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melbourne: so hot… so completely cool

I think I’ve only been to Melbourne in summer once before. Today she is gray and wet and from my window on the twelfth floor I can see buildings and cranes with little twinkling lights on top. Today she is what I’m used to seeing her like. People scurry like ants on the street below. They seem huddled in on themselves.


But she turned on a fine show for me these past 48 hours. She was warm but she’s just so fucking cool. She dazzled with light and sparkling blue skies. She caressed with cold when the heat became unbearable.


Melbourne invited me in to her shows and restaurants in little graffiti laneways and fed me exquisite morsels of food that seduced my tongue and my tastebuds. She molested my mouth with microherbs and creamy avocado and nuts and seeds roasted in heaven. She exposed me to oysters and slivers of kingfish served in little cast iron cauldrons. They were like magic. You lift the lid and tendrils of trapped smoke jump out at you and tickle the inside of your brain. The dish begged to be licked.. but this is Melbourne and I don’t think they do that here in public. 



I ate and I drank. Mimosas at breakfast, gin and tonic at tea. I walked the streets and took photos. Nearly too many to count. I celebrated friendships old and new. I talked and talked and talked. And laughed. And cried. I met women I want to grow up to be like. I met others I never want to grow up to be like… I even managed to shop a little. Mostly black. 


I learned about the myriad forms of love. Safe love and precious love. Reckless love and unrequited love. Everlasting love and complete love. I learnt that I can’t be away from my little family for more than three nights without wanting to run back to them. Desperately. Longingly.

I reignited my love for art and creativity and three years on, I cannot imagine a more perfect way to celebrate my Comaversarry than by being in Melbourne by myself. I may even be getting a bit of my mojo back… and every time I worry about not going forward, I look back and realise how far I’ve come. The recovery was harder than the illness but the journey back up to the top has made it all worth it.


Melbourne you seduce me. I will be back. 


Dee x


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Aamchi Mumbai

I had to ask someone for a respectable title for this blog post. Aamchi Mumbai means my Bombay and I’m glad I asked. Because the titles I came up with were only rude or vulgar. But then, so is Bombay and I refuse to call it Mumbai.

Bombay hits you like a bullet in the head. Even the clouds look busy as we descend. Then the big tall building come into view and you see slums and shanties, butted up against exquisite palatial hotels and posh homes. I’ve practically spent every summer growing up here but it still never ceases to amaze me. 

I am here with two of my oldest, dearest and craziest chaddie buddies and they have promised me 24hrs jam packed with food, fun and plenty of shenanigans. This is PG rated so I’ll mostly gloss over the fun and shenanigans and focus on the food. We started by checking in to what can only be described as a little jewel in the sky. Floor to ceiling windows, beds from heaven, a kitchenette, hell we even had our own little living room. And boy did we live!

After being ‘instructed’ (I have very bossy friends) to clean up, we started our eat adventure at The Bombay Canteen. To get to The Bombay Canteen you have to drive through an insane part of town. It used to be an old textile mill area but the mills have shut down. From the outside you see these filthy, rundown old building but on the inside they’ve been converted to cool restaurants and bars. The staff seriously surprised me by how passionate they are about the food they serve. They have real opinions on each dish and their recommendations did not disappoint. 

We ate. A lot! I can’t even remember half of it so you’ll have to look at my pictures. And I know this a fall from grace for a carnivore at heart, but the jhowar barley salad is probably something I could live on for life. Talking about animal lovin’, I also just tasted water buffalo for the very first time and was blown away. It’s like beef, but better. Yes. That’s what’s I’m going to call it from now on… Beef. But better. Once we stuffed our faces we had no choice but to go back to our hotel and be lounge lizards for the rest of the afternoon.

I am seriously digging Bombay this time, something I never ever thought I’d say. It’s dirty and smoggy and edgy and gritty and weird and humid and hot and slightly cool because you can dress right up or dress right down and you’ll always fit in. It’s non judgey in a random sort of way so we got dressed right middle and stepped out some hours later in the most horrendous rain I’ve ever seen to have dinner at Cafe Zoe.

