Posts Tagged ‘cake’

Wednesday Write-In

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Every Wednesday I receive an email from a writers’ group called CAKE with a list of words to use as inspiration for a piece of writing. The idea is to write something (whether it be fiction, non-fiction, poetry or just a ramble) using one or more of the words provided. Then you should share it with the CAKE network for feedback and just to prove to yourself that you have actually done some writing today.

I have been meaning to participate but my lack of direction and efficiency has meant that I have always thought of an excuse not to. Not today. Today’s words were tide : short-sighted : reflective :apocalypse : gloom. I started writing about an old man sitting by a window, looking outside at the gloomy Manchester drizzle. But this then turned into a children’s story about a boy called Sam. Here is my story. *Please remember that this was written in a short period of time with zero editing. It will not be award winning.

Sam’s Glasses

 

Sam’s mum made him wear glasses. They will help you see things that are far away, she had said.

Sam didn’t like his glasses – they hurt behind his ears and fell down his nose whenever he tied his shoes or looked at ants on the ground.

Children at school teased him. His mum said he should explain that he was short-sighted, but that didn’t help. They just called him “Short-Eyed-Sam.”

Sam liked to take his glasses off and see the world through his own eyes. He would see colourful shapes and blurry forms that no one else could.

Without his glasses, his backyard would turn into an adventure land with green spindles and mumbopikes, flying jiggernots, and the endless cavern where the three-nosed humbert lived.

One day before school, Sam stopped to inspect a beetle outside his classroom and his glasses fell off. As he stood up, he felt the metal frames crunch under his foot – his glasses were broken.

His teacher called everyone inside and Sam sat down at his desk. As he looked around the room, Sam started to smile. Gone were the Times Tables charts, spelling books and school projects. The walls of the classroom stretched and expanded, towering blue, yellow and red poles sprouted high into the air and a big black screen hovered in the air infront.

Rows of robots with flashing lights and buttons churned and whirred as a giant orange flower walked and talked back and forth far off in the distance. From above hung lime green vines filled with exotic three-armed creatures, the more daring of them sneaking a wave at Sam from high above.

The giant walking-talking flower invited Sam to come forward, beckoning him with a floppy petal and a large smile. Sam skipped past the robots, pushing the buttons of a few as he passed and laughing at the yellow bellied shoddies and flapjaws.

When he reached the front, Sam danced and sang with joy – this was the best day at school ever. The robots clapped at the end of his performance and Sam felt like the King of the Schoolroom Jungle.

The giant walking-talking flower held out a set of silver Super Space Goggles which Sam placed on his face. As the world around him became clear again and his teacher’s concerned face peered back at him, Sam found himself back in his classroom.

Sam walked back to his desk, sad that his adventure was over. But as he sat at the back of the classroom Sam lifted his glasses on and off his nose, shifting between a maths lesson and watching a giant walking-talking flower.

Who Has Two Jobs? Jess Has Two Jobs.

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

I don’t know what has happened to me – all of a sudden my life revolves around making sure I get to Artisan 15 minutes before my start time, serving food with a smile, and then trying to get enough sleep to do it all again the next day. Last week involved many hours of serving practise and I had my first REAL shift yesterday. The good news – I didn’t drop anything! I consider this to be a huge success and came away from yesterday’s service thinking that maybe I can do this waitressing business after all.

I am working tonight so am spending the day in my other office attempting to write. This was side tracked by the discovery that it is my friend, Nate’s birthday today and I was horrified to discover that he hadn’t eaten any cake by 10.30am! JESS AND A PIECE OF CHOCOLATE AND GUINNESS CAKE AT TAKK TO THE RESCUE!

This cake solves all problems.

This cake solves all problems.

The weather in Manchester has been relatively good and I have managed to wear sleeveless tops on occasion. That said, my temperature tolerance appears to have shifted dramatically and a 20 degree day feels hot. I am still a lovely whiter shade of pale but I have officially booked plane tickets to Croatia for my birthday. Beaches, sunshine and hot weather – these are the best presents I could ask for.

Sunshine equals picnic lunches in Piccadilly Gardens

Sunshine equals picnic lunches in Piccadilly Gardens

Ommm…

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Yesterday I needed to release a bit of anxious tension and escape my apartment (aka. the place where everything is breaking. My washing machine is broken. My email was broken. My hot water system is leaking. My internet is non-existent and therefore broken. My ability to find work is broken.) So my first stop was the CornerHouse – a cool gallery/film/café/bookshop space which has been my ‘go-to’ on several desperate occasions. Here you can find relatively reliable cake – something that is extremely important when you are me. I looked at the digital film currently in the exhibition space and then had a cup of tea and a raspberry ‘friand’ at a table that was magically lit by the sun spasmodically. It wasn’t really a friand because if it was it would have been smaller and oval instead of round, but it was delicious and it made my life better through sugar.

