Let’s be real, I have totally abandoned any pretext of this being a recipe blog. I love cooking and eating and chatting food with friends but I’ve realized that I cook almost entirely by instinct. I rarely follow recipes, a quality that does not stand me in particularly good stead to be a food blogger. So, from herein out, I guess this makes this site an online journal of sorts? I’m not sure, but whatever it is I’m going to keep popping in occasionally.
It’s almost 12 months since I left Sydney and my life doesn’t look at all like I thought it would when I jumped on a plane for New York. I imagined I’d be dying to get back as soon as my program ended. Instead, New York has become one of my favourite places on earth and I’m so happy to be here. Having said that, I’m in the midst of packing up for a couple of months. I’m moving to Jordan to work for a short while, before returning to New York in the fall for a final stint before moving back to Australia for at least 12 months. I’m not sure when I became one of those people who agrees to move across the world without pausing for even a moment, but I think (hope!) it’s going to be a great adventure.
Until I leave for Jordan next month, I’m living large in New York and attempting to eat my way through as many places as possible (recent haunts include Superiority Burger, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, Emmy Squared (one of my favourite places in the city, it’s so flippin’ good!), Four and Twenty Blackbirds, the Museum of Food and Drink and Dimes). Any other suggestions, send them my way!
Marian Bull is one of my favourite food writers ever (subscribe to her hilarious and totally down to earth newsletter. It’s the shit). Her article on mug cakes is amazing.
These jokes about New York are SO true.
Almond butter chocolate chip cookies.
One of the great joys about going back to school has been the freedom to set my own schedule every day. I’ve got into the groove of running three days a week and going to three or four yoga classes. I’ve never felt better and I seriously hope that I’ll be able to keep this up when I go back to full time work next year. This is a great piece about the mind-clearing magic of running.
Totally obsessed with Reformation right now.
I have been pouring this dressing over everything lately. So easy and so good.
Love Masha.Moon jewellery.
I hope I leave behind a library like this one day.
I love Julia Stiles.
Ted talks have been getting some hate recently but Bene Brown is fantastic and this is a great talk about the power of vulnerability.
*With thanks to my friend Hannah for the title.
Usually, I keep things far from personal in this space, always fearful of what will be attached to my name on my internet. But you know what? F*&^ it. I tend towards the too cautious so I’m putting this out there (possibly to be deleted and re-posted half a dozen times). It sounds cynical, but I think you have to keep some distance or you’ll never survive. (And of course, I am exercising my right to poetic licence etc etc so apologies to the guys I’ve dated and thanks for the copy, as Nora Ephron would say).
August 2015 found me single in New York. After almost six months settling in, early this year, I decided to dip my toes into the world of dating in the city. What I’ve found is at times an amazing, fun and hopeful place but is often about nothing more than dodging yet another jerk. You’re totally aware of the fact that there are fifteen million people crammed into this tiny space and thus the whole city is throbbing with possibility and excitement. You know what else it means? The most profound sense of FOMO you can imagine. I mean, how do you pick one person when there are literally millions of other potential dates one swipe away. And when you’re someone who isn’t interested in dating someone different every night of the week, how do you figure out who’s taking you for a ride and who is genuine? I am yet to figure out the answer to this question. My track record is not particularly impressive on this front. So if you figure it out, let me know, k? While I haven’t cracked the code, here are a few things I’ve learned about dating (and men) in the best / worst place to date on Mother Earth.
Take 2-3 inches off every guy’s height description. At least. 6′? You wish my friend, try 5′ 10″ (on a good day).
Do not date screenwriters.
Do not go on a second date with a guy who asks you out for coffee and then tells the server we’re going to split the check for that $4 cup of chai.
Do not believe everything he says, especially when he says he has deleted whatever ridiculous app it is you met him on or mentions a million dates he’s going to take you on before you’ve even met (why do guys think girls like this??). Unless he says that he isn’t looking for anything serious, in which case you should definitely take him at his word. This is an important survival mechanism.
Do not go on a date with any man who tries to sext you before you’ve even met. Ditto requests for pictures (I cannot believe I am even writing this down. Men of New York, HOW IS THIS EVEN A THING?).
Bumble profiles that contain shirtless photos, ex-girlfriends, request “blondes only”, specify that “vegetarians need not apply” or contain any mention of cross-fit, paleo, Class Pass or karaoke? SWIPE LEFT.
Congratulations! You made it to the mythical land of the third date! For the first time in a long time, you think this could be going somewhere. Don’t get too excited though. He is just about to drop a bombshell. He’s actually in a relationship (surprise!) or has decided to give things another go with his ex or is still totally pining over the last woman to break his heart.
