Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sifton on La Grenouille

Christopher Smith for The New York Times

I have been a tad behind in my reading, having been so inundated with holiday shennanigans. However, now that I"m caught up, I must comment about Sifton's review of La Grenouille!

My last visit was on La G's 40th birthday. I haven't been back for one reason: I can't recall the food. How is it that I have no recollection of the meal save the split pea amuse bouche (which, incidentally, is still being served 7 years on)?

Sifton aptly describes my conundrum:

"The crowd is amazing. There are city patricians, upscale travelers, romantics celebrating anniversaries, cads with escort-service friends, priests drinking Burgundy and spooning soup past their dog collars. There is jewelry everywhere, evidence of plastic surgery."

I was too busy watching everyone.

I ended up at La Grenouille as a result of meeting a uber cute Danish guy at a Meatpacking District club. He suggested dinner with him and his friend, and oh, wouldn't I bring a friend along as well? And the locale? La Grenouille.

I suppose it's time to make a second visit and this time, pay attention to the food. :)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Art in the East Village

"It was very bohème," Pascal said, referring to the East Village 20 years ago. He stood, legs crossed one in front of the other, his salt and pepper curls tousled atop his head. Not that there was anything less bohème  than all of us gathered at The Phatory, a contemporary art gallery in the heart of the East Village. We were artists, musicians, filmmakers and stragglers alike, drinking organic wine out of Dixie cups.

Pascal Benichou, an artist in the truest sense of the word, is a choreographer, photographer, dancer and more recently, industrial furniture designer. There was something very inviting about Pascal. His easy going demeanor, soft spoken yet totally French sensibilities were a delight. As was his love of bread. On his last trip to Portland, he had amazing bread at Pearl Bakery. Pascal's installation, "Of Spirit and Matter" where he explored the human body in relationship to the earth, is hauntingly beautiful. Ethereal, almost. While it was not the current installation in the main gallery area, it was definitely my favorite one.

A digital photograph by Pascal Benichou

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake!

"Let me feed you cake!" Victoria's quiet charm was not lost upon me the evening I met her at Macao Trading Company. An invitation followed in the mail, and I was granted access to her coveted Chinatown Cake Club's first salon.

True to form, it had the makings of a cake thriller. The entire event was shrouded in secrecy. The location was not divulged until the day of, and obtaining that required even more steps. Ah, but it could have been no other way! Only true cake aficionados would go the distance.

Artist Cake Series #1: Tribute to Nobuyoshi Araki

When I entered, I thought I had died and gone to cake heaven. Victoria's abode was charming and tastefully decorated. We were served on traditional Chinese tin plates and tea saucers (very shabbic chic!) There was a selection of at least 10 different cakes, each complex, each unique in taste. One that I was particularly fond of was the pandan Charlotte Russe. The pandan creme was not too overpowering and was just the right texture and not too sweet.

It was absolutely lovely. Victoria is a talented baker who succesfully merges flavors to create delectable cakes that are sophisticated and fun.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fashion vs. Food

Sequins dress with lace overlay by Vivienne Tam

I attended a cocktail soiree at Vivienne Tam that was co-hosted by the publication I periodically write for, Asiance Magazine. The usual suspects were there, dressed to the nines in killer cocktail dresses. We were plied with copious amounts of Vueve and gently reminded of their special event pricing. One night only! I can't believe I fell for it.

I successfully resisted the urge to browse the racks of Vivienne's Holiday Collection until I saw a flash of purple walk by. I did a double-take, flagged down the sales associate. She was a petite Asian girl wearing a purple sequins dressed with a lace overlay. I ended up buying the matching peep toe heels as well.

As a good friend of mine would say, "You just bought a dress for a party you have yet to be invited to, to mingle with people you have yet to meet." Ah yes, but that is so "glass half empty!" I'd like to think that I made a solid investment.

