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Small things, recently

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions — the little soon forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimal of pleasurable and genial feeling.

— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Figs: I thought I didn’t like figs, but what do you know, I hadn’t given them a chance.  I still find them slightly underwhelming raw, (although they are growing on me) but all through March and April I enjoyed eating them baked.  There’s no right way to do this, but I took to cutting crosses lengthwise into the figs and squeezing the base to reveal the tiny pink seeds. I  drizzled them with a little honey and a light dusting of cinnamon and baked at 180C for about 15 minutes until a syrupy liquid was produced.  Warm or cold, eaten with plain yoghurt or without, these figs have most defintely won me over.

Afternoon sun on the balcony: winter in Brisbane is bright and beautiful, but I’ve waxed lyrical about this before.  Colin and I had to check ourselves this morning when we complained that it was slightly chilly – we both had only T-shirts and light pants on.

Strawberries: astoundingly, fresh strawberries are already available here.  We couldn’t help ourselves at the market last weekend, and spent an astronomical sum on this over-sized punnet of perfect specimens.  They were at the peak of ripeness, and this necessitated rapid, greedy, consumption of the entire kilo over two days.  Strawberries were one of my three favourite fruit as a child – the other two were grapes and watermelon.  I recall pledging many times that I would grow all three myself as soon as I grew up, which I clearly have yet to do (grow them and grow up).

Blue stool, shining jewel-like on a grey Sunday morning: at Flamingo Cafe on Winn Lane.  Soon after I took this photo a colourful couple sat here.  The black-haired girl wore an emerald dress, and her partner, who sat on the blue stool, had on a bright yellow T-shirt.  The waitress served them water in ruby red tumblers.  Did they have any idea how perfect they looked?  I have yet to master the skill for covert photography (which is probably 99% nerve), so this particular image remains mine alone.

Coffee: at Bellissimo on Wandoo St.  Delicious coffee, pity about the service.  Campos, you’re still my favourite.

Recent reads: twice daily train commutes ensure that I continue to chip away at many a good book, most purchased from second-hand bookshops, a few borrowed from the lovely Maria, and the odd Penguin classic, usually bought at an airport bookstore.

New friends: not exactly a small thing.  These are Sylvia’s ricotta pancakes – an Austrian dessert.  After a leisurely dinner, we dug into these thin crepes baked until crisp on top.  Baking dehydrated the ricotta filling a little, so that its cheesyness was emphasised.  A touch of lemon and cinnamon rounded off the flavours, and a drizzle of warm plum jam provided a hint of tang.  Heavenly…

Free art exhibitions: at GOMA.  I forget the name of this artist, but loved the shimmery  effect of watery films projected onto several small screens, in a darkened room.

Irish Moss: after stupidly suspecting that I would escape the winter cold/flu free, I came down with a shocker that took me three weeks to recover from.  I haven’t seen Irish Moss cough syrup for years. I recall having it as a child a few times, but I don’t think it was something Mum bought regularly.  Anyway, those few times were enough, and I have retained a memory of dark brown, richly flavoured syrup that I found quite delicious.  When I spied this at the local superette on the way home one day, I obviously had to get it.  The taste fell far short of my memory, which leads me to think it was probably the name that I fell for.  It turns out that the mixture does contain an extract of Irish Moss, or Chondrus, which is a form of edible seaweed.  This syrup helped me through several meetings, including one teleconference, during which I surreptitiously sipped from the bottle every 2-3 minutes.


  1. Pingback: Poached Pears with Thyme and Coriander | Chez Moi

    • Despite for years saying Irish Moss is lovely, I don’t think I would buy it again – nostalgia isn’t enough to mask it now!

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