ROBERTA Flack is killing me softly and Elton John keeps warning me not to go breaking his heart, but when you’re chopping up morel mushrooms at $1300 a kilogram, these things seem somewhat insignificant. It’s only when Tina Turner reminds me I’m simply the best, that things start to take shape. It’s a sultry summer afternoon on the Gold Coast and I find myself in the most saucy of scenarios: an aphrodisiac cooking course at the Sofitel, Broadbeach. Under the tutelage of the hotel’s Room 81 Executive Chef Bill Magno I am adding my own karma sutra slant on six dishes, which the restaurant will be recreating for guests on Valentine’s Day as part of a raunchy package.
The fact I seem to be romantically challenged is not lost on me. However the signs for this stay are good. There’s a painting hanging in the foyer by an artist called John Romeo, but before I can ponder his whereabouts, I am whisked to my 21st floor room overlooking the ocean, and in which awaits a cold bottle of French champagne. But this is no time to drink, at least until I get to the restaurant, where bottles and bottles of the fine French fizzy await me, plus a couple of big knives. A combination at home which has often found me in considerable trouble.
The menu, which will be replicated on February 14, starts out with a freshly shucked cupid oyster with a veuve cliquot champagne granite. We all know oysters are an aphrodisiac, but did you realise this is because they are high in zinc, which raises sperm and testosterone production, thus increasing libido? Clearly not my libido, I think as I try to shuck one of the slippery suckers with a sharp knife, while not shredding any major appendages.
The oyster is followed by a shaved jamon iberico with figs and almonds with a lemon marmalade dressing. Figs, it turns out, are a synonym in erotic literature for female sexual organs and so revered by the ancient Greeks when it came to fertility, they were more precious than gold. Almonds are also regarded as fertility symbols and those with almond-shaped eyes are considered sexy. This, I reflect, could be my problem. I don’t have almond-shaped eyes.
Next up are the seared nova scotian scallops, cauliflower silk, asparagus and morel mushrooms with a truffle vinaigrette. Given I spent a good hour peeling the asparagus, including some rather fancy white sprigs from Peru, I find it imperative to learn that this vegetable is said to stir up lust in men and women. I don’t know about lust but I have a blister on my thumb from all the peeling. Curiously, it is said to boost histamine production which is necessary to reach orgasm in both sexes. I mean, the peeling was fun, but it wasn’t THAT fun.
Main meal, if there is such a thing in a six-course production, is a lamb loin, crispy lamb breast terrine, broad beans, sunchoke puree, pommes fondant and anise jus. The sweet liquorice flavour of aniseed was believed by both the ancient Romans and Greeks to strengthen female sexual arousal. Now, we’re getting somewhere.
Vanilla and honey panacotta form the first dessert (yes, there’s multiple deserts on this menu), with a vanilla pod considered a mild nerve stimulant which can enhance sexual sensation. Honey, on the other hand, was once known as Aphrodite’s nectar and has long been associated with romance. I make a mental note to stop at the local beehive on the way home.
The night is not complete with an erect cherry soufflé, chocolate sauce and coconut sorbet. And we all know that chocolate is not only a vital food group but increases your body’s endorphin and serotonin levels. We finish dinner with tea, coffee and heart-shaped macaroons, all innuendo and any remaining cooking skills exhausted.
I head back to my room ready to retire my chef’s hat and apron but the hotel has other ideas in store for me. My rather enormous bed is covered in rose petals in the shape of a love heart. I’ve had one or two champagnes, so at first I think I’ve mistakenly entered someone else’s room. But I carefully slip myself under the doona – not unlike one would a slice a cheese into an already packed sandwich – and fall asleep laughing myself silly at cupid and his crooked bow. The next morning, with rose petals scattered all over the bed, the floor and a couple stuck to my face, and as I consider how I’m going to explain this carnage to the housekeeper, I reflect on life and love. My eye catches the bottom of the Valentine’s Day menu beside my bed, upon which is inscribed the words: “magnez bien, riez souvent, aimez beaucoup”. Which translated means: “eat well, laugh often, love much.” And so while I wait for cupid to get his damn arrow straight, this is what I plan to do.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Sofitel Broadbeach. To book this six-course feast, which includes a wine package of Australian, New Zealand and French varietals, priced at $225 per person; or the Deluxe Valentine’s Room package for $795 per couple, which includes an overnight stay and breakfast as well as the six-course dinner, go to http://www.sofitelgoldcoast.com.au
LOVE IS IN THE AIR
If The Global Goddess was getting married, she’d be more than a little excited about this package being offered by The Rees Hotel Queenstown in New Zealand. This luxury hotel is now offering exclusive Heli-Wedding packages in conjunction with Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters to remote mountain-top wedding ceremonies for those who want to tie the knot against one of the world’s most dramatic backdrops. The package, valued at NZ$2998 per couple, includes a raft of things including two nights’ accommodation in a Lake View one-bedroom apartment at The Rees Hotel Queenstown. There’s also breakfasts, wine, chocolate, champagne, celebrant and a wedding photographer, but the highlight is a return helicopter flight for the bride, groom, celebrant, photographer and two guests up to the Remarkables or Cecil Peak for their alpine wedding ceremony. Not for the first time this year, I find myself thinking that I need to just find a fella. http://www.therees.co.nz
SEX ON THE BEACH