Which brings me to my final tip, 95% of the guys you date are going to do the fade out or ghost you. At first, this feels undoubtedly shitty but once you’ve had one awkward, “Um, I can’t see you again BECAUSE I’M GETTING BACK WITH MY EX” conversation, you’ll begin to appreciate the fade.
All of this makes me kind of excited to move back to Australia, where dating happens so much more organically and you don’t have to worry that your date is actually seeing three other people (because, um, even Sydney is way too small for that to be kept a secret). Having said that, I’ve met some really cool people. So, finishing on a more positive note this time around, because good things do happen: dating also means guys who track down tim tams because your stash is running low, noodle soup in Chinatown at 2am, room service, wine bars that serve grilled cheese sandwiches, Ice & Vice, and cornbread and honey.
This time in three months I’ll (fingers crossed) have an LLM under my belt and be gallivanting across Europe. It’s crazy to think that this time twelve months ago, living in New York was a distant prospect and I couldn’t imagine stepping away from law firm life. This brief pause on real life has flown past so quickly, I’m already overcome with nostalgia for this moment I’m still living in. It’s a weird feeling. Knowing that the clock is ticking on my time in New York, I’ve been exploring at the expense of spending time in my kitchen – I don’t think I’ve ever cooked less. I did manage a batch of this stellar tomato sauce last night and I’m itching to try this oatmeal souffle but that might be as fancy as I get for the next few months.
Do people still post links? Perhaps this is all too 2011, but I’m forging ahead regardless. Apologies for the excessive number of NY Times links this go around. There was just too much good stuff! It’s also a bit heavy of the love side of things (Valentine’s etc).
Modern Love is amazing, and this is a lovely essay.
A really thought provoking essay about selfies (which I rarely take and NEVER post but the article kind of makes me want to).
52 places to go in 2016.
How should a person handle heartbreak?
Something a little different to what I usually post, I enjoyed this essay on defining sexy, especially given how much I hated the video clip for Blurred Lines.
I am obsessed with this new site, GAL (Girls At Library), and I especially loved this interview with Molly Young (“A good book allows you the gift of occupying someone else’s consciousness for a period of time. It heightens your capacity for imagination and your capacity for empathy, which are the two values I prize most in all humans.” AMEN).
Speaking of books, if you have any recommendations, send them my way! There’s nothing I love more.
I’m back in New York (and in class!) after three weeks hopping through the US. I can tick New Orleans, Austin, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Las Vegas, San Diego and LA off my bucket list! We had the best time in Austin so I thought I’d jot down some notes here. It’s the perfect place for a weekend break – accessible, pretty inexpensive, easy to get around and jammed with tonnes of interesting food and music options. I can’t wait to go back.
We stayed in a great Airbnb in East Austin. If you did a poll of our Uber drivers, the consensus is it isn’t the nicest of Austin neighbourhoods but we loved it. As we were waiting on the street for an Uber on our first night there, a police officer did pull over to ask us if we’d heard gun shots but we actually felt really safe there. East Austin is gentrifying quickly and there are so many great restaurants, bars and food trucks nearby. We also enjoyed the South Congress area, which is accessible from East Austin by a very cheap Uber ride.
We stayed for three days which was the perfect amount of time. While public transport isn’t the best in Austin (or so we’ve been told, we didn’t use it), we found it surprisingly easy to get around. An Uber was never more than a few minutes away and the city was easily walkable (especially as we didn’t stray too far from East Austin).
Bufalina – we stayed really close to this super cute pizza place and one night when it was pouring with rain we decided not to bother fighting for a table and ordered in. We had the roasted mushroom pizza with caramelized onion, comté and mozzarella, a simple green salad and an amazing farro salad with pesto, radish and ricotta salata (which I’m dying to recreate!).
Dolce Neve – mascarpone and fig and hazelnut gelato. And a waffle cone made in house. ‘Nuff said.
Elizabeth’s – after days of fried goodness in New Orleans, we were crazing something fresh, spicy and light when we got to Austin. Elizabeth’s definitely delivered. I think the wait for a table can be long but there’s a patio where you can sit with drinks and we were happy to sit at a table outside (with heaters and blankets) so we got seated straight away. We enjoyed the pho and huge pots of freshly brewed tea. We took some pastries to go on impulse and I’m still thinking about the pistachio éclair weeks later.
Veracuz – Austin has the best food truck scene I’ve ever encountered. We got a great juice and lots of fresh tacos for less than $20. Eggs are not my jam but everyone was ordering the breakfast tacos.
