IT’S a tasty Tuesday of Gorgeous Geisha’s and Konichiwa Kimonos and while I have never seen Mount Fuji, or Japan itself, nor marveled at the famed Rising Sun, there’s plenty of reason to smile. Back in Brisbane briefly between travel assignments, I’ve taken a delicious detour to the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) to preview the menu for The Coffee Club Telethon Ball 2015. It’s a Journey to Japan I’m taking this delightful day, all plated up and easy to digest for this hungry traveller. And the cause is equally as evocative. Staged to raise money to fund vital research into the most devastating childhood cancers, The Coffee Club Telethon Ball is considered to be one of the most vibrant charity balls in Queensland.
More than 1200 guests are expected to attend this year’s ball on October 17 at BCEC with this year’s theme inspired by the story of the ancient Japanese Peace Crane. A stunning 17,000 suspended and folded paper cranes will decorate the venue in a bid to bring luck, good fortune and health. And these kids need it. Kids such as a little boy called Connor who at the age of three developed a temperature and started having difficulty walking. Three days later Connor’s parents were told that he had numerous tumours in his abdominal area, pelvis, spine and right knee and he was officially diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma. The next day Connor began treatment and has since endured six months of intensive chemotherapy, major surgery, a bone marrow transplant, radiotherapy and six months of immunotherapy. On May 18 this year, after more than a year of treatment, Connor “rang the bell” to signify his last chemotherapy treatment at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
Money raised from the 2014 ball enabled the Children’s Hospital Foundation to continue to fund research to achieve faster diagnoses, better treatments and ultimately cures for the most devastating childhood illnesses.
“Thanks to research, kids are now surviving cancer more than ever before, however, little boys and girls still lose their fight and this event makes sure less lose the fight,” The Coffee Club’s John Lazarou says.
“There’s always more we can do for our sick kids and that’s why we need your help. Kids like Connor and so many more need us, and we need to step up and say to them ‘we are here’. Is there any better call to answer?”
BCEC Executive Chef Martin Latter pays homage to Japan in this innovative menu, while giving his trademark nod to local produce such as fresh Queensland crab and prawns. The result: delectable dishes dressed up in creative course names such as The Rising Sun Starter in which guests will be treated to the likes of Tuna Tataki Salad with Matsuhisa Dressing; Octopus Carpaccio with Pickled Daikon; Green Wakame; Fried Eggplant with Miso Sauce; and Vegetable Tempura.
The Konichiwa Kimono Entrée consists of Hoisin Glazed Chicken, Water Chestnuts, Bamboo Shoots, Toasted Sesame Caramel Dressing; and Marinated Salmon, King Prawn, Spanner Crab, Avocado Shiso Leaves, Daikon, and Miso Mayonnaise.
The Mount Fuji Main promises to be as grand as the famed landmark boasting Grilled Wagyu Beef Fillet, Enoki & Shitake Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Teriyaki Glaze; and Breast of Corn Fed Chicken, Sushi Rice, Fava Beans, Fried Leeks, Fragrant Chicken, Ginger, and Spring Onion Glaze.
Possibly my favourite course of all, not only because it’s sweet but also due to its description, is the Gorgeous Geisha Dessert of Fruit Sushi: Crepes, Rice Pudding, Mango, Coconut and Strawberries; and Lychee & Honey Mousse, Vanilla Bean Coral Sponge, White Chocolate & Green Tea Crumble, and Almond Milk Jelly.
Hosted by Channel 9’s Catriona Rowntree and The Today Show’s Karl Stefanovic, Lisa Wilkinson and Richard Wilkins, the Who’s Who of sport, television and music will grace this event. Consider taking your taste buds on a journey to Japan to help those less fortunate closer to home. To find out more, go to http://www.tcctelethonball.com.au/
Twas the night before Christmas
And all through Brisbane
The Global Goddess continued
Her hunt for some men
Her stockings were hung
On the back deck with care
With hope she could catch
Saint Nick in her lair…
MY Christmas tree is older than me. And, if possible, even daggier. This story begins some 46 years ago, when my parents were first married and bought their first Christmas tree. Every year that tree would come on holidays with us to the Gold Coast, shoved into the Kingswood with me, my three sisters, and our budgie. And every year it would return home with us. Until one day, one of our uncles gifted us a brand, spanking, new tree, and our original tree was retired.
Some years ago, I somehow stumbled across it and adopted it like a long, lost family member. I am not a particularly nostalgic person, and yet I love this tree. It speaks to me of sublime summers on the Gold Coast, hot, scratchy nights with sand in the sheets, sunburn on the skin and mozzies. Of bleached hair, sandcastles and waking up on Christmas morning to new summer swimmers, pink pyjamas and adventure books. That’s the thing with memories. You can’t muck around with them.
The other day a friend was telling me about a sad scene he encountered while out shopping. Picture two little kids and their mother in a wheelchair. The kids were skipping along the path, excitedly chattering about the new clothes they were about to buy for Christmas. Until they arrived at the store and it was closed. The store was St Vincent’s de Paul and, being run by volunteers, was operating on limited hours. But these little kids didn’t know this and started crying. Their wheelchair-bound mother had what appeared to be a slight seizure. My friend froze. Impotent with the scenario unfolding before him and, with a wallet full of credit cards but no cash, unable to assist. He came home and wept.
An acquaintance of mine talks about his work Christmas party the other night. In a bid to survive the bullshit and big egos which have dogged him all year, he decided to bring his own festive cheer in the form of an illegal substance. It was this illegal substance which he was casually dipping into his drink when his bully of a boss came over, demanded my acquaintance hand over the drink to his boss, who couldn’t be bothered to wait at the bar for his own. Apparently, the boss was in an uncharacteristically jolly mood for the rest of the evening.
Everyone I talk to seems to speak of a tough year. The headlines have been peppered by sadness, loss, tragedy. Global economic conditions seem to have spawned a new breed of bully bosses. More and more people such as that woman in the wheelchair are buying their children clothes from charity shops.
But I also believe it’s a season for hope. I’ve personally asked Santa for a hot tradie under my daggy old Christmas tree, which, if it happens, could possibly constitute a break and enter, if not a miracle. It’s a time to rejoice and to reflect. Look towards the future with optimism. Try to be a better person. Express a bit of gratitude.
On that note, I wish to thank everyone who has followed, read, laughed and cried with The Global Goddess this year. I’ll be back in 2013 with more stories, more travels and, if Santa knows what’s good for him, maybe even a bloke or two.
If you have your own Christmas story to share, I’d love to hear it, via a comment below.
In the meantime, I wish you peace on earth.