After filling myself with sweetness, I went for a wander through Manchester and headed to the Manchester Buddhist Centre in the Northern Quarter. I had read about their drop-in meditation sessions on Tuesday nights and decided it would be a good way to get me into a more ‘zen’ state. I had contemplated attending meditation sessions before but had always come up with an excuse not to go. This excuse usually revolved around me not being enough of a hippy and not smelling like incense. But I am in a “must try new things” mode at the moment where I am forcing myself to do things I would normally avoid. I am hoping this will eventually lead to me making some friends. So I went. And it was brilliant.

When I first arrived it was like walking into a hippy zone with lots of beads and incense sticks and hemp material, but I soon realised that hippy-ish people are REALLY friendly and welcoming so I was instantly invited inside, spoken to and made to feel at home. Soon the waiting area filled with people for the drop-in class and I was amazed to see so many people of such different walks of life. Young, old, casual-clothed, business-dressed, hairy, clean cut. Everyone was there. The meditation room was packed and everyone seemed really relaxed and excited about the hour of meditation that we had ahead of us.

The teacher was a gentle and well spoken man who carefully explained what would happen and it was so easy to follow along. There were plenty of other beginners in the class as well as people who must be regulars. The session involved deep breathing exercises and positive thought and I left the class feeling lighter, happier and more positive about myself and life in general. I plan on going to these classes on a regular basis and hopefully becoming a much more well-rounded and zen person.

Settled.

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

On Saturday I officially moved in to my new apartment in Manchester. In the words of the great Darryl Kerrigan – location, location, location. While I may not have impressive electricity poles or an airport next door, I am in one of the ‘up and coming’ areas of Manchester and a five minute walk from the city centre. Behind my apartment are the canals of the Castlefield district and across the road is the Science and Industry Museum. I am contemplating going in to the museum every day and learning about a different wheel or plane or vacuum cleaner, just because I can. It’s free entry! But today there were large groups of screaming school children hanging around outside so I am yet to venture in. My brother is coming to visit tomorrow so I might send him in first to clear the way.

My new view

My new view

My new canal.

My new canal

I am enjoying being in the centre of it all again. I thoroughly enjoyed the suburban, green-tree life of Swinton, but I do enjoy being able to go for a walk and being overwhelmed with ‘stuff’. Sunday was St Patrick’s Day and the city was alive with plenty of green; giant novelty blow-up Guinness pints; and drunkenness. The Royal Exchange Theatre building was open-all-areas for the public so I could explore the inner workings of the theatre and escape the drunk locals.

My first night in Manchester was saved by my particularly friendly real estate agent who took pity on the loner and showed me some cool bars in the hip-n-cool Spinningfields area. We went to a cocktail bar called The Neighbourhood where the staff (all male) were wearing yellow braces to hold up their pants. I mean trousers. Trousers. Trousers. I could have been in one of cocktail bars in Paris except I felt extremely underdressed, under-make-up-ed, and generally not tarty enough. Or drunk enough. I have received an instant reminder of the Anglosaxon drinking habits – lots and loud. On my run this morning I found plenty of evidence of the weekend’s activities splashed all over the footpaths. While I’m not missing Paris’s constant waft of urine, Manchester isn’t all that much cleaner.

I have to wait until after Easter for my internet to be connected in my apartment so I am currently sitting in a cafe/bar/events venue called Gorilla using their internet for the price of a cup of tea and a flapjack. I love flapjacks. Not having the internet is a bit like falling down stairs and hitting your head against a wall at the bottom every time you remember that no, you can’t check your email. Or no, you can’t look that up. Or no, you can’t Skype your Mum and Dad and show them your new apartment. I am trying to remind myself that not having the pesky internet to distract me is a great reason to do lots of writing. So I have no excuses for not having my book completed by Easter. Yep. Definitely. Or I’ll just be very fat from lots of flapjacks.

Tea and flapjack

Tea and flapjack

Marathon Training Run #2

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Another Saturday morning has passed and therefore another painful long-distance run in preparation for the marathon. The weather forecast said it was going to be rainy and so I told myself 10 kilometres would be a minimum, 15 would be good, 20 would be better. I figure there isn’t much point in getting myself sick while training and everyone likes telling me that running in the rain equals instant cold. I don’t actually believe this fact, however am willing to go along with it if it means I don’t have to run so far.

