I Set Fire To the Rain …

I set fire to the rain,
And I threw us into the flames
When it fell, something died
‘Cause I knew that that was the last time, the last time.

Last night was one of the most amazing concert experiences.  Ever.  And I’ve been to a lot of concerts.  Shortly after arriving back to NZ, my sister told me she’d bought tickets to the Adele concert when the seats were released.  Of course the concerts were sold out within a few hours.  All three of them.  I was disparagingly disappointed.  I knew this would be a concert of a lifetime.  A few weeks before the show, I started checking for people selling tickets they couldn’t use for the show.  I spent hours and hours (and then some more) raking over the ticket options, as well as which night to go.  She was playing three concerts in Auckland:  Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday was out because I was #1 Chief Babysitter for my sisters children while they went.  So, it was going to be Thursday or Sunday.  My mum and I thought that Sunday would work best.  So, I found the perfect pair of seats.  And I missed out on them.  Again.  And again.  Then, I found the seats that I really wanted and got them.  Hurrah!  They were emailed to me the next morning once the money had gone through.

I kept watching the long-term weather forecast.  Seven days out: Rain on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  Four days out: Fine Thursday, Rain Saturday and Sunday.  Two days out: possible rain Saturday, Rain bomb Sunday.  The weather predictions were right.  Thursday: Fine.  Saturday:  Fine.  Sunday:  Rain Bomb.

I was pretty pissy.  I so easily could have chosen Thursday.  Really?  A Rain Bomb.  On ‘my’ night?!  I got all my gear sorted:  really good raincoat, three ponchos, trash bags, three sizes of Ziploc baggies (and multiples of each size).  I was all set.  And, I needed every single thing I had with me.

The rain started probably about as she walked out of her dressing room.  And, it came down with a vengeance.  The skies opened and it came down in bucketfuls.  As if that wasn’t pleasant enough, there was wind, too.  So, the rain was sideways.  I was mummified in layers and layers of plastic.  She didn’t have any protection.  Within minutes, she was engulfed with clean, green, Kiwi rain.  Even if there was a roof to the stage, it made no difference.  The rain was coming from all sides.  Partway through the concert she even said that if she sounds funny it’s because when she opens her mouth to sing the next line, a big gust of wind and rain gets pushed into her mouth and she has to get rid of it.  Her two hours of hair and makeup were worthless.  She looked like she’d just stepped out of a shower (her words, not mine!)  She maneuvered around the stage as though it was the brightest star-filled night ever.  She didn’t hide under cover.  And she sang her heart out and gave all 40,000 of us the performance we were hoping for x 10.  I’ve been home for 24 hours and I’m still feeling all the love she gave to her audience.

If tickets went on sale tomorrow and I knew with 100% certainty that we would have a ‘rain bomb’ the night of the show, I would buy tickets again in a heartbeat.  The rain made the lightshow look like little fairy lights were lighting up the whole stadium.  It was worth every piece of plastic I wrapped myself in.  And, the ironic part, is that I left the stadium completely dry!  Most of all, I loved that I got to share it with my awesome mum …who, while I was mumbling and grumbling and being pissy about the forecast, just stayed calm and collected and never had an opinion about it. I love you, M. xoxo



A fish a day …

I had the pleasure of going fishing with an old friend, his girlfriend and one of their friends tonight.  The 6pm launch time was a little later than and I’d thought and it was absolutely perfect.  Charlie has a great 18′ motorboat that he tows with an old red tractor.  A red tractor.  Old school. And awesome.  The boat was in the water and we were off on our adventure before we knew it.

Did I catch any fish?  No.  Actually I did.  It was too small to keep.  I’m normally the one who always catches the most fish.  They flock to my hook.  I was okay with standing in the back on this trip.  Time and time again, I threw my line over the side andpulled it up to an empty hook.  The bait would go on.  The line would go over.  Pull it up.  Bait it again.  Replay and repeat.  It made no difference if I caught fish.  The sunset was one of the loveliest I can remember, the company was impeccable and a few more fish are in the sea!

