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Funerals, festivities & feasting

This time of year often lends itself to a retrospective glance at life and the kindness that is shown by others.

I watched and listened as my significant other organized a funeral this week for a man named Vincent. Vincent was neither a friend or a family member. In fact Vincent had lived alone on a park bench near Central Railway Station for almost two years. He had moved to Sydney to escape the heat and humidity of tropical Far North Queensland, and not long after Covid struck and he never returned home. Vincent was a polite man who enjoyed writing poetry and was always appreciative of any support he received. Sadly he suffered with many health issues and when he died recently he had no family to arrange or attend his funeral. To die alone is unthinkable, however to not have any family to bid you farewell and acknowledge a life well lived is even sadder. This is where my significant other stepped in and decided to show Vincent the dignity deserved by any human being and organize a memorial service to honour him. It was an intimate service with just six people in attendance. A poem was read, music was played and heads were bowed as Vincent’s ashes were scattered around the roots of two large trees that shaded the park bench where Vincent spent his last days. Vincent was gone, but not forgotten. Farewell Vincent. May you Rest In Peace.

It is not often these days that you get invited to a person's home to share a meal, which is why when you do it’s really very special and appreciated. A long time friend, Tracey invited me to her home this week and it was evident that she had gone to a lot of trouble to prepare the most beautiful meal for myself and some of her friends. She had decorated the table with fresh flowers and candles, brought out her best crockery and glassware, cooked more food than you could imagine, including the best handmade Christmas mince pies, and had clearly gone above and beyond to make us all feel welcome. It was a gift of her time, her love, and her kindness and unlike the gift of an object it was not gone once she had given it. It was special and heartfelt and clearly a gift that brought her as much joy in giving as her guests felt in receiving it. If kindness were a currency how wealthy would you be feeling today? Tracey would surely be a very rich woman.

When friends come together….feeling very grateful

In the last little while I have been mulling over in my head about the food I will serve for my family to celebrate Christmas. Quality usually takes precedence over quantity and simplicity comes ahead of dishes that are complicated and time consuming to prepare. Having already stowed away some fine cheeses in the deli drawer in the refrigerator, the addition of some meats would make for an appetizing charcuterie board, and with this in mind I started perusing in the deli section of my local Harris Farm. It was here that I stumbled upon some smoked mortadella, sliced and prepackaged by LP Quality Meats, a well known artisan butcher that often supplies high end restaurants. The hefty price tag for a few thin slices left me gasping, as mortadella was a poor man’s meat that I often had in my sandwiches when I was growing up. It is highly processed and a bit like devon, and made from pork, with big globs of fat and rounds of green olives dotted through the thin pink slices. My Italian father loved it and would buy it in little oval shaped balls tightly packed in sealed plastic. It was a staple in our household. I was listening to the podcast FYI, by Broadsheet, Australia’s go to culture guide, and discovered that the mortadella, has had a bit of a renaissance, a rags to riches story where it has gone from being a poor man’s meat to being featured on some of the menus of the finest restaurants. Move over prosciutto and bresaola, smoked mortadella will be coming for you on our Christmas charcuterie board this year. It is the king of meats and even has its own Instagram account @the.king.of.mortadella

Yesterday we were out and about and popped into a Japanese style cafe, Sandoitchi to grab a bite to eat. Famous for its fancy sandwiches on thick fluffy white bread we shared a humongous egg sando and a buttermilk fried chicken sando with pickles. What a delicious mouthful they both were.

Buttermilk fried chicken and pickle sandwich at Sandotchi, Darlinghurst

Food, glorious food…... Far from feeling like Oliver Twist mimicking the joy of having some food to eat, this morning I’m feeling more like Hansel and Gretel being fattened up to be eaten by the evil witch that lived in the gingerbread cottage. If I had to pop my finger through the wire cage today I’m sure I would be ripe for the oven. Last night I felt so thankful to have enjoyed the most delicious meal, however, I ate far too much. As guests of the parents of Mikey Clift, the chef and co-owner of French restaurant Bistrot 916, we were treated to the most amazing spread of food. Mikey was keen to showcase his whole repertoire of dishes and plate after plate of deliciousness kept arriving from the kitchen. I was ready to stop after the first course of bread with bottarga butter and quality anchovies served straight from the tin. I was in my element because I’m a girl who loves my bread and adores anchovies, but alas this was just a snippet of the delicious banquet that was to follow. We shared starters of tuna tartare piled on top of crunchy duck fat potatoes, kingfish crudo, shell pasta made with snails in a creamy mossy green sauce for the little snails to swim in, heirloom tomatoes with a silky curd cheese, and then there were the scallops. The scallops, oh my gosh the scallops, they were outstanding. Served in the shape of a quenelle drowned in the creamiest rich white sauce, it could’ve only been better if I had more of the delicious sourdough bread to mop up the juices. Then we moved onto mains. We had ordered two dishes, the fish of the day, coral trout, a plump and moist white fish with a crispy skin and served alongside the smoothest mashed potato you ever did eat. The second dish, duck frites, the duck tender and pink, was another highlight. What arrived at the table next was a complete surprise, a lobster selected for us by the chef earlier on that day and served with melt in your mouth chunks of tender flesh and an Asian inspired sauce on the side. Wow! Our eyes were literally popping out of our head with anticipation and we felt like we were kings and queens. All the mains were served with handmade frites and a perfectly dressed green salad, and creamed garlic spinach. Oh did I mention desserts? Did we even need dessert? No, but chef Mikey insisted we have one of each to share and we managed to devour everything that was brought to the table, apple sorbet to cleanse the palate, followed by the creamiest custard with a toffee crust on top and a white chocolate mousse with oozy stewed berries. We had the most delicious and fun night, the staff so welcoming and attentive and the ambience ripe for relaxation. Food certainly is the connection to the soul, but who even needs Christmas food after this extraordinary feast?!

Our desserts at Bistrot 916, Potts Point

Until next time may your days be both serendipitous and enjoyable.


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