Tales of food, sex and friendship




Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

Season 1: Episode 9

January 25, 2011

Ana felt two arms reach around her waist, a strong body pressing up against her.

“Well, that went ok,” Tom said, holding her tentatively as he gave her a kiss on the neck. “Are we friends again?”

Ana turned away from the sink where she’d begun to wash the dishes. She looked up into Tom’s smiling face, his clear blue eyes shining down at her. He was gorgeous. He was in his usual uniform of faded denim, plain T-shirt and trainers. At 29, he could pass for a first-year university student but Ana knew better. The jeans were EVISU, the shirt Dsquared2 and the trainers were Yohji Yamamoto for Adidas. Try as he might, Tom couldn’t mask the fact that he was an architect earning a six-figure salary.

And somehow, despite its beginnings, tonight’s dinner had been unexpectedly wonderful. Willow seemed to sense the tension in the air when she arrived but, typically, pushed right through it. And her good mood had rubbed off on everyone. She’d brought home some hand-pressed olive oil from an estate in Italy that only released 200 bottles a year. Who knew where she found such things? And Mia had baked a loaf of spelt bread, which – although it broke Ana’s rule about no more than one carb per meal –  had complemented Ana’s wild mushroom and goat’s cheese pasta beautifully. Mia’s secret? A splash of maple syrup to help the yeast activate and provide a subtle sweetness throughout the loaf. As always, Johnny had come through with terrific wine.

The girls seemed to love Tom and even Johnny was smitten – particularly when Tom discovered Johnny had played guitar in one of his favourite teenage rock bands. For the rest of the night Tom couldn’t stop raving about some set Johnny had “shredded” back in the 90s. Ana was thankful for Willow and Mia’s discretion. She knew they’d been watching her and Tom most of the night – how could they have forgotten the past two weeks of her behaving ridiculously because of Marc – but they’d been nothing but supportive. She felt lucky to have them in her life and couldn’t believe how irrational she’d been with Tom earlier.

Were she and Tom friends again? “Sure,” Ana said, smiling back at him.

At her response he touched her face, slowly rubbing the back of her neck. Leaning in to kiss her, he pulled her close and enveloped her in his arms. Ana was finding it difficult to resist him – and why should she? Marc had lied to her. He’d said he couldn’t spend New Year’s with her because he had to go to a dinner party, but then he’d phoned her from the airport. He needed more time for his family, he said, and was taking his wife on a two-week holiday to the Maldives. Marc was a fantasy, but Tom – he was real.

Tom reached under Ana’s blouse, all the while kissing her lips, her ears, her neck. She leaned back slightly as he cupped her breast. He unbuttoned her shirt; she could feel him hard through his jeans. She raised one leg around his hip and the other he grabbed, lifting her on to the wooden kitchen bench top.

“Are you sure?” he said, pulling away for a moment and resting his forehead on hers, breathing heavily. “What about Willow and Mia?” She responded by undoing his jeans and slipping her hand down his boxers. “They’re heavy sleepers,” she whispered, nibbling at his ear lobe. He didn’t need any more encouragement.

***

Ana woke to the smell of coffee. She opened her eyes and looked across the bed where she saw Tom laying a tray of croissants, jam and a plunger next to her. He saw she was awake and leaned in for a kiss.

“Good morning,” he said. “Hungry?”

She couldn’t believe how different it was waking up with him. Marc was like a motionless corpse most mornings (or afternoons) when she left,  but Tom brought her breakfast in bed. Ana sighed to herself. What had she been doing ’til now? And where did he get that amazing looking jam from?

She snuck a look at Tom, who was now poring over her modest collection of books. His strong, tanned forearms – hard with muscle through years of rock climbing – were visible under his rolled-up sleeves and dark blonde hair hung across his stubbled face. Here was this good, loving man who only wanted to make her happy, and all she could do was lie to him. Ana knew Tom wanted to get serious. He’d been brought up in a traditional home where all his family members still talked to each other. Hell, his parents probably still loved each other. It was normal for him to get domestic and play house, but it wasn’t for Ana. No, what was normal for her was sneaking around with a married man and feeling bad about herself the whole time. What was normal for her was treating a great guy like rubbish because she was holding out for some arsehole who would never, ever leave his wife. She made up her mind.

“Hey,” she said softly, “about our fight last night.”

Tom sat on her side of the bed and played with her hair. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I’m sorry if I’ve been wanting to spend too much time with you. I’ll step back a bit, I promise. I just love being around you, no matter how often. Just let me know what you need.”

