Beach burgers, crazy dumplings and a sad curry

It’s a funny feeling when the craziness of Christmas and the start of a new year starts to fade into the background.

Every year’s the same.

It’s like when you start learning to ride a bike; you get that initial push in the back that zooms you along, but after a while you have to keep going under your own steam.

And after our recent amazing trip to Adelaide to hang out with friends there and check out the fire situation among the wineries, we were at risk of sinking into a bit of a slump.

Thankfully, our friends here in Sydney were around to keep our momentum going so we didn’t fall off our bikes so to speak!

In this Edition, we’ve got tips on new eating spots – as well as some old favourites – plus a couple of summer wines we think you’ll like too.

Hope you enjoy this Weekly Edition.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

Coogee Beach, Sydney

Today, Christina’s ventured all the way to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs to catch up with our mate Rohan. Coogee Beach is looking pretty good today – and by the look of it, there are lots of people who agree.

I’m guessing everyone’s back-to-work schedule after the holidays is as relaxed as ours!

Christina is seeing Rohan on her own today. I’m blaming Adelaide for my absence. If we hadn’t had such a good time there, I wouldn’t have so much to do. If you haven’t seen it yet, our story on our time in South Australia is pretty epic.

So while Christina’s here enjoying the view, I’m at my computer typing and editing photos like a madman!

Barzura, Coogee

To rub it in, Christina and Rohan have come to Barzura at the top of Coogee for a bite to eat and a cheeky beer.

It’s been a long time since I was last here, so Christina’s enjoying a delicious fish burger while taking in the view of the surf.

To make matters worse (for me and my absence, not for Christina!) another of our lovely friends Sharon has arrived.

She recently moved back to Tasmania and is in Sydney visiting. Hopefully I’ll get to see her a bit later.

In the meantime, it looks like it’s beer o’ clock for these guys.

I’m also secretly very envious of Rohan’s excellent beard.

Chon Thai, Balmain

I’m still slaving away by dinnertime, so Christina and Sharon have left the east and headed back to Balmain. They’re enjoying a meal at probably my favourite Thai restaurant – Chon Thai.

The food here is superb and they always have something interesting on the menu. Case in point…

Chon Thai, Balmain butterly pea flower dumpling

This work of art is in fact a dumpling!

They’re hand-carved butterfly pea flower dumplings – the colour is from the blue flowers and is popular in Thailand’s north.

I have no idea how the kitchen here makes this dumpling look so much like a butterfly pea flower (you can see a photo of one in our story about Chiang Mai here), but to also make the dumpling delicious and full of chicken is beyond me.

I’m also very glad to see Christina and Sharon have ordered the betel leaf with smoked trout in the background here. It’s another of my absolute favourites. And when you come here, remember to order the lamb shank massaman. It’ll change your life.

Kim Crawford Pinot Noir

Kim Crawford Pinot Noir pouring

Now that summer’s well under way, we’re on the look-out for new wine flavours to go with those hot days and balmy nights.

New Zealand is known for its Sauvignon Blancs, but also for its Pinots – and an NZ Pinot Noir is a wonderful thing. Especially in the summer.

We’re enjoying the Kim Crawford Pinot Noir from the NZ Sauv Blanc heartland – Marlborough – which gives the wine a juicy plum and black cherry flavour while maintaining the fine tannins a good Pinot Noir is known for.


Kim Crawford Chardonnay

Ordinarily, I like quite bold red wines, but in hot weather a Pinot Noir is perfect. It even responds well to being a little bit chilled – in fact we’re all probably drinking our wines at the wrong temperature. Check out our story on the correct heat for wines here

Also from Kim Crawford Estate the Chardonnay we’re sipping over summer is lighter than the usual Chardies we like. Spare on oak, this wine is fresh and citrusy though still has that robustness of a Chardonnay. 

Kim Crawford Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

Crack it open when you’re enjoying a bit of camembert or brie, pan-seared trout or grilled chicken dishes.

Pick up the Kim Crawford Chardonnay from Liquorland for RRP $22 and the Pinot Noir for RRP $19 from Dan Murphy’s.

Maya da Dhaba, Surry Hills

Ordinarily, I can’t wait for a curry night with my mates. We go out for an Indian every so often – usually either side of a football season. And being a mostly British crowd, we’re all into a decent ruby.

Tonight is one of those nights and we’re all at our regular haunt Maya da Dhaba on the Surry Hills/Redfern border. This place is as close to a British curry house as we can find and it’s great.

There is a tinge of sadness around tonight’s well-spiced festivities though. Our good friend and teammate Danny is heading back to Scotland soon and tonight’s probably the last curry night we’ll have with him. 

We’re making the most of it though and my vindaloo’s extra hot – as if it knows this meal is a special one!

Best of luck, Danny. Hope to see you back here Downunder again soon – or perhaps on the heady streets of Glasgow. You never know.

Today, we’re blessed with the company of another of our dearest friends, Tori, who’s over from the UK. She and Christina went to school together and it’s always good to catch up.

Tori and I have always got on well, and the silly conversations and banter goes back and forth throughout the morning.

We’re exploring Balmain a bit today and have stopped at a new place on Darling Street – Shila Persian Kitchen Teahouse – for a bite to eat.

Shila Persian Kitchen, Balmain

Although our server said she’d be happy to explain the menu to us, we’ve gone it alone and had a punt anyway. We’re actually pretty happy with what comes out. 

These traditional Persian dishes are so tasty and colourful. And there’s plenty of the flatbreads they serve too, which we’re impressed with.

There’s nothing worse than ordering a dip and not having enough ‘vehicle’ to transport it to your gob!

Shila Persian Kitchen, Balmain

We’ve ordered two different eggplant dips – one is fresh and delicious the other smoky and unctuous. They come with pieces of onion pickled in balsamic vinegar. Wonderfully moreish. 

We also order dolmeh, a kind of dumpling really; it’s a cabbage leaf envelop of aromatic rice, grains and herbs in a rich tomato broth. It’s nothing short of excellent.

But the winner on the table is the meatball we’ve ordered.

It’s a monster – about the size of a tennis ball and not what we were expecting at all. But we cut it open to find it’s a stuffed meatball, full of semi-dried apricots, plums and more of the rice we found in the dolmeh.

The rich tomato base the meatball comes in is plate-lickingly good in its own right, and we’re happy that we have more flatbread to mop it up.

Our friend Lorraine Elliott of Not Quite Nigella fame was here just a few days ago and wrote this more comprehensive review of Shila.

After lunch we mosey through the suburb a bit more and stop to slake our thirst in a couple of the wonderfully old-school pubs of Balmain and Rozelle.

But all too soon, it’s time for Tori to head off and she’s back aboard a ferry to the city. Can you spot her? 10 points if you can!

It’s been a wonderfully social week and just what we needed to get us back up to speed for the rest of January.

We hope your year’s started just as well and that you’ve enjoyed this Weekly Edition.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx


  • First of all I shouldn’t have possibly read this before having breakfast because everything has made me so hungry! Secondly so glad that you enjoyed Shila too. How good is that meatball?

    • Reply January 20, 2020

      Mr Romance

      Ha ha! I always make it a rule never to go online on an empty stomach! We really enjoyed Shila. And some good vegan options there too. But that meatball, holy moley. x

      • Reply January 24, 2020

        Edith Butcher

        Great stuff. As always really interesting, fun reading. Thanks for sharing your amazing journey. xx

        • Reply January 27, 2020

          Mr Romance

          Thanks Jean! Love that you’re following our stories. xxx

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