Yesterday was my birthday, 32 years old. It stormed in furious bursts, the sun coming out for a moment in late afternoon before again being eclipsed by torrential rains & cracks of thunder. My idea of perfect weather. I spent the first half of the day catlike and languorous in bed until I could be bothered to take a midday bath, where I lay warm in the steam listening to the rain. I let myself do all the nothing I would normally never dream of, and he made me coffee and kept me company from bed to bath and back again. We ran errands and everything was always funny. We shared dinner with my family, and I ate a dozen oysters and too much dessert. It was the happiest day of my life, and this morning I awoke to a new world & a new year as a new woman. I awoke to a normal I’ve never known & always wanted. I’ve been home for a month now, and it’s even better than I’d imagined it would be. He’s taught me, without even trying, to make time for my life.
Three years came and went. And the truth is I was busy, lovesick, on the road, and didn’t notice this year. April 12, that was the 3 year mark. I don’t even know what country I was in. I know that I’m currently in Portugal, and that I’m hopping over to Croatia for five days after this and then on to Italy & France to teach two more workshops before finally, finally running home. Home to breakfasts and weekdays and the gym and yoga and morning coffee and and and home to normal. Home to the romance of the ordinary & weekend waffles.
This project, this blog, abides as a constant, but my life continues to surprise me in its unfolding. And Earl Grey waffles, a personal favorite comfort food infused with a personal favorite comfort tea, seemed as good a recipe as any to both celebrate 3 years of this space and my current love affair with home, with home defined as being where the heart is. In my life, I’ve taken everything as it comes, when it comes, never pretending at forevers. Okay, sometimes pretending at them but always aware of the precarious nature of pretending. I expected the landscape of my life to forever morph, seashore in the tide, time doing the eroding it’s so adept at, taking and leaving bits and pieces of my world and self as it saw fit. And so it has. Until now.
If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know I’ve been traveling in Japan and Australia for the past month and a half teaching workshops. On the road I was content but of two hearts, one right there with my body in the green ravines carving out the Aso Mountains in south Japan and the high, gray seas crashing into the shores of Bronte Beach in Sydney. But still there was another heart, one far from me and beating for the South where my kitchen, my home, my quiet life, and great roadside explosions of honeysuckle were waiting patiently for my return. Home began to feel like an impossible luxury, too good to be true. With my return three months away, time slowed to a child’s pace. It felt for-never away. For-never. New word. And so I, in a fit of homesickness, changed my tickets and flew home for a week before leaving again in two days for Europe to teach workshops in Portugal, Italy, and France. These hot, crispy rosemary beignets—with the most luxurious surprise in the middle: a creamy LINDOR white chocolate truffle—represent the comfort and luxury of simply being home.
Some context. I’m writing this from a 12th story room in Tokyo, about to hop a train to the Kiso Valley, to Tsumago. I’ve spent the past two days wandering the technicolor streets in a daze. I don’t think I’ve ever been this alone. The language barrier coupled with traveling alone has forced solitude on me in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. Home is far from me, and even if I were to return tomorrow, it will never be the same because things change. I don’t know what day of the week it is; I woke up not knowing what country I was in. So. This recipe. Let’s talk about it for a second. Banana bread. I know. It’s like really? No but really. This recipe is by Claire Ptak, the owner of Violet bakery in London, from her book The Violet Bakery Cookbook, and it’s remarkable. I highly recommend it for a baker’s library. It’s full of those solid recipes. I can make anything in it and know it will come out fantastic. Like this banana bread. It completely changed the way I look at that simple staple of any home cook’s baking repertoire—namely now it’s something I would go out of my way to make as opposed to a way to use dangerously dark bananas.
This has been a long time coming, the first batch of photographs of the Slow Living Workshop at the historic farmhouse, Glenmore House, that I taught with Luisa Brimble and Rebekka Seale this past September. An especially huge thank you to Claire Dickson-Smith, Hetty of Arthur Street Kitchen, and The Floury Baker for providing us with amazing meals—you worked so hard & everything was just beyond all expectations. Food is the heart of these gatherings, and you ladies made it unforgettable. And a big thanks to Stacey Clark for her helping hands.
Rebekka & I arrived at a beautiful flat near the sea on our first day. And that’s where we finally met Luisa. When you know someone’s work, it’s easy to forget that you don’t actually know the person. That you can only know a person by meeting them. Luisa in person is earth and effervescence and unmitigated and a confirmation that being a human being is pretty alright. She’s a wonderful person, and a dear friend, and never in my wildest dreams could I imagine how much I’d love her in real life. Lucked out. And that’s pretty much how we felt the entire time we were in Australia.