“No,” she said, “that’s not it.” She leaned across his lap and picked her handbag off the floor. Reaching inside she pulled out her spare set of house keys and handed them to him. “Here. Seeing you last night with the girls and Johnny… they’re the most important people in my life. I want you to feel like you’re a part of that, a part of my home. I don’t want to see less of you, I want to see you more.”

Tom looked at her, then at the keys in his hand and squeezed them tight. Ana waited for him to say something. Instead, he pulled the covers over both of them and, working up her body, he showed Ana just how grateful he was.

 

Prawns Marinated in Garlic, Chilli and Palm Sugar

January 6, 2011


This is an amazingly simple dish yet a complete taste sensation – perfect to eat on a warm summer evening after a busy day at work. Or a great dish to make for a friend to cheer them up!

Serves 2 as a main dish. Serve with fresh green salad.

1kg fresh prawns, shelled but with tails on

juice of 2 limes

rind of 1 lime

2 fresh chillies, finely chopped with seeds

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

handful of chopped parsley

1 tblspn palm sugar

1 tblspn butter

large glug of extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients except prawns in a large bowl and stir. Add prawns and marinate for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.

On a very hot BBQ plate or frying pan, spoon the prawns onto the surface, being careful not to put too much liquid on with them.  Keep the prawns fairly separate so they can seal properly and turn occasionally. Cover sporadically to help cook the prawns all the way through.  When they look nicely charred, remove prawns from the BBQ, sprinkle with fresh parsley and some more lime juice and serve immediately.

Season 1: Episode 6

January 4, 2011

 

It had been more than a week since Marc had called to tell Ana he was taking his wife on a surprise trip to the Maldives.

“You don’t mind supervising the overseas account while I’m away, do you?” he’d asked.

Ana had taken the news calmly but, truthfully, she was furious. The problem was, she didn’t know who she was angrier at: Marc – for asking her to do his job so he could romance his wife in paradise, or herself – for falling in love with a married man?

“Shit!” she yelled out to her empty house.

She was sitting in her living room, alone, shoes kicked off and legs tucked up under her on the sofa. Her toes were absently tracing the stitching of the cushions. It was a Thursday afternoon and neither Willow nor Mia was home from work yet. It was rare for Ana to be back so early but today she’d just had enough.

Marc had swanned in to the office mid-morning looking tanned and relaxed. He had called her in straight away, immediately grabbing her around the waist and pulling her close as soon as the door clicked shut behind her.

“I’ve missed you,” he breathed into her hair. She closed her eyes and leaned against him for a moment, inhaling his distinctive aftershave. I’ve missed you, too, she thought. She could still smell the ocean in his hair.

Ana shook herself away from him. Their short time apart had given her some perspective. She was just the mistress and always would be; an easy, erotic escape from the demands of his real life. She had to get out soon or it would be too late. Already (probably) in love with him, she didn’t want to fall further under his spell.

Muttering something about an important appointment, Ana had escaped his office, picked up her handbag and told her PA to cancel the rest of her day.

She needed time to think.

***

The sound of the front door opening startled Ana out of her contemplative state. Mia entered the hallway and almost walked straight past her housemate as she flipped through the mail. Glancing into the living room, she did a double-take when she saw Ana huddled on the sofa in the corner.

“Ana?” she asked, immediately concerned. “Why aren’t you at work? Is everything all right?”

Ana looked up, then burst into tears.

***

Mia and Willow had tried to be supportive. On hearing of Ana’s affair with her boss – and the subsequent holiday debacle – they had tried reasoning and sympathising with her, but Ana was incredibly stubborn and believed showing emotion was a sign of weakness. Instead, she had done what every heartbroken woman would do. She’d thrown herself into an unhealthy pattern of eating and sleeping too little, drinking too much and working as though her life depended on it – even though most other offices were still shut down for the Christmas break.

Mia and Willow felt helpless as they watched their friend suffer, and nothing they said seemed to help. All they could do was wait until Ana fell apart completely and be there to help put her back together again.

***

“Better?” Mia asked.

Ana had entered the kitchen. Freshly showered, her red-rimmed eyes were the only sign of her earlier hysterics. She nodded shyly.

Mia gave her a smile. She was in the process of tossing fresh rocket, watercress and radicchio in a salad bowl and had dressed it simply with olive oil, salt and pepper. She hesitated over the chopping board for a moment. Apples? Yes, she thought, and sliced some thin batons from the Pink Lady she’d been nibbling. Maybe some crushed walnuts, too.

