I was 12 years old, in Year 7 at Craigslea Primary School on Brisbane’s north side. I hadn’t really come into my own yet and was a painfully shy, timid, quiet (I know it seems impossible, but I once was very shy, very timid and remarkably quiet. Lord knows what happened) and ridiculously nerdy girl (this bit hasn’t changed).

I wasn’t popular (I tried to freeze hell so I’d become popular; it didn’t work), I didn’t have all that many friends and at lunch time, I pretty much sat on my own and ate the kick ass fried egg, tomato and onion sandwich my mum used to make. I think I told myself that I had no friends because their mums didn’t make awesome sandwiches.

One day, there’s a new girl in school. She gets introduced to everyone in class and kids being kids, everyone ignored her because it would be too uncool to make friends with the funny looking (oh hi Shari! Don’t take that one personally ;)) skinny little new girl. I thought she looked intriguing. Mostly because I couldn’t quite pinpoint what sort of Asian she was and y’know, Asians do like to know what kind of Asian other Asians are. It’s in our blood.

Lunch time rolled around as it inevitably did and I’m seated on a wooden bench, picking at my lunch while all the other kids did weird kid things like hopscotch. I never did understand hopscotch. Suddenly there’s this person standing next to me. Yikes it’s the new girl! What does she want with me?

“Hi,” she said, pretty darn quietly.

I kind of wanted to say “speak up, love, I can’t hear you” but remember, this is shy little catty, not the outspoken critter y’all know.

“Hi,” I said.

She was quiet for a moment, looking all small and cute and lost in the one-piece blue dress that was our Smurfette uniforms. “Uhhh… can I play with you?”

I kind of wanted to say “do you see me playing? I’m eating, bitch” but again, little catty was far too nice. So I said “Uh, yeah I guess.”

So Shari sat next to me and we ate our lunch in relative silence. And then we did that again the next day. And the next. And the next.

And over the course of the next few months, Shari got me into HEAPS of trouble, like when we passed notes in class about flouro yellow condoms and what not, because that’s what 12 year olds do. Apparently.

Our mums tried to un-friend us for the flouro yellow condom incident (because clearly we were lousy influences on each other), but that was never going to work.

I bought Shari a sunflower stuffed toy one year, and she suction-cupped it to her bedroom window. It’s still there today, almost two decades later.

And although I escaped the quaintness of Brisbane at the tender age of 18, Shari and I have always remained the best of friends and if there’s one thing I look forward to every time I’m home (aside from my mum’s fish head curry) it’s catching up with her, because we do have some awesome and random conversations and really, people may change but friendships do not.

*sigh*… memory lane…

Ok ok, I can feel an unrest spreading through the crowds right now, people murmuring about whether I’ve complete lost the plot because yo, this is a Food Blog, where is the food? Chill out, brussels sprouts, I’m about to hit you with a  10-course beauty.

Shari and her dude Matt are currently visiting us in London and for one night, we had to ditch the boys in favour of a little style. So last Friday night saw us dining the 2-Michelin-star way at Pied à Terre on Charlotte Street, and between conversations about everything, we managed to consume the following…

An amuse bouche quartet of potato gnocchi & parmesan cheese; cod mousseline with sliced pickle; poppyseed cracker & foie gras; watermelon salad with black olives, feta & chocolate leaf.

This felt like a whole meal in its own miniature right, starting with the fluffy and light potato gnocchi, followed by the strong flavoured cod mousseline and foie gras, and chased down with a delightfully refreshing watermelon salad.

Red mullet escabeche with salt cod mousse, white grapes and fresh almonds ~ my least favourite course of the night and having it come out first scared the bejeezus out of me. It wasn’t bad, but a little fishy for my liking and thankfully everything went uphill from here on in.

Marinated scallops with a salad of golden and purple cauliflower,fresh wakami, argan oil and wasabi creme fraiche dressing ~ astonishingly fresh, sweet scallops and in all my life I didn’t realise that cauliflower could taste this amazing.

Poached foie gras in a sauternes consommé, charred red onions, bortolli beans and smoked bacon ~ hands down our favourite course of the night. We could have had 10 courses of this… or ok maybe nine and a dessert. The foie gras is as soft and silky as they come, served in a consommé rich in flavour and just perfect. Per-fect.

Poached Icelandic cod, viola flowers, pineapple and coeur de boeuf tomato, marjoram dressing, baby gem ~ maybe I wasn’t in a fish mood but again this course wasn’t a favourite. The cod was cooked wonderfully, but somehow the tomato and dressing and flowers seemed to coagulate into a mess of flavours in my mouth.

Herb crusted best end of lamb, viola aubergine, samphire, ice plant, white currants, lamb jus ~ cooked a perfectly pink medium rare, the lamb course was interesting and unusual at the same time, the familiar taste of herb crusted lamb, mixed with white currants and what the heck are ice plants?!

Cheese selection: goat’s cheese and French brie ~ normally one to opt out of a cheese course, I had no choice here as it was included in the tasting menu. The waiter launched into a long monologue about the origins of each cheese but I completely blanked. Something about 50 kms from Paris. The cheeses were surprisingly palatable, the goat’s cheese a little milder than the brie.

