Turning tables

Oliver 2

Today ended with a creme brulee that woke the neighbourhood when, after three solid taps of increasing intensity, its toffee crust ruptured and the shards gave way to warm, sweet, creamy custard beneath.

Before leaving the Paddington landmark I told Montrachet owner and chef Shannon Kellam I wanted to record the crunch to play for other restaurants, an audible guide for less capable cooks to help them prepare this classic french dessert. Because if there’s no crack, or the crack is puny, the pud’s a dud.

The dessert capped a three-course extravaganza of foie gras and terrine on house-made bread, followed by Sydney rock oysters and duck with green beans and pommes frites. I had to make room for the dessert bowl, rearranging remnants of champagne, burgundy and cognac in my haste. I simply couldn’t drink quickly enough tonight. There was too much fun and frivolity at our table for seven.

Typical morning

Despite its spectacular conclusion, the day started as my year is sure to unfold – with an early morning drive to the city’s edge.

The school year has ramped up to full throttle now, with 7am choir practice every Tuesday. Yes, there’s a bus. But I’m pretty handy with a set of keys and I’m happy to ferry The Ballerina about if it means she gets a bit more sleep.

I dressed in my gym gear at first light with genuine intentions to row, dip and lift later in the morning, but the office consumed me and the gym missed out.

Lost middle

My latest project, marketing the state fencing association, is a bigger job than I’d imagined.

I drafted social media posts, emailed coaches for comment, telephoned others for interviews, edited online directory listings and proofed a draft publication.

I’m slow and probably over think every task. But it’s good media practice and I’m determined to do my bit to increase participation. It’s a great sport.

Busy afternoon

Of course three o’clock rolled around in the blink of an eye, which brought another yoyo car trip, this time to the city’s edge to collect The Ballerina, take her to the dance studio, swing by the local shops for meat and peripherals before returning home to cook.

Because even though I had a dinner date the teenagers needed to eat.

So in between a peak hour drive, a grocery shop and a Cinderella transformation,  I whipped up a bolognese sauce with sauteed veggies and minced beef and pork.

Thankfully The Socialite could collect her sister, after some minor* objections to the inconvenience.

Sensational supper

Dinner out on a school night is highly unusual.

Life is simply too busy, too structured, too tight for timetable deviations.

But some people are special and I will always find time for them.

We all shared stories.

Eugene’s parents emigrated from Russia in the 1950s via China. His mother spoke Russian, Polish, Mandarin and English.

Bronwyn lost her job as second in charge of the Department of Premier and Cabinet when the government changed hands in 2012. Like many other career bureaucrats, she’d become a victim of her own success, flying too close to the sun and exposing herself to political potshots.

But my favourite was a story I’d heard before.

Greg was in a dark place a couple of years ago, struggling after his love left him for someone else.

He curled up in bed for a year and almost sank.

But his son Oliver, and Oliver’s dog Zed, sat with him and fed him and watched TV with him and reminded him of the ocean on his doorstep.

The son became the father for a time, repaying all the hours spent on soccer and cricket sidelines, the speech nights and assemblies.

And watching the gorgeous young man tonight, a hand resting on his father’s shoulder and a confident, worldly demeanour well beyond his years, I hoped that the time spent in the car with my babies has forged something this good.

I hoped the daily grind, the chore of ferrying and feeding and outfitting my offspring, will be repaid in cuddles and kindness down the track.

I resolved to not resent them and to trust if ever I need them they’ll be there to keep me company and laugh at my feeble jokes, just like Oliver did tonight.

For the record

The Socialite got the job at the gym. Technically by default, because the other candidate simply didn’t show up for this trial. But I like to think she’d have been successful anyway.

I haven’t heard back about the article I submitted for publication. It’s only been a few days. Not giving up yet.

Three shelves and one drawer remain in the great pantry clean out. It’s crunch time for the moths.

*The Socialite doesn’t do anything in a minor key.

Angela Bensted Bw 1x1
Angela Bensted is a Brisbane-based freelance writer who likes to listen first and struggle with syntax later. She pitches stories to magazines and helps businesses produce compelling copy for print and online.
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