5 Dec 2009

The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge

I love the beginning of a new year, in the same way that I used to love the beginning of a new school term. A clean slate on which to doodle hopes, dreams plans and resolutions and give direction to the year ahead. Before commencing on what I consider a lovely task (who doesn’t like to dream what cool stuff is coming your way?) I always indulge in a little review and reflection on the year rolling to a close.

And in what I see to be a truly fateful find, I have just discovered Gwen Bell’s #Best09 which calls for a review of the year in a blogging community stylee, asking for a best something each day ranging from restaurant experience to moment of peace, aha moment to advert. Unable to ignore the hands of fate, I will be doing my own take (as Gwen encourages!) as I know I will fall behind. In fact I am already behind since it’s the 5th December already. Every week, I will cover the “best ofs” from that week that I have something to reflect in one blog post, starting with:


Feel free to join in too...

It is safe to say that this year has been the biggest trip ever, in both senses of the word. It would be obvious to talk India being the best trip of the year, but to me trip suggests a journey away from home, and since we were living in Delhi I cannot technically bring it under this category. However, I will get it in somewhere, somehow though, believe me.

No, the best trip of 2009 was the rather unexpected and impulsive trip to Australia as holiday and re-acclimatisation to Western life before arriving in London. Two of my best friends moved back to Australia in the past year, but thankfully back to the same South Australian city of Adelaide. There had been no talk of visiting them, however discovering when talking on skype that India was exactly half way to Adelaide from England sowed the seed of thinking “since we are halfway there already...” and whoops, we booked a flight.

After six months baking in subtropical heat we landed in a mild Adelaide winter and inhaled the clean cool air, having forgotten what a cool breeze felt like. Dividing our time between our two friends who lived on different sides of the city (one beachside the other vineyard-side) we scheduled a foodie trip to Melbourne in between too. Just to make the most of being there you know.

It was the best because...I got to hang out with my friend and her new baby boy; see where my girlies now live; mooch round Adelaide’s amazing covered food market; dig into suppers of Aussie style BBQ squid; revel in the stacks of gluten free food EVERYWHERE, visit boutique wineries in Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley; cruise the legendary coffee shops of Melbourne; Sample the incredible cuisine at the city’s wine restaurants; have even more coffee at late night coffee bars; stay at a beach house with a power cut; have a candlelit winter BBQ; spend five hours watching whales and their babies 100yds from our feet in the sand; watch an Aussie rules game with a flask of tea; teach my friends authentic Indian cookery... I’m not even scratching the surface.

Oh and one experience that qualifies as my best restaurant experience of the year was every place we ate during the entire trip understood gluten free, Coeliac requirements and I didn’t have to explain. There were always options for me, helpful staff and I wasn’t called a celeriac once! Shops with every gluten free flour imaginable, moist, dense gluten free cakes made from clean natural ingredients (so good I ate the one I supposedly bought for Jack!)...It was a sweet taste of relief knowing that I could put my trust in these restaurateurs and shop owners. Australia caters well for those with Coeliac Disease. Lucky Aussies.

Which leads me onto my best book of 2009. This has to be Maggie Beers Harvest. Like her homeland, it provides a stack of gluten free food, reads like a bedtime novel, was given to me by one of my best friends ever and I even got to meet her at her farm when we were cruising the Barossa Valley.

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