Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Things I Don't Eat with a Knife Because I'm American

I am American, my husband is British. This means 2 things. One, we speak completely different languages ;-) and two, he ALWAYS uses his knife when eating a meal (or wants to anyway, if I don't give him a knife at dinner because I think it's unnecessary sometimes he can be convinced to eat with no knife...but not always)

Sometimes I find his knife skills admirable, sometimes I find it amusing and completely unnecessary. To quote my precious husband he can "dine with royalty" and amusing or not MY CHILDREN WILL HAVE HIS KNIFE SKILLS. They WILL learn proper rules for silverware and will eat their eggs with a knife...I make no promises that I won't make fun of them just like I make fun of Dom, but they will KNOW, they will have the skill set from the moment they pop out of the womb. Ok, maybe not THAT soon, but you know, right away.

Here's the thing, in America it's completely acceptable to not use your knife unless you're cutting a steak or something, and even then it is completely acceptable to switch hands after cutting and put the fork back in your dominant hand. It's like we've evolved the knife OUT of necessity. I THINK THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE and do not like that I had to learn how to use a knife in my 20's. I also do not like that when visiting other countries your Americanness is so blatant because you don't know how to use a goddamn knife! Anyway, since meeting Dom I've become better with my knife and for the most part I am completely comfortable using it. But, the topic for this post came about the other night at dinner, I'd ordered rack of lamb and almost immediately I discovered I COULD NOT EAT IT WITH A KNIFE AND FORK, I had to pick it up...for shame! Anyway, I wasn't actually embarrassed, I'll own my Americanness when necessary, but honestly whether I used the skill or not it would be nice to know how to scrape those bones clean without resorting to picking them up.

That being said, here are some things that DO NOT NEED A KNIFE, just because you have the knife does not mean you have to use it:

EGGS, eggs are soft no matter how you cook them, fork is sufficient to cut them, no knife.

BACON, bacon is to be eaten with your fingers not a knife and fork. Unless it's English bacon, but that's completely different.

BREAD of any sort, ie toast, biscuits (American biscuits not English biscuits which are cookies!), etc. I hate watching people cut up their toast at breakfast, just pick it up!

RICE, Indian and Chinese food served with rice do not need a knife.

MEAT ON THE BONE, this is where Dom's knife skills are admirable, he can get ALL the meat off the bone with his knife and fork, and like I said it would be nice to know how to do this, but I stand by my no knife declaration on meat on the bone, it's finger food.

CORN, both on the cob and off, no knife.

PIZZA, under no circumstances does pizza need a knife!

FRENCH FRIES, so cleverly designed to be eaten with your fingers, I cringe when people use a fork for fries.

Am I missing any other good ones? Anyone else have a non American spouse who makes you realize just how American you are when eating?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reality Bites

So, last night was my first night in Sydney alone. Boo. The hubs is back to his old travelling tricks again! And to boot we didn't do anything new and different this weekend, Australian Adventure Weekend 3 Fail!

Anyway, before the weekend began we had big plans to hit up the Winter Festival which was going on here in Sydney but as Friday drew to a close the hubs work schedule began to tinker with our plans, forcing him off to New Zealand and resulting in me spending my first night here alone. In NYC I must admit I enjoyed the occasional night on my own, I would go out with friends, or watch chick flicks, drink wine and sleep in the middle of the bed =) And while I attempted to do the exact same thing here in Sydney, I watched the wrong sort of movie.

On Saturday night while Dom was here, we watched The Last House on the Left and last night, by myself, I watched The Changeling. Both movies have to do with abductions and people getting killed after they've gone missing. These types of movies don't normally bother me, but then MY HUSBAND DID NOT CALL ME AFTER HE LANDED IN NEW ZEALAND and I got paranoid. Now, the hubs travels enough that we have a routine with the phone calls and HE ALWAYS CALLS WHEN HE LANDS SO I KNOW THE PLANE DIDN'T CRASH. I woke up every few hours, checked my phone, no phone call, tried calling his phone and each and every time his phone went straight to voicemail. It was not a restful night. Anyway, Dom is fine, his phone just doesn't work in New Zealand. And I am banished from watching abduction movies before Dom goes on trips.

