Christmas parties, puppies and a new local burger joint opens

And like that we’ve got only 2 full weekends before Christmas! WTF. I mentioned in last Friday’s newsletter last Friday’s newsletter that I liked December because it feels like a short month.

I think I should probably take that back. This month is looking just a bit too short for me.

But in spite of all that, December is certainly the most fun month of the year. I think it’s quite funny how people seem suddenly desperate to catch up with everyone they know before the new year begins.

What it means is there are lots of opportunities to spend time with friends, which is the best part of this time of year.

In this week’s IG Edition, we’re already a few Christmas parties down, we’re also spending time with our new friend: our nephew’s little puppy and we’re exploring a new burger joint that’s worth a visit.

We hope you enjoy this IG Ed.

Cheers

Jim & Christina xx

We start this IG Edition being very sociable! Our friends Dave and Deb from travel blog idol The Planet D are in town, so we’ve caught up with them in Darling Harbour for lunch.

With us are also Michael Turtle – an amazing travel journalist and blogger for Time Travel Turtle – and a couple of new friends from the Old Country Angela and Paul.

It’s always fascinating when travel writers get together – probably because by our very nature, we’re rarely in the same place at the same time. So being able to talk shop with these guys is awesome. They’re also excellent company of course!

Deb and Dave are actually in Sydney to hop on a cruise – somewhere here on the Amsterdam in fact. They’re working with Holland America to see what it’s like aboard one of their ships and will be sailing round the Pacific for the next couple of weeks.

They’re excited about the trip, but they’re also keen to get home as they’ve just moved to a new place in Toronto.

We’ve decided to hop down to the water and wave them off… and have a sneaky sundowner too. Why not?

Mrs Romance is out tonight for a Christmas party. This one is at Archie Rose Distillery in Rosebury. It’s a fitting venue as she’s here to celebrate women working in Australian distilleries. There aren’t many of them, but the good news is that number is on the up.

Compared to the 200+ men in the craft spirits industry here in Australia, there are only 14 women.

As Mrs Romance listens to the speakers and the MC Kath Davies from Nip of Courage, she’s tasting a few tipples from around the country, including Black Gate‘s rum, which is made by our mate Genise Hollingworth out at Mendooran, NSW.

Alongside the distilleries, companies like the Aussie Tipple Company run, supporting Australian craft distilleries by creating amazing products. We’re big fans of the Aussie Tipple Co, which produces ready-to-drink mixed cocktails.

We love the Negroni they make using Stone Pine’s gin. And the rum Old Fashioned using Black Gate’s rum is one of my personal favourite.

If you haven’t been to Archie Rose Distillery yet, make sure you check it out at some point. The bar, which is literally under 2 metres away from the distillery itself, is beautifully decked out.

It’s a wonderful experience to be able to drink the gin and vodka they make just across the way. And when their whisky is ready (the first batch is still aging in those barrels), it’ll be even better.

This evening we’re at Barangaroo – the huge development that’s set to be the city’s new CBD and entertainment district. We’re here to party with Sony at their end-of-year celebrations.

We’re long-time fans of Sony. We’ve had their TVs for years and I’ve always been a Playstation guy, never Xbox. So it’s good to hang out here and enjoy a glass of bubbly or two.

The Sony party is above their offices in Untied, a fun rooftop bar with views out over the water and Barangaroo. It’s a great little spot and definitely one we’ll be visiting again over summer.

Beware of the dog!

This is Raven, our nephew’s birthday present. Absolutely adorable, isn’t she? We’ve been puppy-sitting recently while everyone’s been at work and at school. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. She’s so tiny she can only just get in and out of her bed.

You won’t believe how many photos we’ve got of this little delight. It took a lot to cut it down to publishing just these two. If it’d gone Mrs Romance’s way, this would’ve been a post just with photos of Raven!

Meanwhile, in the front garden…

This is Monte, the family cat. In the past, she’s been the classic aloof feline, avoiding all contact unless she deems it a fit moment. And then when she’s had enough, she’ll let you know.

Now that Raven’s come along, she’s realised that she has to up her cuteness game. Gone are the days of on-demand attention and the ability to dismiss her humans whenever she wishes. She’s got to work for it now.

I’ve never seen such a turn-around in a pet’s character. Before, Monte would run away or complain if you tried to stroke her. Now she laps it up. And I swear even her coat feels softer.

Back to business, we’re in a local favourite of ours: Wilhelmina’s in Balmain. This is an awesome bar with an excellent wine and spirits menu, and some real talent behind the jump.

Their gin list here is enviable, so I rarely pass up a martini when we come here. And they always have something different for me to try.

This time, Mikey’s put together this beauty with gin from a distillery called Destilería Urbana Santamanía in the heart of the Spanish capital.

This gin, called Lola y Vera after Santamanía’s two beautiful copper pot stills, has crushed apple in the mash, hence the garnish. This means you get a delicious light crisp texture and flavour to gin. It’s so smooth it could make a wolverine purr.

Mrs Romance has gone for a gin and tonic using London Distillery’s Kew Organic Gin, which is full of citrus and spice. Delicious.

The guys here at Wilhelmina’s are gin mad and – if you want to get them really excited – go in and talk to them about the coming Ginuary event they’re planning. Throughout the month of January, Wilhelmina’s will be hosting a range of gin-inspired evenings promising to educate, captivate and inebriate!

Keep up to date with Wilhelmina’s via their newsletter here.

Burgerhood

Wilhelmina’s has recently evolved its kitchen to become a burger joint. In fact this is the first burger-focused eatery in Balmain, which is very exciting. We present you with Burgerhood.

We’re catching up with our mate Steph to see whether Burgerhood hits the mark. It’s busy this evening, so it’s just as well we had a quick drink beforehand to relax us!

The vibe is American diner style and the menu is pretty simple, which makes it easy to choose what you want. I hope they expand the menu a bit though, just to hold people’s interest.

Burgerhood

I’ve gone for the double cheeseburger and regular fries, and I’m pretty happy. There’s plenty of cheese and sauce, the burgers are nicely cooked to my taste – a little pink in the middle – and the whole thing holds together well.

Steph has also gone for a cheeseburger, but only the single. A decision she is ruing after seeing mine!

Burgerhood

Mrs Romance has ordered the bloody mary burger – a spicier alternative to the cheeseburger as it comes with a horseradish sauce. She’s also chosen the sweet potato fries instead of the regular ones and seems happy with that. I don’t really like sweet potato fries, but these were the best version I’ve tried.

Is Burgerhood a world-beater? No – not yet anyway. The burgers are good with plenty of flavour (they use chuck and brisket in the patties, plus a bit of smokey bacon for fun). The buns are excellent – potato buns instead of the now over-done brioche. And I like the cheese they use too.

I’m looking forward to seeing the kitchen get a bit more adventurous down the track – really believe in their skills and push it. I’ll certainly be back here though.

Image courtesy of feeedspot.com

We were thrilled to receive the news that we had been voted No.3 best couples travel blog by Feedspot. There are some amazing blogs on the list. Check it out here.

Last but by no means least, we have exciting news from our lovely friends Carly from Smaggle and Kelly Exeter from A Life Less Frantic. They work together on a podcast called Straight and Curly (you should check it out), and they’ve just released their first book.

The book – as you can see – is called A Real-Life Approach to Diet and Lifestyle Detoxes. It’s an honest, no BS guide inspired by one of the most popular 3-part episodes on Straight and Curly.

You can get their book here in PDF, Kindle or even hardcopy formats.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this IG Edition.

Chat again soon – Jim & Christina xx

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