All too often, the start to the new year is a bit of a slow one; lurching into gear and taking a few weeks to get up to full speed.
Not with 2022!
It’s been all go pretty much from the start for Christina and me. And while it’s been a bit of a surprise compared to the gentle toe-dipping of usual Januaries, at least it’s kept our minds occupied away from the evermore horrifying Covid19 infection rates in NSW, Australia and across the globe.
So in an attempt to pass on some of that wonderful distraction, here’s our first Weekly Edition of the year. It’s packed with incredible food and local travel, and even has a movie recommendation… which, thinking about it is all about food and travel too!
We hope you enjoy this Edition, and that you’re staying safe and well.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
It’s a strange, quiet New Year’s Eve for us. There were plans for a family get-together but they were scuppered by the pandemic, so Christina and I have stayed home and crept down to the waterfront to watch the Sydney fireworks at a safe distance – from the high explosives of course, but also from everyone else!
It’s lovely to be able to see the display in person again. Last year, the entire foreshore was closed to everyone bar a couple of special events. Let’s hope this is a good sign of things to come.
For some reason, I’ve agreed to come to the SCG to watch the first day of the Sydney Ashes.
Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place; either England are fielding (which is not going well) or the covers are on because of the rain. With the way the first two tests went, I’m not sure which I want to see more of.
The only upside to the day is I get to try the food here. Merivale have taken over the F&B contract for the whole stadium, and it’s a big improvement from the slop that you were forced to buy here before.
This is not from the SCG.
This is my present to myself for being a big brave boy! I managed to get my Covid booster shot today, and seeing as I’m in the area, I’ve popped in to Customs House Bar in the city for one of their excellent brisket double cheese burgers!
After lunch, I make my way to this view.
Tonight, Christina and I are staying at the Pullman Sydney Hyde Park to check out their extraordinary Park Suite by Coco Republic. It’s a glorious room with scenery to match. And as the sun goes down, the sky puts on a show too.
There are just so many beautiful details in this suite that make all the difference. From the crocodile skin texture furniture, art deco mirror frames, cute vases and curiosities, and exquisite lighting, you can see the difference the touch of an internationally renown designer like Coco Republic can make to a space.
We pull ourselves away from the luxury and comfort of our wonderful suite to explore the rest of the hotel and discover this.
High up on the 21st floor, the Pullman Sydney Hyde Park also has this – a lovely rooftop pool and fitness centre with views that span across the city and all the way over east to Rose Bay and beyond.
In spite of having the wealth of dining options quite literally on our doorstep, we’ve chosen to settle in for the evening.
Move over Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Potts Point, Chinatown and the CBD, room service at the Pullman Sydney Hyde Park is a way better option. It’s a night out and a night in at the same time!
The funny thing is we lived just round the corner in Surry Hills for over 10 years, so staying here is a bit like being back in our old hood.
We’ll have a full review of the Pullman Sydney Hyde Park and its stunning Park Suite by Coco Republic very soon.
This evening, we’re lucky to have been invited by Celebrity Cruises, who we’ve worked with quite a bit in the past, to a incredible feast that takes us around Italy. Each course (there are SIX!) visits a different part of the Italian coast, reminding us of things to look forward to when we can all travel safely again.
The first and second courses – a delicious spritz Aperol and the lightest most delicious focaccia with Pugliese olive oil (the best in Italy). Also a plate of vitello tonnato, which is the most unlikely partnership of thinly sliced veal tenderloin with tuna mayonnaise, capers and pine nuts. It shouldn’t work, but it’s a classic dish for good reason.
These dishes were created by Restauranteur of Ormeggio at The Spit, Chiosco by Ormeggio and a’Mare Sydney (where we are tonight in Barangaroo), Chef Alessandro Pavoni.
At the same time, we’re also served incredible flat cakes of baked ricotta with dishes of anchovy in a sublimely rich tomato sauce made by Jacqui Challino, the hugely talented Executive Chef at Nomad.
Next course is a real treat for me. Trofie al pesto. Trofie is my favourite pasta shape. It’s chewy, tasty and catches so much sauce. The pesto is being made on the spot by this lady. The only downside is that it’s shown us just how bad every pesto we’ve ever eaten has been.
This is a signature dish of a’Mare Sydney, so when you come here, make sure you order it.
There is a second pasta dish at the table – a seafood medley of trippa di baccala (salted cod) and sepia (cuttlefish) in a tasty tomato and white wine sauce with a pasta shape similar to penne called garganelli. This one is by Chef Guy Grossi.
Our next stop is to the island of Sardinia for their style of slow-roast suckling pig. This crispy-skinned masterpiece comes with the most amazing roast potato wedges and is the creation of Giovanni Pilu of Pilu at Freshwater fame.
The pork is extravagantly tender and the rich jus poured over blends perfectly with the rosemary sprigs.
Finally, dessert is down to our host Allesandro Pavoni. His tiramisu is rich and opulent and a great finish to the meal. I also enjoy a caffe corretto – an espresso with a shot of grappa on the side.
Usually I pour the grappa into the coffee to ‘correct’ it, but I’m told a new way from Veneto where they drink the coffee then rinse the cup with the grappa afterwards. Think this is my new favourite way to enjoy coffee!
It’s been a wonderful meal with excellent Italian wines to match. It’s made us yearn for the Italian coast even more though and a reminder of all the excellent things that both Celebrity Cruises and Good Food Month bring to our shores too.
When was the last time you went to the cinema?
For us it was the middle of December – just a couple of weeks ago – to see Delicious at the Palace Norton Street in Leichhardt. We love this cinema, and not just because after the film you can go next door for a really good pizza.
Palace cinemas feel so much more personal than the big mega-chain cinemas. Plus I love their wine glass measuring systems!
As for the movie, we whole-heartedly recommend Delicious. Set in 18th Century France before the times of restaurants, it’s a story of an undermined and disenfranchised chef who once cooked for French nobility.
Insulted and sacked for his adventurous dishes, the chef, his son and a mysterious woman intent on learning his craft and open the first ever restaurant for regular people.
Beautifully shot, well-acted and with a storyline that’s both endearing and captivating, this is a great place for both those who are starting out on the foreign film scene and for Francophiles and Film Française connoisseurs.
Warner’s Distillery in the English Midlands has produced some ground-breaking gin in the past. In fact its pink gin, which gets its colour from fresh rhubarb juice, really started with pink drink trend.
But this Honeybee Gin that Warner’s has brought out is really something.
Plenty of juniper and Warner’s usual London dry style, the Honeybee makes its move after your first sip with that unique savoury-sweet flavour of honey, which comes straight from the Warners’ bee hives.
Drink it as the best G&T you’ve ever had with an aromatic tonic like Fever Tree Mediterranean and a sprig of sage.
I’m cheating with this one a bit, but we didn’t have a chance to tell you about our night out at Greek restaurant Perama in Petersham just before Christmas. This place was on my top go-to list for ages after Christina and her friends went there and raved about it.
Then it closed down.
Thankfully though, Perama 2.0 opened in the same place with the same owner-chef, and it also happens to be our friends Stevie and Mel’s favourite spot.
The food is absolutely extraordinary – and there were lots of other dishes other than the ones we’ve shown you here. But that fried haloumi nest on the bottom right… wow! So do yourself a favour and book a table asap!
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx