Sunday, January 4, 2015

What we ate in New York, Part 1 - Momofuku (all of the buns)

The very first dinner we had in New York, some four hours after landing, was at Momofuku Ssam bar. We were slightly giddy when we arrived, it was 10 at night, we'd been flying for a day, were in New York together and still a bit giggly about the fact that we were married. And after many many meals of plane food we were ready for something great.

Ssam Bar is conveniently situated opposite Milk Bar, which I'd been following on Instagram in the months before we arrived and so we ate somewhat accordingly. Pork belly buns were a must, and this version was possibly my favourite from the whole trip, owing to the brave use of blue cheese, and from memory shards of cabbage too. As a result of jet lag setting in and the delicious peachy drink I had at the bar, I can't actually remember what else we tried, I think we shared a fish roll?

My very first taste of cereal milk soft serve about an hour later was very memorable. It was delicious. We stood on the sidewalk sharing scoops of this delicious soft serve, totally surprised that a cereal themed dessert could be so good.

Totally inspired by our delicious dinner, Tony spearheaded a trip to another Momofuku restaurant for our first breakfast which turned out to be more of a brunch. We headed to Ma Peche which was just starting to serve its own kind of yum cha. In comparison to the moody, dark wood, bar scene of Ssam Bar, Ma Peche was all high ceilings and dramatic peach sails. 

We feasted on a kind of guacamole, with chips artfully wedged into the dip before moving onto spicy jerk chicken. It was quiet that morning, so the kitchen decided to gift us with deep fried fish balls that had done one round on a yum cha trolley and remained unchosen. They were delish.

The dessert trolley was my favourite! I spied it in the corner of the restaurant and it was so early that we had to ask our waiter if it was ready to come out yet. For our second Milk bar item, we chose the iconic crack pie, which was so sweet and much slimmer than I had imagined.

Momofuku Noodle Bar was next! I was most looking forward to this one, since the lack of ramen in Wagga Wagga has made me somewhat of a ramen fiend. That said, I ended up ordering the ginger scallion noodles because I'd tried and failed to make them from the Momofuku cookbook Tony had given me a year or so ago. Seated at the bar we watched the chefs at their stations, one was just in charge of the ramen noodles, another the buns. We traded bowls and slurped our way through the ramen, already knowing we'd return at least one more time before we went home.

On a very muggy day which we spent walking between galleries and shopping for presents, we stopped into a Milk Bar to try a different flavour of soft serve, this time blueberry! I think there were two flavours in this cup, maybe cereal milk. It was totally great, especially with the chocolate fudge sauce and fortified, we were able to venture into the night.

A few days later we returned to Ma Peche, this time slightly earlier at 9am to sample the breakfast menu. We met up with Garry who was also in town, and spending some time with him was a real highlight of the trip, I've long admired his photography. He beat us there and looked like a true New Yorker, with his Yankees baseball cap and a morning edition of the Wall Street Journal.

Tony won by choosing the 'Everything bagel' which was packed with shiso cream cheese, ham and tomatillo and was 100 per cent delicious. I had the egg and cheddar bagel bun which was yummy but needed a follow up of the breakfast steamed bun, a bold mix of pork belly (for breakfast! I know!), egg and potato. Delish.

We revisited the Noodle Bar on our second last night in town, I was coming down with a cold and desperate to try the chicken and egg bowl I'd seen on Instagram but we ended up ordering two giant bowls of ramen and a side of spicy cucumber. For dessert we another form of soft serve sundae, this time with crunchy and light strawberry cubes hidden beneath.

Our very last Momofuku item, a compost cookie bought at the markets and carried carefully around the city was consumed at LA airport, part of the way home.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Life with Ang

In mid October I moved in with Angelina, one of my oldest friends from high school, and her boyfriend Dave. They were the best people to help me settle back into life in Sydney and distract me from my 10 weeks away from Tony as I went to work at my most favourite radio station.

Basically our time together was one giant feast, as we tried out new recipes together and travelled around Sydney to seek out the best cinnamon scrolls (at Oregano bakery) and chicken rolls (at El Jannah).

Ang also had a habit of making my breakfast in the morning, anything from omelettes to chia seed puddings and avocado and goats cheese on toast. I think Tony was a little worried that I wouldn't want to come home :)

I totally loved sticky beaking during my time in Sydney. Sometimes I feel like fluked my way into adulthood after moving out of home and I was super curious about the littlest things like how they shop and budget for food and spend their weekends. I learnt to stop hand washing and start trusting a delicates bag (may sound obvious but it was a revelation to me) and am now in the habit of doing some food prep before work.

We traded dessert recipes, I finally have the confidence to make a pavlova on my own after watching Ang make variations of them nearly every weekend (wreathes, pavlova rolls) and in return, I showed her how to make super easy mangomisu

I also witnessed Angie prepare for her annual Christmas picnic that she puts on for friends and their kids. This was no ordinary picnic, there was a spreadsheet and a Pintrest board! And we were up super early the next day (me at 7am, her at 5.30am!) to make sure everything was ready for our midday meet up, from the Christmas themed lunch boxes for kids to the homemade sausage rolls and the pigs in blankets wreath.

