Tales of food, sex and friendship




Posts Tagged ‘Linguine’

Season 3: Episode 12

August 23, 2011

Sarah carried the last of her boxes into the house and plonked down contentedly on a bar stool in the well-let kitchen. Being a Thursday afternoon, Mia and Willow were both at work and she had the whole house to herself. She too should have been at the office, but Tom – now officially the best boss in the world – had given her some time off to move into her new place.

“Take the day,” he’d said. “Moving is exhausting and the last thing you want is to be stressing about work. You can just make it up by working extra hard tomorrow,” he’d added with a wink.

She dangled her legs beneath her happily, like a little kid in an ice-cream shop, looking around the kitchen with excitement.

I’ll have to do something extra nice for Tom, thought Sarah, to say thank you for everything.

She couldn’t believe how well her new life in Melbourne was working out; she’d landed an amazing job, her boss was just wonderful, she’d managed to find a room in a fantastic house and her housemates – Willow and Mia – seemed absolutely lovely. She liked that they seemed to have their own lives but still enjoyed each other’s company. It was a nice change to other share houses she’d lived in where the general tone was punctuated with slamming doors and sour looks.

Sarah thought the house itself, with its large rooms and glossy wooden boards, was beautiful. Her new room had an ornate ceiling rose from which an antique light hung. She thought it was terribly romantic, like something out of a novel, and she had spent a significant part of the morning looking up at the ceiling in her bedroom and sighing in happiness. As Sarah didn’t have any furniture of her own yet, Ana had kindly left her old bed in the room.

Ana had always slept with the bed pushed up hard against the wall, but Sarah wanted to be able to lie in bed and stare up at the embellished ceiling. With difficulty, she heaved the bed across the carpeted floor until it was in the centre of the room. The dust from underneath it circled upwards, the afternoon light catching it as it meandered through the still air. She wrinkled her nose and sneezed. Dusting was obviously not one of Ana’s fortes.

Amongst the expected pen lids and odd socks that were always found underneath old furniture, a small blue box caught Sarah’s eye. She leant down and picked it up, flipping the stiff lid open. Inside was an intricate white gold broach set with a large purple stone. Sarah frowned. She fingered the delicate piece of jewellery carefully, gazing at the colours that skittered across the top of the jewel.

***

It didn’t take long to put her belongings away and once Sarah had set up her room she felt like celebrating. Perhaps Mia and Willow would be home tonight and she could cook them all dinner and they could share a bottle of wine? She sent them both a quick text message but they replied that they were going out for a drink with Ana to discuss the final details of the wedding and wouldn’t be home until later. Sarah was momentarily hurt that she wasn’t invited too. The rational side of her knew that these girls had been friends forever and she was a total newcomer. Besides, they had already done plenty to make her feel welcome, such as Ana and Tom had inviting her to their wedding next week despite the fact they barely knew her. But still, her new housemates could have asked her to come along and meet them after they’d done their wedding chit chat.

Sarah chewed her nails thoughtfully. Suddenly she had an idea. She grabbed her handbag and jacket, checked her makeup, and left the house.

***

Tom was putting the finishing touches to a simple meal of linguine with roasted garlic, preserved lemon, parsley and capers when the intercom sounded.

“Hello?”

“Tom, hi. It’s Sarah.”

Tom frowned. Sarah?

“I just wanted to drop off a small thank you gift.”

Oh, that Sarah. “Come on up,” he laughed buzzing the safety door to let her in.

A few minutes later, Tom let her inside the apartment.

“Ana will be sad that she missed you,” he said, taking Sarah’s jacket. “She’s gone out for a drink with the girls – pre-wedding stuff.”

Sarah smiled. “Oh well. Next time.”

“Have you eaten? I just made some pasta and there is plenty for two.” Tom asked.

Sarah shook her head. “No, no. I don’t want to interrupt your evening. I just wanted to drop this off.”

She handed him a wrapped box that she had picked up on the way to his house. Tom opened it. Nestled inside were two bottles of Veuve Clicquot.

