Today I went and packed up my office. Having just been made redundant at work – effective immediately – I had no opportunity to think about ‘what’s next’ or about what I would do with all the things I had accumulated in my office , my personal space for the last 5+ years. It was where I spent the majority of my time. Full of paintings, books, reference material, a pinboard with postcards I had collected on my travels and from colleauges from theirs as well as momentos from exhibitions and celebrations. The usual stuff. And my Bose stereo system. A quick half hour and a station wagon loaded and I was gone. So much for 5+ years work.
The thought of just going back home to unpack was unappealing. I needed to do something nice – a drink and nibble somewhere. We headed to 4Fourteen (or is that Four 14?) in Bourke st – Colin Fassnidge’s place where at first opening it was difficult to get a seat. A few years on and its just walk in and not a fashionista in sight. Pretty empty by the time we got there at 2.30 but kitchen staff all working hard. Its an open kitchen so you can see everything. The place is large and bright and beautifully set up – the banquettes at the back are gorgeous tan leather, they serve wine in proper glasses and the place has the feel of a NewYork loft. But its the food that really makes this place worth coming to.
We just wanted a drink and something light: seared bonito with ginger ale jelly and apples accompanied by a glass of Duval Leroy champagne. It was a perfect match – more so because my husband had ordered the champagne before we had considered what to eat – champagne being the drink for all occasions, and in this instance, to toast the end of one phase of my life and the start of something new. What that new is, I don’t yet know. But the dish was certainly one that suggested good things to come. When did jellies become so adult? The flavours and textures just sang in my mouth. It was so playful – beautifully cooked slices of just just cooked bonito scattered with the jelly and grated green apples in a dressing I couldn’t really figure out, but absolutely perfect. It was joyous. How do people think of these dishes? Its what makes the difference between just good food and really exciting food. Food worth celebrating and food for celebrating.
Our other dish was a chargrilled lamb tongue – and I’ll bet if this was presented to you without knowing what it was you’d just think it was perfectly cooked meat that your knife sliced through like butter – tender and succulent. Accompanied by a glass of Spanish red, again a perfect match and a perfect way to farewell 5 years of dedication and welcome my unkown future.
Occasions are worth celebrating, no matter what the event. This quick meal did that for me. Good food, good wine, good company. Life’s OK.