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Pointy dollops

Perfectly browned meringue dollops with a delicate point, Hopetoun Tea Rooms, Melbourne.

March’s square theme is Spiky Squares (spiky, jagged, pointy, bristly, serrated, prickly, spiny, and/or barbed)

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Prelude to a sundowner

Tide’s out, drink’s up

Do you know the term ‘sundowner’? There is a plethora of definitions, including a transient worker, a type of apple, and someone who has sundowning (a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia). I’m referring to the much more pleasant meaning of “an alcoholic drink taken at sunset”. This is more very late afternoon than actual sunset — a pre-sundowner, if you will. The photo was taken at Ettalong, a small waterside community north of Sydney where I tend to go for a weekend each April to savour summer’s last gasp. I love sitting at this waterside bar/restaurant, watching the tide and the birds and the people on the sands. Autumn hasn’t gripped us yet, but I do fear summer is on the way out — and I’ve already booked my holiday apartment for April.

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A fairy tale about time (and cake)

Once upon a time, over the sea and beyond the sunset, was a land of magic.

In that land was an enchanted kingdom on the shore of a lake.

In the kingdom was a beautiful palace …

and in the palace lived a young princess who loved frilly orange dresses.

But there was one thing the princess loved even more than frilly orange dresses, more than anything else. She loved cake. All kinds of cake.

She loved cake so much that she ate cake for breakfast. She ate cake for lunch and she ate cake for dinner, too, and sometimes she would creep into the palace kitchen and help herself to cake before the Royal Cake Cook had even finished making it.

(But don’t worry, for in this enchanted kingdom the cake was also enchanted, and not only was it nutritionally balanced but it contained exactly the right number of calories, so the princess never got fat and never had any food-related illnesses.)

There was only one thing to spoil the princess’s happiness: there was never enough time to eat all the cake that she wanted! In the kingdom there was only one single clock, a grand old clock in the main square, and when that clock struck 8pm the princess had to go to bed. It would be 12 whole hours before she could eat cake again!

One day the princess was in the palace garden, eating cake, of course. The princess was sad and so she was eating chocolate cake, her favourite, which always made her feel better.

While she was eating her cake, the princess was very surprised indeed to hear a statue speak. “Why are you so sad, little princess?” asked the statue. “You should be the happiest princess that ever was! You have so much cake!”

“True, I have cake,” said the princess. “But I don’t have enough time to eat it all! Oh if only that nasty clock would no longer tell the time!”

With a secret smile and a knowing nod, the beautiful lady of stone instantly made the hands of the clock disappear.

“Oh! Oh!” exclaimed the princess. “Now I shall never have to go to bed ever again and I can spend my whole life eating cake!”

And the princess lived happily ever after — because at long last she could have her cake and eat it too.

December Squares #timesquare

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“Summer of 2018” cocktail

“Summer of 2018” cocktail

It’s really autumn here in Sydney (the clocks went back last night) but it’s still summer weather, with blues skies and temperatures in the high 20s Celsius. And I did take this photo in summer (November) and meant to post it, but at the last minute I spotted the reflection of the ceiling fan in the glass. I kept thinking I’d take another shot, but never did, and I can’t very well wait until the cocktail needs renaming “Winter of 2018”.

To make the cocktail:

  • put 1.5 oz gin (or vodka if you prefer, but the taste will be very different), 1 to 2 tsps of triple sec, a big squeeze of lime and a scant tsp of homemade pomegranate syrup* in a cocktail shaker
  • add ice and shake vigorously
  • pour into a chilled glass
  • gently drizzle one-quarter to one-half of a teaspoon of rose syrup over the top (if you’re the type of person who has a drinks atomiser, this would be an ideal use — you want that  lovely rose fragrance)
  • if you have access to organic non-pesticide-sprayed roses, float a petal or two on the surface

*I say “homemade pomegranate syrup” because if you make it yourself you have control over the sugar. Commercial syrups (such as grenadine, which ostensibly is pomegranate syrup) have masses of sugar. My syrup has about one-quarter the amount recommended in the recipe, giving a light syrup bursting with pomegranate flavour. It is possible to make your own rose syrup, but that’s just way too much effort for me!

The marvellous colours of rose and pomegranate syrups.

I also created a “Summer of 2016” cocktail. Not sure what happened in 2017!

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Happy World Champagne Day!

Some of my collection of champagne capsules.

Some of my collection of champagne capsules.

To mark this delightful annual tradition (alright, I know, it’s really a very clever marketing ploy by the wine makers of Champagne), I’ll be part of Moët & Chandon’s attempt to get into the Guinnesss Book of Records for hosting the World’s Largest Champagne Tasting. It’ll be tough, but I’m willing to do my part. #MOETMOMENT

Confession time: I am a placomusophile. Sounds vaguely illegal, doesn’t it? It comes from the French world ‘placomusophilie’, which means the act of collecting the metal capsules (known as a ‘plaque de muselet’) that sit atop the corks in bottles of champagne and other sparkling wines. Hence the photo! The familiar system of wire muzzle and metal capsule used to keep corks in place in bottles of these potentially explosive wines was invented by Adolphe Jacqueson in 1844.

World Champagne Day is 20 October, so if you live in an earlier time zone than Sydney’s and are reading this on 19 October, you still have a chance to get out and do something. 😉

UPDATE: It’s official, a new Guinness World Record was set! The previous record had been 698 people at an event in Sweden in 2015. We managed to just squeak past, at 715 people, as counted by the official Guinness adjudicators on site.

Here are some photos of the event: