Sydney is in the midst of one of its busiest festival seasons, so there’s plenty going on already. Add to that some of the stuff we’ve been up to this week and the pace this year’s setting explains how we’re halfway through January without even breaking stride.
In this Weekly Edition, we’re checking out an old favourite in the St George Open Air Cinema at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, we’ve got a birthday bash with an impressive cheese board we need to show you, and we’ve got friends in from Adelaide that sparks a massive day out on the tiles.
We hope you enjoy this Edition.
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx
But first things first, I’ve done something that’s been on my mind for ages: I’ve adapted my shortbread cookie recipe… in that I’ve added chocolate!
Here’s the original recipe for these gluten-free macadamia nut shortbread cookies, which are already spectacular, but adding in a quarter of a cup of dark chocolate chips creates quite a different creature.
These are so tasty, the only danger is you’ll eat them all at once and no one will know what magic you’ve created!
This afternoon, we’re at our friends’ place to celebrate a birthday. The party’s great and it’s awesome to catch up with everyone and all that… but we’re a little distracted by this dairy masterpiece!
Our friends have basically covered their table in a literal mountain of food. Our brother-in-law recently climbed to Everest Basecamp – an impressive achievement. But this is really the only kind of mountain I’m in any way interested in conquering!
And there’s a western spur of beautiful olive bread, bocconcini and watermelon. Happy birthday, mate. We’re glad we could come and celebrate with you!
Today, we’ve driven up to the northern beaches of Sydney to catch our friend Tori before she heads back to the UK. We saw her last week at the Art Gallery of NSW, but her partner was still away. Now he’s here too, so we’re all enjoying the sudden Sydney sun at one of the most famous beaches in the country.
Palm Beach – aka Summer Bay from TV soap Home and Away – is so beautiful. We haven’t been up here in ages, and how things have changed.
The beach is just as stunning as ever, but the parking prices seem to have gone up a touch. I understand prices for things are always destined to go up, but $38 an hour seems a little steeper than the last time we were here.
It’s always quite strange to see things like this in real life. They use this beach-side hut in the TV show – it’s Alf’s bait shop apparently, and it’s full of strange merch for Home and Away.
This evening, we’ve crossed Sydney’s Botanic Gardens to get to one of the best activations of the city. The St George Open Air Cinema has been going for quite some time now, and every year it’s got a little bit bigger.
Tonight – thanks to an invitation from Croser, the official sparkling of the Open Air Cinema – we’re here to enjoy the drinks, the view and of course the film with one of the most incredible backdrops for a movie. It’s sometimes hard to concentrate on the plot with scenery like this in the background.
I love that there’s something like this making the most of what really is one of the prettiest cities in the world. I remember the first time I ever saw the Opera House and what a thrill that was. It’s still such a great building to look at, and the location of this cinema really shows it off.
I remember coming here on one of the first years the Open Air Cinema was running. There was one little spot you could buy pre-packed snacks and a beer. Now, hatted restaurant Aria has its own fine-dining experience you can enjoy here. It’s amazing.
This Croser is going down a treat. It would be better if it weren’t raining, but that’s the risk of watching a movie under the stars… of clouds anyway!
The screen starts to rise out of the water and people scurry for their seats. The movie’s about to begin just after the sun sets. And in the background the Opera House and Harbour Bridge start to light up their beauty.
It’s like they’re in competition with the film for our attention.
It’s pretty wet tonight, and almost in mockery of the rain, the screen shows a perfect sunny day around the Botanic Gardens behind us.
At least we’ve got a drop of Croser left to help us ignore the raindrops!
The St George Open Air Cinema is open every night until 16 February. Doors generally open at about 6.00 and films start at about 8.30.
Pop! That’s a bit more like it. Much warmer and drier. Our mates Chris and Sonia are in town – up from Adelaide for a little bit of work and a little bit of fun.
The best way to get the ball rolling is with a drop of bubbly.
For lunch, we’re in Glebe at the recently opened Charleston. It’s a lovely spot. The food and decor have a kind of Caribbean/Mexican/Miami vibe.
