THE STORY OF US ….part two ( scroll down for part one)

We landed in KL, spent a night in a seedy backpackers in China Town then caught a train to Penang, where we crossed over to Indonesia by ferry to Medan, followed by a 12 hour bus trip across Sumatra to Sibolga on the west coast from where we caught another overnight ferry out to Nias. We did a quick shop in Guningstioli and then caught the local bus to Sirombu (a five hour drive) on the other side of Nias, where we hired a fishing boat to take us out to our final destination, the tiny island of Asu in the Hinako group. It was a crazy trip, a non stop assault on the senses, from the heat and smells of the city, the 4am cry of the mosque that had me sitting bolt upright in bed fearing for my life (where we stayed in Medan was right across the road from the biggest mosque in the city!) to the surreal experience of riding along the  potholed road on a becak (rickshaw)  in Guningsitoli as dawn broke through the coconut palms. 

I will never forget the feeling or the sound as I dove under the clear blue water of Asu and heard the tinkle of coral as the waves gently lapped at the shore, washing away the grime and  chaos of the trip and coming up to the most exquisite little piece of paradise I had ever seen. We found some accommodation in a homestay and quickly settled in to where would be our home for the next two months. 

Asu is a tiny island, there were about 15 families living there at that time, about 70 people in total. There was one tiny shop where you could buy a few very basic dried goods, a little bamboo church and lots and lots of coconut trees. Copra ( smoked coconut flesh for oil) and fishing were the only industry as well a little bit of homestay tourism. There were a couple of Belgian guys who had built some bungalows and sold ice cold beer and soft drinks ( and nothing else). You could walk around the island in two hours, if you took your time, and across the middle in half an hour. There were no cars or motorbikes, the only transport was a hand made wheel barrow. The major attraction, was the incredible reef break off the point of the island that was the draw card for the surfers and the reason we had ventured to such a remote location. 

During our two months on Asu we lived with a local family, learned to speak basic Indonesian, swam, snorkeled and Channa surfed almost every day. I hung out with the local women, learned to cook their dishes, and was fascinated by their culture. At night we’d wander up to the Belgians and drink Bintangs with other surfers, telling tales of chasing waves around the world, laughing and joking and dancing into the early hours of the morning. We had found paradise!

After two months our visa was about to expire so we repeated the journey in reverse, all the way back to Penang. We spent a few days here, eating our selves silly, with some of the best street food in the world. Georgetown in Penang has a rich cultural mix of Malays, Indians and Chinese. Their food cultures are all so strong and vibrant. Yum cha, roti chanai, curries served on banana leaves in packed little eating houses, fried noodles of every description, tandoori cooked in drums on the sidewalk and tropical fruit I had never seen in my life. After a diet of rice, fish and a few green vegetable on the island we were in foodie heaven!

After a few days we renewed our visa we headed back on the long journey to Asu. We could have happily stayed there forever but we knew we had to find some way to keep traveling, so one day when a big steel yacht the “Old Salt” pulled up to the surf break, Channa paddled over and asked the American skipper, Bob if he needed any crew, he said he did and the fact that Channa had just completed his skipper’s ticket and was a chef as well got him the job instantly...but there was one condition on which he could take the job....he had to take his wife!  “Can she cook?” asked Bob

“Of course!” Channa  lied and so began the next chapter in our adventure....

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 MICHELLE AND ISAAC

Let me introduce you to some of the awesome couples we have the pleasure of getting to know and catering for on their wedding day..... Michelle and Isaac Retchless were married at ‘The Barn’ in Cooroibah in April this year. As soon we visited the property I could see why they fell in love with the place.   The sprawling property holds surprises around every corner, a rustic horse drawn wagon, a little wooden footbridge spanning a lily pond, the dramatic pine forest where the ceremony was held and the most impressive feature .... the American style wooden barn. With it’s exposed wooden beams, rough sawn timber and vintage casement windows, it truly is  a labour of love that creates the perfect atmosphere in which to celebrate.  

There is the cutest little purpose built kitchen beside from where we served up Mexican canapes of jalepeno poppers, southern fried chicken with home made barbecue sauce  and grilled corn on the cob followed by pulled pork, chipotle chicken and black bean and vegetable fajita tacos in little individual boxes. The food was served festival style, where guests come and help themselves, creating a relaxed vibe and saving a heap of money! 

 Here is a little bit from Michelle about their special day. 

How did you meet?

Isaac and I met through mutual friends at church. I still remember saying "Isaac is the FUNNIEST guy I have ever met" (and I still think it is true to this day!) 

How did he propose?