The kitchen was filled with sun streaming in through the skylight. It danced across Mia’s olive skin and bounced off the stainless steel appliances; a riot of colours and shapes on every surface.

“The first thing we need to do is feed you a decent meal,” she said to Ana. “You’re wasting away.” Mia gestured to a cling film-covered china bowl, resting on the bench-top. “Fresh prawns with some butter, chilli, garlic, lime and palm sugar,” she said. “I thought it’s such a nice night we could barbecue them and sit outside.”

Their house had a small but very pretty outdoor courtyard. Ana didn’t spend a lot of time out there, but Willow and Mia had created a garden that was brimming with fresh parsley, thyme, chives, oregano and an array of other fragrant herbs. Climbing up the back fence was a spectacular jasmine plant that filled the warm summer evenings with its sweet scent.

Ana went to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of ice-cold Tasmanian Pinot Gris. After pouring it into two wine glasses, she sipped thoughtfully at the cool liquid. Ana realised this was the first time she had actually managed to taste the beautiful wine rather than treating it as her own, personal anaesthetic. She looked at Mia who was working quickly and delicately behind the barbecue. Her friend was radiant in the afternoon sunlight, Ana thought. As Mia looked up at her, Ana raised her glass and simply said: “I’m sorry”.

***

Mia had set the outside table and its crisp white tablecloth struck a contrast with the dusty pink of the prawns and the verdant green of the salad; the colours intensified in the late sun.

Ana nibbled at a prawn and, suddenly, uncontrollably, felt her appetite come raging back. She reached for another, biting into the firm, creamy flesh. The juice ran down her fingers and stained her T-shirt, but she didn’t care. She was gripped by hunger.

She devoured one prawn after another, sucking the meat from the tails, using her tongue to find any last morsels hiding in the extremities. The palm sugar had caramelised the outer layer, while the lime and chilli had permeated deep into the flesh. Tiny slivers of garlic had encrusted themselves along the body and become so crisp from the barbecue it was as if the prawns had been dipped in a kind of fine, pungent tempura batter. Mia laughed with delight at the sight of Ana poring over her plate.

With each succulent mouthful Ana could feel her problems fading away.

When they had finished, Ana and Mia’s mouths glistened with butter and tingled with chilli. Ana ran her tongue slowly over her lips, savouring the high intensity of the spice. She placed her fingers into her mouth one at a time, lazily sucking off any remnants of the feast. She looked across at Mia, who had her eyes closed and was leaning back in her chair, face turned up to the sun.

“A golden goddess,” Ana murmured under her breath, looking at her housemate, as if for the first time.

But then, for the second time that day, she was wrenched out of her contemplation. Her phone was ringing. She looked at the number and frowned. It was local. It looked familiar…

“Shit.”

Mia’s eyes fluttered open and she looked at Ana inquisitively.

Ana held her gaze. “It’s Tom,” she said. “He’s back.”

The serenity of the afternoon evaporated as suddenly as it had arrived.

 

Season 1: Episode 2

December 7, 2010

Mia mounted the stairs to the Pilates studio two at a time. Her long limbs, which usually made easy work of the climb, felt heavy and slow. It was still dark outside but, even though she was exhausted and could have quite happily stayed in bed for hours, she was determined to get in a good workout before her first client arrived.

This time of year always presented a challenge to Mia. She had a very precise lifestyle; a routine that she rarely deviated from. Structure permeated every aspect of her life: what she ate, what she did, where she went and with whom she went. She didn’t like to think of herself as stuffy and uptight, but, well… she didn’t exactly cut loose that often. So the month of December was a nightmare for her sense of control and order. She tried hard to make it to the endless Christmas parties and pre-holiday catch-ups, and she always enjoyed them when she was there, but every late night and cocktail she had seemed to stimulate a little voice in the back of her mind: You’re going to regret this tomorrow.

She opened the appointment schedule to see who her first client for the day was going to be. She really hoped it was one of the many retirees she regularly saw. Instead of a fully charged workout, they were usually more interested in a chat and some light stretches, which was about the tempo that Mia felt capable of today. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw the name filling the slot.

Nick!

Generally, Mia knew exactly when Nick was going to visit the studio. He must have phoned yesterday, after she had gone home, and booked the session. How typical that he – of all her clients – would be coming for an unexpected class the day she’d woken up late, on a morning when she hadn’t even bothered to wipe off the small amount of makeup she’d put on last night, and when she was wearing her single most unattractive outfit.