“Come on,” he said leading the way into the kitchen. “Lets open one.”

“What about Ana? I thought you could share them?”

Tom looked momentarily torn, but instead started unwrapping the foil from the cork. “There are two of them. We can have the other. Besides,” he added, “It’s terribly rude if someone brings you a bottle not to share it with them.”

Sarah smiled. “All right. And maybe I will take you up on the offer of dinner. I’m starving and it smells delicious.”

***

When Ana came home hours later Tom was already asleep. She noticed the empty bowls and champagne glasses in the kitchen and smiled, glad that it looked like he’d had a good evening too. She didn’t know that he had plans to catch up with anyone, but being Tom he had probably just forgotten to tell her.

She’d had a wonderful night spending time with Willow and Mia. She’d only moved out the day prior, but already she missed them. They were being so great about all the wedding preparations and had gone above and beyond the call of duty to help out. The catering was organised, her dress was ready and everyone – especially her – was getting very excited. She couldn’t believe that in only a week she would be married!

There was only one small niggle that she couldn’t shake. On the big day, Ana had wanted to wear something old, new, borrowed and blue. It was corny, but she liked the sentiment. The new, blue and borrowed were all sorted but the old was proving very evasive. She had been planning to wear a brooch which had been left to Ana when Grannie Bessie – the only member of her family that Ana had genuinely got along with – passed away several years ago. She had searched all her boxes, to no avail. She didn’t want to ask anyone about it just yet, because as soon as you did that, it was admitting that it was lost.

Ana yawned and stretched. Time to curl up in bed with her Tom.

It will turn up, she thought. Tomorrow I will find it.

Season 3: Episode 10

August 9, 2011

On paper, it should have been a perfect day.

It started with a trip to the Victoria Markets, followed by a spectacular coffee and a warm, flaky croissant at Di Bella in North Melbourne; then home to bake sourdough bread and potter around the house, reading the paper and snacking on the delicious morsels that she had procured from the market – chillies stuffed with cream cheese, smoked trout and fresh cherries (which probably had a carbon footprint larger than that of most small countries given that it was the middle of winter, but she couldn’t resist the plump, red, fruity kisses on display).

Willow, however, was preoccupied and wasn’t enjoying one minute of it. The coffee had made her even more jittery than she already was and the pastry, through no fault of its own, had tasted like cardboard. The snacking was undertaken for something to do, rather than a need for sustenance. Even the beautiful cherries had been consumed without properly savouring the taste.

Willow had to do something this evening that she had been dreading all week. Tonight, Robert Fortescue was coming over and she was cooking him dinner.

She recalled the awful phone conversation that she had with him earlier in the week. He had been surprised to hear from her and had initially been genuinely lovely, much to Willow’s amazement. But then the arrogance kicked in again. He started rattling off the names of Melbourne’s top restaurants, telling her to pick any of them because he would get a reservation, no problem. He reeled off places that you needed to book weeks in advance to get a sitting on a Saturday evening and some that you couldn’t even make reservations. He assured her he could pull some strings. Willow didn’t doubt him for a second. You didn’t get to be like Robert Fortescue without trampling over a few people on the way to the top, but once you were there, there were plenty of people willing to kiss your arse. Some women would have found this display of testosterone and egotism exciting, but to Willow it was just plain patronising. If she’d wanted to go to any of these places, she would have taken herself there. She didn’t need a guy to take her out for a nice meal. The clincher had come when he was recommending a small, recently opened French restaurant, tucked away in Carlton.

“It’s quite phenomenal,” he had said. “The chef spent years living in provincial France learning culinary secrets that are hundreds of years old.”

Willow snorted into the phone. “That is such crap!”

“No, I assure you…”

Willow cut him off. “The chef is a mate of mine called Rob and he learnt everything from his wife’s grandmother, who has been living in Toorak for the last 25 odd years. The whole provincial thing was thought up by some spin doctor, who is apparently very good at their job.”

