The power of cake.

July 24, 2011

I love cake: baking cake,  gifting cake, eating cake. When you’ve traveled a long distance, and haven’t seen your friends and family for a long time, there’s nothing more enjoyable than catching up with coffee and cake. That’s what I recently did, both in Wellington, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia.  The first wee cupcake  I had was a gift from my bestie, which she picked up from Tempt in the Old Bank Arcade.


The next lot (five cakes and eight macarons in total were gleefully consumed) were sourced from my favourite Sydney patisserie: Adriano Zumbo.  Zumbo is Australia’s premier cake artiste, and he creates some wonderfully strange things. We had, amongst other things, a lemon cheesecake with avocado cream cheese (“ave a avo”), a pandan mousse with kaffir lime and coconut (“don the pandan man”) and a white chocolate mousse with coriander cremeaux, peanut caramel, dried chilli sable and almond sponge (“enter the dragon”). The names of the cakes are as beautiful as their taste and presentation. They didn’t last long.



And the sun came out.

March 21, 2011

It was a beautiful weekend! We ventured out to White Rock Lake, one of Dallas’s many (unnatural) lakes for a trek in the sun. This lake is a spot for boaties and bird watchers alike, and the fisherman were also out in full force. Also, I particularly liked the boathouse at White Rock, so spent a little too much time looking at the birds taking refuge in shade. And, since this is America, the police were out and about, too. I was reminded of England, and how on the first day like this each year, everyone is outdoors because one could never be sure how long it would last. But this seems strange in a city like Dallas. Sure, it was a harsh winter, but it really only lasted two weeks! The forecast for the rest of the year? Hot. And sunny.


Don’t fret, Steeler fans.

February 12, 2011

It’s been a long time since I posted anything, and I must thank aipingplum for getting me to wake up.  These are photos I look back in November on a trip to Pittsburgh.  It wasn’t my first trip to Steel City, but it was my first with a decent camera and the determination to bear the cold. Although, I almost didn’t last out there breathing in that cold Appalachian air.  The centre of Pittsburgh is situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, forming the Ohio River, and the ‘Three Rivers City’ has bridges to boot. Maybe it’s too soon–a week after their beloved Steelers lost the Super Bowl–to remind all Pittsburghers to look out their window and appreciate these immense structures and beauty of their rivers. Your city has more than football–including some of the best universities, architecture and natural beauty of any other American city.


Soul food.

November 23, 2010

Religion is a difficult topic to discuss. While I understand its purpose to be uniting, it seems to have a divisive effect on people, communities and, well, the World. However, that cynical outlook couldn’t be further from the minds of the members of the Inspiring Body of Christ Church in Dallas.  I attended their Sunday service, partly to see their exceptional choir perform, partly out of curiosity about church (I’d never been), and partly as a cultural experiment.  The pastor Rickie G. Rush, and his Living Sound Choir gave soulful, rousing performances and I certainly felt how seriously they took their religion, their message and their community.  These people are on a mission to save souls – it says so right there in their manifesto, handed out to all visitors. IBOC have chosen a very powerful medium: I can’t express how moving the music was (a hundred voices in unison, full band, and soul dripping from their brows). I bet even Richard Dawkins would find himself tapping his toes to the beat of their drum.  Everyone was very welcoming, and genuine, and I loved that – it was an example of exactly religion should be like. Community.



The colour and shape: autumn.

November 8, 2010

As quickly as I said good-bye to summer, I spent this past weekend in New Braunfels, Texas enveloped in autumny goodness. I was there for a conference, and — like all things work related — I tried my hardest to dodge the worst of it.  I wandered through the forests of the resort where we were staying (dense brush is the best camouflage to hide from your colleagues) instead of going to all the talks (there’s only so much biophysical discussion of crystal structures and proteins I can take on a Saturday morning…).  It was here that I came face to face with some beautiful deer and got up close (but not too close) and personal with some cacti. Normally I shy away from nature, but the serenity of the setting was just what I needed to clear my head of city-living and questions of science.


Farewell, summer.

November 7, 2010

It’s November now, and the time has come to say good-bye to summer.  This is an unfashionably late farewell, I know, but this is Texas, remember, and they do everything bigger (and longer), including summer.  And before I bid adieu, I sit here and reminisce… one of the highlights of the sunny season is, of course, the ice cream. Cool, refreshing and flavorsome; any time of day or night; with sprinkles or without.  Here: photos of the last ice cream of the season. And like all things delightful should, it was shared with friends.  Until next year!


There’s something about That Town.

October 8, 2010

I had a discussion with a friend a few weeks ago about how American culture is taking over the world — from food to music to fashion.  Maybe that’s true; I’m not sure, and I’m unwilling to make a statement either way.  I was humming that Jay-Z and Alicia Keys song and she exclaimed — Exactly! What, she said, could be more American than New York?  Well, hang on there; New York is the stereotypical melting pot! New Yorkers are everything, including American; isn’t that part of its charm? Admittedly, I was speaking mainly by what I’d heard and read of the city, as up until a few days ago I’d never been there to see for myself.  But now that I have, and I can say without pause that New York is everyone’s city.  No one cares where you’re from, because, as another friend put it, everyone’s from somewhere. Looking at it another way: when you’re in New York you are member of the outsiders’ club. And everyone’s welcome.  Now I totally understand what the big deal about New York is. And it’s just as well that it’s totally indescribable. What a city!