Anything but ordinary…

This was originally written just to be shared on the site for my new little project, Ordinary People, Extraordinary Stories, but some kind words from my sister and her saying that it was “relatable” encouraged me to share it here, too. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised she was right – relatable is exactly what I was hoping for, and relatable is what we need more of. While I was writing, I believed I was writing for the sole purpose of encouraging more people to join the project and contribute their stories. I see now that it was much more than that; as I typed it up earlier today, with a dog napping on my lap and a pot of green tea steaming in my face (ahh, the perks of working from home occasionally), my subconscious clearly had a lot of feels stewing inside of it, and consequently, a lot to say…

 

 

Despite what everyone’s social media accounts might have you believe, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. This time that we’re living in right now is the most unique in history; we’ve never been simultaneously more and less connected to each other before.

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With a tiny little computer we can carry around in our pockets, we can send a photo of our birthday celebrations to the family member on the other side of the world who can’t be there, and we can just as easily send anonymous abuse to a stranger who we’ve decided that we just don’t like. We can see what our best friend is doing while they travel around the world as they’re doing it, and at the same time get so wrapped up in what they’re doing that we ignore the friend we’re having a coffee with in real life. This constant connection truly is a double-edged sword.

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With being constantly connected and observed comes another issue; the pressure to portray constant perfection. We’re acutely aware that the whole world is watching us, because we’re watching everyone else as well. And the more we see perfectly edited and filtered images of other peoples’ lives, and their carefully worded (and re-worded) captions, the more inadequate we feel unless we can curate our lives in the same way.

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So we show our perfect new shoes that we wear out to eat our perfect brunch with our perfect partner that we gush about so that everyone knows how perfect things are. What we don’t show is the hours of nightshift work that went towards being able to afford those shoes. Or the anxiety attack over going out to brunch with an eating disorder. Or all the fights and hard times your relationship has survived to make it to that weekend brunch. We all work so damn hard to keep up the shiny veneer of exciting and extraordinary, for the fear that we will be irrelevant and left behind if we show how “ordinary” we really are.

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The irony is that the ordinary stories (the nightshifts, the eating disorders, the fights) are what truly connect us. They connect us so much more than the new shoes and fancy smoothie bowls. Human beings have an innate desire to be understood and accepted and acknowledged. When all we see is perfection, it’s no wonder we feel so misunderstood and inferior.

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So here we are. A little space where we can be raw and honest in a scarily “perfect” world. Let us “ordinary” people share our extraordinary stories, so they all of the other “ordinary” people out there will feel less alone. And let us realise how extraordinary we really are.

Are you ready to share your story?

Zomato/Urbanspoon blogger meet up at SUPERNORMAL (Eat here. Seriously.)

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Thanks for the re-gram @zomatoaus – awesome shot and a great night!

Last night I had the pleasure of hanging out with the Zomato Melbourne crew and a handful of other bloggers. You may have read that Zomato recently acquired Urbanspoon and they’ve recognised the big role bloggers have been playing in making Urbanspoon as successful and popular as it is, leading them to host their very first Zomato Meetup for some of the busier Melbourne food bloggers. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to have been invited along, particularly when I found out Supernormal were going to be hosting us!

Before I cut back to the awesome night we had, let me focus on Supernormal for a bit. This is the latest success in the seemingly endless string of greatest hits from Andrew McConnell – even if you don’t recognise his name, you’ll no doubt recognise the names of at least one of his restaurants: Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc, Luxembourg Bar & Bistro… the guy really knows his stuff.  I’ve walked past Supernormal so many times I’ve lost count, always drawn by the neon red sign in the front window, but still hadn’t visited. It didn’t take long after walking through the front door to realize that the hype was warranted.

We were greeted with an epic banquet menu, which, needless to say, was enough to get a table full of food bloggers more than a little excited. After that, the night looked a little something like this…

 

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– Cucumber & wakame pickle
– Seaweed cracker with kingfish & pickled fennel
– Grilled baby corn with miso butter

These were great to start, and I think everyone fell a little bit in love with the miso butter on the baby corn. Indulgent, heavenly deliciousness.