The buyer's remorse set in a day later. I had just squandered what I had set aside for a master class in sugar work. Time to sell another loft...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Better Malaysian Food in New York

Duck thigh noodles (ngap tui mee) at Overseas Restaurant, Manhattan by Steven

Living in New York City, there are no shortages of Malaysian restaurants. Nyonya, Penang, Jaya, Sanur and even Singapore Cafe (yeah, even THAT is Malaysian) comes to mind. They serve the average fare: Nasi lemak, assam laksa, poh piah, roti canai and the lot. They are all standard but in search of kuih, a friend introduced me to Overseas on Canal and Ludlow. There, I was brought back to my childhood with their duck thigh noodles and kuih!

As the child of foodies, my parents' idea of a fun Saturday excursion was to drive 4 hours North to the town of Bidor for duck thigh noodles ("ngap tui" mee). Bidor is a former tin-mining town tucked in between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh. There was only one establishment that you'd want to go to, and I cannot remember the name of it, though it is still there today if you were to venture to this sleepy town. It is on the corner lot of a row of colonial townhouses, with cement washed floors and plastic stools. You'd order the cold, barley lemon drink and a bowl of steaming "ngap tui" mee. While waiting for your food to be delivered, you'll peruse the "snacks" aisle, as a portion of the restaurant also doubles as a convenience store of sorts for local snacks like dried cuttlefish, "kai jai peng" (chicken biscuits) and flakey sweet pastries flavored by burnt coconut husks used to flame the fire.

Kuih by Steven

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Baking: Chocolate Bouchons

Top: Chocolate bouchons, bottom: Gingersnaps

I decided to do some holiday baking for about 20 of my real estate clients, primarily those who lived in doorman buildings where I could drop off the baked goods. I nixed cupcakes in favor of more "durable" fare: Thomas Keller's Chocolate Bouchons and gingersnaps. I packaged them in brown bakery boxes with grosgain ribbon and a gift tag.

Chocolate Bouchons

from Bouchon by Thomas Keller (Artisan Books)

Makes 12 servings

Butter and flour for the timbale molds
3 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
24 tablespoons (12 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and just slightly warm
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Equatoriale (55%), chopped into pieces the size of chocolate chips
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour twelve timbale molds. Set aside. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in another large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag without a tip, or with a large plain tip, and fill each mold about two-thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick: It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate). Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the timbale molds and let the bouchons cool upside down in the molds; then lift off the molds. (The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked.)

To serve: Invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners' sugar. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

Baker's Notes:
On melted butter: this made all the difference!
On piping the batter: I used a melon scoop since I didn't have a pastry bag handy, worked just as well.
On the timbale molds: I bought mine from JB Prince  on the phone and sent my Christmas elf to collect it. :) Don't remove the molds prematurely or the bouchons may collapse (I lost 2 batches to my impatience).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baked Day 9: Screw Up!

Pumpkin Pie vs. Cupcake via Cakespy

No points today. I perfected my baguettes and french rolls on Day 7 and  earned 2 points. Today however, I worked with a sourpuss crew. Music off, no conversation. The mood was considerably dour. Perhaps because it was Friday, one of the busier days of the week and we’re coming into the holiday season. The day shift crew shaped about 5,000 pieces of dough a day amongst the 8 of us.

“Drink water, go to bathroom. No coffee!” Carlos said.

I grinned. That meant we did not have the luxury of dalliance.

“Seeds! Garbled mumbled gresivoresfhshur ….seeds!” Carlos motioned to the plastic bin under the work table. I opened it and found two bags: one with poppy seeds and the other with sesame seeds. I knew he meant sesame but I reached for the poppy and spread a line across the twist dough.

“NO! Wrong one!”

I’d screwed up. The dough couldn’t be salvaged and was toss unceremoniously in the bin.

I got nervous after that point and nearly dropped a tray of dough I was packing. I've prided myself in not dropping the dough or being Miss Butterfingers and have for the most part, "blended" in well enough that if you were to glance into the picture window to observe us at work, you'd not even give me a second glance.

I’ve graduated from shaping to shaping and packing, where I prepped the dough after shaping to sit and proof. The dough is fitted into rectangular tins, some longer than others, covered with lids and others with plastic. The dough is also placed on wooden boards atop oiled parchment sheets, some without. They were then placed on rolling carts and wheeled either in the Walk-in (aka large freezer the size of a large room) or in the baking room to proof.

