Tales of food, sex and friendship




Archive for 2011

Best Ever Toasted Cheese Sandwich

December 15, 2011


Gooey melted cheese and crispy fried bread with a hint of garlic. Need we say more?

Makes 2 sandwiches. If you’re feeling virtuous serve with green salad.

30g butter, softened

20g mascarpone cheese

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 thick slices sourdough bread

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

40g gruyere cheese, thinly sliced

40g mozzarella cheese, grated

olive oil

salt and pepper

Mix together butter with crushed garlic and set aside. Combine mascarpone and mustard and spread on all slices of bread. Top 2 slices with cheese and season with salt and pepper as desired. Sandwich slices together and press down firmly.

Heat the garlic butter over a low heat in a large, heavy frying pan with a dash of olive oil to stop the butter burning. Place the sandwiches in the pan and cook for approx 2 mins on each side, until golden brown. Enjoy immediately!

 

 

Season 4: Episode 15

December 13, 2011

The champagne arrived and Willow held her breath as the waiter expertly popped the cork. It was all she could not to squeal in excitement. What a wonderfully perfect evening! Well, it would have been far more perfect had Robert actually been able to join her, but it was as close to perfect as she could imagine without him.

She was about 99.99% sure that she had fallen head over heals in love with Robert and was 99.98% sure that he had undergone a similar, dizzying and wonderful transformation. Just thinking about him sent butterflies exploding in her stomach and shooting through every last inch of her body.

They’d tiptoed around the L word, neither of them being quite brave enough to just come out and say it; Willow still smarting from the last time she’d let her feelings get the better of her and Robert not having felt anything even remotely close to this since his wife had died many years earlier. Willow was pretty sure that Robert was going to tell her tonight how he felt and she would have no hesitation letting him know that she felt exactly the same way. She smiled giddily as she took a sip of the champagne and let the bubbles roll over her tongue and down her throat.

“Can I get you something to nibble on?” the waiter asked.

Willow shook her head. He smiled and vanished back into the main restaurant area, leaving Willow alone again. She checked the time, frowning slightly; Robert should have been here by now, surely.

***

Robert looked up and down the street for a taxi. He tapped his foot impatiently and looked at his watch. He’d been waiting at least ten minutes on this stretch of road. He momentarily contemplated calling his driver, but the gridlocked Friday night traffic wouldn’t have been conducive to a quick trip. He wondered about getting the tram. It had been years since he’d caught public transport. He checked his pockets and found a five dollar note. He guessed that a tram ticket would be about a dollar or so and that the conductor would have change. It had been a long time since he’d been on a tram, but they couldn’t have changed that much, would they? He checked the road and stepped out to find a tram stop.

***

Robert’s secretary, Claire, returned to her desk and sighed. She was meant to be having dinner with friends tonight, but had called and said that she’d meet them for a drink later because she was stuck at work. Her half eaten takeaway had congealed so she threw the container in the bin. The meeting room door was still closed, which meant they were still slugging it out over the details of the merger. If only Robert would just leave so she could go home. She was pretty sure that he didn’t even need to be there for the final negotiations, but in typical Fortescue fashion he liked to be involved in every part of the deal.

“How can I expect to run a successful company if I don’t understand everything about it?” he’d said to her on many occasions.

She contemplated sticking her head in the door to see how much longer they were going to be, but decided against it. If she broke the flow it would probably take six times as long.  She picked up the phone again and dialled her friends. May as well just reschedule completely. It didn’t look like she was getting out of here anytime soon.

***

Willow was getting impatient. She had passed the threshold of excited and was moving into pissed-off territory. Seriously, she thought, don’t organise something like this if you’re not even going to be here! She knew Robert was busy and had a lot of work on at the moment, but really, this was getting ridiculous. She sighed and took another sip of the champagne, drumming her fingers on the table.

***

The trams were packed and Robert hadn’t been able to get on the first one that had come past. Some kind of sporting event was going on and the tram was filled with people wearing team jumpers and sporting scarves, even though it was summer. He’d never understood the Melbournian obsession with all things sport. He stepped out and looked down the road again, not seeing another tram anywhere. Dammit. Over the other side of the road a taxi stopped and a gaggle of girls got out, tottering on their towering platform heels. Robert held up his hand.

“Hey!” he shouted, waving to the taxi. “Hey, wait!”

The taxi driver started to pull out, but then saw Robert and stopped, motioning for him to cross the road. Robert grinned and waved his thanks waiting for a break in the traffic. He ran out into the road. There was a screech of brakes and the stomach curdling sound of crunching metal and smashing glass. No-one heard the dull thud of Robert’s body being tossed into the air and then landing in the middle of the road.

***

Robert wasn’t answering his mobile. As a last resort, Willow dialled his office number. She’d spoken to his secretary once before, but didn’t want to come across as one of those girlfriends and therefore never phoned him at work. His secretary answered after two rings.

“He’s still in a meeting I’m afraid,” she said apologetically. She knew about Robert’s plans tonight and felt bad that this girl was waiting. She seemed nice. Still, if she was going to date Robert, she’d better get used to evenings of cancelled plans.