While Christmas is almost upon us, it’s never too early to be thinking about Valentine’s Day (if you know what’s good for you). This week, The Global Goddess enjoyed the sultry sensation of an aphrodisiac cooking class at the Sofitel Broadbeach’s Room 81 restaurant. We’re talking dishes such as freshly-shucked cupid oyster in a veuve clicquot champagne granite; seared nova scotian scallops with cauliflower silks with asparagus, morel mushrooms and a truffle vinaigrette; and a cherry soufflé, chocolate sauce and coconut sorbet. This class was to preview this luxury Gold Coast’s hotel’s raunchy and romantic Valentine’s Day/night package. To book this six-course feast, which includes a wine package of Australian, New Zealand and French varietals, priced at $225 per person; or the Deluxe Valentine’s Room package for $795 per couple, which includes an overnight stay and breakfast as well as the six-course dinner, go to http://www.sofitelgoldcoast.com.au
CARING ABOUT CAMBODIA CALENDAR
In May this year I penned a blog about Australian photographer Danielle Lancaster, who owns Blue Dog Photography. Danielle has been travelling to Cambodia for years and can’t shake her bewilderment at how the Pol Pot regime had ravaged its own people, the effects of which are still being experienced decades later. In 2011, she gained sponsorship to produce a calendar, the proceeds of which meant they could build two new classrooms and desks with a white board for local school children. In 2012, Blue Dog Communities was formed with the sales of last year’s calendar going towards replacing the school’s palm frond floors with cement for the children. This year’s calendar is ready to go to print, and in exciting news at Global Goddess headquarters, a photo take by me (pictured below) when I was in Phnom Penh last year, will also be featured. To order a copy of this calendar, which will go towards more valuable community work, please go to https://www.facebook.com/bluedogcommunities and to find out more about Lancaster’s annual photographic tour to Cambodia, go to http://www.blue-dog.com.au
IT’S A KIND OF MAGIC
The Global Goddess is pretty good at pulling a rabbit out of the hat, particularly when it comes to tight deadlines, but this bloke takes the cake. Acclaimed Australian illusionist Michael Boyd will open the famed live magic extravaganza Mystique at Sea World Resorts Ocean Theatre on the Gold Coast from January 1 to 31. Taught by his magician grandfather all the tricks of the trade by the age of 13, Boyd’s show will feature some of the world’s most impressive illusions as well as jaw-dropping escapes, levitations, transformations, special effects and mind-blowing disappearances. Since it premiered in Melbourne in 2009, more than 100,000 people each year have seen this show packed with new acts and extravagance. Shows will run from Tuesday to Sunday at 7.30pm plus special matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. http://www.SeaWorldResort.com.au
A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE FOR GLOBAL GODDESS READERS
Speaking of magic (or what I’d like to call a Christmas miracle), The Global Goddess has a surprise in store for her followers. Details to be announced early next week! http://www.theglobalgoddess.com
HE called himself “Gregarious Guy” and my word was he witty…on paper. To put you in the picture, my internet dating profile goes a little like this: “Secret Agent…I could tell you the truth that I am secret agent Natascha from Minsk, but then I’d have to kill you. Let’s just pretend instead that I’m a down-to-earth Brissie girl…”
And I loved his response. “Dear Natascha, very clever to disguise yourself as a down-to-earth Brissie girl. I think the last time I met you was in Amsterdam on the M15 cover up job. Do you remember me? I had a moustache at the time. I would have loved to have taken you out for a drink but I was teamed up with that tall Armenian woman Rhona. She was a real handful! Yes, I am also stuck here in Brisbane. Those American idiots in the CIA will never think to look for us here. Let me take you out for a drink. Do you still have a weakness for Vodka?”
To writers, word play is like foreplay. Punctuation is our porn. And if you are any good at alliteration, I will have your children. And with Klaus, I was hooked. He had me at hello.
And then we met. It was a cold, wet winter’s night more suited to secret agents than a slothful Brisbane girl who was slightly resentful at having to surrender her pajamas and hot water bottle for dress-up gear, but never let it be said I don’t give things a go. And so off I trotted into Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley to meet in a dimly-lit wine bar.
I was the first to arrive. I ordered a champagne and perched myself on a bar stool. I was aware I looked a little like a “working girl” waiting for a client. I tried not to look like a working girl. His first fatal error was he was late. I don’t care if you’ve just passed a kidney stone, you don’t turn up late for first dates or job interviews. In fact, a little early is pretty good in my opinion. There were so many opening lines he could have used, but instead, he stared right at me and simply said: “So, here you are.” I looked back awkwardly. “Yes, I am.” By this stage, I had almost finished my champagne, bar a drop. He walked to the bar, and ordered himself a drink. There was no offer for me, which wouldn’t have been quite so bad if “gregarious guy” wasn’t so dull. It occurred to me 5 minutes into the meeting that I’d need to be rather intoxicated to survive this evening.
He was 52. He spoke about power lines and moving back to live with his mother to save money. Red flags were jumping out all over the place. He told me about his second cousin. Forty-five minutes into the date, he asked me to dinner. By this stage, I was stone, cold sober.
“Yes, I am hungry but I’m going to go home as I’ve got an important meeting tomorrow,” I replied. And at the same moment I went to shake his hand, he went to kiss me in another of those awkward exchanges you wish you could erase. I dashed out of the bar and made my way home, starving. I stopped at my local Ceylon restaurant and ordered a champagne and a takeaway prawn curry.
“Where shall I sit while I’m waiting for my curry?” I asked the lovely waiter.
And right in the front of the restaurant full of diners he motioned towards a throne. A carved wooden throne. Perfect, I thought, climbing up onto the regal perch, careful not to spill a drop of champagne. I may have started out the evening as a secret agent (if you ignore that brief stint as a “working girl”), but at least I ended it as a princess.
As for Klaus, he texted three days later. He told me he loved my “energy” but didn’t feel any chemistry between us. Then he asked me out again. I’d love to Klaus, really I would, but Natascha has been sent to Dubrovnik on assignment. Indefinitely.