A Brisbane visit, a paella lesson and a Harbourside Story

After last week’s trip to Melbourne, Christina is back on the road on another hair odyssey with Samsung and Optus – this time in Brisbane. 

Not only was the launch of the new Galaxy 10 in Queensland a success, Christina’s also brought home some great tips on where to eat and where to stay in Brisbane.

We’ve also got some interesting news on the Sydney Fish Market’s new location from General Manager Bryan Skepper, some hot tips on how to make a traditional seafood paella and a new harbourside show that’s not to be missed.

Hope you enjoy this Weekly Edition.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

Part 1 – Christina in Brisbane

My hair tour of the east coast is just about over and I have had a fabulous time in Brisbane.

Brisvegas changes so much that I hardly recognise it each time I go back. There’s always so much to explore and never enough time.

Hilton Hotel Brisbane

This visit I’m staying at the Hilton Brisbane, which is located right above Queen Street Mall. I imagine when it was built, the Hilton would have been amazing. While the rooms are just fine now, what really got me this time was the service.

The staff from concierge and the front desk couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly and really made my stay.

View from Hilton Hotel Brisbane

I don’t have a lot of free time up here in Brisbane, but I have managed to try some new places to eat, which I really recommend you try when you’re next in Brisbane – or if you’re lucky enough to live here of course!

Where to eat in Brisbane

Long Time Restaurant, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

Long Time, Fortitude Valley

Long Time doesn’t take bookings so we don’t risk it and arrive early and manage to nab the last table for two.

I am visiting with my friend Stacey, who’s moved from Sydney to Brisbane and is missing some good Thai food. I didn’t really think about it, but – as a broad brushstroke – Sydney really does have some of the best Thai food in Australia.

We were talking to a friend from Melbourne, who mentioned how Sydney’s Thai food is better than in Victoria. It’s rare for Sydney to score a compliment when a Melburnian’s comparing their hometown, so there must be something in that.

Anyway, Long Time does a pretty good job at allaying Stacey’s Thai food needs, so perhaps Sydney’s advantage is under threat!

Long Time Restaurant, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

Long Time Restaurant, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

Unfortunately I don’t have Jim with me to write a proper review. But if you are going to head there, I highly recommend you order the short rib. and the eggplant green curry is outstanding – such a rich, smoky flavour.

But everything we have is delicious so I doubt you can make a bad choice on this this menu.

Donna Chang, George Street

When looking for cool new places to eat in Brisbane, I always turn to my good friend Nikki Parkinson of Styling You.

Donna Chang is a modern Chinese restaurant situated in the most beautiful building on iconic George Street. Full of pastel pink tones (to match my hair) and with a few Seinfeld jokes thrown in too.

Donna Chang Restaurant, George Street, Brisbane

Donna Chang Restaurant, George Street, Brisbane

Donna Chang Restaurant, George Street, Brisbane

Donna Chang Restaurant, George Street, Brisbane

The service is impeccable, the cocktail list is intriguing and I am still thinking about that delicious spanner crab fried rice.

Stay for dessert and you’ll love the Seinfeld themed fortune cookies – as you’d expect from a place called Donna Chang’s!

Brisbane’s Hair Romance

My styling sessions up in Brisbane are going so well and I have had some of the loveliest girls in my chair.

Hilton Hotel Brisbane

It makes my year when my gorgeous nieces come to visit too. They’re both taller than me now, which kind of makes me a bit sad, but they are so beautiful I’ll get over it. It’s lovely to catch up with them even if only briefly.

My beautiful sister-in-law has also came to look after me and take me out for dinner and we have such a laugh. We go way back, and it’s so good to catch up and reminisce.

And after a crazy busy weekend, I have to give a big shout out to Dyan Copeman. Dyan is an absolute star, so if you’re looking for a hair and make-up artist in Brisbane, definitely reach out to her.

As I leave to head back to the airport, the heavens open over Brisbane and I wonder if my flight going to be cancelled. But I arrive back in Sydney just in time to make a Paella cooking class with Jim.

Back in Sydney – at the Sydney Fish Market…

Sydney Fish Market

Christina’s back from Brisbane just in time for us to get the hot news:

With a delegation of fellow members of the ASTW, we’re upstairs at the Fish Market to learn about the perhaps biggest development here since it was established in 1945. General Manager Bryan Skepper meets us to tell us all about it:

The markets will be moving from their current position around the bay to a bigger and completely modern location.

In fact the building, which from the look of the architects’ plans looks more like an airport terminal than a fish market, hasn’t been built yet. Development has started though, and has been in process since July 2014.