Moving on. This unexpected trip has also changed our plans for next weekend in that he has to go back to New Zealand at the end of this week as well. I was planning a lovely birthday weekend for Dom 2 hours north of here in Hunter Valley wine country, where we were going to indulge ourselves in delectable Aussie wines and go on our first ever bushwalk. Sigh. NEVERTHELESS, next weekend it looks like we will both be headed to New Zealand where Dom will finish up whatever work he is doing there now and we will also venture to New Zealand wine country for Dom's birthday. Not what I was planning, but THAT's OK, we did have plans to go to New Zealand while were living here down under, this is just sooner than we planned on doing it and in the wrong season. I definitely had NZ down as a summer trip...we'll just have to do it again when Summer and Adam come visit, wink wink Summer! Anyone ever been to Auckland? Got any New Zealand stuff we need to do whilst there?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Adventures in Cooking: Jalfarezi

It's no great revelation to say I do not like cooking. It's not the worst thing in the world, I don't hate it, but all the chopping, dicing and prepping that goes into cooking...well I would rather be doing other things. But with the circumstances of my life at this time, not working and all, I have taken it upon myself to cook most days of the week...and get better at it.

Cooking has been an adventure in and of itself here in Australia because all the ingredients for dishes I normally prepare are all different and I've had to improvise most recipes. But, one good thing about cooking here is that I can try my hand at some asian cuisine because the ingredients are so readily available. No venturing off to specialty shops in the East Village looking for garam masala or other Indian spices. Like there's a whole Indian section in the grocery store. Awesome.

Chicken Jalfarezi here I come.

I even found an aussie recipe (did you know allrecipes has an aussie version, allrecipes.com.au) that has everything in aussie terminology so when the recipe calls for tomato puree I know it means aussie tomato puree which equates to American tomato sauce (just one of the trials and tribulations of trying to find equivalent ingredients here).

Anyway, I used this recipe, doubled all of the spices because the reviews said it was quite bland and tada!

It turned out lovely =) Very spicy and tasty with the doubled ingredients. Yay for me! Just call me Chef Barnes..er, Brennan, BarnesBrennan? ha!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Booktastic: Beneath A Marble Sky

I usually like to mix up my genres but somehow I ended up reading another historical fiction novel. At least it was from a different country and a different century =)

Beautiful, well written book about the building of the Taj Mahal and the love stories surrounding it. I found it really interesting that this book was written by a man but in the first person narrative of a woman. Wouldn't you want a more male audience being a male? If I were to ever write a novel I would definitely gear my book toward a female audience and I'm intrigued by the fact that this guy decided to go the other direction. He did it well. Anyway, good book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys historical novels.

Anyone have any books they would recommend to me? I'm always up for reading almost anything!

Next up, I've begun reading The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, anyone ever read it? Good, bad, indifferent?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Prancing around the Bondi Junction shopping mall yesterday looking for some RUNNING SHOES (I'm convinced buying proper shoes will encourage me to, you know, go running) I stumbled upon some other shoes, BETTER SHOES, shoes I want much more than the stupid running shoes. I had one of those "Hello Lover" moments from Sex and the City when I passed these beauties in the store window. BUT, they were $1200 AUD...and as much as I wanted to, I just couldn't slap down my credit card for THAT MUCH money. Sigh.

So I bought these:

instead of these:

and now I will stalk these until they go on sale =)

My Coffee Order Across the Globe

Before I met my husband my international travel was quite limited, as in I'd been to England twice and Ireland once...and Mexico doesn't count. Now, 2.5 years later I can boast that not only have I been to 12 different countries, but I've also been to 4 different continents (The AMERICAN version of continents, don't even get me started on what Dom thinks are the continents, in a nutshell he thinks there are only 6 when CLEARLY there are 7).

In the US it's simple, you just order coffee and then the whole milk/sugar is a do it yourself sort of situation. Whilst on honeymoon, visiting 4 different countries in 4 weeks, which was the start of all the international traveling, I discovered that ordering coffee in other countries is not so simple. All I ever want is coffee with milk, but if I say coffee with milk in English they never seem to know what I'm talking about, it always takes a few days but eventually the proper way to order coffee with milk comes out...so here's my coffee order across the globe.