 

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– Bonito, avocado, cucumber & wakame
– New England lobster roll

Do you have any idea how hard it is to shut a table of food bloggers up? Apparently not as hard as I thought – just put a few platters of those lobster rolls out. They were that elusive sandwich that can stop the chatter of 15 people, who decide they need to devote their full attention to eating for a moment. Amazing. And we found out that you can get these guys as a take away – work lunch breaks just got a little bit more exciting if you’re in the CBD! I’m a huge tuna lover, so I adored that dish, too – buttery soft, so very good.

 

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– Smoked beef, mustard leaf, clam mayonnaise (top left)
– Pork bao with tamarind sauce (top right)
– Prawn and chicken dumplings with chilli and vinegar sauce

The smoked beef was the surprise package of the dinner – we were instructed, after photos were taken of course, to just mush it all together in order to experience the flavours fully. It looked like a hot mess when we were done, and tasted better than anything I could have possibly imagined. How clam mayonnaise not only works but is something I was ready to lick off the plate is beyond me. The fried shallots with the soft beef were magic. I absolutely loved this one, and it’s a dish I’d love to order again. As was the bao – oh my… pulled pork in a crumbed, fried package in the softest little bun.. not really sure there’s much else to say about this one other than make sure it’s on your order when you visit!

 

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– Slow cooked Szechuan lamb, spring onion pancake and coriander paste with steamed white rice and an iceberg salad with ginger vinaigrette & mint

Not being a “spicy food” person, I was a little worried about this one, but my concerns were completely unfounded. The spice levels were more peppery than pure spice, so don’t be scared if you’re a chilli wuss like me! The lamb was magnificent – slow cooked, fall apart on your fork, tender juicy perfection. The pancakes were crispy, the coriander paste was fantastic, and the salad was the perfect way to refresh yourself from the heat of the lamb. Brilliant dish to share around a table of friends.

 

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– Peanut butter parfait with salter caramel and soft chocolate
– Plum and green tea soft serve ice cream

If there’s a better way to finish a meal, I’m neither familiar with it, nor am I particularly interested in it. The parfait was everything you dream it’d be – rich, thick, super-smooth and creamy. It’s basically a sexier, ice creamier version of a Snickers, but still better than you’re imagining. It’s worth visiting Supernormal just for this. Honestly. And just when we were all ready to burst, the soft serve cups arrived. They were the exact way we all wanted to finish the meal without realising it; fresh, crisp, clean, sweet without being crazy sugary like the parfait. The sharp plum sat perfectly with the gentler green tea, and when you order this, dig deep into the cup for a little surprise!

I have to say a HUGE thanks to the team at Supernormal for an absolutely incredible experience. We had the most attentive team at our service, no glass was ever empty and no question unanswered. We were asked at the beginning of the night if there were any allergies, preferences, what not – my main concern was the heat factor from the chilli. The lovely lady looking after these requests went out of her way to explain the menu as it could be modified for me, to ensure I’d still get maximum flavour and meal enjoyment without burning my tongue off. She could have just said “no worries, we’ll put the spicy stuff on the side for you” and been done with it, but I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the extra few minutes she took to talk me through it all instead. It’s these things that take it from a nice dinner to an experience you’re going to remember and talk about for a long time to come.

We were also sent off by the Supernormal team with little goodie bags containing, among other things, a box of Pocky (!!!!!!!!!) and a jar of their amazing toasted pepitas which we started to night on and a “goodnight, thanks for coming!” from everyone I passed on my way from the table to the door. You guys are absolutely amazing, thank you for looking after us so well!

 

And another big thank you has to go to Pranav and the team at Zomato – they’ve been working superhumanly hard to get the integration and re-launch ready to go, and they’ve still been making time to speak to local bloggers to get their input. It’s so refreshing and so nice to have a big company take things to such a personal level, and to actually genuinely value the input and opinions of the people who are using their products every day. It was also so much fun to be able to finally put some faces to names of blogs I read so often and talk food and travel with a bunch of people who are also interested in all of that! And great to be able to have a table of equally patient diners who get that the photos must be taken before the digging in commences; we all love our family and friends, but they just don’t get it! Thanks for a fun night guys, looking forward to big things from both Zomato and all of the bloggers who took part last night:

Sheena and Thomas from Chasing A Plate

Paul from The City Lane

Winston from The Hungry Excavator

Cass from Hungry Cookie

Tian from Eating Diaries

And apologies to those I’ve missed from either forgetfulness or not being able to get around to everyone last night – if you’re reading this please let me know so I can put you on the list too!

