Rock Star Excitement in Sydney and Eating Nasi Lemak

It is pretty electric right now.  Only days before the Francis Bacon opening at the AGNSW.  Truly a rock star of the art world, Francis Bacon had a temperament that kept people on their toes. Lots of  BUZZ about  this exhibition.  The papers and other media are hyping this event to the max and for good reason.  Isabel, it will be a memorable show; Bacon is hailed as an artist up there with Picasso.  I am reading the catalogue in spare moments , so I can appreciate it all when I finally see it.

My walks last week unfolded more lovely Sydney spots.  There are many gorgeous pockets around this city. And to think I haven’t even ventured very far from home. There is much to discover further afield. Walking through Centennial Park on an early morning with SM, we passed groves of paper barks. The air was minty in the fresh warm morning.

We finished up the walk I thought most appropriately, having a coffee in the dearest spot, paying homage to a glorious……. tree. Tucked in a little Paddington street was Alimentari, a tiny coffee shop jewel, compensated for its space by a generous picture window in which a majestic gum commanded full attention. I must take you there when you next visit. There are the most enticing stores scattered around this thriving hub which you will love….

And of course ever since it was rumoured, anyone who cares about it has been totally abuzz when Radiohead announced their 2012 world tour. As you know, dad kept a close watch from Toronto to see where we could catch them (Toronto? No, he was in Geneva while they were slated to visit. New York? That wouldn’t work either.)  Amazingly, MB went online as soon as Sydney dates were released and got our four tickets to see them in Australia. Remember how excited we were? This was waaaaay back in April, and we hadn’t even moved back here yet!

Well, all these months of anticipation have certainly not been an overworking of our expectations because come Monday night, we were completely catapulted by the energy and quality from beginning to end of their AMAZING show. No rock star egos to be seen here. And such generosity too: I mean, when was the last time you went to a concert and for an encore they sing SIX songs?  They sang twenty-two songs in all.  The audience was elated . Faithful Radiohead fan that you are, I know you will ADORE every moment when you see them this week-end in Melbourne! Such amazing sound quality, and glorious lighting to boot- AH!

It has been all too distracting to COOK! But dearest Cousin C took me to Paddy’s Markets on the week-end. We bought ingredients to cook our Chrissie cakes, a tray of huge Northern Territory mangoes each, and we found…..PANDAN LEAVES!!!!!! SOOOO excited! As you know, in SE Asian cooking and some Indian cooking these sweetly fragrant leaves add an amazing flavour to a variety of dishes. In sweets and Malay puddings, it substitutes for rose essence or vanilla flavouring. In savoury dishes, it is often used to scent rice, elevating dishes like biriyani, and the Malaysian classic, nasi lemak. Well, of course I had to make something with those beautiful fresh leaves when we got home! If you are nostalgic for a good Malaysian hawker nosh up, you can’t go past nasi lemak.

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice)

  • 2 cups jasmine rice, well washed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 pandan leaf, washed and chopped into 2 or 3 lengths
  • 2 cups water


  1. Heat the oil in a small non stick pan, and add the jasmine rice.
  2. Stir until the rice grains lose their translucency and become opaque.
  3. Add the desiccated coconut and coconut milk.
  4. Top up the pan with water so that the liquid reaches to about 5 cm above the rice.
  5. Add salt, stir well and bring to the boil. Throw in the leaves.
  6. As soon as the pan begins to bubble, turn the heat to the lowest setting and put a tight lid on the pan.
  7. Leave to cook for 10 minutes on this lowest heat setting.
  8. Check that all the liquid has evaporated. You may have to leave it to cook for another five minutes.
  9. Turn the heat off, remove the pan from the stove and let it sit for about ten minutes.
  10. Serve with chicken curry, some slices of boiled egg and cucumber, fried ikan billis and peanuts. Ikan Billis, or tiny dried anchovies are available at most Asian grocery stores.
  11. The addition of prawn crackers makes it fun, but don’t feel like you are missing out if you can’t manage it.

You might need a hearty meal like this one with your friends before the concert on the week-end. I tell you what: Radiohead was such an energized expereince, we came home feeling starved.