Tales of food, sex and friendship




Archive for November, 2011

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?

Coconut and Lime Mousse

November 10, 2011


Light, tangy and creamy, it’s the perfect end for a spring dinner party. If you’re after something a bit more substantial, try making ginger cake and serving with a dollop of the mousse. yum, yum, yum!

Serve with fresh strawberries. Makes 4 individual serves.

1 can coconut milk (NOT low fat)

¼ cup honey or equivalent of agave syrup.

¼ cup cornflour

1cup coconut milk or soy milk or almond milk

juice of 2 limes

zest from 2 limes

½ tsp vanilla essence

Place the tin of coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours (overnight preferable). When you open the tin, the coconut cream should have solidified at the top, leaving the milk separate at the bottom. Scoop out the thick cream and put it in a mixing bowl (leave the milk for the second part of the recipe). Beat on high for a minute or two until it develops the consistency of heavy whipped cream. Put this aside.

In a small saucepan, combine honey, cornflour, remaining coconut milk and soy milk. Over a medium heat, whisk constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and half of the zest.

Cool to room temperature by placing pan in a ‘bath’ of ice and cold water and stirring until cool (make sure you don’t splash any of the water in the mixture). Gently fold in the whipped coconut cream until blended. Evenly distribute into ramekins or teacups and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but longer is better. Sprinkle with remaining zest just before serving.

Season 4: Episode 10

November 8, 2011

The dinner party had come about due to a phone conversation two days prior when Ana had accused Willow (in the nicest possible way, of course) of not properly introducing her to Robert. Ordinarily Willow would have waited weeks longer before she allowed a man she was interested in to meet any of her inner circle. She liked to be very certain that they (the men – not her friends) were not going to embarrass her by getting drunk and loudly singing the Fremantle Dockers anthem or asking her friends for a threesome (sadly, both of these mortifying incidents had occurred on more than one occasion). However, after only two weeks of ‘properly dating’, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that Robert would do neither of these, nor any of the other horrible things that a new boyfriend could potentially do (such as going off you when you started wearing your comfortable underwear again. A girl can only cope with so much lace!). Since that night at his house, things had moved at a rather rapid pace. The last fortnight had been a whirlwind of …well… sex, sex and more sex, if she was completely honest about it; a few fancy dinners thrown in for good measure. They just couldn’t keep their hands off each other! And it wasn’t just pants down, off you go it was the proper, romantic, staring into each others soul rubbish that she had read about, but never actually experienced.

Until now, that is.

Ana had suggested dinner at their place. “Just something casual,” she said, “with the four of us, so Tom and I can get to know Robert. We can grab pizza or something.”

Willow had agreed. Something casual sounded perfect.

***

“I thought you said this was going to be low key,” Willow said, when they arrived at Ana and Tom’s beautiful apartment. The house was cleaner than she had ever seen it, and Ana looked quite the hostess in a beautiful black dress and twinkling diamond earrings. She was even wearing an apron. “And since when do you own an apron?”

“Sorry, I got a bit carried away,” Ana whispered. “I was just so excited that you two finally got your shit together. I didn’t want him to think your friends are losers.”

Willow rolled her eyes, but couldn’t quite suppress a grin. Trust Ana to turn a pizza night into the event of the week.

“Now make yourself at home,” Ana said breezily, taking Robert’s coat. “I just have to pull the entree out of the oven and put the finishing touches to the coconut and lime mousse. Tom’s made some cocktails so go ahead and relax in the dining room. Won’t be a tick.”

The dining room had been transformed into an oasis of gorgeousness. Candles were scattered strategically around the room and amazing flower arrangements lined the centre of the table.

“These are incredible,” Robert said, leaning down and admiring a glass bowl filled with plush, velvety orchids.

“Oh, those,” said Tom, offhand. “They’re all practice arrangements from this wedding Ana is organising. The bridezilla didn’t like them and was going to throw them out.”

“It was such a waste,” said Ana, coming into the room with plates of delicious smelling entrees. “It’s not like she’s going to miss them. I just rescued them from the rubbish bin.”

