One Lie about Cupcakes and One Curiosity Fulfilled

As I mentioned in my last post, CB got a job.  We have started and ended house-hunting, and, for those of you crossing your fingers for me, I got a great kitchen and a yarn room that I don’t have to share (except with this spoiled rotten little gem).


Until we move in, I’m basically chronicling thoughts and meals, which, admittedly, isn’t the most interesting way to keep a food blog.  Every time I think about getting into creative mode in the kitchen, I’m confronted with the idea that this is not-my-kitchen and these are not-my-things.  So, back to CB got a job, and we looked at houses.

The day that he found out he had gotten the job, I decided he needed a little something of recognition. I spoil him, I do.  I secretly arranged with the woman who made our wedding cake to make a tiny congratulations cake for him.  The best part of her cakes is that not only are they tasty, but they have little clay figurines on top.  I dare say more people commented on how good our little figures looked on the big day than commented on how good we looked!

CB cake

The reason I mention the cake, besides just being very tickled by it, is that The Little Cupcake Cafe is one of the few places in Belfast to get a decent gluten-free treat.  I had already arranged with CB’s mother to help me pick up the cake, but it was turning into a logistical nightmare to try to get it without him knowing.  Thus, the little white cupcake lie.

Ah, yes, the sunny days of house-hunting.  While the rain was holding off, we decided a constructive use of our time was to simply take a taxi to a nice neighbourhood and walk until our feet fell off.  We made notes of real estate agencies and houses that looked pleasant.  We walked, got a little sunburned, and ended up with just about nothing once we looked up the prices.  We kept fairly good moods, considering the poor luck we were having.

Until Cake Day.

We were well across town from the shop, and I declared that I wanted a cupcake.  An hour later, it escalated to my needing a cupcake.  Another hour and CB was simply refusing me a cupcake.  Never mind that we were too far away for either of us to do anything about it.  By the end of our house search, I said that I was going to get a cupcake because his mother wouldn’t like to hear of his refusing me a simple pleasure; she would surely drive me to get one.  She played along brilliantly, feigning exasperation at her son and immediately driving to the only shop which could provide me with what I wanted.

We sat down for a cup of tea and a cupcake.  Cathy, the fondant artiste, silently showed me the cake and placed it behind the till.  I managed to signal to the girl working the counter that I was to pay for the cake while asking for a glass of water; she casually slipped my change on the counter and walked away, enjoying the bit of espionage.

As we were standing to leave, I said to CB, “That box behind the till says ‘Burke’.  Do you think it’s for us?”
CB: “Burke is a common name.  I’m sure it’s not.”
Me: “But it could be?”
CB’s Mum: “Did you buy Sydney a box of cupcakes?!”
CB: “No, let’s leave.” (getting a bit embarrassed by now)
I peek behind the till.  “But, it has MY name on it.”
CB: “Sure it does.”
I am handed the box.  “Look, it does!”  I open the box and all is revealed.  I thought he was going to hit the floor with shock.  After he eyes up the little figure of himself, I add: “I didn’t even want a cupcake.”

Less sneaky but equally as exciting (for me. Only me.) was the idea of eating on our short trip to Dublin.  As a thank you present for helping him with the application and interview preparation for his job (and probably for constantly stating how much I believe in him), CB bought two tickets to see Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance in the Gate Theatre in Dublin. [Go!  See it!  Bring a wee hand fan because it is boiling inside!]  We already had our mind set on where to eat dinner before the show, but we still had an opening for lunch the next day.  CB sent me a link with gluten-free possibilities to browse, and there it was.  The restaurant that had managed to slip my mind that I used to obsess over visiting.


It was somehow a hundred times better than I even imagined it.  We got there just before the major lunch crowd, so we got a table just as we got our food.  By crowd I mean that the queue was completely out the door, and people were sharing every little corner of tables just to be able to eat.  The menu is a set of blackboards behind the counter.  Not everything is gluten-free, but everything is vegetarian.  There was a legend hanging above the blackboard explaining what was egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, chili-free, vegan, etc.  It truly felt empowering not to have to ask what was in something before I ordered.  I am aware that that last statement will sound completely alien to anyone without dietary restrictions, but I felt like I owned the place when I ordered my food.


THIS was the amazing, empowered meal I had.  Curry and rice with sweet potato, carrot, chickpea, fine beans, and broccoli; kidney bean, tofu, and rocket salad; and a garlic and almond potato salad.  100% vegan, 100% gluten-free, 100% giddy-inducing.  Eat there.  Just do it.


Don’t Let Them Get You Down

The title of this post is directed, mainly, at myself.  I’m reminded everyday that I have an issue, a condition, something that makes me different.  It’s not presented as a particularly negative thing, but I can’t help but sometimes internalise it as such.

My husband CB and I are in a transitional period.  For a while, we weren’t sure which side of the ocean we would be calling home.  The lease on our house was up in July, there was one more job over here that wouldn’t be decided until August, and, well, visas take a while to process.  Short term leases are really only available on efficiency apartments or really poorly everything-ed student houses.  So, we’ve been living in CB’s parents’ house for the past month.  They have been gracious and welcoming, but then there’s the food thing.  As they want to be accommodating, and the family dinner is often a big deal, I’m forever hearing, “Can you eat this?”, “Where is good for you?”, “Which is better: X or Y?”.  I know that every one of those sentences means they are trying, they are considering me, and they are not just leaving me to fend for myself, but I can’t help but remember that, in our own house, it was simply a given.  I can eat this, I can’t eat that.  It wasn’t really discussed unless it was in a positive way: “Guess what I just learned I can eat!”

CB got the job — which I’m convinced was the only job left in Northern Ireland — so we begin our house hunting today.  Visas get put off a while longer.  I get to start planning my new kitchen.

I can’t say that my time in this house has been without inspiration.  I’m referring to the Olympics but trying to steer clear of being just another blogger talking about the Olympics.  I’ve been learning (and educating) about athletes that are Celiac/gluten-intolerant.  Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis player who failed to place in these Olympics but won Wimbledon in 2011, has a gluten intolerance.  In fact, he credits his Wimbledon title to this discovery, as he was able to train longer, harder, and faster once he omitted gluten from his diet.  Jenn Suhr, Gold medalist in the pole vault for the USA, tested positive for Celiac Disease only last year.  She was finding it difficult to maintain her strength in training sessions and would even put off eating solid foods until after the training day was done.  She eliminated the gluten and brought home a gold medal this year.

What I’m not saying is that not eating gluten will take you to the Olympics.  What I am saying is that, even with a condition that can be so depressing and something that factors into your daily life, you can excel to whatever level is appropriate for you.  I need to lose all this weight from my medical ups and downs (mostly downs) last year, but I’ve often allowed lethargy and stomach pain stop me from pushing myself.  But, I’m going to do it.  I’ve got the swimsuit hanging in the wardrobe.  I brought my tennis racket over from where it sat, dusty, in my parents’ house in America.  I’m going to do it.

I might just leave the pole vaulting to Suhr, though.