Over half a year has passed now since my last correspondence and every day I have been counselling myself to be patient. The truth is that I have missed sharing with you my daily ponderings, kitchen creations, outings to places near and far and minutiae of everyday life, but I have lacked the motivation and energy to put pen to paper. I also became distracted, as for some time now I have been playing the waiting game. Waiting for the right moment, waiting for something interesting to write about, waiting for a void in my day where I didn’t feel tired, and waiting for the day when I would move into my new home. I still haven’t arrived at many of these places and I’ve wasted a lot of time going nowhere. There have been many things I’ve wanted to record on paper and share with you, and also to keep as a record of some beautiful and melancholy moments I have encountered during this time, however, like food on a sushi train I have been waiting for something to beckon me away and bring me back to sharing my musings. Today, under cloudy Autumn skies, seemed like a good time to start again, so if you are here, thank you for welcoming me back into your space. I value each and every one of you and I’m truly humbled by you setting aside time to read my ruminations.
When I was a child one of my favourite foods, apart from spaghetti bolognese, was pizza. I fondly remember my Italian papa making pizza. It was easy and cheap to make with simple toppings of tomato and oregano and a little mozzarella grated from an oddly shaped ball.
Roman pizza started in the post-war years when Italy was recovering, emotionally and economically, from its disastrous war and from Fascism. It typically had a flatter, crispier base rolled out with a rolling pin rather than being hand stretched. This gave the pizza crunch or what Romans call scrocchiarella. Papa’s pizzas were more of a Neapolitan style, with a lighter, more tender and stretchy dough made and shaped by hand. It usually had a thickened rim or cornicione that prevented the side from spilling out all over the oven floor. It took a little longer to make as it needed to be wrapped in a blanket and put to bed to proof (rise) before being punched down in the afternoon and stretched by hand to fit the pizza trays lined up across the table. As kids we would often think about the possibility of the dough escaping from the blanket, growing out of the bowl, creeping down the side of the bed and crawling along the floor, much like the corpse flower looking for sunlight in The Day of the Triffids.
In the modern pizza scene the preparation of the dough has become a defining feature with longer fermentation of doughs using superior flour resulting in a better flavor and texture, and many chefs have often been steering away from more traditional toppings.
On a recent visit to my hometown, I came across a modern pizza restaurant in the nearby village of Bangalow called Ciao, Mate! Ciao, Mate, operated under the guidance of acclaimed zero-waste chef Matt Stone, turns out wood fired sourdough pizzas with non-traditional toppings like venison salami, nduja, guanciale, and smoked habanero honey. Having sampled the prosciutto, smoked honey and Parmesan pizza whilst we were there, I came back inspired to try my hand at making my own pizza from scratch. I used Jamie Oliver’s fail proof pizza dough recipe which you can find here and made two pizzas, one topped with a tomato and Basil sugo with prawns, garlic, chili and Parmesan, and the second with hot sopresso, smoked honey and mozzarella. I still have a way to go in perfecting the dough to match that of my papa, however I’m sure, if he were still alive today, he would frown upon all the fancy toppings and proclaim that there is really only one pizza, and Margherita is its name.
Homemade Chili, garlic prawn pizza
As many of you would be aware, a few years ago my significant other and I downsized from our large family home and have been living in a rented apartment whilst we wait for our new smaller home to be completed. Although it has taken far longer than we would’ve expected, we are grateful that it is slowly moving towards the day when we can collect the keys and move in. It’s no secret that the road to kitchen paradise is lined with deep drawers and ample cupboard space, however living in a much smaller apartment has meant that we have had to become more efficient in utilizing the space we have and finding solutions that maximize storage have become paramount. Every day I look for ways to make my life easier which is how I discovered and have become obsessed with the brand Joseph Joseph, an innovative design company started by twin brothers and design makers Antony and Richard Joseph, who put functionality at the heart of everything they design. Whilst they started out making a glass chopping board, the range now spans from efficient space saving storage containers, dual compartment laundry sorting baskets, nesting bowls, shoe racks, rotating fridge organizers and shelf dividers, to compact ironing boards and everything in between. Suffice to say my apartment, or at least my small kitchen and laundry is slowly becoming like a Joseph Joseph showroom and I couldn’t be happier. If you’d like to learn more about the range and become as obsessed as I have, you can seek out these wonderfully designed products online here.
Joseph Joseph Podium Storage
My car is small, so tiny that my kids call it my toy car. This means there is no room for clutter. The boot is only big enough to fit my tennis racket and a few bags of groceries, an umbrella, and a rolled picnic blanket if I’m lucky. One day as I was scrolling through my Instagram stories I came across a slide of Julie Bishop grabbing a container of yoghurt out of the fridge at her local IGA. While she flexed with a Chanel wallet on a chain handbag on one shoulder, it was her eco-friendly reusable grocery box bag that caught my attention. Bag with Envy designed in Western Australia, these bags stand up and stay open like a box while being packed and won’t fall over in the boot, however, they store flat when you are not using them. A clever design that is perfect for keeping in the boot of my toy car. You can learn more about the reusable box bag here.
Music is an undeniably powerful force and is one reason why I have decided to join a choir!!! Singing has been proven to benefit people in many ways, including reducing stress and lowering cortisol, boosting the immune system, increasing a person's pain threshold and helping people deal with grief. Who doesn’t like to belt out a song in the shower and listen to the echoes as they reverberate around the tiled walls, but what a load of fun would it be to join a group of strangers, at a licensed venue, whilst kicking back with a drink in hand and learning a song together? Hello Pub Choir, an event orchestrated and directed by Astrid Jorgensen who arranges a popular song and teaches it to the audience in a three part harmony, concluding with a performance that is filmed and shared on social media. Tickets for fifteen shows for the Can You Relax tour, to be held at venues all around Australia have just gone on sale. Will I be singing alongside you at Enmore Theatre in early August? I certainly hope so 🎤🎼
After listening to my new favourite podcast, Broadsheet Sydney, which gives a ten minute daily update of what’s new and happening around town, from revamped hotels, new cafes, shows, to the best place to find a traditional hot cross bun, after listening to a recent episode I decided to hot foot it across town to Surry Hills to visit the artisan A.P. Bakery on top of the hip Paramount Hotel. Of course, whilst I was there . I had to partake in a yummy breakfast of rice congee with crispy bacon, egg and peanut Chili sambal, before leaving with said best hot cross buns and the legendary fenugreek and sesame loaf tucked under my arm.
Today, will you be rolling eggs down the hill as they do in Scotland or shaping lambs out of butter to keep Satan away as they do in Poland, or simply enjoying a slow cooked lamb roast with friends and family? I hope wherever you are and whoever you are with you have a most enjoyable day and a very Happy Easter 🐣
Hot Cross Buns from A.P Bakery, Surry Hills
Until next time may your days be both serendipitous and enjoyable.