Charred oak in a glass, NSW on a plate and an anniversary dinner

It’s been a week of wining and fine dining for us, and for good reason: we’re celebrating the anniversary of when we met!

It’s been a long time since that day, but like anything good, it hasn’t felt like it.

Timing has been perfect for our celebrations though. This week we’re drinking Hardy’s latest charred-oak aged wine, we’re sampling a wonderful new menu focused on NSW and dining at one of Sydney’s finest restaurants for our anniversary.

It’s been a lovely week – here are the deets:

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

If there’s ever a bullet-proof wine, it’s Hardy’s. The hours I’ve spent staring at shops’ wine shelves wondering what to buy and finally just grabbing a bottle of Hardy’s wine – you know it’s always going to be good.

But the latest range to come from the formidable vines of McLaren Vale, SA is bolder, more delicious and more adventurous than ever.

The Hardy’s Char No.3 range, which is available as a Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon, has a rich depth and intensity from the way the wine was aged.

Much like whisky, the wine has been laid down in charred oak barrels to take on the incredible characters and smokiness of the wood.

The Char No.3 Shiraz is full of dark chocolate, liquorice and sweet spiciness of clove, and finishes long with full-bodied, complex richness. Delicious.

The Cab Sauv is punchier, and has tobacco and coffee notes to it while still offering that sumptuous deep chocolate and hints of sour cherry.

Both bottles also have a bit of a hidden trick up their sleeves too. Download the Char No.3 app, point your phone at the bottle and the label becomes a window into the winery’s barrel room.

You can look around a bit and watch the charring of the barrel or tap on of the other hogsheads to watch videos on how the wine’s made and also how the labels were designed.

The wine labels, which are beautiful, were hand-crafted by artist Steven Spazuk, who designs artwork with the smoke and char of a a candle’s flame. It’s an elegant parallel for the labels of Char No.3 to have this history to them.

Both the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are available from good bottle shops at $26RRP.

Le Petit Flot, Sydney - menu

This evening, we’re out for dinner with our friend Peter at a new restaurant for us.

Le Petit Flot, French for ‘The Little Stream’ and which is tucked away next to Australia Square in Sydney CBD, has a new food and wine pairing menu we’re excited to try.

Focused on specifically wine and produce from New South Wales, this little restaurant is championing a moving in the city to eat and drink more locally.

Le Petit Flot, Sydney - wagyu steak

My main of 5+ marble-score wagyu steak from Carrara in the Northern Rivers of NSW is absolutely superb and a stand-out dish for me.

Not only is it hard to cook wagyu rare and have it melt in your mouth like this – a credit to Executive Chef Colin Yee – it shows just how good the quality of this meat is too.

Le Petit Flot, Sydney - rack of lamb

Peter’s half rack of lamb, from Junee in the NSW Riverina, is the best-looking main though, and goes beautifully with the Hungerford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon from the Hunter Valley.

It’s a wonder that more restaurants in the city aren’t doing this kind of menu. Locals love eating local produce and visitors are always on the lookout for anything made or grown in the area. I know we do when we travel.

Le Petit Flot, Dalwood Winery Shiraz

The stand-out wine for me though is the Dalwood Estate Shiraz. The oldest winery in Australia, Dalwood not only kickstarted the industry in the Hunter Valley where it’s still based, but the wine industry in the whole country owes it to this vineyard, established in 1828.

This Shiraz though, which goes with my steak perfectly, is rich, velvety and almost savoury. A wonderful drop.

Le Petit Flot is part of the Tank Stream Hotel (hence the name) and is directly above one of the few remaining access points to the old Tank Stream water system that brought the colony to Sydney Cove in the first place.

It means so much more that a restaurant above such an historically important site is supporting the state the stream has grown from.

Check out our full review of Le Petit Flot here.

Today is our anniversary! We met on this day many years ago, and seen and done amazing things, and experienced so much of the world together.

We’ve travelled together through almost 50 countries, but whenever we get back home to Sydney, we realise how lucky we are to live somewhere like this.

We’ve decided to go for a bit of a walk today around the harbour and see some places right on our doorstep we’ve never been to before.

From Milsons Point we’ve walked round Lavender Bay, through Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden (check it out if you haven’t been, it’s beautiful), across to Waverton Park to the amusingly named Balls Head Bay to find the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability.

This clever piece of urban revival of what used to be a busy port in Sydney is now a beautiful space full of benches and picnic spots, incredible views and even allotments you can rent to grow veggies.

We’re really surprised to find this spot, especially as you can almost see our house from here!

Next to the park is the Coal Loader Cafe, which looks like it serves up some excellent looking food and drink, and at very reasonable prices. Open for breakfast and lunch Wed-Sun, well worth checking out.

We carry on our walk around to the Balls Head Reserve. The trees and bushland here are stunning – so unexpected this close the city. This tree is not only growing out of the rock, it’s split the boulder into pieces. Amazing.

We work our way down to the shoreline of the reserve and spot the coloured walls of the Waterfront Wharf Workshops we once talked about a couple of years ago. It’s such a strange perspective but great to be able to see the city from a different angle.

Even stranger, a little way round Balls Head Reserve, you can see the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. How’s my male model pose btw? Blue Steel meets the chicken dance!

After our long walk today, Christina and I have decided to live it up a bit and celebrate our anniversary more traditionally!

We’re at the beautiful Est. in the city. This is one of Sydney’s – if not the country’s – finest restaurants. The food is always outstanding, the service is amazing and the wine list comes in the form of a massive book. We always just ask the sommelier for help though. So much easier that way!

The menu at Est. is in a four-part structure, where you can choose a two-three- or even four-course meal, and in each section, the dishes get slightly richer and bigger.

Our mains are amazing. Christina’s wagyu ribeye with parsnip, shiitake, burnt apple and mustard [left] is excellent. Tender beef cooked perfectly and the additions are so well crafted.

My main is a lamb loin with smoked broccoli, young garlic, black olives and goat curd. It’s not as full-flavoured as Christina’s ribeye but it’s a remarkable dish.

As are the wagyu fat pototo chips you can see stacked up. You only get six, but they’re so rich that that’s all you need!

But while the mains are good, my entree really wins the night. It’s so tasty, it’s almost unbelievable. New to the Est. menu, the pork jowl comes with wood ear mushrooms, slivers of abalone and crisp brussel sprouts.

The pork is absolutely tremendous – rich, tender, succulent… there just aren’t enough adjectives. But the reduction the dish sits in is thick – almost syrupy – and packed with so much flavour. It coats your mouth and lasts forever.

The little cake with a candle is a lovely touch from the restaurant and the perfect end to out incredible meal.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Weekly Edition.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx


  • Reply September 27, 2019

    Jean xx

    Lovely to see you having so much fun! Thank for sharing your journey! Love the way you write and the beautiful pics. Lots of info too!

    • Reply September 28, 2019

      Mr Romance

      Thank you, Jeanie! So glad you enjoyed the story – and thank you for your kind words. Aren’t you lovely? Miss you guys. xxx

  • Reply October 19, 2019

    Don Schuldes

    I may have to open another bottle of wine . Loved the blog. Thanks

    • Reply October 22, 2019

      Mr Romance

      I also think this is a great idea too! Thanks for stopping by. Jim

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