I have quite an acute sense of smell and came to this sole conclusion as I was pounding the pavements along George Street, Sydney. Amongst all of the random whiffs of garbage, lingering deodorants, bad BO and greasy Maccas smells, a familiar smell floated past my nose. It was unmistakable, instantly recognisable and barely lasted a second and as I looked around trying to search for the source, I realised I was definitely having a bit of a Homer Simpson moment. Now, I am the first to admit that I have never been a big Simpsons fan but I do know that Homer loves donuts and this is what I have in common with the big yellow fella.
For a mere second the whiff of cinnamon donuts stopped me in my tracks. It’s that hot-just-piped-batter-and-rolled-in-cinnamon-smell that takes me back to being a child after school and eating one from Donut King for afternoon tea. I lick my lips now at the thought of eating a fresh and hot cinnamon donut!
Now, I realise that donuts are not the healthiest snack and don’t think that this is an everyday snack for me as I definitely consider them to be more of a treat. As the cinnamon smell whooshed on by, I had a good think about when I had last savoured the taste….Australia Day; 26 January 2010 – I was in Byron Bay for the long weekend. Strolling around with my niece and her boyfriend, they both suddenly turned around to my man and I and adamantly insisted that we eat a Byron Bay Organic Donut. “An institution”, they cried. “A must!” Shaped more like a long churros than a circle with a hole, the Byron Bay Organic Donut ticked the rest of the boxes in being hot and crispy, doused in cinnamon and finger-licking good. It was with sadness that I learnt recently that the shop had closed down on Lawson Street however I have been assured that their stall does make regular appearances around the local markets.
Admitting to a love of donuts makes me feel a bit sheepish and slightly bogan. But on second thoughts, I am a proud donut lover and the holey cinnamon circles sit up there with my other bogan loves of iced vovos, toobs, meat pies and passiona. Homer, I’m right there standing beside you!
Thoughts of scones, tiny cucumber sandwiches, fine pastries, mini quiches and English Breakfast would come to most people’s minds when thinking of High Tea. Most people would go to the Victoria Room in Darlinghurst or the QVB Tea Rooms and some may even contemplate an extravagant celebration at the Dorchester, London to have a bit of High Tea. But when my sister recently enquired as to whereabouts in Sydney serves High Tea at night, it reminded me that not everyone knows about my type of High Tea.
This is a high tea which still involves pots of EBT served at the door in teapots of all sorts but secret squirrels replace scones and sandwiches and somewhere in a Surry Hills, Sydney location there are 100 or so people on a Thursday night who come together and unite over a shared love of music. Seated on cushions or lounges and cooling off under a paper fan, musicians take an acoustic stage and croon or play songs to their heart’s content. Suddenly the High Tea that is usually associated with high-end hotels hailing from the British Empire takes on a dramatic new light.
It was on a summer’s night in early 2010 when I went to my first High Tea for the year not having heard of this musician before or knowing what his music was like. Walking into the room, there was warm candlelight and people already chatting when I arrived and the ambience had an immediate electricity. When Renny Field moved across to the piano and started singing “Your Eyes”, I felt time stop for the duration of the song. His words brought tears to my eyes as I listened to the beautiful melody. And when I listen to the song now, it takes me right back to that moment at High Tea that I shared with the others in the room that night.
So come and find me at High Tea; I will be there tonight listening to Sam Buckingham. There may be no scones but this is a secret worth discovering for yourself!
Call me old-fashioned but I love to receive mail. Not email but snail mail that arrives directly into my letterbox. I almost get a little bit of a thrill when amongst all of the boring bills, I spot an envelope that does not have a clear plastic window of computer generated letters but instead a beautifully penned scrawl or scribble of my name and address.
So it shouldn’t surprise you that I am one of those organised types to have a collection, pile, stash – whatever you want to call it – of stationary-on-the-go for the birthdays, thank-you and numerous celebratory moments in life and let’s not forget for those just-because times. Because just as I love to receive snail mail, of course I love to send it too. I admit that I have never been a fan of Hallmark penguin cartoon cards but much prefer black and white photos, quirky quotes, matte colours, prints of old French advertising posters and individual designs. The final touch is the feel of good quality stock between my fingers.
It helps that my sister Michelle sells Phoenix cards so my pile of stationary stock is never too low but other loves include frequent Saturday visits to Papier D’Amour and Paper Couture, sometimes to buy but more often to browse. This year when my man and I were organising our wedding invites, I fell in love with the look of Mr Boddington, a bespoke design house based in New York. And just recently I was introduced to Zed and Bee – celebrations on paper. An Aussie design house led by two girls I went to school with and I immediately loved their use of colour and texture. To finish off this adoration to stationary, I leave you with Shutterfly. They made our wedding thank-you cards of which I have just finished writing each of the personal notes to our guests.
And so to the letterbox tomorrow I go hoping to receive a nice looking envelope of some sort…please.
Rewind 23 years and I was a bite-sized 6-year old on my first overseas adventure in the heart of bright-lights-big-city Tokyo with my standard regulation Cathay Pacific yellow backpack. Food was a love, even back then although in 1986 I was honestly more amazed that Ronald McDonald had an identical Japanese cousin who said konichi-wa instead of Hello!
One of my most vivid memories however on that trip concerns the equation of sushi and technology. One night, Dad decided to take my entire family to eat at a small sushi studio somewhere in Tokyo. Interest was waning at the thought of rice and seaweed but it quickly peaked when I noticed that in front of each person was an Atari-looking pad of buttons with lots of colourful and creative photos of the mere sushi. I don’t remember if it was me or one of my sister’s who started the button pushing but before we could blink an eye our “button choice” of sushi was being brought out by a waiter and placed in front of us and from then on a button frenzy began. To this day, Dad still says it was the most expensive meal our family has ever eaten and looking back now I can only imagine what the bill would have totalled to in Yen for 7 hungry mouths more focused on the novelty of button-pushing than focusing on what we were eating.
Flash-forward 23 years and I found myself in Tokyoria at World Square, Sydney in front of a flat screen, with four of my girlfriends pre SATC 2. We were hoping for a quick Japanese meal before heading across to the cinema and we were definitely not disappointed. After working out how to order, food quickly appeared just as it had many years ago in Tokyo. At the touch of a button, miso soup and agedashi tofu was before us and feeling a bit hungrier than we thought extra food was tapped, ordered and almost magically appeared before our eyes.
Tokyoria’s food was a tad on the pricier side but for $30 each between the 5 of us (after several dishes to share including dessert and drinks), the dinner definitely hit the spot. It might be 23 years later that Sydney finally caught up but it was well worth the wait and in hindsight what a privilleged little 6 year old I was, to get to peer into the future!
Tokyoria @ Upper level 644 George Street Sydney 2000