“But he called and told me… Oh, never mind,” Willow sighed. Robert must have gone back into the meeting after he called her. Was it so hard to pick up the phone and let her know?

***

The ambulance rushed Robert to the Alfred hospital. He was unconscious and every part that could be broken, was. The paramedics looked at each other grimly. This one didn’t look good. Not good at all.

***

Finally, at 10:30pm everyone filed out of the meeting room. They looked exhausted. Robert’s secretary waited for him to emerge.

“Where’s Robert?” she asked one of the lawyers who had been in the room.

“He left hours ago.”

Claire groaned and packed up her bag. It was unlike Robert to leave her hanging unnecessarily at her desk.

***

After several more fruitless attempts at getting hold of Robert, Willow finally gave up. She tipped the last drop of champagne into her mouth and stood up, quite drunk by now from the lack of food and the copious amounts of champagne. She apologised again to the waiter and left an overly generous tip, slinking out of the restaurant feeling embarrassed. As she was leaving her phone rang. She snatched it up, her heart sinking when she saw it was Ana – not Robert – calling her. She let the call go to voicemail. She was too grumpy and tired to talk to Ana now.

The house was quiet when she got home. She wasn’t tired and padded into the kitchen to make a toasted cheese sandwich. On any other day she would have laughed at the irony of making a cheese sandwich dressed head-to-toe in a brand new Chanel outfit, but not tonight. Not now.

The pissed-off feeling had gone and was replaced by gut-wrenching worry. Where was he? What if something had happened to him? She didn’t know who else to call; she didn’t know any of his friends yet and when she’d tried the office again it went to voicemail.

Even the molten cheese and fresh sourdough that was sizzling in a pan – thanks to a generous nob of garlic butter – didn’t help her shake the feeling that something had happened.

She’d only been asleep about thirty minutes when her phone rang at 2:30am. She answered without properly waking up.

“Willow? It’s Claire.”

Claire? Who the hell was Claire, Willow thought sleepily.

“Robert’s secretary,” the women said, as if reading her mind.

Willow sat bolt upright in bed. She suddenly felt sick. Her heart was beating fast and her palms started sweating uncontrollably. She didn’t want Claire to be calling her at this time of the morning. She didn’t want to hear what she had to say.

“What is it?” she managed to whisper.

“It’s Robert,” Claire said, her voice catching in her throat. “He’s been in an accident. They don’t know…” she started sobbing, unable to talk. “They don’t know if he’s going to make it,” she finally managed.

Willow ran to the bathroom and vomited before throwing on some clothes and rushing to the hospital.

Fettuccine with Roast Pumpkin and Mascarpone

December 8, 2011


A superb meal for a warm early summer evening. The pumpkin and macarpone combine to give a beautiful creamy flavour and the chili adds a tiny kick at the end.

Serve with fresh, green salad and a crisp white wine.

4 cups chopped butternut squash (pieces about 1/2 inch big)

1.5 tblspn olive oil

2.5 cups chicken stock

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 tspn ground cinnamon

1 fresh chili, chopped finely

500g fresh futtuccine

Freshly grated Parmesan

Handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 220°C. Toss pumpkin with olive oil in large bowl to coat. Transfer pumpkin to baking sheet. Bake until pumpkin is tender and beginning to brown, turning once (about 30 minutes).

Transfer pumpkin to processor and add 2 1/2 cups chicken stock. Puree until smooth. Add mascarpone cheese, ground cinnamon and chili. Process to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook fettuccine in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Transfer fettuccine to large bowl. Add sauce; toss to coat. Garnish with a generous amount of parsley and black pepper and serve, with Parmesan separately.

Season 4: Episode 14

December 6, 2011

Ana threw her phone across the bedroom. It hit a pile of clothes in the corner so didn’t quite have the smashing into smithereens effect that she had hoped for. Still, she would probably be grateful for that next time she wanted to use it.

Another cancellation. It was the fifth client in the last week who had phoned and told her they no longer required her services.

Sofia wasn’t kidding, Ana thought wryly. Since accusing Ana of stealing from her, she had wasted no time getting in touch with her extensive network of nouveau riche cronies to make sure that Ana would never work in Melbourne again. It would have been better in a way if she had just pressed charges; at least then Ana could fight back. Ana had tried to exonerate herself by getting the security camera footage from the store, but unless there were criminal allegations, they wouldn’t release it.

Ana felt fat tears rolling down her cheeks. She was going to have to tell Tom about this. She had put it off for as long as possible. Losing one client was part of business, two was bad luck, but five? That was career suicide.

She wiped her eyes on her sleeve. What she needed was a drink. She pulled open the fridge looking for a bottle of white wine. They always kept a stash in the house for cooking or surprise guests. Where was it all? She vaguely recalled having a drink – or was it two? –  yesterday afternoon and then maybe another few the day before. She couldn’t really remember. Tom must have finished off the rest of it and not bought any more.
She grabbed her keys, threw a jacket over her leggings and oversized jumper and headed out to the car. The bottle shop was only a couple of blocks, but she couldn’t be bothered walking. She just wanted to be tucked up at home with a bottle of white as soon as possible.

