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shortlist no. 20 / december 31, 2010

January 2, 2011

Sydney is famous for its New Year’s Eve fireworks. (My mother called me from Israel to tell me she was watching Sydney’s light show on the five o’clock news.) There’s a show at 9 pm and another at midnight, and the effects shoot off from three (or is it four?) different points in the bay, ensuring a view from almost anywhere.  Tens of thousands of people packed onto Bondi beach for a concert followed by a fifth fireworks display. The parks were home to late night picnics and spirited reveling. The warm weather means everyone is out on the streets, howling along with the terrified dogs, until the wee hours. Sydney is the capital of New Year’s Eve. Sorry, New York. Your ball’s got nothing on us.

This year, though, we didn’t really feel like celebrating. Just a few days ago we lost someone very dear in Italy so,  since we couldn’t be there, we wanted nothing other than to be alone: a party of three, a bottle of bubbly and a candle.

We packed up our supplies and the dog and headed to a friend’s empty apartment where we hoped to glimpse the fireworks. Francesco had suggested his crab pasta, one of his – and my – favorites. And though he balks at the expression “comfort food,” I realized that was exactly what he needed. It’s simple, substantial and soothing. And this time, as we made it with just claw meat (rather than a mixture of claw and lump) it was extra delicious.

For the rest of the meal, we indulged in Iggy’s bread (which, at $6 a ficelle it makes me wonder if it was imported from Massachusetts) and a (disappointing) prepared salad from Madam Char Char. I bought a few peaches and baked them (more on that tomorrow), and bought Sydney’s best ice cream to go alongside.

It wasn’t a celebration. It wasn’t a party. At midnight I peaked my head over the balcony but came back in after a few minutes.

After all, all that was important was waiting for me inside.

New Year’s Eve dinner for 2

bread & cheese

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crab pasta

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deli salad of peas, broccoli and ricotta salata

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baked stuffed peaches with gelato

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