Sydney storms, Blak Markets and a new cafe discovered

The Young Ones - Bambi

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Hands up who’s ready for Christmas? 

It reminds me of that classic scene from the English TV show The Young Ones, where Rik Mayall says: “Hands up who likes me?”

I’m not ready for Christmas at all. And it’s two weeks away today.

To think that in a fortnight’s time I’ll be sitting watching people I care about opening presents I haven’t even bought yet fills me with a unique kind of dread.

But I’m sure it’ll all be ok. Trickier is the fact that only 1 week away is Mrs Romance’s birthday. And I’m not ready for that either!

Still, I’m sure it’ll all be fine. And we’ve got a few tricks we’ll be sharing with you later this week if you’re like me and still in a pickle for presents.

On to our IG Edition this week: we’re sharing some shots from a huge storm that came up from Melbourne last week and smothered Sydney in rain. We’ve also got some news on a gin event launch we’d love to see you at, a story about some amazing markets in Sydney and also a new café I think will be a favourite for us from now on.

We hope you enjoy this Edition and we’ll speak to you again soon.

Jim & Christina xx

Balsam Hill Christmas tree

Mrs Romance was so excited when we finally got our tree up. She’s been asking when we can put it up for ages – since about September – but she always gets excited about Christmas.

I actually love our Christmas tree, which is a first for me. They’re usually such a pain to put up and decorate, but this one from Balsam Hill is awesome. So easy to put up and looks amazing too.

It’s the second Christmas we’ve had this tree – which has been another discussion Christina and I have had on and off for a while: which is better – a real or fake Christmas tree.

Balsam Hill Christmas tree

When we decorate our tree, we tend to buck trends of making it very ‘Christmasy’ and instead use it to remember our favourite trips overseas. We travel too much to bring back lots of souvenirs, so instead we collect Christmas decorations – or at least things that we can put on the tree through December each year.

It’s nice to be able to reflect on our times away when we’re back home for the festive season. Also it makes for a much more interesting tree. Well, we think so anyway!

If you like your gin and you want to know more about this wonderful spirit, our favourite Balmain bar Wilhelmina’s is running ‘Ginuary’ again next month.

January will see this excellent drinking spot transform into a joyous jamboree of juniper juice! To celebrate the coming month of gin, Wilhelmina’s is having a launch party this Wednesday (13/12/17) and we’d love to see you there.

Check out Wilhelmina’s website here for more information on Ginaury and to pick up your ticket to the launch party. It’s $22pp and you get a drink on the door plus canapés while you hear from Wilhelmina’s master Mikey Hamilton and co-founder of Melbourne’s darling Four Pillars Distillery Stu Gregor.

Sia Concert in Sydney

Mrs Romance is out braving the rain tonight with friends Jessica and Kathryn (and later Rohan) to see Sia in concert.

It’s a shame it’s raining, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s spirits are feeling the damp.

Sia Concert in Sydney

And ponchos are go!

Plus Rohan has finally graced the group. They’re all still smiling, so I’m guessing they’re having fun. Sia is currently late, but it turns out the weather has cancelled her flight up to Sydney so she’s driving up, plus she’s got the runs (scroll all the way to the end)! Poor lady.

Macadamia Vegemite and cheese scrolls dough

Meanwhile, I’m back at base doing what everyone does when they’re left home alone… isn’t it? I’m making bread dough so I can have more macadamia, Vegemite and cheese scrolls. We’ve posted the recipe for these snacky delights here.

The dough is down for its first prove. Let’s see how big it gets in an hour…

Macadamia Vegemite and cheese scrolls dough big

One hour later and the Blob lives!

It’s a bit of a process to make these scrolls, but the end result is so worth it that this is about the 4th time I’ve made these in a fortnight!

Macadamia Vegemite cheese scrolls

Mrs Romance comes back from the Sia concert – mercifully dry thanks to her poncho – and gleeful at the sight of the finished product.