 

Supernormal on Urbanspoon

 

 

Disclosure: I was generously invited by Zomato to dine as a guest at Supernormal, however the opinions contained herein are completely based on my own experience.

S2, Ep2: Eat. Travel. Blog. It’s been a big weekend :)

Eat. Travel. Blog.

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That’s where I’m at right now – cooking and eating good food, travelling the world, and writing about it all. That’s what makes me happy. Also, books and tea and yoga and Marley. But that was a bit too wordy.

It’s been a challenging few weeks for me. I’ve been struggling with some big questions lately, really trying to work out what I’m doing with my life. Same as a lot of other people my age, I guess – it gets to a point that you start to notice what other people are doing with their lives, and you inevitably compare their decisions to yours, and you wonder if the decisions you’ve made are better/worse/smarter/less responsible/selfish/whatever than everyone else’s. Which is completely demented, because there’s no manual for how to live your life. I’ve never had a “plan” before and it’s been working out ok so far, so why bother now?! Instead, I’m trying to go with the theory of if it makes me happy, do more of it, and if it makes me miserable, stop it. With that in mind, I did my best to make this weekend full of stuff that makes me happy:
– I got tattooed with my best friend
– I had a very lovely lunch with the ladies, complete with wine and gossip
– I got busy in the kitchen – cookies, croissants, omlettes, gumbo!
I submitted and had my first ThoughtCatalog article published
– Meat, drinks and more meat with the best group of friends a girl could ask for. And then ice cream. Because what’s a good night without ice cream?!
– Breakfast date. Best kind of date there is.
– Gave the blog a facelift for it’s first birthday, because why not?!

When you’re close to hitting the bottom, the only way to go is up  : )

10 Books Every Traveller Must Read (as just published on ThoughtCatalog!)

Well this was an exciting email to wake up to – my first ThoughtCatalog article has been published! Hehe yay for small wins  : )

If you’d like to read the full article, please make your way on over to the ThoughtCatalog page, which you’ll find right here. Otherwise, enjoy the slightly quicker version below!

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With travel being more accessible than ever, more of us are packing our bags and taking off on our own little adventures. Airlines are offering new routes, we’re able to organize every part of our trip on our smart phone, we’re increasingly using travel as an opportunity to connect and learn, and we have the ability to travel faster than ever.

At the same time, though, there’s a push to move back to the travel of yesteryear; moving slowly, spending time getting to know the locals, street food over exclusive restaurants, keeping travel journals and getting off the beaten path.

Whatever your style, it seems most travelers do have at least one thing in common; most enjoy reading about the adventures of other like-minded souls. There are an infinite number of travel tomes out there, running the full gamut from informative and clinical to the imaginative, story-telling styles. The following books are ten of my favorites (so far), and I think worthy of a place on the reading list of anyone else suffering from that incurable case of wanderlust.

1. “Nine Lives” – Dan Baum

2. “Away From It All: An Escapologist’s Notebook” – Cedric Belfrage

3. “Wanderlust: An Affair with Five Continents” – Elisabeth Eaves

4. “The Snow Leopard” – Peter Matthiessen

5. “A Fortune Teller Told Me” – Tiziano Terzani

6. “Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place At The New Orleans Table” – Sara Roahen

7. “The Tao of Travel” – Paul Theroux

8. “On The Road” – Jack Kerouac

9. “Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel” – Rolf Potts

10. “The Idle Traveller: The Art of Slow Travel” – Dan Kieran

Where it all started: Multicultural Melbourne

Yes, I know I’m a day early for Throwback Thursday, but I just wanted to give a little love back to the amazing blog that started it all for me, the baby I worked on for a long time before this one, and the inspiration for my cookbook. If you’d like to know more, it all started here  : )

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