Showing posts from September, 2004

Warm Ride

When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I was lucky to land myself a job in a brasserie called Post 97. It was part of a group of three food and beverage outlets on Lan Kwai Fong, the main nightclub district on Hong Kong Island.

I took up working as a waitress to keep the cash flowing while adjusted to my new way of living (squished in with six million other people on a rock hardly big enough to swing a cat). During day shift we had no bar tender, so the two waiting staff (there were rarely more at that time of the day) had to prepare drinks as well as serve customers. Having a fully stocked bar at my disposal made me feel like Queen of my little dung-heap for some strange reason. Believe me when I say there is immense satisfaction in pulling a beer!

At night the bar was managed by Alan, a prize winning cocktail maker, no less. His winning drink - vodka martini. He made it for me one time when I'd finished a Friday night shift. I was totally unprepared for the fire that raged all …

Refreshing Pineapple Crush

When I was about fourteen years old, the greatest thing happened: my dad was awarded a prize for being the number one salesman at the transport company he worked for. The prize was redeemable in overseas travel, and having just returned from a sales conference in Singapore (Dad's first ever trip overseas), my father was keen for the rest of the family to take a trip on a plane. He decided it was time for a family holiday.

There was much debate over what our destination would be. My mother was keen on America, but the budget wouldn't stretch that far. I was keen on London, mainly because I was stark raving bonkers about Duran Duran at the time. I can't remember what my sister's preference was, but I think Dad was seriously considering New Zealand at one point. I don't know what made him about face, but one night, he finally announced that we were heading to Fiji.

The flight there was absolutely shocking. Nobody told me they airconditioned the cabins to the same tem…

Humming Bird Cake

In my final year of high school there was a ten day period before exams called Stu-Vac. This was a very important time in an Aussie student's life - it was either spent catching up on study that had slipped through the cracks throughout the year, or it was spent bunking off in full knowledge that there was no chance of ever hoping to catch up.

One thing I was particularly good at in school was exams - it was everything to do with strategy, which in my opinion had to include eight hours sleep, eight hours study and eight hours play. Unfortunately for me, at the beginning of my Stu-Vac my sister's boyfriend decided he should move house. At the time his household included Lady the snooty Australian Terrier who was heavily pregnant, Ben the big dopey bloodhound who had been rescued from starvation, and a cockatoo (if he had a name I don't remember it) who enjoyed providing a running commentary on the goings on of both dogs.

My bedroom was at the back of our house, my window lo…

Marinaded Barbequed Chicken

Barbeques. They are at the heart of every good Australian family's social activities.

According to some, barbeques are just an excuse for men to drink beer and light fires. This, to some extent, is absolutely true. Certainly, barbies are the realm of men - women may prepare the food and may bring it to the fireside, but they may not put it on the grill, or take it off, for that matter. Nor should they stand in close proximity and give instructions on what to turn and when. Never mind that Aussie men cook no other meals at any time throughout the year! Once the fire is lit, they are the Kings of the Outdoor Kitchen!

When I was little there was a period in my life when there was a barbeque in our backyard every Sunday - not because we were devotees of crispy chared sausages and over cooked onions - it was because there was a serial on the radio called the Story of Elvis which played weekly after Sunday lunch. My Dad loved that radio series. Those Sunday barbeques were organi…

Tuna Pasta

If memory serves me correctly, the first dinner party I ever attended as a bonafide grown up was one put on by my friends, Neil and Bruce.

Bruce was a big fan of baked dinners. I'd mentioned to him once that I loved a good baked dinner but hadn't really had one since I'd left home (I was nineteen at the time and had only left home that year so I wasn't THAT deprived!). Bruce decided he would put on a dinner, the feature being his very special roast lamb. It never ocurred to me that there'd be more than one course for the meal, so when I arrived to find the place settings decked out with cutlery for not one but THREE courses, I was absolutely delighted.

It was the late eighties and the whole low fat fashion hadn't totally taken over our dinner tables or tastebuds yet, so it was still open slather on cheese and cream. I asked Bruce what was for entree and he said pasta. No problem - that was something I could easily enjoy. But when Bruce presented the first c…

Chocolate Tart

When I was about eight years old a miraculous thing happened at the local Flemmings supermarket: they introduced a weekly serial of recipe cards published by the Australian Women's Weekly.

These recipe cards couldn't have arrived at a better time in my life - or my mother's for that matter. It was right when Mum was discovering international cuisine, and I was demanding to be taught how to cook. Every week when we did the grocery shopping, Mum faithfully purchased a new set of cards - about twenty-four in all, which covered everything from Favourite Cakes to Light n' Lovely Cool Desserts to Traditional Roasts. I would pour over the glossy cards, admiring the pictures, as Mum created delight after culinary delight in our kitchen.

Amongst those cards featured a plethora of flavour revelations: they contained the original chocolate caramel slice which in the twenty-five years since has been worshipped by many a cafe goer, yet hardly ever reproduced in a fashion faithful to …

Carrot, Coconut & Beetroot Salad

When the Olympics were on in 2000, for some strange reason we all believed it would be a major debacle. So many of us made plans to leave town to avoid the chaos we thought would be foisted upon us.

My destination of choice was the Vipassana Meditation Retreat located at Black Heath in the Blue Mountains. The hysterical thing about my choice was that it was totally the opposite to the Olympics - a 12 day retreat where one takes a vow of silence for 10 days and does nothing but meditate for something eleven hours a day! I thought this was a great idea, mainly because I wanted to lose some weight and get a big bliss out. Boy was I there for all the wrong reasons!

Despite my natural talkative nature, I found undertaking the vow of silence was easy. I discovered human beings say an awful lot when sometimes saying nothing is far superior. I also discovered that I could live without a soy latte and almond friand every day. And I was completely happy to hand the responsibility for my food ov…

Chicken Rice Wrap Rolls

In my early twenties I lived in an illegal structure on the top of a building in the middle of downtown Lan Kwai Fong, Central Hong Kong.

I will never forget the night I arrived in Hong Kong - I was wearing a navy blue suit and the minute I stepped out of Kai Tak airport into the humid summer night I began to swelter. I peeled my jacket off, got into a red taxi cab and proceeded to head from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island. The radio blarred "Thieves In The Temple" by Prince as we sped past the walled city, which has since been knocked down. My eyes were assalted everywhere I looked by neon lights, and to my great surprise, the majority of the signs illuminated the virtues of smoking! Cigarette advertising had long since been banned in Australia, and it was bizarre to be accosted by it again, even if I was in a foreign place.

My apartment was in the middle of the night club district in Central Hong Kong. In the bottom of my building were two very popular restaurants - one which …

Tasty Tuna Sandwich

I've already told the story some weeks ago about my fish issues and how they stem from my dad's maniacal fishing obsession... but what I haven't talked about is how I got over my aversion.

It was back in 1994 when I was on a well being program which involved hiring a personal trainer. Guy was his name - he had me on a high protein diet which helped me reduce body fat and gain muscle mass. It was a great time in my life, training with Guy. Not only did I peel off stacks of kilos, I also started to look like Miss Hard Body 1994. I don't ever remember feeling that well or that physically capable before or since!

But what I didn't like was the amount of beef Guy's eating program had me consume. I had to eat 125g of animal protein a day. I actually think I ate twice that, which would explain why I was able to lift 125kgs on the leg press! I went Guy and told him that I thought I was eating too much beef. I was also eating chicken, turkey and eggs, but no fis…