Packing was extremely challenging as it involved lifting, pulling, carrying and pushing a lot of weight. Expectations from the crew has also been raised. Learning by rote was de rigeur until now. I’ve mastered the major shaping techniques and now they have started teaching me more technical aspects. Why certain things are done, why certain things aren’t. They taught me to read the order sheets. Instinctually, I knew when to reach for more flour for the table, put wooden boards away, or scrape down the table.

But I goofed today and that's ok. Not everything has to be perfect all the time and I"m comfortable with that. I'm not super-human but I do believe in giving 110% in everything. No apologies.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Baked Day 6: Mi Corazon

“M, you going with Diego today. Twists!”

Carlos was not the supervisor on duty today, Mr. Smiley was. The guys jostled each other and I had a nagging suspicion I was being “set up” for something.  More importantly, if I wasn’t working in front of Carlos, he can’t assess my progress which also meant I would be taking a time out from the point system.

Diego and I prepped for twists. He showed me how to distinguish between the different types of dough which required different types of pans and set ups. We worked in the mixing room amongst the giant Hobart mixers with racks and racks of chilled dough.

“So….are you single?” Diego asked.

Ah. So THAT was the million dollar question. I was actually relieved there wasn’t a weird hazing ritual at X that all interns were subjected to.  I concentrate heavily on my pan and laughed the question off. Who had time to date?

“Why do you work so much?”

Why, indeed, Diego. Million dollar question.

The conversation turned to family. He hasn’t seen his parents in 12 years. His 6 year old son has never spent time with grandma or grandpa. We talked about religion. Diego was spiritual but not religious. But tomorrow was the celebration for Our Virgin of Guadalupe, he said. He was contemplating going to church.

"!" We were interrupted by Paco, who confirmed my “set up” theory by singing the refrain, “Mi Corazon” over and over for the next 2 hours. Paco was the kind of guy I steered clear of. He liked saying, "!" to me. He did offer to make me a cup of coffee which I accepted in a peace gesture.

I was taught how to shape the twist dough, filling them with raisins and olives, before using a special dough cutter that resembled discs of steel mounted on a rolling pin to cut neat rolls of dough to be twisted by hand.
It was repetitious but I found it rather meditative. The twists wer arranged in 2 neat rows on sheet pans before being stored on a cart. I found lifting heavy pans above head was a little difficult. Diego did not help, neither did I expect him to. He knew I'd ask if I needed help.

The day ended uneventfully. As I entered the locker room, the man they called the Don (in a nod to his age seniority, he appeared in his late 60s), started the whole, "Heeeey,!" thing. But how could you take him seriously? Or short, short Paco for that matter? They are the kind of people that you just want to hand a balloon and a candy bar to and send them on their merry way.

I zipped up my coat, gave a wave to the baguette night shift that was starting their day, and stepped out the back door, the screen door slamming behind me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Baked: Day 4

"Cuppie Loves to Bake" via Cakespy

I earned my 3rd point early that morning.

Back on the line with Jesus. I practised on my rolling technique for baguettes. The dough always looked like a snake that had eaten a large hamster. I couldn't get the bulge in the middle to go away. I cursed the lack of Play Doh in my early developmental years.

Unofficial break time came several hours in. It would've been like any other break, where I'd gulp down a steaming hot cup of coffee, run to the bathroom and back to the shaping table. But today was different. Jesus motioned me to come with him. He grabs two rolls hot from a tray, fresh from the oven. He tossed me one and we sat down together with Carlos at the picnic table that doubled as our break room. We ate in silence.

I broke a piece off the roll with my fingers, the flakey crust crumbled onto my lap. I washed it down with a cup of coffee. And we sat, comtemplative, focusing on every bite, every minute we had that we didn't have to work.

I had a momentary flashback to the basement of a church in Vladivostok, where we'd sat on long, hard benches, slurping down bowls of hot borscht. A lifetime ago. Our hunks of bread rested directly on the table top.

I broke the silence to ask Carlos if he was celebrating Christmas. He wasn't. Apparently, his mother was a Buddhist.

Back to the line.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Baked: Day 3

French Toast plush via Etsy

“This is very good. But you are still 2 out of 10. When you are 10 out of 10, you are ready,” Carlos had spoken.