Nick was charming. He was attractive and funny and had all the older ladies at the studio wrapped around his little finger. He had become her client about eight months ago as part of his rehabilitation for a nasty back injury he’d received cycling through the French Alps. As you do. But even after eight months of weekly visits, at which she’d pushed his injured body to the limits with Pilates, Mia still got butterflies when she saw him. Now, she was aching with anticipation.

Anticipation of what, she didn’t know.

She hadn’t told her housemates about Nick. She knew they wouldn’t understand why she didn’t just ask him out on a date. She wished she could be more like them. They were always taking men out for drinks or dinner; the epitome of empowered, modern women. Although, not so much Ana these days, Mia thought. Ana had been seeing someone for a few months now. Although the relationship seemed serious (in Mia’s mind, dating someone for a few months was commensurate to being engaged!), Ana had never introduced him to her housemates, leaving Mia and Willow to assume the nights that Ana didn’t come home she spent at his place. Either there or at work.

* * *

Mia focussed on getting prepared for Nick’s arrival. She hadn’t eaten breakfast at home, bringing instead a take-away tub containing her homemade muesli and a water bottle filled with organic soy milk. With slightly shaky hands Mia transferred her breakfast into a bowl. She didn’t cut any corners with her muesli and it was rich with whole hazelnuts, puffed rice, dried orange, almonds and cranberries. A few ripe, cut strawberries were thrown in for good measure.

She knew she had to work off some of her nervous energy, so she lay down on the Pilates Reformer machine, carefully placing the bowl of muesli next to her. This gave new meaning to the term working breakfast! She put her foot on the support bar and gracefully lifted her right leg towards her at the same time as pushing the carriage away with her left. The spring-loaded machine allowed her to both stretch and strengthen at the same time. She took in a deep breath as she pulled her leg closer towards her, increasing the intensity of the stretch. The butterflies were back with a vengeance. She exhaled slowly, bringing the Reformer carriage back to neutral and trying to calm her mind.

Why does he have this effect on me?

She closed her eyes, breathed in slowly, and pushed the carriage away once again.

* * *

Someone was gently stroking the sole of her foot. Inhaling through slightly parted lips, she opened her eyes and found Nick gazing at her. He slowly ran his hand down the inside of her leg and rested it on her inner thigh.

She exhaled.

Without taking his eyes off her, Nick’s firm touch travelled up her torso. He paused slightly, cupping her small but firm breasts. Her whole body felt electrified. She inhaled and arched her back slightly, longing to feel him closer. He brought his mouth close to hers and, teasing, gently caressed her neck. Mia clutched the side of the bench and used it to arch her body up further towards his.

In his hand he held a segment of strawberry, plucked from the bowl by Mia’s side. He gently placed it in her belly button, letting his hand forge a lazy trail between her legs before running his tongue along her stomach to collect his prize. Moving his mouth closer to hers, he transferred the strawberry to her swollen lips with his own.

She exhaled slowly, every part of her body tingling with desire.
She could wait no longer. Their bodies entangled, rhythmically pushing and pulling, pushing and pulling as she…

“Mia!”

Mia jumped, unsettling her bowl of muesli and spilling it all over herself and the Reformer machine as she scrambled to get up. A lone strawberry tumbled across the floor, only coming to a stop when a hand reached down to pick it up.

“Late night? You were sound asleep.”

Mia looked up to see Nick standing a few metres away. He tossed the strawberry in the air and caught it.

“I… err… I…  yes. Late night,” she stammered, her face bright red. Oh my God, please don’t tell me I was talking in my sleep!

He winked at her. “You looked like you were dreaming about something good, at any rate.”

* * *

Mia closed the front door behind her. It was good to be home. She ran her hand through her hair, finding a rogue seed that had obviously planted itself there during the breakfast mishap. Since her morning session with Nick she hadn’t been able to think straight all day. Every time their hands met she’d jumped back as if electrocuted. She was terrified he’d been able to tell what she had been dreaming about. She liked him, but wasn’t quite sure what she’d do if he actually liked her back.

There she was, completely out of her depth.

As she walked further down the hall she was surprised to see a large bouquet of flowers on the hall table. Her heart stopped.

They couldn’t be from him! Could they?

She peeked inside at the attached card, hopefully.

Ana. Thanks for this morning. M.

“M?” Mia was confused. She thought Ana’s boyfriend was called Tom? She let disappointment wash over her for only a second before closing her eyes and rewriting the card in her head: Mia. This morning was incredible. Yours, Nick.