***

The dinner was absolutely delicious and as soon as she’d had a couple of glasses of wine, Ana calmed down and forgot that she was trying to impress.

“What is it you do Robert? Willow never really told me,” asked Ana, kicking her high heels off and scrunching her toes into the carpet.

He laughed. “I try not to bore Willow too much with the details.”

“Oh, it’s not boring,” Willow said grinning cheekily, “It’s just, well, more interesting for some than others.”

Robert tickled her playfully on the waist and Willow giggled, batting his hand away. Ana and Tom looked at each other and tried to suppress their laughter. It was so obvious that these two were completely smitten with each other. Almost nauseatingly so.

“The simple answer is that I buy companies that are in financial trouble and either help them get back on their feet or sell them off in pieces,” he said. “It’s not glamourous, but I enjoy it.”

“Oh. My. God,” said Ana, her jaw dropping. “You’re just like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman. Except good Richard Gere from the end of the film when he helps the old guy get the shipping contracts.” She turned towards Willow and squealed. “And that makes you just like Julia Roberts! Except you’re not a prostitute,” she added as an afterthought.

Robert laughed again. “I haven’t actually seen Pretty Woman, but if you say so.”

“Never seen Pretty Woman?”  Ana and Willow said simultaneously.

“Even I’ve seen that movie,” said Tom.

“I love that movie,” sighed Willow. “That bit where she goes shopping on Rodeo drive…”

“And all the sales girls are total bitches…” Ana chimed in.

“Then she walks back with all the bags and says…”

“Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now!” They finished off in unison, bursting into fits of giggles.

Tom gave Robert a knowing look. “You’d better see it mate, or they’ll just keep quoting at you. Trust me.”

***

Robert put his arm around Willow’s shoulders and pulled her close as they walked slowly out to the main road to hail a cab. He kissed the top of her head, breathing in the elixir of shampoo and Willow. He’d really enjoyed getting to know Willow’s friends. They were good people. All in all, it had been a very fun evening. He ran his hand down her back, thinking of all the ways that they could possibly make the night even more fun.

“Do you want to…?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” said Willow, cutting him off mid sentence. She snuggled in to his body a bit closer. “I do have one condition though.”

“What’s that?”

“You have to watch Pretty Woman.”

Robert laughed. “We’ll download it as soon as we get home.”

***

Hours later, after watching the film and then re-enacting and expanding upon a few of the more R rated scenes themselves, they lay in bed, exhausted. Robert gently stroked Willow’s arm, her slow, regular breaths indicating that she had finally fallen asleep.

Robert smiled to himself. Over the course of the evening a plan had been formulating in his mind. It was now crystal clear and he couldn’t wait to put it into action.

Truffle Custard with Lobster and Caviar

November 3, 2011


Got some extra dosh burning a hole in your pocket? Well, this appetiser should help fix that right up! (Adapted from New York chef Brad Farmerie’s recipe).

Serve with the most expensive champagne you can afford. Makes 10-12 serves.

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 tspn white truffle oil
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp soy sauce
500 grams lobster meat
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
2 tspn freshly-squeezed lime juice
Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper, to taste
15 grams caviar

Adjust oven rack to centre position and preheat the oven to 165 degrees Celsius.

Arrange 10-12 shot glasses in a 9 x 9 baking pan.

Fill a saucepan with 1-1.5 litres of water and bring to a low simmer.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, and truffle oil; set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and soy sauce. Bring just to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and let cool 1 minute. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the eggs. Immediately strain the mixture through a mesh strainer into a large container with a pouring spout.

Pour the strained mixture into the shot glasses, filling them about 3/4 full. Carefully pour enough hot water from the kettle into the baking pan to reach halfway up the shot glasses. Cover the pan with foil and bake approximately 9 to 11 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean (the custards should be firm at the edges and just barely wobbly at the centre). Remove from oven and immediately remove cups from water bath. Let cool at room temperature until ready to serve.

In a small bowl, gently mix the lobster, chives, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon a small amount of the lobster over each custard, then top with a dollop of caviar.