I prodded my squishy boule. Then I prodded his firm boule and nodded humbly.

While Carlos kept a watchful eye from across the work station, I set to work with a new partner. Mr. Furbie was a veteran of the joint and had little patience for a new intern. He comfortably allowed my limpy dough to slide and floured only his own work surface.

There was no music blaring today. We worked in silence. The mood was sombre as Mr. Furbie smirked at Sharon, whom, he decided was worthy of his attention.

I was put to work hauling heavy racks filled with dough back and forth. I provided back-up: I oiled, dunked, dipped, covered and seasoned. When there was a slight lag, Star Child (the male favorite of the women working there and the envy of the men) would throw me a piece of dough to work on.

Work fast, work hard, support your team, slow down. Oil splattered from the pastry brush across my face. Get out of the way or get anointed in flour, “Cake Boss” style. Laugh when you do.

And so we worked. Like a well oiled machine we worked in a Zen-like silence.

My pants were covered in flour, which was typical but for the fact that I had forgotten my work pants. I was wearing my “real job” pants, which was a nice pair of Theory slacks. I silently thanked God for not forgetting my work shoes or else my Burberry boots would’ve been wrecked!

The minutes ticked on to the passing hours and then I saw it, a crack in the shiny veneer of Mr. Furbie’s “I don’t careness.”

“Watch. Like this.” He showed me his tucking technique: quick and firm, no fancy turns with a smooth finish, before walking away.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Baked: Day 2

"Esta muerto," Carlos shook his head and prodded my limp dough. Everyone laughed. I had succeeded in murdering my French roll. Again. And thus, ended Day 2 of my internship at X.

I spent my day with my stomach in knots. I am the only intern who wasn't a culinary school grad and without professional kitchen experience. Everything I did wrong, from improperly flouring a banneton, those woooden baskets that help sourdough proof, to my inability to shape dough, meant that everyone else on my team had to pick up the slack.

The day consisted of an 8 hour shift with a 45 minute break. After the bannetons are floured, we go straight into shaping dough for the remainder of the day.

"Bolas!" Carlos barked. "Watch!" He deftly maneuvred the dough into a large ball and rolled it a few times to give it shape and tossed it onto the wooden board. Bola, known by its proper French term, boule, was for me, the bane of my short kitchen existence.

80's rock blared through the kitchen. I struggled with the dough as it stuck to my fingers at every opportunity. Carlos and Jesus slung dough from both hands, like they were slinging guns in a spaghetti Western.

Carlos is a diminutive man in his 40s with dark hair and olive eyes. I report directly to him. While he does not yell at me, he is firm and expects me to react quickly. Merely a raise of his eyebrow or a "Hmmph!" would send me scurrying off with telepathic orders to scrape down the work table or grab more pans.

The conversation started with Shakira's latest concert in NY. Carlos and Jesus were obvious fans from the way they eagerly discussed her repertoire and lamented the lack of Spanish songs in it.

The hours passed quickly and was matched by the frenetic pace of the kitchen. We worked with different doughs with different shapes to tackle and no shortage of herbs, olives, raisins and chocolate. Carlos and Jesus would patiently reshape my doughs and each taught me their techniques.

"Tranquila..." Jesus said, grinning from ear to ear. "It's your first time. Keep practising!"

And there it was, the holy grail. Practise. Get in there. Don't be afraid to dive right in and get your hands dirty, work with confidence and where you have to, be firm.

It must have been well into Hour 6, and averaging 1 boule per 1.5 minutes, Carlos finally muttered, "Coffee break!"

He turned to me and with a quick nod said, "You made 2 good bolas."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Autumn in New York

Cabbage Flowers in Union Square
I lived on Union Square West, next to Coffee Shop when I first moved to New York. It was lost on me then, an 18 year old fresman at NYU, what an amazing neighborhood I was in! I go to the Union Square Greenmarket more often than I used to. I especially like the fresh cut flowers and these beautiful cabbages!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

In Death

That you were to return,
from the ravages of war
fought on foreign soil
(in a body bag).
That I were to sit,
facing the honor guard
in their dress blues.
The folded flag
resting on your mother’s lap.