Launderette – this was our last stop in Austin. We had a great lunch here before heading to the airport. It is one of the prettiest fit outs I’ve ever seen and the food was great – fresh and interesting, including a great tea menu. Service was super friendly too.
Coffee and beer
We found seriously great coffee at Flat Track. It doesn’t serve anything else apart from coffee but it’s well worth a visit just for that. It served the best coffee I’ve had since I arrived in the US five months ago which is why it’s only place we visited twice during our stay!
Brew & Brew also serves good coffee, a small selection of pastries and a variety of beers. Chill vibe, plenty of space and free wi-fi. It’s just around the corner from Practice Yoga Austin.
Easy Tiger – it’s a pretty great place that can accommodate those in need of both coffee and pastries or beer and pretzels. We played Connect 4 while we ate and there’s a great outdoor space on the canal with ping pong tables too.
Practice Yoga Austin is a great donation based yoga studio in East Austin. I did a sweaty vinyasa class here with a lovely teacher. Everyone was super friendly and low fuss. I love going to a yoga class when I travel. As someone who loves a bit of routine, it is so reassuring to me that every yoga studio on earth has the same smell, moves through the same poses and speaks the same language.
We spent a morning walking the Lady Bird Johnson boardwalk before heading downtown. I can never visit enough book shops and I especially loved Book People and South Congress Books. There are tonnes of hipster eating options and clothing stores around South Congress Books too – it’s such an easy place to spend an afternoon.
For next time: I loved Austin and would happily go back. I think it might be my favourite US city so far. I would happily live there if it wasn’t so far away from Australia (the gun laws don’t thrill me either). Anyway, on my list for the next time I go to Austin are the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, House Wine, Odd Duck, Sway Thai, La Barbeque, Cow Tipping Creamery, the Elizabeth Ney Museum and lots more food trucks!
I was so excited to start at Columbia but there’s no denying it’s not in the hippest part of New York. Now that I’ve been here for a couple of months, I really appreciate Harlem and Morningside Heights. The crowds of midtown make my twitchy and I like that things are a little bit more chilled uptown. Besides, running in Central Park never fails to induce a, pinch me I live in New York feeling. It’s an interesting time to be in Harlem too. It’s so full of buzz. And while we might not be featured in the hippest food blogs and magazine articles, I promise there are a few cool places to check out. I’ve started to list them below and I’ll try to update as the year passes.
Joe – one of the best two coffee places on campus. It’s always packed but people are happy to share tables. It’s a great, light-filled space to study. The coffee is good, there are donuts from Donut Plant (my favourite donut place in New York), oatmeal and a few sandwiches and soup for lunch.
Double Dutch Espresso – great coffee, snacks and free wifi. A nice place to sit and study, there’s a little court yard out the back if New York’s weather is being compliant (unlikely) and you can hop next door to Mess Hall when happy hour hits.
Ploughshares Coffee Roasters – perhaps my favourite coffee place in Morningside Heights. I’m going to miss my weekends at Yoga to the People followed by coffee here. Great coffee and lots of pastries. Like Oren’s, they also have Ovenly’s pistachio loaf which is more or less all you need to know.
71 Irving Place – if you find yourself on the UWS, this is another great coffee spot with the best pastry case and a pretty extensive breakfast and lunch menu. Be warned, the line gets long.
Thai Market – Sydney has some of the best Thai food on earth so I was sceptical when I was dragged here after class but it surpassed my expectations. It’s not quite my beloved Muum Maam but it’s an acceptable substitute. It’s inexpensive and there are plenty of vegetarian options.
Levain – some of the best chocolate chip cookies in New York. Skip the coffee and go across the street to Double Dutch.
Silver Moon Bakery – the bread here is some of the best I’ve tried in New York. There are lots of interesting wholemeal options and they’ll slice it for you too. I can’t vouch for the coffee but the pastries are on point.
Columbia farmers market (Thursday and Sundays on Broadway between 114th and 116th) – my favourite stand is the first one as you’re heading up Broadway (just on the corner of 114th and Broadway). It has the best variety of apples I’ve ever seen (#foodnerd).
Birch Coffee – a nice place to study and flat whites ftw!
Friedmans – weirdly great range of beers on tap, salad bowls, soups etc.
Oren’s Daily Roast – espresso to go (in normal sized cups, or giant if that’s more your thing) and an impressive pastry selection. The pistachio loaf is perfection and they sell lots of coffee beans and loose leaf tea to brew at home.