I don't think you will get a more unique proposal haha Isaac proposed with ... a sweet potato! The words "Will you marry me?" were inscribed in the potato. It was based off a company we saw on Shark Tank called Potato Parcel, who make a living sending people messages on potatoes. It was perfect, unique, something we had personally shared together years prior and it still makes me laugh to this day! (As a joke we gave everyone a sweet potato inscribed with a pun as our Wedding Favour) 

Tell me a bit about your wedding planning process, who was involved?

This was probably my favourite part, we shook up the norms and didn't have ANY bridesmaids or groomsmen. While we had lots of support from family & friends (which we couldn't of done it without them), it meant everything was exactly how Isaac and I wanted. It also made the whole journey extremely fun, as we both involved in every part - including shopping for my dress (Isaac chose it) and his suit. 

What was unique about your wedding?

We really tried to make it exactly how we wanted, we didn't stick to meaningless traditions and we stayed true to what we wanted from the start. We got married in a pine forest, we didn't have bridesmaids or groomsmen, we had the BEST tacos ever, the coolest Kombi photobooth and most of all we had fun. 

Why did you choose Journey Street Food as your caterer?

We knew we wanted tacos, so when I stumbled across Journey Street Food's Instagram and saw the most delicious street food, I had to enquire and we are so glad we did! Journey Street Food completely fulfilled our desires and they were able to cater for Isaac's love of fried chicken, along with providing the greatest entrees and tacos! Our guests still mentioned how much they enjoyed the food! 

What are your favourite memories of the day?

There was so many, but we were in awe by the speeches! Words can't explain, how genuine and loving our friends and family were in this moment. We were both humbled, grateful and so appreciative. Best. Day. Ever. 

( Photos: Samuel Lowther )

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( photo Journey Street Food)

( photo Journey Street Food)


THE STORY OF US…. Part one:

I love a good story. I love hearing about how people met, where they grew up, how they came to be where they are today. Maybe I’m a little overly curious...I consider myself interested. So I thought I’d use this platform to do a little story telling…. our story…. the stories of some of the people we cater for....maybe your story...who knows?...

Let’s start with our story, Channa’s and mine (Ruby) how we met, our lives previously and the crazy journey we’ve been on to get where we are now. Then come with us as we discover what’s in store for the future. 

Channa and I met through mutual friends in Coolum Beach, on the Sunshine Coast. I was 19, studying childcare and living by the beach in Yaroomba. He was working out at sea on fishing boats and living just up the road with a bunch of crazy artists and fishermen. We were both partying pretty hard and on quite self destructive paths and knew that something had to change. On a camping trip down the south coast of NSW I took Channa to visit the commune, Tuntable Falls, just out of Nimbin, where I had spent my early childhood years. It is situated in a long valley that stretches from a lush rainforest encircling a towering waterfall at one end to open rolling farm land at the other. He fell in love with the place and decided then and there that this was the place he was looking for. We decided to move down there together as soon as possible. We came back to Coolum, packed our few belongings and moved down to a little wooden shack “The Star House” in Pixie’s valley. It had no bathroom or kitchen ( in fact no running water at all) and no electricity. Our rent was to keep the lantana from overtaking the place. We spent the next two years here learning about ourselves and each other, detoxing from our previous lives and rebuilding a new one together. I worked at the preschool on the commune and Channa went to marine college in Ballina and completed his skipper’s ticket. We built a little lean to kitchen off the side of the shack and ran a pipe for water down from a spring on the hillside to a tank. From this tiny kitchen we’d hand roll and fill hundreds of samosas to sell in the local store and in town. Once a month we’d cook up a big curry feast at the local store and the community would gather to eat, play music and tell stories.

Whenever we could we’d do trips to the coast in our  VW kombi and camp in the sand dunes, surfing and exploring and dreaming of adventures to come. 

 We loved our life in hills and were almost about to settle down there but the wider world was calling...In June 1995 we were married in a beautiful ceremony beside the creek, by my Dad, surrounded by the Tuntable Community. Our ceremony was a mixture of Sri Lankan and Christian traditions. I wore a sari as did my 12 bridesmaids, we walked into the ceremony space with our families to the beat of the tabla. We had written our own vows. Channa’s included the lighting of a big brass lamp together, feeding each other coconut rice and him presenting me with a necklace of his Mother’s. We also had a reading from the Bible and exchanged rings. After the ceremony we headed to the community hall for the reception. Channa and his mother had made rice packets of Sri Lankan curry, wrapped in banana leaf and newspaper as you would find in small roadside stalls all over Sri Lanka. Many of our friends brought delicious meals to share. Another friend made beautiful bouquets of local wild flowers to decorate the hall. We ate, sat around an enormous bon fire and danced the night away. It was the wedding of my dreams, made so special by the contributions of so many members of the community, our friends and family.  Just two weeks later, after packing up, selling and giving away pretty much everything we owned we hopped on a plane for Kuala Lumpur, bound for Indonesia and the next chapter of our life together.....