Monday, October 26, 2009

“If we must part forever, Give me but one kind word to think upon, And please myself with, while my heart's breaking.” - Thomas Otway

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Sake...

photo: Jui Shih

I was covering an impeccable sake seminar and tasting at Matsuri, the beautiful subterranean Japanese restaurant at the Maritime the other evening. I have had many a fond meals there....ah, but I digress. The sake! Organized by Joto Sake (the founder and his staff were ever so gracious), the event was just...perfect. Artisanal brewers pouring their masterpieces and ever so humbly accepting our compliments....what a difference from the typical pour and score events.

Two days after, my tongue still comforted by the soft and silky smooth taste...I will now turn to one of my favorite haiku writers (a total modernist on the subject) and fellow sake imbiber, Santoka:

Nice inn
mountains all around
sake store in front

"yoi yado de dochira mo yama de mae wa sakaya de"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Brace Yourself for Delivery Week!

Delivery Week
has now reduced my 1 block walk to 10 paces as I let my fingers do the dialing. The brainchild of Seamless Web, it runs October 19th-31st. 3 course lunches are $12.09 + tax and dinners will set you back $20.90 + tax. They are awarding freebies on Twitter so what are you waiting for?!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On "Jobs Wanted, Any Jobs at All" in The NY Times

I came across this NY Times article, “Jobs Wanted, Any Jobs At All” that focused on the day-to-day of Kristie and Katie Barry, 17 months out of university and jobless. Though one is not technically unemployed (she’s just partially employed), she described her bartending gig as “dating a guy you know you’re not going to marry.”

I understand. I've been a phone girl, focus groupie, convention booth hottie and (my favorite) a beer marketer: studying the drinkability of America’s premium draft light beer. Real jobs? They were real to me. They all paid an average of $20.00 an hour but they were all gigs. What my parents would call a “real” job, is a 9-5er, Mondays to Fridays where you're on an actual payroll and they took sweet, sweet taxes out of your paycheck every fortnight.

My first proper job out of college was as a Client Care Coordinator for a now defunct health and wellness company that specialized in hypnotherapy. Yup. It was one of “those” new agey things. Basically a glorified office assistant, I greeted clients and ensured they were comfortably tucked beneath a warm blankey on leather recliners while receiving light and audio therapy. Dealing with subliminal messages of relaxation followed by piercing red strobing lights on your eyelids was not my idea of fun and I decided to resign from the place after witnessing some unsavory business practices.

That evening, I dined with friends at Don Quixote and cried into my lobster, thinking that it was the end of the world and I will never find a job again in this bad economy. The “bad economy” I was referring to, was the post 9-11 job market. I wanted to write but there were no jobs to be had anywhere.

It was just a stroke of luck that one of my friends suggested I joined her as a Real Estate Agent. I registered for the mandatory classes, passed the state exam, joined a brokerage and did my first deal 2 weeks into December, smack in the middle of the holidays.

While I keep at my writing, I get to market and sell beautiful homes in Manhattan which is in itself an exciting journey of expensive exotic woods, private roof cabanas and concierge service.

George Bernard Shaw said, “Life isn't about finding yourself; it's about creating yourself” and on that note, a word of advice to the lovely Barry twins: Keep at it. Step outside the box. There is tremendous opportunity on this island...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pre-Fashion Week Festivities

image via Sephora

Agatha Ruiz De La Prada & Tweezerman Cocktail Party

On our way out of the madness that was Longchamp (some charity event with Fenton), we decided to walk down Wooster St. in Soho. We peaked out the corner of our eyes, a bright, whimsical store filled with laughter and champagne.

"What is this?" we wondered.

Certainly not a stop we had planned in our busy social calendars as we were on our way to Le Souk Harem's opening in nearby Greenwich Village.

It was Agatha Ruiz De La Prada's Soho store and she was launching her Tweezerman collaboration with a cocktail party.

"How lovely!" we thought, as the heavy glass doors opened to usher us into the festivities.

These limited edition tweezers in bright colors (Orange! Magenta! Blue!) and designs (Hearts! Clouds! Flowers!) purvey at fine establishments such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Sephora. Tres chic yet uber utilitarian.