When Tom came home some time later, Ana was already halfway through the second bottle. He eyed her sceptically. He knew that Ana liked to have a drink after work to calm down, but he’d taken six or seven bottles out to the recycling in the last few days alone. He walked over and kissed her on the cheek. His eyes fell on the case of wine that was on the floor next to her.

“It was on sale,” she said, following his gaze. Her voice was thick and the words sloshed together a tiny bit. “Want some?”

Tom nodded slowly and got a glass from the kitchen. “Have you eaten?”

Ana shook her head. In fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten anything substantial. She’d picked at bits and pieces over the last week, but a meal…?

“I’ll make some dinner,” he said.

***

Ana barely touched the roast pumpkin and mascarpone fettuccine that he made. She didn’t have the same problem with the wine though.

“What’s going on?” Tom said lightly

Ana burst into tears and filled him in on everything that had happened.

“Are you sure you didn’t accidentally use her card instead of your own?” he said, when she was done.

“No,” Ana moaned. “I paid cash.”

“Can’t you just show her the receipt?”

Ana shook her head. “I didn’t get one,” she said sheepishly.

“What if someone took the card from her,” he said suddenly. “Instead of you. She could have lost her one.”

“I thought of that too,” Ana said, “But each card – even the one she got me – has a unique number.”

“Oh.” Tom was stumped. Still, it wasn’t a huge deal, surely? If she didn’t do anything wrong, she didn’t do anything wrong, it was as as simple as that. She’d get more clients and then everything would be back to normal. He didn’t think Ana would appreciate this optimism right now though, so he kept it to himself.

“You haven’t organised any work to be done here – plumbing or anything – have you, while I’ve been out?” Ana said suddenly.

Tom shook his head.

Ana sighed. “I didn’t think so. It’s just so weird. No one else has even been in the house except us.”

“Yeah,” Tom said. “The only other person is Sar…” His voice trailed off. Shit. He hadn’t meant to let that cat out of the bag.

He saw Ana’s hand tighten around the wine glass. “Who?” Her voice was icy.

Tom gulped. “Sarah. When she came to pick up the contract. I told you about that,” he said, knowing full well that he hadn’t. He didn’t want Ana cracking it over something that wasn’t even an issue, especially now when she was in a heightened sense of…drunk.

“Sarah was in this house,” Ana said. “Alone?”

“Ana, I know what you are thinking, but there is no way she would have done anything like that.”

“How do you know?” Ana said.

Tom sighed. “I just know. She isn’t that kind of person.”

“Why do you keep defending her,” Ana hissed.

Tom slammed his glass down on the table. He had had enough. “Why are you so goddam nasty to her,” he said angrily. “She told me about your little run in the other day. I was so embarrassed that my wife would behave in that way.”

“See!” Ana shouted. “She was at David Jones! It was her!” Amongst everything that was going on, she had forgotten that she had even run into Sarah that day.

“She bought Christmas present for her parents,” Tom shouted back. “That’s why she was at David Jones. I saw them.”

Ana clenched her jaw.

“Why are you trying to make her life difficult?” He said, sighing.

Ana started at Tom, her mouth open. She was making Sarah’s life difficult? Suddenly Ana had an idea. She picked up her keys and threw the last of the wine down her throat.

“Where are you going?” Tom said suspiciously.

“I’m going to see her,” Ana said, pulling on a jacket. “I’m going to make her confess.”

“Ana, don’t be such a drama queen.”

Ana fixed him with her icy blue stare.

“You can’t drive,” he said wearily. He pushed himself off the couch and pulled on his own jacket. At least a small confrontation might make Ana see sense.

***

Sarah was sitting at home on the couch. Willow had left earlier that evening for her surprise date with Fortescue and Mia had just gone out to tell Johnny that she loved him. Or something.

Maybe that will free up John, Sarah thought. He’s cute. He could be a good distraction until Tom finally comes to his senses and leaves that stupid cow of a wife that he got landed with.

A frantic knocking on the door startled her. She peered through the peephole, surprised to see Ana standing there. She almost pretended no one was home, but then she saw Tom, behind Ana and looking annoyed. She smoothed her hair and pinched her cheeks, opening to door with a flourish.

“Ana? Tom? What are you doing here,” she said, eyes wide. She was pleased to note that Ana looked like shit. Her eyes were red and her skin was blotchy. Her normally perfect hair was a mess.

“I’m so sorry,” Tom said. He looked embarrassed as he closed the door behind them. “We didn’t mean to disturb your evening….”

Ana cut him off. “You little bitch,” she growled. “You stole that card and now my life is ruined.”

Sarah looked from Tom to Ana, confused. “What are you talking about?”

“I saw you in David Jones,” Ana continued. Her voice was getting more high pitched and she was gesticulating erratically. “You bought lingerie so that I would be blamed!”

Tom tried to put his hand on Ana’s arm Ana, but she shrugged him off.

“Where is it?” she shouted. “Give it to me.”