Cafe au lait in France
Cafe con leche in Spain
Cafe latte in Italy
MilchKaffee in Germany
white coffee in England
and after 2 weeks in Australia, I have finally figured out how to order my coffee here...
flat white!

I think it's stupid and I feel stupid saying, but nevertheless, flat white it is.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rugby Union vs. Rugby League

There are 2 different types of Rugby, did you know that? There is Rugby League and Rugby Union. What's the difference? I don't know, but wikipedia does and you can read here if you really care.

Australia and I have differing opinions on sports, in that Australia cares deeply about them...and I do not.

Nevertheless, the hubs is in a more Australia sort of mind and convinced me to go to a rugby league match on Saturday night.

Here's what I enjoy about rugby and why I agreed to go, beer on tap...and the players thighs. I don't know what it is, but being a rugby player gives you great thighs and I will watch rugby for this one fact alone.

The other thing I enjoyed about this match in particular...the guy behind us yelling "rip his fucking head off!" over and over again from the very beginning of the game. He was swell.

Oh! And I'm ashamed to say I don't have a picture of this, but did you know in Oz instead of hot dogs and cheeseburgers you get meat pies and SUSHI! No joke, sushi at a ball game = weird.

Good times.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Best Thing I've Ever Eaten

As I've stated before, I usually do a bit of research before deciding on a restaurant, but by sheer happenstance ( ie. we were on King's Wharf and didn't feel like going any farther) we stumbled upon the best thing I've ever eaten.

Enter delicious potato wedges with sour cream and sweet chili sauce.

They taste even better than they look.

Restaurant is James Squire on King's Wharf, which I will not recommend for proper dining, but for bar snacks (potato wedges, potato wedges!) and beer..topnotch! First and last time I plan on ever using that term, topnotch sounds stupid with an American accent but I'm trying to blend in with my surroundings =)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The GoGet Experience

Here in Sydney there is this great service that I really really think New York and other big public transportation heavy cities should adopt called GoGet. It's a car sharing service that has cars all over the city that you can rent for the hour/day/week to run errands or do whatever, think Ikea trip in NYC. We tried it out this weekend to do a bit of shopping and I must say, it was a fantastic experience!
The best part, for us anyway, is that there are several spots very very close to us to pick up the cars, one being literally a 2 minute walk away, it doesn't get easier than that does it?
The cars all have names, this is Melissa =)

We took a little drive through the city to visit the Westfield Mall in Bondi and more specifically Target, yes they have Target in Australia, Score!

We picked up a few bits and bobs to make our fully furnished apartment feel more like "us" because as tough as it is to believe the teal/green leather sofas just don't scream Jes & Dom.
Pretty, isn't it?
But not to worry the view makes up for the crap furniture, would you like to see it again? Oh, ok, here you go!

We also dragged home these lovelies. And what are these bad boys you ask? These are speakers my husband decided we needed...what? like you all don't have husbands who have a compulsive urge to buy all the electronics he can get his hands on. They look like trumpets don't they? But I must admit they're kind of cool, aside from being ugly, they have wifi, bluetooth and of course an ipod dock. How we will get them home in January? I HAVE NO IDEA.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Night at the Opera (House)

In the seven months that we are here the hubs and I are making an effort to do something new and interesting each and every weekend rather than sitting at home doing very little like we had a tendency to do in New York. This weekend because I was still feeling a bit ill, we decided to take it easy while still doing something different.

There are films being screened all over Sydney, several of them at the Sydney
Opera House, which is conveniently right across the harbor from us and a mere 5 minute ferry ride away. What movie did we see at the Opera House you ask?

We saw this.

You can't ask for a more interesting low key night than that can you? Cheesy 1979 vampire movie at the Sydney Opera House. Interesting weekend 1, check!