[Community service announcement: Do not, under any circumstances, drink the coffee from Artopolis. It is what could only loosely be described as coffee. ]
It feels like I arrived in New York only minutes ago and that I’ve been here forever. And although I have another 9 months or so to explore, I’m already suffering from FOMO. How can I justify staying in to watch Gilmore Girls when there is so much to see at my door step?! Despite the FOMO, I’ve spent most of my time so far in class or tying myself in knots trying to organise a mobile phone and bank account (and cheques (!!) because apparently they are still a thing here). Now that I’m slowly starting to get on top of all this life admin, I’m dipping my toes into the many things New York has to offer.
I’ve walked the High Line (see above and below) and had delicious vegetarian pita at Taim in the West Village. I also walked across Brooklyn Bridge, wandered through the Brooklyn Bridge Park (and Please Touch the Art) and stuffed myself silly at One Girl Cookies. The great coffee tour of New York 2015-16 has also kicked off. So far I’ve been to Culture Espresso (delicious, crazy packed but a welcome break from Macy’s), 71 Irving Place and Baked (great caramel pound cake but I ordered a flat white off the menu and the barista asked me to explain what I meant. Yikes). I’ve had avocado toast at Little Collins and started making a daily pilgrimage to Joe. I think you can say things are looking up on the coffee front. I’m getting the hang of the subway too and soaking in summer before classes start and winter arrives.
There hasn’t been a whole lot of cooking happening – a couple of batches of muesli, roasted vegetables and a delicious chickpea pasta is about it so far – but I’m looking forward to doing more when things cool down. Back soon. Xxo
Two months! It has been two months since I’ve posted anything at all here and I have to admit, I had no idea it had been so long until I clicked by to check my favourite cookie recipe (here – only this time I added white chocolate, hacked into rough shards, and toasty macadamias) that I realised. The last couple of months have been a blur. Two days ago I hopped on a plane to New York. I’ve packed up life here in Sydney, said goodbye to commercial law (for now, at least) and I’m going back to study. I am equal parts excited and terrified. I have been so focused on the plummeting exchange rate, getting my visa, choosing courses and organising somewhere to live that I haven’t had much time to process the fact that I am going to be living in New York. ?!&%^!
If you have any suggestions for things to do, places to eat or yoga studios, send them my way. I’m living on the Upper West Side / Morningside Heights and desperately in need of a decent cup of coffee.
As I’ve said goodbye to Sydney for the best part of a year 10 months, I thought I’d share some of my favourite spots and a couple of other random things.
Little Jean is my favourite cafe right now. The sticky chai with almond milk is so good I could drink it everyday. The pastries rock too and they do a smashing breakfast.
Faheem Fast Food. Sydney doesn’t have great Indian food and having eaten so much fantastic dosa and banana leaf in Kuala Lumpur, we tend to just avoid it. But this place came highly recommended by a friend and it was an awesome Friday night takeaway to share with my sister and her bf. So cheap and delicious (we loved the naan, tandoori chicken, lahori fish fry and lamb vindaloo in particular).
Spritzes at This Must Be The Place (which, I’m sure I’ve mentioned before but as it’s ace I think it deserves another mention).
Very late to the game but I just watched the Oscar winning documentary, Undefeated, and it was so good. It’s pretty much a real life version of Saturday Night Lights, my favourite television show of all time.
Can’t wait to get my summer on and make this.
I am going to miss my friends and family terribly so I had some of my Instagram photos printed with Origrami and they are ace.
xo Breakfast is one of my favourite blogs (dying to make this oatmeal) and Noelle’s granola bars are perfection. They’re the only thing I’ve ever baked that my boyfriend enjoyed so much he asked me to show him how to make them.
Plan for today involves picking up keys to my apartment, buying a sim card, opening a bank account, buying a bed, figuring out how to use the subway and (fingers crossed) that much needed cup of coffee. Wish me luck!
I really like the column Grub Street Diet. Reading it makes me feel like a voyeur, but who wouldn’t be curious about what Lorelai Gilmore eats for breakfast. However, reading about all these wildly exciting meals made me realise that were I to be featured in Grub Street Diet, it would go something like: granola and yogurt, coffee, fruit, leftovers for lunch, more fruit (and let’s be honest, cake), dinner. The dinner part changes every day but I can safely say that I’ve eaten homemade granola every morning pretty consistently for the last 6 years, maybe longer. Obviously there are exceptions for holidays, some porridge during winter and breakfast with friends but most of my friends know that if we’re catching up on the weekend, I am pushing hard for lunch. None of this brunch rubbish. I like to have breakfast and lunch. I am not cheating myself out of one or other so I can eat a plate of eggs for $25.
