching the "Socceroos" -- as the Aussies call their soccer team -- in a pub. Yes, cultural research so that the rest of you may benefit.

good night!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In search of canned goodness

Very, very remiss of me to write nary a word in three days. I think it partly has to do with the whole good weather culture around here. When it is nice out, you just want to go outside, lay on the beach, wander around, and not be bothered with a dial-up connection.

So, here I am at the good ol' State Library of New South Wales. I haven't started to recognize any other regulars yet, but in due time...all libraries have them.

It was a great weekend tho, complete with massive Haydn breakfasts both days. Saturday my usual request of bacon and more bacon please, with salsa and avocado. On Sunday I even contributed with my yogurt, banana and granola (muesli here in Oz) and Haydn followed up with beans and toast and more salsa. This beans and toast thing while very of the Commonwealth, very much appeals to my Midwestern taste for the simple and hearty.

There was a cookout on Saturday night and I actually ate sushi and went back for more sushi. Very odd for me. When we got to the house for the BBQ, Haydn and I were standing on the front step waiting for someone to answer and we could hear A Ghost is Born playing inside. And, here I was on this doorstep on the other side of the world and there was Spiders (Kidsmoke) playing and, well, moment of pause for how we end up places in life and all that.

More good weather Sunday and more Bondi markets and laying on the beach and eating spaghetti bolognese for dinner with some really good store-bought garlic bread that you toast in the oven. Monday was more sunshine and a bit more beachtime. So with today and its grey skies and winds that would blow me over if not for having my computer in my shoulder bag weighing me down, I find myself in the friendly confines of the Library.

Prior to getting here, I was on a mission for canned pumpkin. We're having a Thanksgiving dinner next Thursday, but for all their love of the pumpkin as a side dish, the Aussies have not developed a taste for pumpkin pie. Hence, no canned pumpkin to be found. I did find a little American foods section at David Jones Food Market (complete with Bisquick, Aunt Jemima maple syrup, Welch's grape jelly, French's Mustard), but alas they are out of their supply of canned pumpkin. The other Seppos have beat me to the punch! After that letdown, I decided I should eat some Subway, Veggie Delight with Chipotle sauce no less.

And with that, can someone please Fed Ex some canned pumpkin? Thanks.


Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Fish Fry

Let's see...since I last wrote, there was some amazing risotto that stuck to my ribs like nobody's business, courtesy of Haydn. He is such a good cook that I have pretty much given up on my own culinary aspirations. I wash a mean batch of dishes, lemme tell you. Oh and I can scoop ice cream like a pro.

Woke up to a beautiful sunny day with lots of construction and hammering next door, so I got up right away and did a quick run over to North Bondi, where you can run up a hill on a golf course on the edge of the world and look over look at the ocean as it goes on forever and ever.

Then there might have been a couple of episodes of Laguna Beach. I am finally in episodes I haven't seen yet and I am as riveted as ever.

I ventured back to the Paddy Market to check out the chatchkes, purses, Australia souvenir beach towels, peasant skirts, and knock-off hand bags. And I found a really cute, girly pair of silver flats. Met up with Haydn at his office and we headed back to Bondi for fancy fish n' chips from a place called Mongers (sorta the fish n chips equivalent of NYC fancy hot dog place F & B). I have a pic from the restaurant included in an attempt to give some glimpses at Aussie fashion. Note: the red jeans and green shoes on the girl with her back to us. And there is another young lady that I really wanted a pic of because she was sporting this airy white sundress with some kind of fur vest. Yikes.

And I have just finished my fancy fish n chips and the chips were super thick wedges and the fish was fresh and lovingly battered without it becoming a little fish to go with your batter. There were some sweet potato chips for garnish, and some of you know how I adore the sweet potatoes in fry or chip form. It was so good, the Simpson's are now on and Haydn is asleep on the couch. But we're venturing out in a bit to see Youth Group at Annandale, an Aussie band I dig very much for their moody and rocking brilliance. They opened up for Death Cab for Cutie in the US, actually.

Have a lovely Friday --

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Poor, dear Skippy

I don't really want to be a weather blogger, but it is very ominious here in Sydney today. I think there have been about a dozen weather changes since I woke up this morning. And that wasn't very early, mind you. It's gone from overcast and mild, to muggy and sunny, to rainy, to cloudy and windy and at 4:30 pm it's getting pretty dark.

But enough Weather Channel, because last night we went out for pub food and it was mightly delicious and hearty. As it should be. Haydn and I met up with our pals AJ and Lizzy at the Carlisle Hotel in Newtown. One of those old corner pubs that seems to keep going -- tiny pub room, pokey room, pool room, a dining room, garden, and then a couple other various rooms for eating and drinking and whatnot. I started with a blonde beer that is indigenous to that pub, as did everyone. Lizzy and I were not too pleased with the aftertaste ("rice beer" was an apt description) so we switched to Cooper's Pale Ale. (Note to Amanda, I've had the Sparkling Ale too and it was crisp and outstanding).

Then we grabbed a table in the dining room and went up to the counter to order. The menu pretty much consists of pastas and steaks. The others all ordered rump steak with chips (fries) and salad. I was thinking pasta with prawns (shrimp), but for the sake of being in Australia, for the sake of the blog, and because I was in the mood for mashed potatoes, I opted for the Kangaroo Sausages and Mash. Oh yes, I did. Sorry, Skippy.I was a bit hesitant because I thought I might be eating a national symbol of the country, or that maybe they are endangered or something. But, Lizzy reassured me they are like the rabbits of Australia. There ya go. And when it was served, the sausages were so hot off the frying pan that I burned my tongue. But it was delicious and comforting and just what I wanted. I think for the sake of all readers, I will restrain from going into culinary descriptions about the sausage. Just know that it was good and pretty much tasted like sausage. The steak was well-received, too, and I think it was clean plates all around.

Today, I went for a run along the Bondi to Bronte path and dodged many an elderly person in sensible walking shoes and visors as they walked along to check out the Sculptures by the Sea. Then I ventured into Surry Hills to Haydn's office and got a somewhat disappointing chicken kebab. I think I would have liked it if it would have been sans chicken.

And that about wraps it up, as the clouds roll in...