Christina and Sonia are getting stuck into the cocktail menu, while the rest of us are enjoying a surprisingly good American Chardonnay.
The food starts to come out. There are six of us, so we’ve decided to go for the banquet style menu. It saves trying to choose what to have and everyone seems happy, and the $35pp feast has so much to it.
These fish tacos are excellent and before them were some pulled pork tacos, which were also amazing.
The salad is great, but these southern fried chicken pieces are superb. Tender meat, crispy batter and a spiced mayo. Heaven.
I’m never too sure about macaroni cheese and whether it’s worth ordering. But this is so good. I think I might have to rethink my opinions on this dish. It’s so good.
And as an extra dish, we’ve ordered the beef short rib, which comes with a roasted corn cob and a salsa verde. The meat is succulent and tender, but we’re so full it’s almost too much for us. Almost!
The Charleston is a lovely light restaurant in the heart of Glebe. It’s perfect for noisy groups like ours or for a fun romantic meal for two. The set menu is only available to tables of 4 or more though.
After lunch, we stroll up to The Toxteth Hotel for a couple more beers and a game of pool or two.
Christina and Sonia may look like they’re about to hustle you out of your pay cheque, don’t they? But as it turns out, we’re all so bad the only thing we’re good at here is getting our money’s worth out of each game. If the idea of pool was to keep as many balls out of the pockets for as long as possible, we’d be champions!
After a quick freshen up back home, Chris, Sonia, Christina and I have hopped on a ferry to Barangaroo, Sydney’s newest precinct for restaurants and bars.
We’ve popped in to Banksii Vermouth Bar and Bistro to say hello to our mate Mikey, and he’s up-sold us on a bite to eat and some vermouth. The vermouth he chooses for us – each of us gets a different one – is pretty special: Dolin Blanc, Regal Rogue, Mancino Bianco and a Belsazar White Vermouth.
Each one has such a different flavour profile and tastes good neat on the rocks. I thought it was just for martinis. I stand corrected.
The food here is fun and light – though there are heartier options available, Prosciutto and figs, a macadamia dip and some delicious bread get us started and help allay the hunger pangs while we wait for our table next door at Zushi.
It’s worth the wait though.
Zushi always does such good food, and tonight’s no exception. This selection of sashimi is perfect, though it does end with Chris and me doing a wasabi dare. Always fun and never advisable.
Another highlight is this dish of slow-cooked pork ribs. Amazing. We also order prawns that are glazed in a sweet coating and slightly crispy.
After dinner, we pop back into Banksii and Mikey brings us a selection of negronis, each slightly (and sometimes significantly) different. Spicy, savoury, sweet or floral, it’s amazing the difference the choice of gin and vermouth make to this drink.
If you haven’t tried a negroni before, do it now. Unless you’re reading this at work, in which case you need to wait till later!
It’s so good having these guys in town. Hopefully we’ll be down in Radelaide again soon – in time for their festivals over Feb perhaps. Watch this space.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this Weekly Edition as much as we clearly have making it.
Cheers – Jim, Christina, Chris and Sonia xx
What would you recommend doing in Sydney come mid-June? I’m looking for restaurants, activities, places to see, etc.
Hi Holly. Good question. I suppose it depends on a few things – where you’re staying, what you enjoy doing, what kind of food you’re interested in… the pub and restaurant scene in Balmain is very good with a wide range of options. For something a bit more inner-city, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst are good places to find great food and fun bars. All three of these places are worth exploring too. During the week, there are lots of cool places to eat and drink in the city, though over the weekend, they’re more often closed.
The Vivid Festival, an amazing city-wide interactive art installation of lights, music and displays, will be on until mid-June (finishes on June 15th in fact), so there’ll be plenty on all over Sydney until then. Be aware though that things like hotel prices will probably go up and availability might be a problem. Also restaurants are significantly fuller during Vivid.
I hope this helps – if you want more specific answers re: restaurants and bars, let me know what you’re into and where you’ll be in Sydney. Might be able to give you more detail.
Cheers – Jim