After dinner we made ‘friends’ with a cab driver who ripped us off. So we killed him with kindness and confusion in this torrential downpour and got him to take us on to Asilo… which they claimed was the hottest thing since sliced bread. But even bread gets mouldy in the rain and so let’s just say the rest of the night was a wash out. Or atleast that’s what I’m telling you!

Thank god our girls trip was only 24 hours long. I don’t think I could handle much more. We finished up at Farzi Cafe which experiments with molecular gastronomy and even serves bite size pieces of blast frozen yoghurt drizzled with fart juice (Hajmola. You have to taste it to believe it. It’s truly epic. I promise). 


Ah Bombay. With your lady boys and plastic toys. You are filthy and fast, your buildings are crumbling but your heart is intact. Mine, not so much! Dee x


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one big cock, manta ray boots & a cup of canberra

I’m cooking lamb shanks tonight. The house is empty. Eeeeemp. Teee. My children are cycling at the local park with their daddy. My outlaws are off on a jaunt somewhere in the city. And me, me, I’m just happy to be cooking in my own kitchen again. Little things, like knowing where the tongs are, where the roasted cumin powder lives. 

We’ve just come home after 5 nights in Canberrrrrrrrrrra. It was epic fun. It was also quite cold. I think I froze my testicles off (yes I used to be a man). Kidding. What I’m not kidding about is how much it’s changed in the past 14 years. The city is still all circular. It’s still bloody cold. And it’s still got the Parliament House, War Memorial and the Australian Institute of Sport. 


But the food, oh my god, I don’t think we had one bad meal. Smoque, where we demolished a platter for six in 25 minutes. Sammy’s Kitchen, butter chicken icecream at Frugii, a cup of heaven at Koko Black and a life altering conversation about yoga at Wood & Coal. Where Gonzalo is cool and owns 16 pairs of custom made cowboy boots (one made of manta ray skin cross my heart) and 300 other pairs. And a tea date with my son. And Bitter Sweet and Little Brooklyn. We ate till we popped at the seams…

Manta ray boots

Koko Black

Late last night I finally questioned if I might be pregnant. Exhaustion. Hunger of humongozoid proportions. Nausea. Till my husband pointed out that if every woman who experienced these systems was actually pregnant, the world would stand at 20 billion right now. It’s safe to say everything I felt was a combination of sheer exhilaration, tiredness and overeating.

Exhilaration at watching our kids compete at the Kanga Cup. Exhilaration at watching our teams win. The cheering, the quiet pride, the joy when their little faces light up. 


And then what goes up must come down. Like a floaty red balloon that’s run out of gas. The tiredness. The tiredness at the end of the day. The nerves, the hunger. And the tiredness that comes with sadness… Sadness at watching your team lose at the semis, but like any good meal we tempered the bitter with the sweet. The immeasurable pride in watching our kids play as a team-united in victory, defeat and mud-made it all worth it. 

There is no point to this blog post. There usually never is. Holidays fill us with memories and good photo opportunities, but nothing can compare to that feeling of walking back through your own front door. 

Happy holidays, and don’t forget, two is sometimes better than one. Dee x


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tkd & pork crackling

I have a feeling this might be quite a convoluted story. In fact I think my husband might say it’s one of those Kumars at 42 kind of tales. 

In fact I know he will but bear with me.

I have a friend and for the purpose of this exercise let’s call him Ox Man. Ox Man is big. I mean reallly big. I barely reach his belly button. And he’s tall and he’s strong and he cooks like a beast. I mean in a good way. The best possible way. If you eat the roast pork he makes you will declare your undying love to him and his family. And if you, by chance, happen to taste the pork crackling he makes you will sell your wife and children to have a piece of it again. 

  
But this weekend just past we went to their lovely home for an Easter Egg Hunt and brunch. One of my children, I won’t say who, I’ll just say it was the birthday boy, had a conversation in the car that went something like ‘…Mum will Ox Man make crackling today? No son, it’s only 10.30am. But mum, why not? It’s the best…’. Wait why am I telling you this? Stop making me lose my train of thought!