As I set off at 8.30am, it was cloudy, cool but not raining and the weather was fine for the entire morning. In fact, it was great running weather without too much wind. So good weather, new music on my iPod, feeling good and getting somewhat lost resulted in me running a total distance of 23 kilometres. That’s more than a half marathon! That’s more than half way! Sure, I suspect the second half is going to be significantly harder than the first, but I am still very, very happy that I can run that distance and not be intense pain at the end.

I think I need to work on relaxing my shoulders when I run, because one day later and my neck, shoulders and back are extremely sore. I also need to watch what I eat before and after as I spent the rest of Saturday in a very weary state and just wanted to keep eating, eating, eating. It wasn’t until after I had had lunch, multiple afternoon snacks and a very large ramen noodle soup and a fondant chocolat for dinner that I felt somewhat normal again.

But in case you missed my previous announcement, I RAN A HALF MARATHON! Go me.

She's going the distance. She's not going for speed. She's all alone (all alone), all alone in a time of need.

She’s going the distance. She’s not going for speed. She’s all alone (all alone), all alone in a time of need.

Oh wow. I just wrote the caption for that photograph and for those of you who don’t know, I stole the words from a band called Cake and their song “The Distance” and I have just realised that that song is now about me and I need a tshirt for the marathon that says “She’s going the distance” on the front and “Powered by Cake” on the back. Yes. Brilliant.

Tuck In

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

A few months ago I was sad to see the closure of Sweat Shop – a café/sewing shop where you could rent sewing machines or take a knitting course while eating a piece of cake. Then the other day, a fellow Australian said “Let’s go to Tuck Shop.” to which I auto-replied with, “Ok.” I had no idea what she was talking about. But now I do. Apparently Sweat Shop had been turned into Tuck Shop – a new café for me to spend far too much time and money and calories at!

Tuck Shop is another “Australian style” café offering GOOD coffee (hooray) and great home made cakes. Run by some lovely expat ladies, it is vintage galore in this cozy little joint. I had a long-black equivalent which was delicious and served in a great looking cup.

Tuck Shop coffee

What a cup!

Plus a scone with jam and cream which was a little disappointingly rock-like but still tasted good. My friend had the cheesecake which was as creamy and cheesy as a good cheesecake should be.

Tuck Shop

Happy times.

The café wasn’t particularly busy, but it was a Wednesday morning in the middle of winter and close to Christmas so not the busiest time of the year. To be honest, it was nice to be in a quiet space for once as Paris is becoming a little bit manic with all of the christmas shopping requirements that are sending Parisians mad.

My friend and I stayed chatting and soon it was lunch time so we decided to do the lunch time formule backwards – we’d already had the dessert so we ordered the home made zucchini soup and grilled vegetable and houmus sandwiches. Luckily the staff aren’t French otherwise doing this would have caused massive brain explosions. So so tasty and healthy – it was the perfect lunch for just 10 Euros. Brilliant.

Tuck Shop
13, rue Lucien Sampaix
10eme

Bad Cake

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

I often write to describe the explosions of taste bud ecstasy that I experience almost daily while living in Paris. Today I bring you devastating news – bad cake does exist in Paris. It was my own fault though – I should have guessed from the name of the café that it was going to be bad. Twinkie. Not a good sign.

I walk past this café on Rue St Denis quite regularly and the decor and general ‘vibe’ of the place suggested it could be a good place to try. But the name kept stopping me from entering as it conjured up bad, sweet American lollies and it was clearly going to be a try-hard ‘American style’ café. However, yesterday I found myself going there with my primary school buddy and now York resident, Jane, who was visiting Paris for a few days. I had wanted to take her to a new place that I had spotted, Café Madame but for some reason it was closed. There was no signage to suggest when or if it would ever open again. A typical Parisian “Bofffffff!” attitude. So we walked across the road and went to Twinkie. Sigh.

The place is nicely decorated and the guy serving was very friendly. But the cake… oh the cake. The menu offered mostly Brunch options, with bagels, pancakes, and cooked breakfasts. As we were just there for coffee, I was hoping for a nice piece of cake. The only sweet options were pancakes or cheesecake, neither of which I wanted. However, I asked if there were any other cakes not mentioned and the waiter mentioned their Gâteau de Jour – an apple tea cake. Perfect.

When someone says “Apple tea cake” in my head I think of custardy-spongey-buttery-cake with soft chunks of cooked apple and maybe some flaked almonds. Perhaps a touch of cinnamon. What arrived was this:

Twinkie Apple Cake

ARG!