The silence on the other end of the phone had been stony.

“If it makes you feel any better, the grandmother did live in Paris for a number of years,” she said sweetly.

“Well, seeing as you’re not easily impressed, where would you like to go for dinner,” he had snapped back.

Now it was Willow’s turn to be haughty. “Quite frankly, I’d rather just stay home and eat a bowl of spag bol than go…”

She didn’t get a chance to finish her sentence.

“You’re on.”

“Pardon?”

“You just offered to cook me spaghetti bolognaise at your house and I accepted,” Robert said, laughter twinkling in his voice. “Shall we say eight pm on Saturday?”

He hung up before she even had a chance to respond.

So, here she was, counting down the hours with dread until Robert Fortescue would come knocking on her door.

***

When it came, the knock was about an hour earlier than she’d expected it.

“It took less time to get here than I thought it would,” he said when she opened the door to him just before seven, although his eyes didn’t convey the apology.

He was resplendent in dark blue jeans and a checked white and blue shirt. His hair had been freshly washed and she could smell his shampoo when he leant forward and kissed her on the cheek. Although Willow wasn’t a wine connoisseur like Johnny, she knew the 2006 Penfolds Grange he handed her wasn’t you’re average coiffable red that generally accompanied spaghetti bolognaise.

“You may as well come in a make yourself useful then,” she mumbled, suddenly very conscious of her daggy black jeans and too-large jumper.

She led him into the kitchen where she had only just begun preparing dinner. He rolled up his sleeves and grinned at her, enjoying seeing the flush that spread across her perfect cheeks and nose.

“What can I do, chef?”

Willow clenched her jaw and took a deep breath. Only one night, she said to herself before directing him towards a board set up for chopping garlic.

He lifted the knife up and whacked it down on the chopping board, sending cloves of garlic flying in every direction.

“What the hell are you doing?” she yelled.

He looked at her, surprised. “I’m chopping garlic. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Yes, but not like that!”

She grabbed the large chef’s knife from him and showed him how to shear wafer thin slices of garlic that would melt as soon as they hit the oil warming in the pan. He addressed the task with the concentration of a school child learning how to write. It took him five minutes to make it through one clove, but when he did, he looked as proud as punch. She couldn’t suppress the little smile that crept onto her lips.

“I think you might be able to graduate to onion,” she said, which caused him to flush bright red and puff his chest out a bit.

***

The cooking took about twice as long as it normally would, and they didn’t eat until about 11:00pm. Not that it mattered. Robert, despite his false start with the garlic, had proven a worthy and noble kitchen apprentice. He knew absolutely nothing about cooking – citing hotel living as the reason – but took to it like a duck to water. He wanted everything explained to him; from why carrots were chopped a certain way to how Willow made her own passata. Willow had bought some fresh linguine for the meal, but as soon as Robert found out she often made her own, he made her promise to teach him one day. She laughingly agreed, wondering how someone could have made it so far through their life without being able to dice a vegetable.

***

This has been a really fun night, thought Willow, surprised, as they cleaned up from the feast. Probably the most fun she’d ever had on a first date. The kitchen clock chimed one am and they both looked up, astonished that the time had passed so quickly. They locked eyes and Willow felt a tremor go through her body. He’s going to kiss me, she thought, her heart pounding wildly. What astonished her most was that she really wanted him to kiss her. She closed her eyes and leant towards him, terrified and excited at the same time. She felt his face draw closer and could feel his breath, feathery on her face. But just as she should have felt their lips together in a passionate embrace, he seemed to change his trajectory and she instead felt a soft brush on her cheek.

“Thanks for a lovely evening Willow. I should head off. I’ll show myself out,” he said gently.

Before she even had a chance to open her eyes, he was gone.

Willow clenched her jaw and squeezed her eyes shut to stop the tears that threatened to escape. I knew it, she chastised herself silently, furious that she’d let herself fall for him. He’s nothing but a selfish, conceited asshole.