Today is the first day …

Wow!  The last year has been an interesting adventure.  One that I certainly didn’t chose, however one that obviously chose me.  Growth comes in all shapes and sizes and I kept feeling like I was growing and learning and I would then look back a few weeks later and realize how archaic my thinking was and how much growth I still had to do.  Would I ever get there?  Would I ever be in front of the pain?  Would I ever feel like I could look at things and feel like laughing instead of just feigning a smile or a laugh because it was appropriate in that situation.  The answer is yes …from the time the ‘situation’ started, it took 67 weeks to be precise.  Sixty-seven weeks.  That is in excess of 460 days.  Four hundred and sixty days of feeling shitty and wondering if and when life would ever feel good again.  It’s funny what happens when you turn the corner, though.  And a relief.  And my resolution is to find one thing to blog about every day.  Sometimes it will be interesting to you and sometimes it won’t.  It might be a recipe, a simple gift that the Universe has delivered to me, a concept, a lightbulb that went on or a kind word or thought from a friend.  It might be that my 4-year-old niece had a 30-minute temper tantrum because she didn’t get the size ice cream that she wanted (it was too small) …and that it’s now sitting in the freezer uneaten.  And that I find the tantrum absolutely hilarious.  Why is this funny?  Because sometimes that’s EXACTLY what I want to do as a woman 10+  times her age.  That tantrum probably had little to do with the ice cream size and everything to do with something else that she was feeling frustrated about and couldn’t voice.  I’ve been there and lashed out on something that had nothing to do with the real issue.  It might be that my 11-year-old nephew loves crystals and attaches the little strand of beads I put together for him on his pocket each day because they make him feel good.  It might be that my 9-year-old nephew asks me every week to come to school events with him …and that when I’m there he gives me the most delicious cuddles that make my heart melt.  This blog is for me because I have amazing things in my life on a daily basis …and there are times that I don’t give praise enough to the little moments that make life amazing and bountiful.  So this is about that …the sukha (Sanskrit: happiness, pleasure, ease, or bliss) I have in my life and how great my life is.  xoxo

American Craft Vodka

I was lucky enough to spend most of last Summer interning in the editorial department of Saveur magazine. While there, I worked on so many fun projects which were both interesting and educational. We were planning on doing a huge craft distillery story, so I spent weeks researching craft distilleries throughout the US. Shortly thereafter, I was receiving boxes and boxes and boxes of hooch; vodka, gin, absinthe, tequila, rum, bourbon, whiskey, eau de vie, bitters. You name it, they sent it.

We had so much alcohol that writing one big story about it seemed to be a crime because we had enough content to cover each one individually. I was lucky enough to write the one on vodka and here’s what I had to say …


Brasilian hooch …

The cooking school I attended a few years ago, The French Culinary Institute, regularly has culinary demos for students and alums.  I was lucky enough to attend a demo a few days ago which was run by Leticia Schwartz, a former student who is from Brasil.  Cachaca, a distilled alcoholic drink made of sugar cane in Brasil, was the topic of her demo.

She used cachaca to incorporate the flavors of the national drink, the caiparinha, into each of her dishes: lime, sugar and cachaca.  She whipped cream with a little bit of sugar, then added lime zest and cachaca at the end.  A buerre blanc is delicious with a touch of lime and a hint of cachaca.  Zucchini is quite spectacular marinated in lime juice, olive oil and olive oil.

Cachaca is even quite tasty just on its own, too …

Texture …

Texture modification day at the French Culinary Institute today.  After the motherload of short ribs yesterday, I am looking forward to something lighter today: fish, chicken and fruits.  The vacuum machine used in sous-vide cooking can be set to take various amounts of air from the bag which create various textural changes in whatever is in the bag.  It also means that other flavors can be pushed into the empty cells …pears infused with elderflower cordial and yuzu; apples infused with curry oil; cucumber infused with vermouth; watermelon infused with salty lime.  Yum!

Pretty tasty additions to a cocktail, for sure …

What is this?

Today is Day 1 of a sous-vide class at The French Culinary Institute.  Wow!  What fun.  Just when you think you know how to make the *best* something, there is now another *new* way to do it.  Take the air out, cook it at 57C …for 48 hours (yes, forty-eight).  We had 15 tastings of short ribs: cooked at variable temperatures, for variable times, with variable variables in the bag …and then, in case there weren’t enough things changing, they added a few more, such as pre, post and no sear options.  Some of them had the flavor of short ribs and the texture of chewing gum.  Some had the texture of traditional shorts ribs with only moderate flavor.  They were all good enough that I wouldn’t have sent it back had I ordered it, however a few were so delicious that I would have ordered it in a heartbeat had I not felt like I’d just eaten a cow.

What was my favorite? Temp: 60C …Time: 48 hours …Searing: pre and post …in the bag: just oxtail + red wine redux

Tomorrow is texture modification …