Enjoy!

Season 4: Episode 9

November 1, 2011

Ana leafed through the pile of papers in a last ditch attempt to locate the crisp white envelope she had received the other day, cursing under her breath when it wasn’t there. Where the hell have I put it, she thought angrily. Unless she found it, she couldn’t actually finish organising her current client’s Very Important Wedding.

She didn’t think the already bigger-than-Ben-Hur wedding could get anymore ridiculous, but she had been wrong.

“Almas caviar,” Sofia had announced when Ana last met with the future bride, current bridezilla. “That’s what our Wedding meal is missing.”

(No really, she actually said wedding as though it had a capital ‘W’ all the time).

Ana’s mouth had, literally, dropped open. Almas caviar was one of the most – no, make that the most – expensive caviar in the world. And that was saying a lot, because caviar ain’t cheap to begin with. Originating from Iran, the only outlet you could buy it from was in London. It came in solid gold tins and retailed for just under the thirty-thousand dollar mark.

Per tin.

When Ana had mentioned this small fact, Sofia had looked at her as though she were from another planet.

“So?”

“Well,” Ana had begun, wondering how to tactfully put it. “As I’ve mentioned before, your deposit is supposed to cover most of the expenses, but I don’t think it will…”

Sofia put her hand up to stop her. “Here,” she said opening her Hermes crocodile skin Birken bag and pulling out a crisp white envelope. “I had a duplicate made for you.”

Ana peered inside the envelope to see an American Express Centurion card.

“I’ve authorised you on the account,” Sofia said, as if giving a stranger your Amex ‘black card’ was completely au fait. “So we can stop all the silly chit chat about money, hm?”

Ana fumed inwardly. She thought she had been very restrained about the ridiculous costs associated with this wedding (small w). The only other time she had brought it up was when Sofia had requested that unicorns pull her carriage to the church. “Can’t we just buy some white horses and stick horns on them?” she had said when Ana gently broke it to her that unicorns were, in fact, fictional animals. Ana didn’t think the animal cruelty angle would really resonate, so she tried the expense argument instead. That obviously had just about as little impact.

“Now, it’s for Wedding purposes only,” Sofia had cooed, wagging her finger at Ana and then tapping the envelope with a perfectly manicured nail. “No personal expenses please.”

Ana fumed some more and clenched her fist around the envelope. She hadn’t got to this point in her career without being a consummate professional (most of the time), and the mere suggestion that she would be otherwise made her blood boil.

“Of course not,” she managed to say, offering a simpering smile.

But now – in a blatant display of unprofessionalism – she had lost the stupid card, so she couldn’t order the stupid caviar. Why it was even her problem to start with was a point of contention, but the chef that Sofia was having flown in from New York to cater the Wedding was almost as temperamental as his client and was refusing to have anything to do with the ordering of difficult ingredients. Ana wondered monetarily whether he would agree to the appetiser of truffle custard with lobster and caviar being made without the final ingredient.

She suspected not.

“You OK, hon?” Tom asked as he rushed into the study, clutching a briefcase in one hand and a piece of toast in the other. His usual work uniform of jeans and t-shirt had been replaced today by a shirt and suit.

“You haven’t seen a white envelope lying around have you?” Ana asked.

Tom shook his head, only half listening. “Can’t say I have,” he said, sifting through the same pile of papers Ana had only minutes earlier. “You don’t know where the competition proposal document is, do you?”

Tom had been working for months on this proposal and was pitching it this morning to the potential client. If he pulled it off, it could be one of the biggest, most exciting projects that his firm had worked on. Not to mention quite a coup for a small Aussie architecture firm to win the honour of working on such a visible international project.

Ana frowned and shook her head. It was pointless asking Tom if he’d seen anything when he was in this state.

“Must have left it at the office,” he said to himself before planting a quick kiss on Ana’s cheek and running out the door. “Good luck finding the contract,” he shouted back.

“Envelope,” Ana shouted after him. “It’s an envelope with…”

The slam of the front door resonated loudly throughout the apartment.

