Living, Loving and Sharing Life …

9/1/14

Today I share this post that I wrote late in November 2012 after a visit to Avé Cucina and Coffee Bar …

Day 325 of 366 Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

I have come home after being out for lunch for our friend Shirley’s 84th  birthday celebration. I have written about this slightly eccentric friend before on my blog so for those of you who have not read about her, let’s just say she is a very colourful personality and is always lively and full of debate. She is also amazing for her age!

The picture of Mary on the wall behind us at Avé Cucina

So today I gathered with six of Shirley’s friends to celebrate this milestone, in a little cafe called Avé Cucina and Coffee Bar a little further from home than usual. Have you noticed how nice it is to go somewhere different for a change? Well, this little café did take us by surprise.

Now, Shirley (who is an Anglo-Indian) is a devout Catholic and spent seven of her early years as a Missionary Sister with Mother Teresa in India. So when we turned up at this café, there on the back wall was a large frieze of Mary, Mother of Jesus clearly indicating that the Avé (with the grave over the é) was named after Mary.

Shirley was very taken with this (as we all were) as it is very rare that you see a café displaying such a religious motif so prominently in their premises. It gave a nice feel to our lunch as Shirley’s love of the Rosary is legendary to all those who know and love her.

As we all sat around the table, we felt that Mother Mary was watching over us as we ate and chatted, laughed uproariously and then shared Shirley’s birthday cake in a grand finalé gesture.

Don’t you love the way I am using the French flourish on all of the é(s) on this blog? Makes me want to go back to France and imbibe some more of their language and culture! Talking of other cultures, this café had some Lebanese food on the menu and the man taking our orders clearly looked foreign. Lebanese I wondered?

As I am part Lebanese, I asked him upon leaving and yes, he is indeed Lebanese and his wife is Italian. An interesting combination for sure. Still, we are seeing a mix of cultures marrying in Australia these days so this was not surprising. But this couple may be familiar to those of you who live in this country. Here is what one review said about them:

If the names Shadi and Veronica Abraham ring a bell, you’ve probably filed the moment they won the first series of Channel 7’s My Kitchen Rules in your memory bank.

Some of the ladies at lunch; Shirley in second from the right. Note the picture of Mary on the wall behind them.

Yes they won My Kitchen Rules in 2011 and with the $100,000 prize money, they opened Avé Cucina and Coffee Bar shortly afterwards. I believe the name Avé was named for Mary because they asked her to intercede for them to have a child when it seemed impossible. Their prayers were answered. Nice story isn’t it?

Anyway, back to our cultural experience. I was surprised on ordering a pot of tea that it arrived in a generous pot but the accompanying cup and saucer was very small … like small coffee cups. It reminded me of my six-year-old granddaughter Violet’s tea cups in her tea set! I should know this because Violet and I shared afternoon tea with her tea set.

During the winter we sat in the sun, on the wide terraces steps of her house, drinking the ‘real tea’ I made for her (and cooled down with tap water). Oh, we had a grand time together drinking tea that day. This was months ago now and Violet still likes to remind me: “Grandma, remember the day we had REAL tea?” I do indeed Violet; it meant a lot to her.

Well, drinking out of this small cup reminded me of that day folks. It took six cups of tea to empty the pot! Everyone around me was having a good chuckle about it but I wondered if these cups were Lebanese style even though my family never used such small cups for tea … coffee yes.

This led me to question Maria,  one of the ladies with us, who was originally from Budapest in Hungary, about a pot of tea Geoff and I had in Budapest when we were there in 2008. We were mystified then and continue to be mystified today about it. I was hoping our friend could help explain but alas,  she had no idea. Let me tell you about this pot of tea … from my Travel Journal.

“In Budapest in this beautiful huge cafe full of dark polished furniture from another era (the 1920s perhaps?) we had the strangest pot of tea. Both Geoff and I were given a teapot of hot water, and a mug of hot water, a mesh capsule of tea and sitting on the top of the teapot of water (where the lid normally sits) was a small container of honey.

I struggled to work it out but Geoff came to the rescue and figured it out. You put the mesh in the mug of water, not the pot. You keep making tea in the mug … NOT THE POT! It was beautiful tea once we got the idea.”

Inside Avé Cucina

So today when I saw that little cup and saucer and the strange pot of tea, my mind went back to being in Hungary where my friend Maria had escaped the communists with her family when she was 12 years old. I do not have the time to tell you her fascinating story, which she told me as we travelled in the car to the cafe today, but let’s just say a lot of miracles occurred that prevented her family from being caught as they were being  smuggled out of the country in 1954. One day I am going to get her story down on paper for it needs to be told.

So my dear friends, it has been an interesting day today. One of being exposed to different cultures and food, to stories that have had me intrigued and to meeting new people; all things I love doing.

Sometimes, we just have to get out of our own suburb and go somewhere further afield and have a little adventure that is out of the ordinary. It doesn’t take much to make life a little more interesting does it? And in this case, we’d had a truly multi-cultural experience.

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