6 degrees between me and everything else

Almost three weeks ago now, I started a new job at a lovely fine dining place called (A)Lure.  While I missed the Subi terribly at first, it hasn’t been too bad a transition.  All restaurants are basically the same once you chisel down to the core.  Sure it takes a bit to learn the menu, the “sequence of service” (I hate that expression with a fiery passion) and the general hierarchy of the place.  But once you’ve clicked in with the vets of the joint, you’ll never fall from grace.

I’ll be loathed to part from the one particular friend I have made.  Her name is Amy and she’s in a hotel management program at uni.  She studies half the year and works during the other half.  It’s been quite awhile since I met such a driven 19-year-old.  What has struck me most about this girl is her open attitude to life.  She’s from a small country town several hours out of Adelaide in South Australia.  She’s very close to her family and she’s definitely a self-starter.

One thing we bonded over immediately was French.  She’s dying to learn French, and is fascinated to hear all about my life.  She’s also a newly avid reader.  She informed me her parents never really read to her as a child.  As a result she’s never been a fast reader nor has she been an enthusiastic one until now.  Books had just never been her parents’ passion.  It scares me to think how many kids grow up in homes without books.  Amy is lucky to be so studious and ambitious, but what about all of the other kids out there who simply miss the literary boat?

Amy also shares my passion for cooking, which was the topic of our latest conversation on Tuesday.  She learns to cook as part of her studies, and I couldn’t be more jealous!  We talked about techniques and recipes and everything in between during our 2-hour break between service.  I told her how working in restaurants has allowed me to explore food in a way I’d never been open to in the past.  Half of the things I was unwilling to touch as a kid are now some of my favorite foods due to exposure in the workplace.  I still cannot believe it took me until I was 21 to learn how much I love mushrooms!

My latest awakening revolves around fresh tomatoes.  I made a pasta salad with fully plump and uncut cherry tomatoes for Matt’s surprise party the other week.  While tasting the finished product, I forced myself to stomach an uncooked tomato to really get a feel for the whole dish.  It went beautifully with the orange and yellow peppers, the mozzarella, and of course, the chorizo.  I try bites of raw tomato every now and again in attempts to entice my taste buds into accepting them into their repertoire.  Finally, SUCCESS!  I am especially excited because I can now include tomatoes in my omelets.  Though it still may be awhile before I’m incorporating them into my sandwiches.  That will certainly be the last frontier.

When I lived with my dear friends, Colette and Maureen, I was the resident Eggmaster.  I made us eggs all the time.  Scrambled, with a bit of cheese and whatever else we had in the house.  We ate so many eggs that I’ve hardly ever felt in the mood for them since.  This morning was a rare occasion.  Tomatoes were the only useable ingredient in the house, so I had my very first tomato omelet with black pepper (which I only realized I liked while working at the Subi).  We also happened to have multigrain toast in the house, making it a perfect breakfast.

Switching gears for a moment, I have to recount this incredible occurrence from last night.  It was the player of the month dinner for Floreat Athena Football Club, and all the teams gathered to eat, drink and cheer on the victors.  The announcements started with the social team, then us (the women’s) and proceeded to work its way up through all of the men’s teams to the 1st team (the boys who are out there making the club proud, in theory).  The guy they called up from the first team is an import.  They said he was Welsh, and as he strutted up to the podium, lightning struck and I realized I’D MET HIM BEFORE.  I said as much to my teammates and they assumed I was either joking or insane.

Afterward I approached him and we confirmed it.  His name is Mark, and he and a friend of his gave my friend Megan and I a more personalized tour of Wales last April.  I still can’t believe I recognized him.  It made sense when I first made the connection, because in Wales he’d explained he was a professional football player.  There are seemingly 100s of soccer clubs in WA.  What are the odds?!?

This encounter got me thinking about connections last night.  How strange that it took less than a year for me to run into someone I’d met outside Australia.  So many things had to fall into place for me to meet him again.  Plus, had he not won player of the month and had they not mentioned he was Welsh, who knows if I’d have even made the connection?!

But chance encounters are not the only sort of connections on my mind.  Books, food, music, everything I love is a result of someone else showing me the light in one way or another.  From working in restaurants, I’ve discovered I love blue cheese, quiche, mushrooms, black pepper and hundreds of other little foods.  In France, my friends and their families introduced me to rabbit, profiteroles, foie gras, pumpkin soup, and countless other dishes.  I feel I’m merely a few steps away from every food and fragrance in the world.  All of this travel and all of my experiences since leaving Edina, MN when I was 18 have expanded my horizons in ways I never imagined possible.  I am the luckiest.


Do You Tandy?

I meant to write this ages ago, but in all the excitement of my arrival, I completely forgot about it.  When I first got here, Matt took two weeks off from work to show me around and help me get settled.  Going for drives was one thing we did a lot in the beginning.  Not long drives, just quick loops to give me an idea of what Perth is like.  One night we ended up driving through the downtown area, and on Barrack Street, there it was, a TANDY LEATHER!Most people are probably going “huh?” at this point.  The route to my cabin is fairly simple, but somehow people always manage to get lost on the way.  It’s easier to give directions as a series of landmarks, but sometimes even that doesn’t work.  Only one shop seems cemented in people’s brains and that is the Tandy Leather.  When we hit the Tandy Leather, it’s just a right turn and little ways away from the cabin.  My good friend Kathryn makes me laugh every time we pass it; I can always count on her to throw out a silly yet seductive “TANDY!”

When I saw the Tandy Leather in Perth City, I smiled and felt instantly relieved.  A new place can be overwhelming at first and I took this little shop as a sign that even a long way from home, I’m never too far.