Salad of charentais melon and blueberries, liquor de sapin ice cream, toasted linseeds ~ dessert! And a delicious one at that. It may look all simple with its melon and blueberries and a scoop of ice cream but this beauty is sitting in a pool of what tasted like pineapple syrup but I’m sure it’s something far more special than that because it Blew. My. Mind. YUM.

Bitter sweet chocolate tart, stout ice cream & macadamia nut cream ~ yes, yes you read that right. Stout (ie BEER) ice cream. The chocolate tart is more like bitter bitter chocolate tart, but paired with the stout ice cream it somehow goes down a dream. The macadamia nut cream and sugared nuts themselves are also great but y’see, Shari and I, we grew up in the land of macadamias…

A tower of petit fours consisting of: macaron, mini rum bundt cake, raspberry & cream tart, ginger truffle, chocolate pot, passionfruit marshmallow.

Well hello, beautiful. A tower ain’t a tower without fantastically awesome desserts on each level. The petit fours at Pied à Terre were just ridiculously cool. And it’s not just the presentation, what with layers of itsy bitsy little treats and the sweet wafers slotted into the side of the frame, but they each tasted fabulous, in fact each one better than the next. Shari and I cheers’d each of our itty bitty yummies and ended with the passionfruit marshmallow which is seriously a slice of glutton heaven.

So there you have it! This is Shari and I, almost 20 years from the day we met, all chubby and skinny and bespectacled and braces’d. I’ll let you figure out who was what, but it’s really not that hard.

ps. I so wish I had old school photos of Shari and I to show you guys but I don’t have any here. Will dig some up on day when I’m back home and update this post just for kicks 😉

pps. We had the £90 tasting menu.

ppps. Not quite sure how it’s possible that I am so much more tanned than a person from Australia.

Pied à Terre
34 Charlotte St
Fitzrovia, W1T 2NH
0207 636 1178

Pied à Terre on Urbanspoon

20 Thoughts on “Pied à Terre: me and my pal, dining in style…

  1. That is the cutest blog post ever. It would be so adorable if you found a picture of the two of you when you were teeny!

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  3. LOL Yea I can’t really imagine you being shy or quiet! Haha It’s great you guys have kept in touch and this dinner you had looks absolutely amazing! I’m stocked by the creativity in the presentation of these dishes! x

  4. Lovely photos and a great review. I always prefer reading (and writing) pieces like this that have a sense of story as well as just a ‘here’s what we ate’… The food looks gorgeous. Well done


  5. This is absolutely the sweetest post ever! I love the purple of that cauliflower – I have a friend now overseas who would love it! I miss my friends!

  6. Kat Frost on August 22, 2010 at 11:08 pm said:

    love love LOVE this post… good food and best friends, what could be better?!

  7. Caitlin on August 22, 2010 at 11:49 pm said:

    I found your blog because we share the same name… (well, ok; mine is a highschool nickname) Catty! 😛

  8. Charmaine: I know, I’ll try find some when I go home next 🙂 it’ll be hilarious I was such a geek!

    Maria: Yeah we’ve never once fallen out of touch through uni or me moving all over the world. It’s a great friendship!

    Rich: Thank you! I know, sometimes I just want to write the story haha, but I guess this is a food blog afterall … 🙂

    Su-Lin: Hehe thanks! The purple cauliflower totally amazed me. It was (a) REALLY PURPLE and (b) super tasty, like normal cauliflower taste but better and sweeter!

    Kat: Hello! Hehehe… yeah wait til I write a memoir on you. Hehe just kidding.. thanks for reading! Shari and I reminisced about all of you over dinner 🙂

    Caitlin: Heheh hey Catty! 🙂

  9. This was such a beautiful story about true friendship and how it all started. so sweet!! food looks good too

  10. Such wonderful memories over good food that begun from lunchboxes and school lunches! I really enjoy how you meshed the stories behind a food post- they make for such woozy warm feelings always!

  11. My Restaurants Melbourne: Hehe thank you, it was fun to write (and fun to watch Shari read!) 😀

    imp: Thanks, lovely 🙂

  12. What a cute/tasty post! By the way, I totally hear you on the Asian comment. I giggled when I read that because it’s SO true.

    I think I’m going to need to go to Pied a Terre now. I’ll bring my Asian best friend and we can go to town on that darn tasting menu. Nom.

    Jax x

  13. Aww gorgeous story Catty! And I had no idea that you grew up in Brisbane! 😮

  14. Jackie: Haha yeah, it’s true right? We always gotta know! 🙂

    Lorraine: I did.. my folks are still in Brissie but don’t worry, Sydney is home now!

  15. Hey, I was a nerdy asian with glasses and few proper friends too! … until I became friends with Reen (I think – primary school memory is kinda fuzzy). Funny how life (and people) turn out.

    PS So what kind of asian IS she? 😛

  16. kate skinner on September 5, 2010 at 8:49 am said:

    Loved reading about you and Shari!!Friendships are wonderful and you two, made my first year at Craigslea so memorable and lovely and to think a teacher and students have kept in contact for all these years!!!!Oh and loved the food and photos too!!!

  17. Aww gorgeous story Catty! And I had no idea that you grew up in Brisbane! 😮

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