Friday, November 13, 2009
The second I heard that magnificent clap of thunder, I knew all wasn't going to go my way! What a rain storm! After a hot and humid day, something had to give, and the heavens did in fine style. Of course, this was lovely, but as I made my way through crowded city streets at peak hour, I wasn't so pleased about mother nature's intervention. I was on my way last night to the book launch of fellow food-blogger "Jenius'" at the Global Gallery in Paddington. I cursed my open sandals as I sloshed through puddles, and hurriedly snapped up a new umbrella at the 7-eleven on my way to the bus stop. As I arrived, I realised that at peak hour, you needed to pre-pay, so back I sloshed to the 7-eleven to buy my ticket. My prediction was beginning to come true. Finally, back I went and found a bus that I thought was on my route, but of course I had run out of the office in a cloud of perfume and had left the all-important travel details on my desk! Happily I sms'd my fellow blogger YaYa so we could track our progress towards the gallery but I didn't realise the bus had taken a right turn and was heading off towards the showground! EEK?! As it was getting dark, and very very wet, I decided to stay on the bus until I reached a safe spot....hello Royal Randwick. Hmmm....20 stressful minutes later, a taxi finally slowed down and finally took me to Paddington (I DID have to look up Comber Street in the directory for him, but he was so soothingly calm, I wasn't worried that he may well have NO IDEA of where I was going. I couldn't complain really as neither did I?). As we backtracked, I tried to salvage my hairstyle and now falling apart sandals so I could at least walk in to the launch with a modicum of dignity. It really wasn't the entrance I had hoped for, but once I arrived, the cosy little crowded gallery was so welcoming, and the cute little boy (who we found out later in the night was Jennifer's younger brother) shyly pushed a colourful flyer into my hand and I found myself with a big smile and a change of demeanour. My next mission was to find YaYa, my partner in crime, in the crowd. Not exactly easy as she is quite vertically challenged (tee hee he..sorry YaYa). After quickly perusing the crowd, I squished across the room towards the drinks waiter, and found her in animated conversation with the delightful owner of Saigon Saigon Restaurant and her equally delightful sister who was the "hired help" for the night, gathering business cards, spreading the word about Saigon Saigon, and making sure we all got to sample the food as it came out of the kitchen. It was really tasty and was practically INHALED the second it exited the kitchen, so you had to be quick. What fun it all was, and what nice people we connected with tonight. So, now I had found YaYa, next was a quick chat to the author herself, the lovely Jennifer Lam. What a sweet girl she was, totally unaffected by the hoo-hah of the launch in her honour. She does a great blog, is a gifted photographer and is very obviously well grounded. All this talent, and still able to chat to strangers and friends, followers and family with grace. Tonight she was launching her book "I ate my way through Singapore and Vietnam", the first in a series of delectable food inspired books. Although Australian born, Jennifer has family connections with Vietnam, and it was on a trip there she became inspired to put this book together. I'm glad she did. It's bright, beautiful, interesting, and desirable (Jennifer tells us emphatically that it isn't a coffee table book, but a bed side table book as she lovingly hugs a copy to her chest) and the most fabulous thing is that a percentage of the sales of each book goes directly to KOTO International. KOTO is a non profit organisation that assists street kids in Vietnam to better their chances in life by giving them skills in the hospitality industry. The cause has surpassed its original goals and is now placing kids in scholarships around Australia. A quick chat with Lorette Brown, a director of KOTO gave us insight into what KOTO do, and it is a great tribute to Jennifer that she feels she can give something back to the country she feels she gained so much from. During her speech, Jennifer told of her supportive family and partner, of her food inspirations, and spoke passionately about KOTO. Her younger brother was both reticent yet intrigued by all the photos being taken, so it was quite entertaining to see him handing out the books while trying to hide behind them! It was not only a fun evening, but an inspiring one too. Once we secured our copy of the book ($49.95) and had it signed, it was time to concentrate on capturing the event. Trays of Saigon Saigon finger food emerged from the kitchen. We enjoyed deep fried spring rolls, prawns in wonton skins and delicious summer rolls. All extremely appetising! Saigon Saigon has been in Glebe for many years, and has recently been refurbished and enlarged. I, for one, am looking forward to visiting and will definitely be taking my fellow bloggers with me. I snaffled a takeaway menu, and plan to work my way through the mains with my foodie friends in the not too distant future. By this time, the crowd had thinned a bit, leaving some breathing room in the hot and sticky rooms. We had a chance to look at the art for sale (large format photos from Jennifer's book available for $250), and enjoy the wines on offer. Another sponsor of the night was Aja (pronounced Asia) wines which were specifically blended to work well with Asian food. Well, it was my absolute DUTY to try both the blush and the white. Both were great and the waiters were very accommodating being students from a hospitality college. Soon, it was time to go, and we reluctantly left the crowd spilling on to the street to make our way along Oxford street on our way home. Thankfully our trip home was less "interesting" than my trip in and we enjoyed soaking in the glossy pages of the book all the way home. Best of luck to Jennifer, I am sure with the solid support team you have behind you, all good things will come to you. Happi Eating!