Bondi Junction- over and out • 03.23.09
We’ve been planning our move to Europe for almost a year now. No firm plans were made until more recently, but we knew we would leave Australia in April, 2009. There are a variety of reasons for our move. Our visas are expiring, we’re ready for new jobs, we want to explore Europe the way we’ve been able to explore Asia, we’d like to be a little closer to our families for a while.
So, more than 10 months ago we decided to move out of our lovely, sunny apartment in Woollahra. We wanted to find someplace a little smaller and cheaper so we could save money for our impending move. It’s not cheap to move to the other side of the world.
And here we are. In our little one-bedroom apartment in Bondi Junction. We have a lovely sun-room, where I am currently sitting as I type this. The kitchen is much bigger than the one we left. There are some benefits to living here. But right now, I am having trouble focussing on anything but the Big Move.
I am surrounded by boxes and suitcases. Half of our furniture is gone. We have started the process of saying goodbye to all of our friends. We are moving. So, when it came time to tell you a story of our life in this apartment, I totally blanked. All I can see when I look around this apartment right now is the passage of things from one life to the next. The ending of our time in Australia and the beginning of our time in England.
This is both very exciting and a little scary. I can’t wait to board our flight to our new home. To arrive with my shiny new passport and be greeted by the people we will live with for the next few years. To experience my first “English summer” (an oxymoron I’m told.) I know I will be homesick for Sydney, but I am thrilled to begin this new adventure!
So instead of telling a tale of the history of our time in this apartment, I’m going to tell you about the present. What we’re doing right now. I’m home today, putting more clothes in a suitcase than should really fit. Andy is at work. Tonight my friend from work will be coming by to pick up the dresser she is buying from us. I will chill a bottle of white wine (we’ve still got a fair amount of wine to drink before we leave!) and I will make a simple dinner in the few pots and pans that we have left.
I’m not sure what I’m making tonight, but last night it was risotto. An easy, straightforward dinner that can be made in one pot. A creamy, savoury rice dish that satisfies without leaving you feeling too full. For the past week, all I’ve wanted to cook was comfort food. The kind of food that makes you think about home. I think this is a reaction to all the upheaval in our lives right now. It’s still hot here, so lots of stews and casseroles aren’t really a great idea. But, risotto fit the bill perfectly.
This will be my final “official” post from Sydney. I’ve got several other recipes and stories lined up to fill this space while we’re off moving abroad, so you won’t miss me. I’ll tune back in when we’ve settled somewhere. If comment approval is a little slow in the next month, forgive me. I’ve got boxes on my mind and risotto in my tummy. It’s all happening!
Sage and Pancetta Risotto with Asparagus
The great thing about risotto is that you can use up whatever is already in your kitchen. I had sage left over from a recipe I made last week, and the rest of a bag of baby spinach kicking around in my fridge. Together with some pancetta and asparagus, we had a delicious dinner with very little fuss.
4 slices of pancetta, diced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 sage leaves, finely sliced
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
350g (about 1.5 cups) arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 small bunch asparagus
1 cup lightly packed baby spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan.
Fry the pancetta in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium / high heat. Once the pancetta is crisp remove it from the pot and place on a paper towel lined plate.
Add the olive oil and butter to the pan. Put the onions, sage and garlic in the pot and stir until soft and beginning to brown.
Stir in the arborio rice and the pancetta. Stir this mix together for a few minutes to “toast” the rice. Add the wine and stir frequently until the rice has absorbed the wine.
Add chicken stock a ladle at a time to the rice, always keeping the mixture wet. Stir frequently. As the rice absorbs the stock, add more. You may not need all of the stock.
Continue to add the stock to the rice mixture until the rice is “done”. It will still have a bit of a bite, but will be mostly soft and creamy.
Stir in the asparagus and the spinach and cook until the asparagus is slightly tender.
Serve in bowls, topped with grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.