Agatha, ever so gracious, spoke of her love of children who inspire her designs. My favorite was a t-shirt with an imprint of a matryoshka doll.

After a cocktail or two, we browed the racks and vowed to return and stock up on baby gifts.

Agatha Ruiz De La Prada, 135 Wooster St, New York, NY 10012, tel. (212) 598-4078

Sunday, August 23, 2009

On Symbolism

via Go Antiques

When I first bought my silver handled crystal Mikasa double-tiered beauty 10 years ago, I had high hopes for domestic bliss but these hopes were largely unfulfilled. The psycho dates were permanently canceled but the dish remained and I have been unable to let go of it, often telling myself, "I'll need it someday to serve finger sandwiches for tea..." That statement in itself, was irrelevant, irrational even. That dish represented to me, a life yet experienced. It sat on a shelf gathering dust.

At dinner, sitting by his antique dining table as he served me spaghetti tossed with truffled butter and clams simmered in a white wine broth, I saw it: A vintage Lenox Greenfield two-tier serving dish cast in cream and framed in gold. It was his grandmother's.

At that not so insignificant moment, I realized that I was ready to let go of mine.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Night About Town: A Scented Soiree

As I sashayed up to the entrance of Arader Galleries in my Nanette Lepore cocktail dress and black Manolos, I had a Sex in the City moment. Here was another night about town with my girlfriends but with a philantrophic slant.

Christopher Ong's soiree which benefited the National Stroke Association was backed by who's who of Upper East Side society. The launch of his limited edition“Madame Butterfly” scented candle was an evening of fine wine, art and the trendiest Malaysian expats in the Big Apple.

Arader Galleries is situated in a multimillion dollar Beaux Arts townhouse on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Featuring American and English artwork, maps and furniture, the gallery is a sight to behold.

One may ask, how did this humble, small town boy from Kelantan end up here? The road from rubber plantation to the concrete jungle of the Big Apple started with a vision for excellence.

"One must keep believing in oneself," said Christopher.

Daniel Perry, NY Cool and Yeweng Wong

Photograph by Bartomeu Amengual

A charming bon vivant, Christopher exuded grace without pretension. In a former life, he designed interiors of the best hotels in South Beach and the Caribbean. Currently, he embraces the entrepreneurial spirit in his role as an interior and lifestyle designer with an impressive client list and products for the home.

His hand poured French candles and silk pillow collection are purveyed at Takashimaya.

Datin Amy, Chris Ong, Mabel Cheah

Photograph by Bartomeu Amengual

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pretty In Pink

Please meet Betty, a 1950's Royal Quiet deLuxe. She weighs 11 lbs.

I first saw her tucked away on a shelf at A Repeat Performance, a quaint little store in the East Village on Second Avenue and 9th Street. I had often stared into the window since my freshman year at NYU. There was always a typewriter there I coveted, a Hermes 3000 or a 1950's Smith-Corona Silent Super perhaps.

But there was something special about Betty. Perhaps it was the way her smooth, cold, pink metallic body felt on my fingers, stamped with the word, "ROYAL." Perhaps it was the fact that she hailed from the 50's, a time in history that I feel very connected to (the fashion! the music!) I was thrilled when I found out Heather sourced for 8 of my closest friends to bring Betty home.

My love affair started when I was 8 years old. I learnt how to type by recreating recipes on my mother's typewriter. I can't recall the model nor the make. However, I retain a vivid recollection of keys striking paper and the decisive clacking sound punctuating the air. I stained my fingers on the dual black and red ribbon trying to change the spool.

Twenty years earlier in a cramped Camden apartment, my mother diligently typed addresses on envelopes on weekends, my brother on her hip. Her fingers pressed on keys that would result in neat rows of addresses. The office would deliver boxes of white standard envelopes to the apartment. They paid by the pound. It wasn't a difficult task. It was tedious to a fault, however, and with a baby and a husband who was in graduate school full-time, it was a means of support that was welcomed.

The ability to type for pleasure is not lost on me. I am extremely grateful for the gift of prose and the love for the written word.