This is about a post plane trip meal.
And after the most recent 28 hour commute from Sydney to London, it’s this.
I promise, I was good on the way back from Sydney. I took my own advice for flying better, economy style. I had my long socks. I had my sleeping pills, my eye mask, my toothbrush, my toothpaste.
I had my customary glass of pink wine once I’d checked through security at Sydney Airport with time to spare- this time at the brazenly bizarre iteration of the Bambini Trust Wine Room. The original Bambini Trust is a delightfully moody bistro and bar on the cusp of the Sydney CBD. It’s been home to some boozy nights tainted by pinot noir and over-sharing with friends from interstate. In the middle of the international terminal its dark wood, Balthazar esque furnishings clash with the fluorescent lights that blink above it. Ordering from the counter and taking a number when you’re paying $9 for a glass of wine also feels tawdry- but I should say, the power plugs hiding under the seat are a nice touch for those facing dwindling phone batteries. More than anything the faceless anonymity of it all is excellent; particularly if you’ve stepped into the airport still ushering tears from curbside goodbyes off your cheeks.
This is a simple meal that made all that had come before it seem ok. A grilled piece of salmon made up for the frankly bizarre chicken curry served in foil three hours out of Singapore. The green vegetables on my plate atoned for the constant crackle of bored passengers munching through foil bags of Twisties in their Qantas ‘snack packs’ at 3 am. The smooth avocado sauce said a muted sorry for the woman next to me in 63 B who arrived on the flight marinated in a mixture of gin, halitosis, Winfield Blues and kept asking to borrow my Lucas Paw Paw to daub on the pocked and ulcerated burns on her right hand; the same burns she kept showing me like a trophy during the 13 hour flight. And the sneaky hit of chilli in the sauce served as a kick in the behind, after I put on a load of washing this morning and accidentally tumbled into a jet lag fug nap (a tactical error, if ever there was one).
You see, there’s no time for fug or fog. As the bells that rang out across London at 8.12 am this morning, it tolled that any pervading sadness at leaving Sydney had to be packed away for a while. I’ve arrived back in London to exciting times.
Despite my fears of a four hour commute from Heathrow home on the morning of the Olympic Opening Ceremony I was through immigration, bag in tow and on a tube within a spectacularly swift 25 minutes of landing. While hauling a 20 kilogram suitcase up 23 stairs at one of three tube stations I passed through, I felt a lifting hand come from behind me. I turned around to discover a kindly English man in a suit offering a hand. ‘Welcome to London’ he said with a smile. Despite the fears of traffic chaos and crummy weather staining these games, there’s still cheerful optimism to be found in these Isles.
Tonight there’s a party at our next door neighbours to watch the Opening Ceremony, with guests sporting Romanian weight lifting costumes and a menu of ring shaped foods. I’m thinking of whipping up some interconnected circular cookies. Let’s see how that goes. And tomorrow we’re off to Greenwich to see the gymnastics.
With all of that front of mind, it’s time to get balanced and get focused. We’ve got a big few weeks ahead of us and luckily, no long haul flights to conquer for a while.
Let the games begin.
Greens with spicy avocado sauce, seeds and salmon
This is a perfect meal if you want to reset your body to a baseline of normal. Green vegetables, pink fish, a bit of yogurt, citrus, chilli and seeds should be a sensible answer to most things. It’s also easily halved if you’re on your own, or doubled for a crowd.
1 small blender or stick blender. 1 fry pan. Paper towel.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
good pinch of sea salt flakes (Maldon is good- you want the texture of flakes, rather than just a dust of seasoning)
2 150-200 gram pieces of salmon, skin on
100 grams of green beans, cut into 4 cm pieces
200 grams of brocollini, cut into 4 cm pieces (you could also substitute broccoli florets, or asparagus)
2 tablespoons of mixed seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds)
Spicy avocado dressing
1/2 a ripe avocado, any brown bits cut out
2 tablespoons of natural yogurt
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 teaspoon (or more if you like things spicy) of hot sauce; Tabasco or a Mexican or Jamaican hot sauce will be good
Here’s how we roll
1) Preheat a fry pan with one tablespoon of olive oil, until the oil is smoking.
2) Dry your salmon fillets well with paper towel. You want the skin to be very dry. Sprinkle the salt directly into the smoking pan and place the fillets over the salt, skin side down.
3) Cut the lemon in half and add to the pan with the salmon so it caramelises. Cook the salmon for 2 minutes, until the flesh is opaque half way up the side. Turn and cook with the skin up for another minute. Take off the heat and allow to rest. If you prefer your salmon to be well done, cook it for one or two more minutes.
4) Steam the green vegetables until they are soft, but still have a little bite.
5) To make the spicy avocado dressing blend together the yogurt, avocado, a squeeze of lemon juice and the hot sauce. Taste it. If you like things a little spicier, add more hot sauce.
6) Daub the steamed vegetables with the avocado sauce and sprinkle it all with the seeds and nuts. Serve the vegetables and sauce alongside the cooked salmon (skin side up, so the skin stays crisp) and half of the caramelised lemon. Squeeze the lemon over the salmon and vegetables before eating.