“What is she talking about?” Sarah said, turning to Tom. Her voice was wobbly, like she was about to start crying.

“You are a liar and a thief,” Ana shouted,  jabbing her finger in Sarah’s face.

Sarah burst into tears, covering her face with her hands. Tom looked at Ana, appalled, and put his arm around Sarah, comforting her.

Ana stormed up the stairs before either of them could stop her and threw open Sarah’s door. She pulled drawers out and started flinging clothes across the room.

“Ana!” Tom appeared in the doorway, shocked. He went to stop her, but Sarah held up her hand.

“Let her do whatever she wants,” she said stoically, between tears. “It’s the only way she’ll know that I didn’t do whatever she thinks I did.”

Ana went through every cupboard and drawer, throwing clothes and jewellery everywhere. When there was nothing left to empty, she stood there, panting.

“Ana,” Tom whispered to her, putting his hands on her shoulders. “Stop this. You’ve embarrassed me and you’ve hurt Sarah.”

He pulled her into his arms. At least she seemed to have calmed down a bit. Ana glanced over towards Sarah, who had been sobbing in the doorway. She looked up and caught Ana’s eye. A small smirk spread across her face as she wiped the fake tears from her eyes.

Ana exploded. She pushed Tom aside and walked up to Sarah. Almost involuntarily, her hand formed a fist and swung around, catching Sarah square in the face. Sarah screamed, her hands flying to her eye. Tom pinned Ana’s arms to her side and forced her out of the room. He marched her to the front door.

“Get out,” he hissed.

“But Tom…”

“No.” He cut her off. “I don’t want to hear it. I want you to go home and pack a bag and go at stay… anywhere. I don’t care. I need a break. I can’t cope with this anymore.”

Ana watched the door slam in her face in disbelief. Her hand was aching from where it had come into contact with Sarah’s cheekbone. She felt numb, as though she were watching her own life happening in front of her, but she wasn’t really living it. She could hear the sobs subsiding and Tom’s soothing voice as he led Sarah down the stairs to the kitchen. Ana turned and slowly walked down the path away from the house.

Banana Crumb Muffins

December 1, 2011


These are pretty spectacular muffins and your guests (or those you’re trying to impress!) won’t think that you’ve just made them to use up the banana’s that have been rotting in the fruit bowl for a while. The crumbly topping gives a great texture. Sure to be a hit with everyone!

Serve with tea or coffee and fresh fruit (either in bed or out). Makes approx. 12 muffins

Muffin Batter

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 bananas, mashed

1/2 cup honey

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/3 cup melted butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tspn ground cinnamon

1/2 tspn nutmeg

Crumb Topping

1 tablespoon butter

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tbsp brown sugar

pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

 

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Lightly grease 10-12 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, honey, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Enjoy warm or allow to cool on a rack and keep in an airtight container.

 

Season 4: Episode 13

November 29, 2011


Mia held up her wine glass and motioned for Sarah to fill it. She’d had a long week and was looking forward to a night in front of the TV watching trashy movies with her new housemate. They heard Willow shout goodbye as she left for her surprise date with Robert, the front door slamming after her.

“Everyone is so loved up,” Sarah moaned, filling both the glasses and plonking herself down on the couch next to Mia. “You and Willow both have great guys…”

She didn’t manage to finish the sentence because Mia’s phone started ringing, and Mia looked suddenly distracted, hesitating before answering in her best I’m-coming-down-with-an-awful-cold voice

“Hi John. Yeah I’m not feeling crash hot. Think I’m just going to head to bed tonight. Alone.”

“What was that all about?” said Sarah, amazed. John was great – he was funny and gorgeous and had a cute british accent. She thought Mia really liked him.

“I just want a night off,” Mia said breezily, taking a gulp of her wine.

Sarah frowned. “You sure that’s all it is?”

Mia flashed her most brilliant smile. “Of course.”

They sat and stared at the movie in silence, finishing off the bottle of red and opening another one. Mia wasn’t even sure what the film was because she couldn’t focus for more than a couple of minutes at a time. She felt like all the pent up energy and frustration she had was affecting her ability to function as a human being.

“The thing is,” Mia began, then stopped.

“Yes?” Sarah said, when she didn’t continue.

“The thing is, well, I’m just not sure I like him that much,” Mia said, blushing.

“Who?” Sarah said, slightly confused. “John?”

Mia nodded.

“Oh,” said Sarah, surprised.

“I think I’m in love with someone else,” Mia suddenly blurted out.

She proceeded to tell Sarah everything that had happened between her and Johnny since that fateful first kiss. The story was told in conjunction with the consumption of another bottle of wine and by the time she had finished, Mia was very tipsy and rosy cheeked. Sarah didn’t say anything and looked at Mia thoughtfully.

“You should go and see him,” she said slowly, a smile spreading over her face. “You have to tell him how you feel.”

“What? No way,” Mia exclaimed.

“You have to,” Sarah said calmly. “You’ll regret it forever if you don’t.”

“So, you’re saying that I should just go over to his house tomorrow and tell him,” Mia said, incredulously.

