Room 10 in Sydney, Australia

Jack and I were lucky enough to have free accommodation, an amazing apartment in Potts Point, on a recent trip to Sydney, Australia. I think the greatest thing about free accommodation is the free food recommendations that come with it (free as in you don’t waste time doing research). We were strongly encouraged, basically ordered, to go to Room 10 in Llankelly Place.

With three step directions we found it in a matter of minutes. We probably would have walked right by it had it not been for the crowd of people waiting to be seated or their take away coffee. Since there was a wait to sit inside and they offered blankets we sat on the tiny wooden tables outside.

Room 10 is very small but super busy; this made the atmosphere fun and exciting for a giddy tourist like me. I couldn’t stop smiling, people around me couldn’t understand it especially since the weather had turned to shit. Jack was embarrassed. But no one could stop me, I was ready to order without even looking at the menu, “Oh, yes we’re ready. The BREAKFAST RICE, please!” Those same people would have probably been relieved I was a local had it not been for my american accent and the lack of color in my wardrobe.

My strong flat white was placed on the table a few minutes later and following almost immediately came my plate. If I could buy you this meal and spoon feed it to you I would because a) I will not do it any justice and b) you deserve it.

With each bite came every texture, flavor and color I had not predicted. I’m talking about brown rice, yoghurt, warm milk, banana, strawberry, sugar, pistachios, rose-water and rhubarb. I was in the healthy side of breakfast heaven while Jack was lost and deep in the unhealthy side, ripping away his Panini. I almost suggested we go back the next morning so I could have my own Panini or repeat my breakfast rice, but that’s breaking a food and travel rule I’m sure is documented somewhere.

I want to say that I’ll attempt to make this breakfast rice at home one day, because it seems possible, but I don’t want to promise myself such glamorous things.

Room 10 

10 Llankelly Place, Potts Point NSW 2011 

Nespresso and Me.

I’ve been having a strictly online romantic relationship with Nespresso for years, and we finally met in person. Let me explain.

I have taken a picture in front of every Nespresso store I strolled past in every city I’ve ever visited. I have always, always been a big fan of the Nespresso brand; I could not tell you the reason for this fascination, but I can share the alarming fact that up until this week I had never stepped foot inside a Nespresso store. Why you ask? I’m intimidated. It’s a whole other world in there.

It’s the creme de la creme, the pick of the crop, the best of the best of coffee heavens. I’m not talking about coffee for the sake of getting rid of your headache in the morning before going to work. I’m talking about the luxurious side of coffee, where pleasure is taken in simply smelling the coffee as it’s placed on the small table in front of you. I’m talking about feeling in control over what you’re drinking, you pick the style, the aroma, the intensity: the espresso. I am romanticizing it a bit, but it’s only because I feel they’ve done such a great job of providing a feeling of exclusivity, they make you feel as if you’re getting the ultimate coffee experience.

I ordered an iced macchiato from the Indriya from India variety. I’m not sure  what that really meant, but I knew I wanted maximum intensity (10) and an aroma categorized under spicy; That is what I got.

I’m not saying I would ever make Nespresso my go to coffee joint or join the Nespresso Club. What I’m saying is that the next time I have a free Sunday and I feel I’ve earned the right to treat myself I’ll head over to Nespresso, walk in confidently, take one of the best seats, order a $7+ dollar coffee and read an entire novel.

Home Away from Home… In My Belly

In the US, by the time most people have graduated college they are living away from their parents and are not coming back. I am no exception. I was working in NYC for 2 years before moving to Melbourne, Australia to work and holiday with the best of them! Since I’m in a completely different time zone it seems okay to feel a little hint of homesickness.

I not only miss US/NY type of things like, say, Hulu, Spodify, Netflix, driving, Broadway, I also miss the food. Mostly, my favorite restaurants in New York. I will now name a few: Meatball Shop, Bianca, Freeman’s, Crif Dogs, Westville, Grey Dogs, Caracas*, Clinton Street Bakery, Eataly, Socarrat, the fried chicken and bread pudding at Blue Ribbon Bakery. I could go on forever but I won’t because you’ll get bored and I’ll get hungry. The good news is that there is an abundance of delicious restaurants in Melbourne to keep me occupied and not wondering how long the line at Shake Shack is right now.

I’ve been a wanderer since I was 14 and have lived away from my family for some time now so I couldn’t figure out why this trip to Australia was different than all the others. There was something that was keeping my home sickness alive and present to the point where I’d lay in fetal position to speak on the phone with parents or send my sister pictures of everything in sight, begging for some in return.