  
  
Anyway so we stuffed our faces with bacon and eggs and birthday cake and chocolate and flopped like fat buffaloes all over the backyard. An hour later when I felt I could finally move again I decided to show off some of my new moves. No, not ‘those’ moves you filthy animal! My taekwondo moves. I’ve learnt holds and throws and jab crosses and insteps kicks and even something that looks like a proper donkey kick. (I’ve been training for about six weeks now and I’m so broken it’s taken this long for my fingers to even work again). 

   No, I’ll probably never be this good!

 
I asked Ox Man to grab one of my wrists, any hand, any wrist, come on Ox don’t be a wimp. So he did. I assure you he wasn’t even using 1% of his full strength. And before I could even do my cool defense move, sorry, my highest defense, he fell to the floor begging for mercy. Now I am strong, I really am, and I was pretty insulted. Dude come on, seriously, grip my wrist properly… And. He. Did. 

And I could not move a muscle. No. Not an inch. Not a centimeter. Not a millimeter. Not an atom’s width. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I could not release his grip. And he wasn’t even trying…

On the way home it hit me. HARD. Here is a man I’ve know most of my adult life. He is one of the gentlest, kindest men I know. We were in a safe environment surrounded by our husbands and wives and children and there was no real danger. But what if it was not a fake, pretend, I’m so cool show me what you got, situation? What if it was in a dark alley and a man was really out to get me? What would I do? How would I escape…?

It became abundantly clear. A man really is stronger than a woman. I’m all for women’s equality and all that but there are some things you have to accept. A man really is physically stronger than a woman

  
So my question to you is this… How would you explain physical limitations to your daughters? How would you teach your sons to be be kind and gentle, irrespective of their size?

What would you do to ensure your own safety? Would you take a self defense class? I am. And I know in a REAL situation my first reaction would be to get the hell out of there. But if I was wrist locked or arm locked or neck locked, I hope I’d be able to give him something to remember me by. (Preferably private parts that ached for a year or ten, a split lip, permanent scratch marks on his face and the desire to run to the other end of the earth the next time he saw me). 

It’s been on my mind. I’ve learnt a big lesson in humility and strength and in my own limitations. But one thing I haven’t learnt is how to replicate that damn crackling. Ox? Oh Ox Man, where are you?? Come on mate stop hiding, I swear I’ll go easy on you this time!

  
Dee x 


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what did Santa bring you?

We travelled a squillion miles to be here with family these holidays. We got over the jet lag by just not sleeping and jumped straight into life in this beautiful burnt arid place.  

   
We love California from our time spent here some years ago. Landmarks make sense this time round. Street names greet us like old friends, the grocery store welcomes us with open arms-they know we have to feed 25 people three consecutive meals over the next 36 hours and that ain’t no mean feat sugar!
   
   
So while we’ve done this all before, something is different this time. It’s like coming home. It’s cooking shoulder to shoulder quietly, efficiently, tastily, in a kitchen designed for two. It’s warm long hugs – the sort that stick all your broken pieces together again. It’s twin husbands, sister wives and date nights and girls nights and s’mores toasted on open fires.  It’s grandparents and aunties and uncles and cuzzies and chaos. It’s children growing up and talking to you like you matter, it’s teenagers telling you their secrets.

   

 
 
This time around the edges are softer. Is it because we’re older? Because we certainly aren’t any wiser. Have we grown up a little? Do we know now that it’s all not black and white but beautifully gray in between?
Or is it the food that casts a spell on us? The stupendous fresh produce? Is it the love and care that goes in to planning every single meal, the madness that seems so worth it when every one sits down to share shanks and turkey and bean casserole and cornbread stuffing and pecan pie? Is it the table laid with care and candles and colour and gorgeousness? Is it the tree? It’s bursting at the seams with pressies and we are all bracing for a VERY. EARLY. MORNING.

  
    

I could think about this till the cows come home but I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to thank Santa for bringing me a family I’m proud to be a part of by marrying into. Thank god my inlaws aren’t outlaws! I’m going to ask Santa that instead of leaving something for me under the tree, he takes away all that’s wrong in this world. I’m going to ask him to keep my babies safe and I’m going to ask him to protect those I love. 

  

I’m going to leave a cookie and some milk out for him tonight… and when all I find in the morning are crumbs in the plate, I’ll know you’re never too old to believe in the magic of Christmas. Dee x


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honouring Paris

I will not be afraid. I will not stop doing the things I love with the people I love. I will not let fear rule my life because that is EXACTLY what they want. 