“Nope,” Sarah said, her smile widening.

“No?” Mia was confused. “But I thought you just said…”

“You have to go tonight,” Sarah said, cutting her off. “Right now.”

***

And so it was that Mia found herself standing outside Johnny’s front door, shifting nervously from foot to foot and biting her fingernails, a habit that she had managed to kick years earlier and had now suddenly taken up again. She took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. Her heart was hammering and she almost turned around and ran away. She heard footsteps coming down the stairs and the door swung open.

The surprise on Johnny’s face was almost comical. “What are you doing here?” he said, when she didn’t offer up any explanation.

Mia gulped. Here goes nothing, she thought. She reached forward and pulled Johnny towards her, kissing him deeply. He didn’t react at first, but after a few seconds he kissed her back hungrily, running his hands over her body and through her hair. The spark between them was as potent as ever and soon they were clawing at each other, trying to get their bodies closer together.

“You should invite me in,” Mia said breathlessly, in between kisses. She ran her hand slowly underneath his shirt, over his smooth stomach and started to work her fingers into the top of his trousers.

Johnny gently pushed her hand away and looked at her curiously. He couldn’t understand what had come over Mia. She’d never been this… forward before.

“Are you drunk?” he said. He’d been dreaming of this for as long as he could remember but didn’t want it to be a drunken fumble that she’d regret later. He’d been involved in enough of those over his lifetime.

“No. Yes. I don’t know,” Mia said, laughing.

“Come in and I’ll make you some coffee,” he said smiling and kissing her gently on the tip of her nose.

***

“Do you want me to call you a taxi?” Johnny said after she’d finished her coffee and a few glasses of water.

She looked up into his gorgeous, sparkling eyes and shook her head.

“You don’t want me to call you a taxi?” Johnny said, a smile creeping into the corners of his mouth.

Mia nodded.

“Do you want to…” Johnny hesitated. “You could stay here if you wanted to.”

Mia smiled at him and nodded her head again slowly. She could feel her pulse quickening again.

Johnny walked around the other side of the counter to where she was sitting and ran his hands through her hair.

“Forever, if you want to,” he whispered.

He took her hand and led her to the bedroom, where he undressed her slowly, kissing every inch of her body. They made love for hours, until the sun came up.

***

“Afternoon.” Johnny leant over and kissed Mia on the lips.

She momentarily forgot where she was, blinking as the bright sunlight peeking through the blinds obscured her vision.

“Afternoon?” she said, her voice thick from sleep.

“You’ve been asleep for most of the day,” he said, stroking her hair.

“Sorry,” she mumbled. “I should go…”

“No, no,” he said quickly. “Stay. I made you some afternoon tea.”

Mia looked at the bed to see a tray laid out with coffee and some baked good that smelled delicious.

“I made banana muffins,” said Johnny.

“You made these?” Mia said, amazed. “Just now?”

Johnny grinned proudly and sat on the edge of the bed, rubbing Mia’s foot under the covers and slowly running his hand up her leg.

It looked as though the muffins might have been momentarily forgotten, but a knock on the door startled them.

“I’ll be back in a sec,” he said, annoyed that someone was disturbing his perfect day.

Mia heard him bounding down the stairs, two at a time and smiled to herself, wriggling her toes in pleasure. Sarah was a freaking genius.

She noticed her bag on the floor by the bed and reached on to check her phone, frowning when she saw missed calls from Ana, Sarah and Willow. She was about to ring them back, but froze when she heard Johnny’s voice followed by the sound of a woman crying. Mia slipped out of bed and put on one of Johnny’s shirts she found flung over the back of a chair. She tip-toed to the top of the stairs and peered over the railing. She could see the back of a girl with long chestnut hair and a lithe body, very clearly on display in skin-tight black jeans and a jumper that fell casually off one shoulder. Mia frowned. The girl looked vaguely familiar.

“I have to talk to you,” the girl said, crying softly. It was the sort of crying a child does to get attention when they’re not really hurt, but knows that it is going to elicit some kind of sympathy. Johnny looked uncomfortable and was doing his best to get her to keep her voice down.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said, crying louder this time.

Suddenly it clicked. Mia recognised the girl as someone who Johnny had flirted with one night when she had the misfortune of being taken on a date to his restaurant. This girl was gorgeous and young and Johnny had done everything except make out with her in front of Mia. She felt a stab of jealousy and clenched her fists.

“Do about what?” Johnny whispered, trying to push her away.

“Oh Johnny,” the girl sobbed. “I’m pregnant.”

Mia saw Johnny freeze. The girl stopped crying and wiped her tears delicately.

“Why are you telling me?” he said slowly.

“Silly Johnny,” she said, a smattering of laughter tinkling from her now smiling mouth. “It’s yours, of course.”

Mia must have gasped involuntarily as they both looked up at the same time and saw her standing there. Mia turned and fled back into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.

“Who is that?” the chestnut haired visitor demand.

“Mia, wait,” Johnny shouted, running up the stairs. “I can explain.”

Mia pulled on her clothes with shaking hands, her mouth set in a firm line. No, she thought. No you can’t.