Us waiting for the ferry to take us across the harbor.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Booktastic: The White Queen

I love Tudor England. I've read many a Henry VIII novel and absolutely love the Showtime series The Tudors. Philippa Gregory has written some excellent books on the era, many of which I've read, The Other Boleyn Girl being my favorite and she has now moved onto the Plantagenets, the ruling family of England prior to the Tudors. Her first novel in the series I've just finished:

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

I can't say that I'm quite as intrigued by the Plantagenets as I am by the Tudors but I find that I really enjoy historical fiction novels, and this one was no different. Very good easy read, takes an interesting, alternative view regarding the two princes in the tower, one of the great unsolved mysteries of the 16th Century that I've been intrigued by ever since I visited the Tower of London many years ago. And wouldn't you know it just as I wrote that sentence the news came on talking about Prince William and Prince Harry, coincidental timing!

Anyone have any books from 15th/16th Century England to recommend?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dining Out

Hailing from Springfield, Oregon it was a new concept to me when I arrived fresh faced and naive to NYC that one would need to do some restaurant research before dining out. In general when one wants to eat out in Springfield one has a very small selection of restaurants to choose from and so picking one requires zero research, especially since you've been going to them regularly for as long as you can remember.

NYC (and probably all other big cities) is a different story, there are over 18,000 restaurants in NYC, research is essential to dining out. Just like with my books, my favorite way to pick a new restaurant is a recommendation from a real person, and yes a blog counts as a person, a critic on the other hand does not! Lol! OK, sometimes food critics count, but in general they are looking for something other than what I'm looking for in food and I find they are way too critical.

I've applied this same logic to Sydney and while we haven't managed to eat out in the short amount of time that we've been here this time, we did have a chance to eat at a few good places on our last visit and I'm going to take a moment here and recommend a few.

FishFace - Yummy seafood in Darlinghurst, which was where our apartment was on our previous trip, and came highly recommended by a colleague of Dom's. For the life of me I cannot remember what I had, but I do remember that it was delicious. Oh, and you can BYOW (that works right? I can substitute a W for the B and everyone knows I mean wine =), for just a $10 corkage fee, which is WAY cheaper than their cheapest bottle of vino for $30.

Agave - We were in Sydney for Cinco De Mayo and felt we needed to have Mexican food that night. And while Australia is not known for having good mexican food I found this restaurant via another Aussie blogger and we were not disappointed. Very tasty sangria, tacos and salsa.

Eat Thai - I am not normally a fan of Thai food, but Dom is, thus every once in awhile I am forced into eating Thai food. Oz is not known for it's Mexican food, but it IS known for it's wonderful Asian cuisine, especially Thai. And I have to say, Eat Thai did not disappoint, we picked out 3 different dishes and shared them between the two of us and I was a big fan of 2 out of the 3! I would definitely go back and give it a second try.

Misschu - Take out Asian wraps. This place was right by our rental on our previous trip and everyday from 11am until late into the evening the sidewalk was packed with people lining up for this take out sidewalk joint. On our second to last night we finally tried it and it was definitely a satisfying experience. And at under $20 for both of us it was by far the cheapest meal we had in Sydney.

Tonight we're off for some Chinese and I will report back!

We're Here!

Well, we survived our 6 day delay and 14 hour flight and are now here in the lovely city of Sydney. And while I'd love to tell you that we're all settled and that everything is just peachy keen, unfortunately I can not because...

I. Am. Sick.

I've had a cough since Dallas and somehow a massive allergy attack on the way to the airport in Oregon led to an absolutely miserable 14 hour flight to Sydney in which I came down with a full blown cold, sinus headache, stuffed up nose, hacking cough and snot everywhere. It's lovely. And here I am 3 days into Adventure Sydney and I HAVEN'T LEFT THE HOUSE! I tried to venture out yesterday and came back after 3 blocks because I thought I was going to keel over on the side of the street in front of construction workers because I was hacking up a lung. Sigh. But on the bright side I am feeling better today than I did yesterday and yesterday I felt better than I did the day before, so with any luck tomorrow I will feel even better and may make it outside. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Twist of Fate

For a plethora of different reasons, the hubs and I are trying to buy a house in my hometown of Springfield, Oregon. We've been looking for about a year now, put offers in for 2 different houses but have come up empty handed. Since finding ourselves in limbo on our way to Sydney last week we decided to make a quick pit stop to Oregon while we waited for our visas to come through. We've spent the last few days doing a bit of house hunting and have once again put in an offer on a house. With any luck this completely unscheduled stop will result in the purchase of a vacation home! Everything happens for a reason, right?