Despite the fact that I have made granola dozens, if not hundreds, of times, I’ve never shared it here. For a while I was making this one, which started out as a recipe from the I Quit Sugar cookbook by Sarah Wilson. While my current recipe has the same bones (no fruit, lots of nuts and coconut), it’s even more delicious and it’s a bigger batch so, you know, win win. It was inspired by a recipe from Megan Gordon’s book, Wholegrain Mornings (one of my favourites of 2014) but I’ve changed so much that it doesn’t really resemble the original anymore.
Inspired by Sarah Wilson, I keep the amount of sugar in my granola very low. I use only two tablespoons of honey, rather than the 1/2 cup suggested by Gordon. I’ve also upped the amount of oats, nuts and coconut. In terms of nuts, my favourites are macadamias, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts but use whatever you like. If you like your granola fruity, stir through 1/2 cup sultanas, chopped apricots or dates when it comes out of the oven.
3 c rolled oats
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/2 c coconut oil or olive oil
2 heaped tablespoons honey
1/2 tsp each cinnamon and ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c unsweetened coconut flakes
1 1/4 c raw nuts, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 160’C / 325F.
2. In a medium saucepan, stir the oil, honey, vanilla extract and spices together over low heat until the honey has melted. Remove from the heat and add the oats and sesame seeds. Mix well so that the honey is evenly mixed through the oats. Place on a non-stick baking sheet in an even layer.
3. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top of the granola is starting to turn a gentle gold.
4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and gently stir through the coconut and nuts. Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the granola is golden (the coconut and nuts should look nice and toasty). I generally start checking at the 10 minute mark and stir if it isn’t browning evenly.
5. When the granola is done, remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet. When it’s completely cool, move into an airtight container or jar. I find it keeps well for 2-3 weeks at least though usually it’s long gone before then!
Life has been so busy I haven’t had time to spend hours reading book reviews online and ducking into bookshops like I normally would. Instead, I’ve been rereading some of the books on my shelf that I haven’t thought about for ages and I’m so glad I have. I’ve enjoyed old favourites and finished books that have been looking at me from the book shelf with a guilt inducing stare for avoiding them for so long.
Nothing to Envy by Barbard Demick – I’ve probably mentioned that I find North Korea endlessly fascinating. I just cannot get my head around what it would be like to live in such a violent, regimented society, particularly given that images we see of North Korea almost always come from the regime and focus on enormous military parades and lines of indistinguishable gymnasts (i.e. not the stuff of real life). Demick changes that with this book. While working as the Korean correspondent for the LA Times, Demick wanted to write about what it was really like to live in North Korea. Without free access to people living there, she decided to interview a group of defectors who all lived in the same town on the Chinese border at the same period of time during the terrible famines of the mid-1990s. The result reads like fiction – it weaves together the stories of very different people (a young female doctor, homeless teenage boy, a loyal party member etc) to paint a picture very different to the Pyongyang you might be familiar with.
Persuasion by Jane Austen – my favourite Austen and one of my favourite books ever. It’s hilariously funny and the tension between Anne Elliott and Frederick Wentworth is perfectly drawn, despite a relatively simple plot. I enjoy Austen’s take on the self-made man (Wentworth) versus the utter stupidity of Anne’s supposedly noble family members too.
Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver – I picked this up in Melbourne, thinking it might be a good airport read, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a story of a young mother trapped in an unsatisfying marriage in Tennessee but it’s also about climate change and how we are responding (or not responding, more importantly). I don’t know what entomologists would have to say about the science in this story but I think that Kingsolver writes so well about the moral, religious, cultural and social issues that climate change raises and I really loved the main character, Dellarobia.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – I tend to gravitate towards female writers (see above) and I certainly have no love for military fiction so I have no idea why I decided to read this but I’m really glad I did. Flanagan, inspired by his father who was a prisoner on the Thai-Burma railway during WWII, has written a truly beautiful book about Australian prisoners of war working on the railway. Watching these men try to survive an almost incomprehensibly awful situation and then try to make sense of their lives back in Australia was so compelling. It manages to be so even though the characters are so deeply flawed and contradictory that it can be hard to like them sometimes. Throw in a love story and you basically have a pretty perfect book.
The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. This has been sitting on my book shelf for an eternity but I’ve been turned off my how prolific McCall Smith is. How can his books be any good if he writes 3 or 4 each year?! I thought I’d hate the characters too. The protagonist is a single, middle aged philosopher called Isabel Dalhousie – not really someone I thought I could relate too. Despite both these things, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It’s a crime novel (in a very low key, not at all like James Bond kind of way) which offers a very nice glimpse into Edinburgh. Though I found Isabel frustrating at times, I had sympathy for her too.
As always, I’d love to hear your book recommendations. What are you loving at the moment? Xo