Classic Champagne Cocktail

November 24, 2011


Delicious and decadent. Perfect for a special shopping trip or just hanging out with friends. Use the driest champagne or sparkling white you can get.

Champagne or dry sparkling white

2 tspn cognac

2 dashes Angostura bitters

sugar cubes

Place one sugar cube in champagne flute with Angostura bitters. Add cognac and then top with champagne. Serve immediately.

 

Season 4: Episode 12

November 22, 2011

Willow’s phone rang at about five pm. She looked at the caller ID and smiled. “Hey, you.”

“Hey, you back.” Robert sounded tired. “I’m so sorry, I’m stuck at work sorting out the final details of this merger. I’m not going to be able to come and get you at six.”

“That’s fine,” Willow said, meaning it. “I’ll just see you when you get here.”

She knew that Robert had some big surprise planned for the evening, but she didn’t care if all they did was curl up on the couch and watch a movie after he’d finished work. Spending any type of time with him always proved to be, well, perfect.

“No, no,” he said. “I’m going to have a car get you and then I’ll meet you as soon as I’m done here. It shouldn’t be too much longer.”

“Won’t you tell me where we are going?” she asked, for the hundredth time.

She heard the smile in his voice as he gave the exact same answer as he always did. “It’s a surprise.”

“At least tell me what I should wear,” Willow pleaded.

“All right,” he conceded. “Wear the first thing that you see in your cupboard.”

“Robert,” Willow laughed. “What if it’s pyjamas?”

“Then wear pyjamas.”

Willow heard muffled voices in the background.

“You’ve got to go,” she said. “I’ll see you later.”

She was about to hang up the phone.

“Willow?”

“Yeah?”

There was a pause. “I’ll see you soon,” he finally said. What he meant, of course, was I love you.

***

At exactly six pm there was a knock on the door and Willow grabbed her jacket and handbag. “Bye!” she shouted to her housemates, who were having a very low key Friday night staying in and watching videos. When she opened the door she was surprised to see a rather dapper looking gentleman dressed in a black suit and wearing a jaunty cap. He looked a lot like a limousine driver that you see in the movies.

“Miss Willow?”

Willow nodded.

“If you’ll come this way please. I apologise for not being able to park directly out the front; there wasn’t room.”

As she walked around the corner she realised why the guy looked like a limo driver: He drove a big, shiny, black stretch limousine. He held the door open and Willow got in awkwardly. She had never been in a stretch limousine before. She looked around the interior marvelling at the plush red velvet carpet and tan leather seats. A bottle of Krug sat nestled in an ice bucket. An exquisite bunch of dark purple roses lay across the seat with a handwritten note from Robert.

Sorry I can’t be there myself. Enjoy, and I’ll see you at the next stop. Xx

***

Robert snuck a glance at his watch. They should have arrived at the Chanel store by now. Willow had Chanel lipstick and perfume and had once quipped to him that it was the only Chanel she could afford, more’s the pity. Well, not anymore. He suppressed a grin and wished he could see her face. He refocussed himself on the meeting. The sooner it was over the sooner he could go and join in the fun.

***

Willow’s mouth formed a silent ‘O’ as she was invited into the store and introduced to her personal assistant for the evening, Claudette, who handed her a Champagne cocktail.

“I’ve spoken with Mr Fortescue,” she said kindly, “and he apologises that he isn’t here yet. He suggested we get started and he’ll be here as soon as he can.”

“Get started?” Willow said, her mind giddy.

“With your outfit for this evening, of course,” Claudette said, smiling. She leant in and spoke in a low voice. “Mr Fortescue wants to make it very clear he loves the way you dress and isn’t trying to change you, but thinks that, and I quote, ‘you deserve to be spoilt rotten.’”

Willow blushed and ran her hand over a rack of silk dresses. They felt as smooth and cool as ice cream. She tried to glance at a price tag, but Claudette stepped in.

“Ah yes,” she said. “He was also adamant that you don’t look at the prices.”

***

Robert shifted in his seat. He was frustrated with himself for not scheduling this meeting for next week, but he honestly didn’t think that it would take this long. He checked his watch again. Damn! He’d missed the shopping part. He’d been so looking forward to seeing Willow trying on all the different outfits. She would have been flustered and embarrassed initially, telling him that she didn’t need expensive new clothes. He knew that she didn’t need them, but he also knew that she would like them, and therefore buying them for her made him happy. He’d just have to get her to do a fashion parade later for him. Then he could take them off her himself. He smiled. He wouldn’t have been able to do that in the shop.

***

Willow sighed as she settled into the back of the limo. She kept telling herself not to get used to this, but my goodness, it was a lot of fun. She’d been embarrassed initially, flustering around not wanting to try anything on.

“I’m not allowed to let you leave until you have at least one thing,” Claudette said, grinning, “so you may as well try something.”

She hadn’t gone overboard – just an outfit for the evening and a pair of shoes. And some new underwear. What girl could resist lace Chanel underwear? She suspected Robert might quite like that part of the outfit too. She grinned and pulled out her phone, sending Robert a quick text message.