Bryan has high hopes for the architects – Danish company 3XM. As Bryan says: “Danes delivered on the Sydney Opera House and we have great expectations that they will again.”

View the architect’s design drawings here.

The ground floor, which will still act as a port for commercial fishing vessels, will be the wholesale trading zone and have glass-clad bidding room. The 1st floor will be home to the retail and restaurants, but there’ll also be places where you can look directly into the working machinery of the fish market.

The aim is for a “community marketplace built on a wholesale market, maintaining the authenticity of a working fish market,” Bryan explains.

Indeed, it’s being billed as more than just a fish market. The new building and its 3000 sqm of outdoor public space will be an “urban connector”. It’ll certainly allow more space for the 3-million+ visitors a year – the same number of all tourists going to Western Australia!

Even in its current premises, the Sydney Fish Market is in fact the second most visited place in the country after the Sydney Opera House and receives twice as many people annually than the Great Barrier Reef.

Sydney Seafood School at the Fish Market - paella lesson

After the briefing, we’re ushered into the Sydney Seafood School proper for a cooking demonstration by the lovely Fiona. She’s showing us how to make traditional seafood paella with blue swimmer crab, squid, mussels, vongole and prawns.

And we have to pay attention, because we’ve got to go away after this and make our own!

Sydney Seafood School is such an amazing resource a lot of locals probably don’t know about. It’s extremely well-run and has so many classes to take. Check out the SSS website to see all the cooking classes you can do.

Sydney Seafood School at the Fish Market - paella lesson

After our demo, we move into the kitchen and team up, ready to chop crab, muscle mussels and achieve ‘socarrat’ – the highly-prized crispiness at the bottom of a paella.

Sydney Seafood School at the Fish Market - paella lesson

Christina is on squid duty. It’s not as easy as she’s making it look!

Sydney Seafood School paella class Fish Market

I’m on stirring duty, which is as difficult as I’m making it look. In fact, the challenge is real here. Stirring the pot – my favourite past time – is what stops the socarrat from forming. I repeat my new mantra ‘I must not stir. I must not stir.’

Sydney Seafood School at the Fish Market - paella lesson

Team Paella in force! Left to right, Francesca Baldi from TravMedia, Keren Lavelle, me, Christina and Tracey Croke. Our paella is going nicely and is almost ready. Which is just as well – we’re hungry!

Sydney Seafood School at the Fish Market - paella lesson

Not a bad job – the top two of are our teacher Fiona’s masterpiece. The bottom two shots are of our paella. The fact that Fiona did hers in about half the time, completely on her own and teaching all of us at the same time shows you just how good she is.

Still, now we’ve had a crack, the next paella will be just as spectacular. In fact, here’s the recipe in full courtesy of Sydney Seafood School.

Sydney Seafood School at the Fish Market - paella lesson

Finally! Lunchtime. From the kitchen, we take our creation round to the dining room to feast on our efforts. And the Grenache rosé from Dandelion Vineyards in the Barossa is the perfect drop.

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens and the city in the background

This evening, Christina and I are making our way through the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens on Sydney Harbour to see a very special show.

In the very place that the Open Air Cinema was showing movies a week ago, the stage is now set for Opera Australia’s latest venture.

Far from Madame Butterfly or Nessun Dorma, Opera Australia‘s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour are doing a rendition of West Side Story!

Westside Story on Sydney Harbour - Handa Opera

The setup around the stage and arena is amazing. There are several bars and four different food outlets, including an oyster and champagne cart. Love this quiet garden spot people can sit and enjoy a drink before the show.

Westside Story on Sydney Harbour - Handa Opera

And high above the stage, looking out over the harbour is another bar. We stop in for a glass of bubbles – and a photo of course!

Westside Story on Sydney Harbour - Handa Opera

While we enjoy our champagne, the performers warm up and mingle before the show. The stage is not only elevated above the water, it’s at an angle so the audience can see everything that’s going on. It’s an amazing set.

Beneath the stage, the orchestra gets ready for a difficult musical to share with operatic style.

Westside Story on Sydney Harbour - Handa Opera

As the sun goes down, punters take their seats. From our spot, we’ve got the perfect view out over the harbour and – more importantly – onto the stage.

It’s an amazing performance with all the favourite songs from the show and the film. Here’s our review of this West Side Story performance and more details of tickets, food and the venue.

West Side Story by Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is on until 21st April 2019. Make sure you get your tickets soon though – this will definitely sell out.

Westside Story on Sydney Harbour - Handa Opera

It’s been a great week – yes, all this in just one week – and we’ve got a feeling there’s more good stuff still to come!

Cheers to that – Jim & Christina xx

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