This is not the home we're buying, this is my parents home, but I couldn't help taking some pretty pics with the hipstamatic, all the rain has made Oregon especially lush and green. At first I was mildly depressed that we encountered so much rain after being in the summer heat of both NYC and Dallas, but this last day that we were there the rain stopped and the sun came out and BAM! my allergies hit me like a ton of bricks. I'll take the rain during allergy season in Oregon anytime!
Remind me never to complain about allergies again if I'm outside of Oregon, nothing compares to the GRASS SEED CAPITAL when it comes to allergy season and I now will retract my statement about allergies following me to NYC because really they were so mild they just don't compare to the miserable, terrible, horribleness of having allergies in Springfield, Oregon. And on that allergy laden note I am now boarding a 14 hour flight to Sydney.

See you all on the other side of the world.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Booktastic: Devil in the White City

Once upon a time in a great big wonderful city called New York, a fantastic group of girls (and one boy) would get together once a month to drink wine, eat delicious food and discuss a book that we'd all spent the last month reading. We called ourselves "Sparkle Magic" for reasons I don't remember (I'm sure it made sense at the time) and we were, if I use the term loosely, a book club. Ultimately we spent very little time discussing our chosen book and honestly "drinking club" would have described us better, but nevertheless we all made an effort to read our book and spend at least 5 minutes at the beginning of each meeting discussing it. Inevitably a discussion on the book would lead to another discussion that had nothing to do with the book and as the wine flowed we'd have more and more trouble coming back to the book, but that wasn't the point. We had SO. MUCH. FUN.

Why I bring up book club now is that I really love getting other people's opinions on books, both before and after I read them. I am an avid reader, making it through at least a book a week and am thus always looking for a new book to read. A recommendation from a real person is by far my favorite way to choose a new book. This book that I'm about to recommend I in fact already owned but kept picking other books from my stash of unread books until...a completely random guy, the property manager for my apartment, saw it sitting on my floor and told me it was one of his favorite books. Done. That was it, that was my next book I was going to read.

And I loved it!

So, I'm not going to do a proper book review because that feels a bit too much like working, but I am going to tell you you must read:

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

It's historically accurate non-fiction and there is such a plethora of information regarding the Chicago World Fair in 1893, so much of it relevant and pertaining to our lives still today. For instance the Ferris wheel was named after a guy who built the first ferris wheel at the Chicago World Fair, interesting right? There is so much in this book that I can't believe I didn't know and there is also a serial killer! I love serial killers, I'm intrigued by them. Ann Rule's book A Stranger Beside Me about Ted Bundy is one of my favorite books. Weird, I know.

So, everyone go read this book! And Summer, this means you! You said not long ago that you hadn't read a book since book club, that was too long ago, go read this!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life, Delayed

Today is June 1 and we are not on our way to Sydney. That's right, NOT on our way to Sydney. Why, you ask? Because Australians are a little too lackadaisical and our work visa has not come through yet!

So, we wait.

Right now I am in a hotel room in Dallas BY MYSELF while Dom is off doing some work thing. That's right, not only am I stuck in Dallas but I'm stuck in Dallas with only myself to hang out with. Boring! =) Anyway, since we have already packed up our NYC apartment and are half way to the west coast we will be sitting tight in Oregon with the fam while we wait for our visas. This is completely obnoxious for about 7 different reasons, one being that we are traveling with 8 pieces of luggage and the other being that we now are going to miss the Manly Food and Wine Festival, which I was totally stoked about =( The only upside to this homeless situation that we find ourselves in is that we get to spend a little bit of time in Oregon and see my family. With any luck we will be back on track and on our way to Sydney by this time next week. Everybody cross their fingers for us!