Is it the opera next?

Thankfully it wasn’t. Even though Julia Roberts had gained an appreciation for opera in Pretty Woman, Willow didn’t know if she would be able to do it justice. She’d tried in the past, but it was one of those things she just didn’t get. As it turned out he’d hired out the private dining room at Vue du Monde for the two of them. Now food; that was something Willow understood. She perused the degustation menu, her mouth watering at the descriptions of the tempting morsels.

“Champagne?” said the waiter appearing mysteriously behind her.

“I think I’ll wait,” Willow said. The champagne cocktails had been free flowing at the Chanel store and she wanted to be vaguely sober when Robert arrived.

***

Robert shook his head, frustrated. The legal stuff for this merger was taking way too long. They would be at this for another few hours. It wasn’t like he even needed to be there anymore really and he doubted that anyone would notice if he snuck out. Willow would have arrived at Vue Du Monde by now and would be waiting. Shopping alone was one thing, but sitting in a restaurant by yourself was something else entirely. He slid out of his seat and went silently out the door of the meeting room. The office was quiet and most of the other people had gone home. His assistant was still there somewhere – he could tell by the half-finished take-away dinner container on her desk. He felt bad that she had to stay so late and made a mental note to give her a day off next week. He had a quick look around to tell her he was heading off, but she must have been in the bathroom. Didn’t matter, he could text her from the road.

He pushed open the office doors and stepped out onto the street. It was humming with people heading out for the night or going home from after work drinks, a bit wobbly. There were cars everywhere, but he couldn’t see a free cab. He put his hand in his pocket and wrapped it around the small turquoise box, making sure it was still there. Robert smiled to himself. He pulled out his phone and dialled Willow’s number for what he hoped with be the last time that day.

“I’m on my way,” he said when she answered. “Don’t go anywhere.”

***

The waiter magically appeared beside her as soon as she hung up the phone. She wondered if they had to take a special class to learn how to do that. Impeccable Timing 101.

“I think I’ll take that bottle of champagne now,” she said smiling and wriggling her toes in excitement. She sat, anticipation bubbling inside her, and waited for Robert Fortescue.

Divine Chicken Sandwiches

November 17, 2011


Now, I know you think you’ve had chicken sandwiches before, but trust me, until you have these you don’t know what you’re missing! They are great for lunch or high tea. Recipe thanks to Chloe Rose.

Serve with any kind of sparkling beverage – of course, here at Ravenous we prefer Champagne, but if you must have sparkling water then that’s OK too. Makes 24 finger sandwiches.

3 chicken breast fillets – boiled whole

3 stalks celery – sliced finely

½ white onion – chopped very finely

Juice of ½ a lemon

3 tbs whole egg mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

1 loaf soft bread cut lengthways (Ask the bakery to do this for you…. all they have to do is turn the bread the other way when they send it through the slicer…. but some little cherubs don’t realise this.)

Rip the chicken into shreds with your fingers (oooh how primal!) Mix chicken, celery, onion, lemon juice, and mayo in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Press down a layer of the mixture into a slice of bread and top with another to make a big sandwich. Cut the crusts off. Now cut in half, then in half again, and in half once more. You should be left with eight delicious tiny sandwiches! Repeat the process until all your ingredients have been used up.

Season 4: Epsiode 11

November 15, 2011

Ana wandered through David Jones, testing face creams, smelling perfumes and searching through racks of clothes that she couldn’t afford to buy. It was one of the very rare occasions that she had a couple of hours to kill before her next meeting. Well, that wasn’t exactly true – there was plenty she could be doing, but she felt like wandering around shops.  The first promise of summer in the air had elevated everyone’s mood and the city was alive with an infectious sense of excitement and possibility. In Ana’s opinion, these were the most perfect days for window shopping because people didn’t really mind if you spent ages in their shop and then didn’t buy anything. Even the Creme del la Mer sales assistant was in a chirpy mood, and if you’ve ever tried to sidle up to the counter to grab a sneaky sample of the exorbitantly priced face creams, you’ll know how rare that is.

Ana was so absorbed in learning about a new moisturiser that promised to eliminate the fifteen signs of ageing (and here she was foolishly thinking there was only one sign of ageing – wrinkles!) that she almost didn’t notice the young lady stop and do a double take as she walked past.

“Ana?”

Ana turned to see who it was and just managed to stop herself groaning out loud. Sarah. Talk about a buzz kill.

“I’m just on my lunch break,” Sarah explained, holding up the David Jones bag. “Just needed to pick up a few things.”

Ana smiled thinly. Like I care, she thought. They made small talk about the weather and other such inane topics before Sarah apologised that she had to get back to work.

“I very rarely take breaks,” she said in a saccharine voice. “Tom just can’t seem to cope without me.”

“He seems to manage just fine at home,” Ana retorted angrily, wishing as soon as she said it that she could retract the words. She could tell from the flash in Sarah’s eyes that she had been  hoping to get a rise out of her. Ana had walked straight into it. She’d probably go back to the office now and tell Tom about it and then he would come home and gently chastise Ana for being nasty to Sarah. “What has she ever done to you?” he’d say and Ana wouldn’t be able to answer, because Sarah hadn’t done anything tangible.