  
So in honour of Paris (13/11/15) I’m re-posting about the most exquisite little French restaurant right here in the heart of Sydney. 

Le Bouchon

Dee x


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livin’ la vida local

There I said it. That song’s been stuck in my head and I don’t even like Ricky Martin. Sorry. Nope. Nyet. Not one bit. But I do like living in Lane Cove. It’s central, it’s safe, it’s perfect for families with young children and hopefully in the next few months were going to see new life injected into this suburb.

There’s been plenty of criticism about the new developments but I say bring it on. Urban sprawl is creeping up on all of us so we may as well stop fighting it and embrace it instead. And with that in mind we figured why go to Surry Hills or Whoop Whoop for a good Indian meal before even giving Indian Fusion a chance.  

 

Yes we know there are already a few Indian restaurants in the Cove. But bear with us as we prattle on about our meal last Tuesday night. A motley bunch of us congregated at Indian Fusion. 

  

    
 

Four Indians, one from each corner of the Motherland, plus one from Ireland (you know how I love the Irish – especially those that cook rogan gosh meaner than any I’ve ever had) and one beautiful woman originally from Sierra Leone then London now Sydney, sat down with a bottle of wine and decided the menu was way too extensive to choose from. 

  

So we let a very traditional waiter in shorts and a tee decide for us. Okay okay Robert was off duty – we found out he is actually the general manager – and decided this would be a very long night if he let us loose on the menu! He decided what we should eat and boy were we impressed!!

I’d like to say straight off the bat that every single starter was superb. Malai tikka, oh you gorgeous thing how I do love you!! And fusion chaat and tandoori chicken I would marry you if I wasn’t already spoken for. Ouch, my vegetarian friend is poking me hard in the ribs and insisting I mention the galoutti kebabs too. And the onion rings and the paneer. Oh the paneer. Marry me now!!! 
  

  

But the serious SERIOUS highlight for me had to be the lamb chops. You have not lived till you sink your teeth into those oogley boogley delicate little morsels that fall off the bone and into your mouth. Even my ‘trying to be vegetarian’ friend succumbed – and and one point we were pretty sure she’d lick her plate clean.  

  

As I looked around the table the other thing that struck me was how beautifully diverse have become. How small the world now is. How sweetly we live next door to each other in harmony. How there is no common language greater than the language of love and friendship and food and laughter. There are a lot more things I’d like to look at, but I was getting quite full by now and could barely roll my eyeballs so had to focus on the mains that were about to arrive…

Naaaaaaan!! Naan. Garlic naan. Butter naan. And the absolutely most stupendous chilli coriander naan!! Woot!! Robert you have outdone yourself. Harpreet Singh with your gorgeous pink turban you have six women hanging off your every word as you put our mains down at the table.

  

The paneer, the chicken, both were good. But the Yakhni, this delicious slow cooked lamb…oom nom nom nom. I also have to make a special mention of the channa upon which the pattie was served.  The problem is I don’t want to give too much away. YOU. JUST. HAVE. TO. GO. THERE. AND. EAT. IT. ALL.!!!!!

   
 

As we came to the end of our meal we were so full we can barely swallow our spit. But there is a God and I know this because he gave women separate dessert stomachs. Don’t ask me how we managed to stuff our faces with kulfi and gaajar halwa and ras malai. But we did.

So with a bellyful of curry and a heart full of grace I thank this gorgeous suburb I live in. And I’m so grateful that good solid authentic Indian flavours are only a stumble up the laneway. We’ll be back! Dee x

 

EDIT: Stop press! This note has just come through from one of the girls that was in our group on Tuesday night.

She says, “We just back from the restaurant. We couldn’t stay away and will be very frequent customers. We couldn’t eat everything – tried our hardest but we just couldn’t fit it all in. Went 100% veggie this time. Had a veggie starter platter and shared a main with rice. Bought our own wine. Total was $71 – such fantastic value. Service was not as prompt and we waited some time to order, they were much much busier though.”

Wow. Twice in the same week must be a good thing no?