The last few weeks have been particularly eventful, but also kind of exciting. At college, production has started on all my projects for the term – photography for a food magazine, a cross-cultural branding project, a Flash website and a two-minute movie about Kyle Cooper, who designed the opening credits for David Fincher’s incredible film Se7en – one of my all time favourites. I’ve been scratching old negatives with a scalpel and watching bug documentaries to composite a dark and scratchy short film.
I also started a new job with the design team of a company that owns several bars and pubs in Sydney. They’re located in the Rocks, which might just be my favourite part of the city. It’s much easier to sit waiting for a train when you have a wonderful view of the Harbour to look at – I’ll never get sick of seeing The Bridge. The work has been quite varied and interesting, and I’ve seen some of my posters in print. A couple of ads I designed have been in MX over the last two weeks, and found a flyer I designed sitting on our table at a bar. It is kind of surreal to see your work around the place, to say the least. As it turns out, the company owns the Australian Heritage Hotel, where I had that great kangaroo pizza, and we sat at the same table outside a few weeks later when I had my interview!
I have been to a few of the venues now, for research purposes… kinda! On Thursday we went to Fringe Bar in Paddington for Pizza night – $10 All You Can Eat Pizza and $8 cocktails. The pizzas were impressively delicious – I make a good pizza, but these were even better. The ingredients were fresh and flavoursome, even though the toppings were simple. I also highly recommend the Lynchberg Lemonade, with a tasty kick of Bourbon and Cointreau. On Friday night, after work drinks got fancy when we went to The Loft on King St Wharf. About the cocktail list, I can only say wow. The offerings were amazingly original and I was absolutely spoiled for choice. The tapas are also delicious – we shared the Middle Eastern platter and everything disappeared quickly. Cargo Bar is a short walk down the Wharf from TheLoft. As part of the September New York Taxi Club promotion, we caught some of Little Italy night, which was a lot of fun. And believe it or not, there are still more than a handful of venues still to check out, and two more opening up later this year!
In the last couple of weeks I’ve also seen one of my favourite Aussie bands, Gyroscope play live, and met a great group of new people. I’ve been planning things to do and places to eat in Melbourne, because the trip is only a few weeks away. My friends and I also had a lovely lunchtime picnic at college the other day. I think we should definitely do that more often. We had a delicious King Island Dairy Camembert with poppy seed crackers, and I made these buckwheat shortcakes from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert. I served them with some tiny, sweet strawberries and lightly whipped cream. The buckwheat was subtle, but flavourful enough to add an element of interest and difference. They come together quickly and easily – no need to bring out the mixer – and would make a perfect impromptu spring afternoon tea.
Buckwheat Strawberry Shortcakes
Adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich
• 1 cup + 2 tablespoons plain flour
• ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
• ¼ cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder, sifted
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing
• 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
• Strawberries, rinsed and patted dry, hulled
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 220°C (425°F). Line a baking tray with two sheets of non-stick baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour the cream into it.
3. Using a rubber spatula, push the dry ingredients from the sides of the bowl into the well, cutting and turning the mixture until the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough looks rough and shaggy.
4. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently against the sides of the bowl, pressing loose pieces into the dough until it just holds together, but is not smooth.
5. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and pat it down into a 15cm square, about 2cm thick. Trim the edges using a sharp knife. Cut the dough into 9 squares. Place them at least 3cm apart on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with some cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
6. Bake shortcakes until the tops are golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Cool on a rack.
7. Meanwhile, whip the cream, sweetening it lightly to taste as it begins to thicken. Continue beating until it holds a soft shape. The cream can be covered and refrigerated for a few hours.
8. Slice the berries and sweeten them lightly to taste with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar if desired. The berries can be covered and refrigerated for 1 hour.
9. To assemble the shortcakes, slice each cake horizontally in half. Place the bottom halves onto serving plates. Top each with a scoop of strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Cover with the tops of the cakes