Yet.

That was what made her so dangerous.

To make herself feel better, Ana went to the lingerie department. Nothing cheered her up like expensive lace underwear. Fortunately, nothing cheered Tom up more than Ana in expensive lace underwear. It was a win win situation. Even more fortuitous was the fact that there was a sale on and her absolute favourite La Perla set – made from beautiful black lace so soft that it felt like wearing clouds – was fifty percent off. Although she already had the exact same one at home, she couldn’t resist getting another identical. Lace, after all, does not last forever.  She paid cash for her purchase and didn’t get a receipt – didn’t need Tom knowing that she was spending more money on frivolities. She left the store, annoyed that even retail therapy hadn’t managed to get rid of the uneasy feeling in her stomach that running into Sarah had aroused.

***

Sofia was already sitting in the cafe tapping away on her iPad. On the table were two plates of sandwiches and mineral water.

“You haven’t had lunch had you?” she said.

Ana shook her head as she settled into the small booth. She indicated to the waiter for a coffee.

“I took the liberty of ordering,” Sofia said. “These are the best chicken sandwiches in the world.”

“How thoughtful,” murmured Ana. She turned to the waiter. “Better make it a double espresso.” She was going to need it.

Ordinarily, Ana would have been delighted by the prospect of a chicken sandwich, even if someone had ‘taken the liberty’ of ordering without asking her, but the Sarah thing had left a bad taste in her mouth. Now, having to deal with Princess Sofia was the icing on the cake. And not good icing. Crappy icing, like the stuff that adorns supermarket made children’s birthday cakes.

“What did you buy?” Sofia said, nosily peering into Ana’s shopping bag.

“Just some underwear,” Ana said, blushing.

“Ooh, can I see,” Sofia squealed.

No, Ana thought. No you bloody can’t. But, she didn’t say this. The worst part of her job was that clients – particularly those who were paying her a lot of money – thought that they owned her. Ana recognised it was partly her own fault. She should just stand her ground. But with Sofia, she had realised early on it was easier to nod her head and smile and just do what she was told. Only two more weeks, she silently chanted. Two more weeks.

Sofia held the lace bra up, allowing the whole cafe to view Ana’s purchase.

“La Perla,” she said breathlessly, without even glancing at the label. “My favourite. I’m so glad you have good taste in lingerie, or I might have had to fire you.”

Ana looked shocked and Sofia burst into peels of laughter that sounded somewhere between a high pitched jackhammer and goat.

“I’m just joking!” she said, tucking into her chicken sandwich with gusto.

***

In the bathrooms of the office, Sarah pulled off her clothes and slipped into the new underwear she had bought. Even at fifty percent off, it was still extortionately priced. Lucky she hadn’t actually had to pay for it. It had been almost too easy to phone David Jones and tell them that she was the personal assistant of Sofia, whoever Sofia was. She’d given the card number over the phone and said that she would be in later to pick up the purchase. She still hadn’t quite figured out why Ana had a black Amex of some lady called Sofia, but she didn’t care.

Sarah carefully left a few buttons of her blouse open, so that when she moved glimpses of black lace could be seen. She smiled to herself in the mirror, taking out her new perfume and spritzing a little behind her ears.

“Perfect,” she muttered to her reflection. She checked her watch. Better get back to her desk. She had a meeting with Tom in two minutes.

***

Sofia dumped her handbag unceremoniously on the white leather sofa and kicked her shoes off. She went to the bathroom and stepped on the scales. Only two weeks to her wedding. She probably shouldn’t have had the chicken sandwich, but she couldn’t resist. They were just so amazingly good! Oh well, she just wouldn’t eat anything for dinner.
The house phone rang and she answered it with her married name – she had been practicing the intonation so that when the deed was finally done, she would be able to say it perfectly.

As the person on the other end of the phone was speaking, Sofia clenched her jaw. That lying little bitch, she thought to herself. She cooed her thanks down the phone and hung up. It wasn’t really necessary to involve other people in your private affairs, after all.

She dialed Ana’s mobile number straight away.

“You think you can buy slutty underwear for yourself on my credit card?” she spat as soon as Ana answered.

“What…?”

“David Jones just called me to ensure I liked the purchase that was picked up for me today by my assistant. A purchase of black lace underwear.” She paused. “The thing is Ana, I didn’t buy any black lace underwear today.”

“I don’t know what you’re…”

“Cut the crap,” Sofia hissed. “I know it was you. I should never have trusted you. And now I have to find someone else to finish my Wedding for me.”

“Wait! Just listen to me,” pleaded Ana. “I don’t understand…”

“No you listen,” Sofia snapped. “You. Are. Fired. Can you understand that? You’re lucky I don’t press charges.” She breathed heavily into the handset, furious. “Oh, and don’t expect to ever work in this town again,” she added nastily slamming the phone down.

***

Ana stared at her mobile phone, unable to move. What the fuck had just happened?