See, I grew up eating Venezuelan food: Arepas, tequenos, empanadas, caphapas, flan, tres leches. I found a few “Venezuelan” restaurants here, but they were liars. It wasn’t the same at all. They have no idea what they were doing and I’d just leave angry every time! I didn’t throw anything but I was definitely at that level. Then one day the skies split in two, a bright light came down and landed directly on a Venezuelan flag swaying beautifully in the wind in front of an Cruzao Arepa Bar down Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. I walked in and heard the music my mom use to play in the kitchen while cooking, I didn’t hear it metaphorically, this is literal. I looked around as if I were the host of a cooking show on the verge of giving my verdict! It was almost the spitting image of what it should have been. Big, messy plates of food, arepas overflowing with different meats, avocado and beans, cheese perfectly melting out of the side of the cachapa, juices offered in every color a crayon comes in. I felt my heart smile. I was home, in the form of food.

I think the problem was I’d never gone longer than a few weeks without eating Venezuelan food, the food I so easily associate with my  family. Now, I’m not saying that the complete reason for feeling home sick was not eating a certain type of food. No. What I’m saying is that eating Venezuelan food, took the sick away from home sick and made me happy. I felt normal again.

That is one of the main reasons why I’ve always loved food. I think it’s a clear representation of different cultures and helps keep memories alive. Food is not only essential in every day life; it’s the best way to connect with others. As cheesy as it may sound, having a bite of that arepa took me on a 30-hour plane ride back to Florida, straight to my parents house.

Do you have certain meal or type of food that you associate with home or family?

*If you’re in NYC/Brooklyn, please go to Caracas and try anything. It’s brilliant Venezuelan food.

Losing It at the Market

The idea of getting fresh produce from a farmers market or local out door market has always intrigued me. I always thought I could some day recreate a page from a magazine where the girl looks cute as a bowtie for no reason. You know the one… her hair is down, silky and flowing. She looks effortlessly cool, but also comfortable because the only thing she’s carrying is the cute tote her groceries will call home. She has her iPod with her and even though she’s taking her sweet time she looks completely in control of every aisle she turns on.

My hair is always too dirty and up in a ponytail on days when I would have the time to go to the market so it never seems worth it to take the trip.  But once upon a time the stars aligned! The perfect opportunity for a field trip to the beautiful South Melbourne Market in Australia showed its face. My 8am boxing class was cancelled Sunday morning and I still had what was left of my blow dry from Saturday night.

What happened next is not essential but still important. I put on my comfortable but stylish navy blue pants, a white button down shirt and my brown Oxford shoes. I was going after the whole J.Crew catalogue look. I took $50 out of my wallet, my tram card and shoved it in my pocket. I was really going for it! I don’t know if you can imagine how giddy I was, but I had my playlist of Broadway songs on shuffle to match my excitement.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I know what an out door market looks like, I’ve walked past hundreds of them for fruits sake! I thought getting in and out of the market would be a breeze, a walk in the park. But I’m here to tell you… it’s not. Not for me at least. Going to the market on a whim proved a bad choice and extremely unsuccessful. With so much produce to choose from, coming up with a meal just seemed desperately impossible. I found myself completely frozen in time awing at all the people and colors around me.

I couldn’t understand how they were moving around so fast, knowing very well what they wanted and what to grab for. Either everyone was on high speed or I was in slow motion (I think we both know which one). I felt so out of place I decided it was best to ‘stop and smell the roses’ both literally and metaphorically. I decided to make this first trip to the market about observing other people, taking in the smells and colors, getting to know all the different shops, witnessing how some people would buy corn at one shop but prefer buying capsicums at the next one. Why? What’s the secret?

What makes one better than the other? How am I to know if I should buy green grapes from the Fruit Seller rather than green grapes from the Man Who Sells Fruit across the way? I don’t think I’ll ever know but I did learn the following

  1. Prepare a list of items you want/need before the trip. Maybe even look up recipes you want to make during the week and work from there.
  2. If you accidentally bump into the tomatoes and they fall to the ground one by one, in slow motion, don’t panic! No one will yell, they’ll be very kind.
  3. Stay away from the cupcake section, even though they look and smell delicious it’s not what you came for.
  4. Keep repeating number 3 to yourself until you’ve made it back to the fruit.
  5. If you buy half of the items you need at one shop, and half the items at another not one person will give you the stink eye. They most likely don’t know you exist.

In the end I ended up buying two huge sweet potatoes, two medium sized white onions and a lovely bouquet of flowers for myself. While I was too overwhelmed to get enough groceries that actually contributed to being anything close to resembling a Sunday Night Dinner, I was very happy I took the time to go. I swear, here and now, I will do a better job on the next go around.  Maybe next time, I won’t even have to go to my usual supermarket for the rest of my groceries afterwards.