***

By 8:30am, Tom’s office looked as though a whirlwind had swept through it. Papers had been thrown on the floor in a desperate attempt to find the missing document. If only his stupid laptop hadn’t decided to have a heart attack last night, he could just print another one. The ‘heart attack’ had been caused by the accidental spilling of tea all over it just before he went to bed. He managed to save the proposal document from getting splashed, but couldn’t save the computer and, of course, had forgotten to back up said document. He was an architect damn it, not a backing-things-up tech person. He stuck his head out of the office to see if anyone else was around yet and had seen it. Sarah had just arrived and was shrugging her coat off, a tray with two coffees held precariously in one hand. She smiled as soon as she saw Tom.

“I thought you might need this,” she said, handing one of the take-away cups to him. “Double shot.”

“You’re a mind reader,” he said, taking a welcome sip of hot coffee.

“Everything organised for the meeting?”

Tom half-nodded. “I just need to find the proposal document.”

“You’ve lost it?”

“Er…maybe.”

“Can’t you just print another one?”

“I would,” Tom groaned, “But my computer carked it last night”.

Sarah raised an eyebrow. “Carked it?”

He could sense another lecture about why everything should be backed up in multiple locations.

“Never mind,” he said with a wave of his hand. “It has to be around here somewhere.”

After another thirty minutes of them both searching his office, it was still nowhere to be seen. He threw his hands in the air, promptly knocking over a glass of water all over his desk.

“Great,” he muttered, furious with himself. First a cup of tea over his laptop and now…

“Under the sink!” he shouted. “It must be under the sink!”

When he spilled the tea last night, he had swooped in and picked up the document, then dashed to the cupboard under the sink for paper towels to mop up the tea.

He picked up his phone and called Ana. He was hoping that she could stop past home and then drop it at the office. When there was no answer he left a message, asking her to call him back urgently. He checked his watch. The clients were due in 30 minutes. He could get home and back in 45 if he rushed. Someone else could keep them busy for a few minutes.

“I’ve got my car here,” said Sarah lightly. “Want me to go and get it?”

He almost hugged her in relief.

***

Sarah unlocked the door to Tom’s house and called out, in case Ana had come home. She’d been there before a couple of times, so she knew her way around. Sure enough, the proposal document was under the sink, looking as crisp and new as it had done yesterday. She was about the walk back out the front door, but stopped. She’d managed to get here in record time. Tom wouldn’t be expecting her back for another twenty minutes at least.

Very slowly she pushed open the door to Tom and Ana’s bedroom. She quietly opened a chest of drawers and sifted through Ana’s clothes, pulling out a black lace underwear set and held it up. It looked expensive. That must be what Tom likes, she thought to herself, imagining him peeling the delicate lace of her own body, not Ana’s. She took a photo of the label with her phone.

She picked up one of Ana’s perfume bottles, spraying the scent liberally on herself, before noticing the plain white envelope poking out from underneath Ana’s jewelry box. Carefully, she prised it open and looked inside.

An American Express black card.

Sarah whistled under her breath. How on earth did Ana have one of these? Not recognising the name on it, she took out her phone and photographed each side of the card before placing it back in the envelope and leaving the room as she found it.

***

“Sorry I missed your call earlier this morning,” Ana said, as she took out her earrings and put them on her chest of drawers. It had been another long and frantic day and she hadn’t got home until after 9pm. “What was so important?”

“It was nothing,” Tom said, stretching out on the bed, exhausted after his own long but – he thought – successful day. He had already decided that he didn’t need to tell Ana about Sarah going to the house. That was a fight that could easily be avoided.

“Oh my God,” Ana said suddenly, seeing the white envelope. “That’s where I put it.”

“What?” Tom mumbled sleepily.

“Just the card that the lady who….” She looked over at Tom. His eyes were closed and his breathing rhythmic. She smiled to herself. “It doesn’t matter,” she said.  And it really didn’t anymore.

Card found.

Disaster averted.

She felt lighter and more relaxed than she had done in days. She peeled back the covers and climbed in next to Tom. All was right with the world once again.