Ever the caterer, Angie also helped me make food for my brother and sister-in-law who had just welcomed their first baby, a baby boy called Henry who is the first grandchild on the Curran side. We made shepherds pies and muffins, and I found a fellow food packaging enthusiast in Ang, who lent me all kinds of cute takeaway boxes and little jars, along with her car to make the weekly drop offs. Few things made me happier than pottering around in the kitchen preparing a few things for the new parents come the weekend.

While the trip was meant to be about work, it became the best excuse to hang out with a long time girlfriend, something I don't often get to do when I'm in Wagga. When I first moved here, I remember staring wistfully at groups of girlfriends catching up for coffee on the weekends. I learnt a lot about generosity from Angie and Dave during my stay and was quite humbled by the experience.

And then on Christmas Eve, I landed back in Wagga Wagga on a hot and dry evening and to an unfamiliar sun. I've been re-nesting ever since and came home to a fridge stocked with all of my favourite foods (like fancy coconut ice cream), which Tony very carefully put together. At one point it occurred to me that I'd been living out of a suitcase since September, minus a 2 week stint at home in between the honeymoon and my move to Sydney. It's been a crazy year but one I've totally enjoyed.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Turning 30 with friends

In early October my friend Angie had a special 30th birthday party in Killcare. Her boyfriend Dave had organised a weekend getaway for her friends, and we spent a couple of nights by the beach. He organised everything from the food to the beach houses, and it was pretty great.

I've known Angie since high school (and am staying with her and Dave in Sydney - as you can see they are very very generous) and it was so lovely to hang out with the girls I grew up with, and a few new friends who are part of our group, who I hadn't really gotten to know because of my move to Wagga.

Irini and I drove up together and decided to wear the same pair of jeans. As you do. Our second twin outfit was a coincidence!

We spent our days swimming in rock pools and chatting by the sea, before we wandered back up the hill to hot breakfasts cooked by Dave, there would be steaks with special sauce and chicken rolls too.

Angie's friend Chantelle made a terribly impressive rainbow cake! It included a vanilla layer for those who aren't so keen on colour. I wasn't shy about taking a large chunk home.

Jemma brought her baby boy Leo along and I waited patiently for my turn to have a cuddle. I sure got my turn when she went for a dip with her partner. I was so eager for Leo to wake up but when he did he got a bit upset! It wasn't anything vigorous swaying/dancing couldn't fix and by the end of it I was pooped! Leo looked serene when Jemma returned, I hope I did too! She did teach me a good baby whispering technique, which is to try something different when he gets a bit upset. It works! Irini had success with baby lunges ;)

And the birthday girl herself. We went for an early morning swim on the Sunday and then mulled over our hopes and goals, both personal and professional, for the next five years. It sounds serious but it was nice to share some big and little aspirations for the coming years. Though everyone agreed that we hardly feel like 30 year olds at all!

Not wanting the lovely weekend to end, I decorated the house with flowers ahead of Angie and Dave's return. And then we all went out for giant bowls of pasta. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A few favourite wedding photos

We were really lucky to have Sophie, a talented fine art photographer who we met in Wagga Wagga, as our wedding photographer.

Here are a handful of my favourite pics. The one above is probably my most favourite, we were on our way out of the reception, totally elated and I'm wearing I dress I bought years before Tony proposed (yep! kind of crazy, my friends reassuring me that it's also kind of cute..)

This portrait of my father in the kitchen sums up how he spent his morning. While the girls were busy getting their hair and make up done, he was offering to make teas and coffees, and quietly tidying up the breakfast before we went to the wedding.

Brotherly love and a pageboy who just wanted his own bouquet: 

This next one has a bit of a story behind it. On our very first date, Tony had brought a plastic bag full of lego men, which was also our excuse for meeting up. We'd met before, but only recently started chatting at a house party.  I was looking for some for an art project I was working on, and he happened to have many, he said, which he would be happy to give to me.

I later found out that he had to go back to his parent's house to find aforementioned lego men, before we met up for lunch in the city. I chose 3, all special space men with helments, but didn't give all of them away as part of my project. I kept one, for sentimental reasons, and as a surprise I had it in my bouquet that day for good luck. This pic is the moment Tony found out it was there :)

My dad saved the day with this one, and when I couldn't find a way to wedge it into my bouquet, he brought out some fishing line which we used to secure the space man.

Happy, if not mildly overwhelmed.

Party mamas and a shot with my dear friend Jemma, who had had her first baby just 6 days before.

How my niece was entertained while her mum gave a speech - I love that Sophie captured all of these moments we couldn't possibly have seen for ourselves.

And a shot of our first dance, outside beneath fairy lights as it slowly started to sprinkle. Even though the faces are blurry in the background, I love that you can see that everyone was smiling, and so happy for us. I also love that everyone came dressed in such lovely colours, I will totally think twice about wearing black to a wedding again.