I wasn’t sure why a giant mountain of whipped cream with Smarties was required until I tasted the cake. It was dry, lacked flavour and the apple – I’m not entirely sure there was any. There was something that could have been apple at some point in its life but it had been turned into horrible glacé awfulness. And then there was lemon peel. WHY?! WHY LEMON PEEL?! Yes, I just generally hate lemon peel, but I have gotten over my childhood refusal to eat it in Hot Cross Buns and am willing to consume it. But there is absolutely no reason to put it on an apple tea cake.

I took one bite and almost cried. So disappointing. I had brought a visiting friend to a place called Twinkie that served really bad cake. And to add to the fun, Jane found the nozzle of the whipped cream container floating in her hot chocolate. Never again.

Luckily for me, I had an afternoon tea appointment at Helmut Newcake and could reset my fabulous-cake-consumption with an apricot and pistachio tart. DELICIOUS. Thank you, Helmut. Thank you.

Hanging With the Birds

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

On Sunday after a failed attempt to get into Ten Belles for afternoon tea (too many blogs are talking about it at the moment), I headed with three friends around the corner to La Chambre aux Oiseaux – directly translated into The Bedroom of the Birds. This vintage-styled joint is spacious compared the average hipster café, but some big wooden furniture and very impressive flower wallpaper give the place a cozy grandmother feel.

We arrived just after lunch and I think it had been busy. The staff looked tired and didn’t appear to want to serve us. They were apologetic for their slow service but I had just run 16 kilometres and REALLY wanted cake. It wasn’t a good time to disappoint me.

La Chambre aux Oiseaux offers a selection of home made food and a good looking (and reasonably priced) breakfast that I think I will have to go back for. They had finished lunch service and were just offering cakes, although had finished most of their daily supply. While this is always disappointing for those who arrive late, it is a good sign that their product is fresh and home made.

I had a coffee and a piece of the beetroot cake which was described to me as “like carrot cake but with beetroot.” Made sense. And it was delicious – moist and full of crunchy walnuts and drizzled not-too-heavily with a vanilla icing. Very good.

Beetroot cake

Vintage Beetroot Cake

The coffee was tasty too, and unlike Ten Belles, the cup was nice to drink out of. It makes a big difference to your dining experience!

I’d like to go back and give this place another go as I feel we hit them at a bad moment and the café has a lot of potential. Plus I seriously loved their wallpaper.

La Chambre Aux Oiseaux
48 Rue Bichat 75010
Open: Wednesday to Sunday

Welcome to the 10eme, Ten Belles

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I’m not exaggerating when I say that every week there is a new café opening in the 10eme. In the past month, I have spotted four new places within a 300 metre radius. So exciting.

On Saturday I went with my friend Giulia for a catch-up coffee to one of the new hipster hangouts – Ten Belles. Once again the Australian coffee shop influence is hitting Paris with GOOD coffee and a delicious assortment of home-made cakes. The café is small but has a balcony area with additional seating. Giulia and I nabbed the table outside and had roadside (and cigarette side) dining on some cute plywood stools. Extremely uncomfortable, likely to fall apart quickly, but they looked great.

Ten Belles Stool

Nice seating.

Unfortunately while their coffee is amazing, their tea is less impressive with a small selection and it is served in a small milk jug with a cumbersome coffee cup. The cake, however, made up for it. I had a piece of chocolate and raspberry tart – dark chocolate with the tartness of the raspberry on a decent crust. Very tasty.

Ten Belles Chocolate tart

A mighty fine tart.

The service was cheerful, friendly and good-looking and it is definitely going to be a new regular hang out for me. In fact, I tried to return there on Sunday afternoon and it was packed. BoBos galore.

Ten Belles
10 rue de la Grange aux Belles 75010 Paris
Open: Tuesday to Sunday

My Life is Chocolate

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Over the past two weeks, I have consumed a significantly large amount of chocolate flavoured goods. I thought I might recap and make you all feel excruciatingly jealous and demonstrate how exactly I spend my time in Paris. Bon appétit!

Colorova Chocolate cake

Chocolate mousse and red currant cake from Colorova

Chocolate soufflé cake

Chocolate soufflé with a slab of Venezuelan dark chocolate from Le Dorcia

Le Jardin d'en Face chocolate cake

Gateau chocolat de grandmére from Le Jardin d’en Face

Chocolate fondant

Mi-cuit chocolat from Les Enfants Perdus

Pierre Hermé macaron

Chocolate and salted butter caramel macaron

Chocolate birthday cake

Grande Cru chocolate cake from La Pâtisserie des Rêves (Terrible, terrible photo but it was pitch black when I tried to photograph it…)