Check out the recipe for these macadamia, Vegemite and cheese scrolls here. By the way, this time I also added some finely chopped salami and fresh ricotta into the mix.

Blak Markets Barangaroo

This afternoon we’re up at the top of Barangaroo in Sydney to check out the Blak Markets. These markets are part of a micro business hub for Indigenous businesses that provides economic development opportunities to Indigenous people.

Barangaroo is a great spot to hold this market, which has so much going on. The stalls around the outside sell everything from Indigenous art and craft to modern takes on bush tucker (think crocodile or wild boar sausage sizzles). There’s even a cooking class with demonstrations on how to use different native ingredients.

The Blak Markets run 8 times a year here at Barangaroo and also at La Perouse, so keep an eye out for the next one.

Blak Markets Barangaroo stalls

Blak Markets Barangaroo art

The stalls are busy with people checking out the amazing array of products these small businesses are producing. The artwork and jewellery on offer here is so good. We could spend a fortune here!

And if you see something you like but want to buy it later, Blak Markets have an online store you can shop at too.

Blak Markets Barangaroo sandpit

You could spend all day here with the family – and a lot of people are. The sandpit in the middle of it all is perfect for the kids, the food options here are fun and delicious and most importantly there’s coffee. The Blak Markets are involved with training and employing young Aboriginal people with barista skills as well as retail, food prep and supervision sectors.

Barangaroo Bel & Brio bar

After we’ve explored the markets, we head back to Barangaroo ferry wharf to discover the new timetables have put everything out of whack. There’s nothing for it but to spend our 1-hour+ wait (?!) wisely.

We stop in at one of the many bars around the Streets of Barangaroo for a refreshment. I’m quite pleased with my beer, and Mrs Romance is very happy with her Aperol spritz… until we get the bill.

Christina likes to keep a record of how much places charge for their spritz and Bel & Brio may well have the doubtful honour of being the most expensive one she’s had ever. Internationally! It’s a shame as their wine list is quite something.

Sydney weather

Christina is out today getting her hair done. So, of course, it’s due to rain heavier than it has in ages. A superstorm has come up from Victoria just in time to ruin Mrs Romance’s new do.

As you can see, the clouds are not looking very friendly.

Over the course of about 45 minutes – and the next 3 photos, things will get very unpleasant. Check out how the Anzac Bridge disappears.

Sydney weather

Sydney weather

Sydney weather

Sydney weather

But just like that, the storm leaves us. Kind of feeling like when the joker at school pulls your pants down and runs away and you’re left – breathless and embarrassed – to pull up your trousers. Kind of.

Thankfully, no pants were harmed in the making of this sky.

I love that aftermath of a storm, when the ragged clouds are all that are left. The humidity drops and the sunsets are so often magnificent.

And in other good news, Christina’s hair survived.

Mecca makeup lesson

This morning, Mrs Romance is at our local Mecca makeup shop using a gift she received for helping at a recent wedding. It’s actually a really smart gift (gents, pay attention).

You get an hour and half with a Mecca makeup expert, where they teach you skills on applying your makeup differently. They can also help with skin tone matching and things like that, which is really helpful if you’ve recently had a spray tan for your wedding.

Since the ’70s Soul Train party, Christina is keen to practise her eyeshadow skills, and Anne from Mecca is showing her the ropes.

Black Lizard Cafe Balmain lunch

After her makeup tutorial, Mrs Romance dislodges me from the office to come out for lunch. We’ve decided to try a new place – Black Lizard – in Balmain, and discover that there’s an upstairs to this place. In fact there’s a 1st floor balcony we can sit on.

The food comes and distracts us from the view. It’s delicious.

Christina has gone for the warm breakfast bowl with black rice, pumpkin, soft-boiled egg and especially some crispy haloumi!

As for me, I’ve ordered the lamb, haloumi and chimichurri wrap, which is succulent and filling. And comes with spicy fries!

The coffee here is also great as is the excellent service.

Black Lizard Cafe Balmain view

Now that our food has arrived, we can turn our attention (with one eye) back to the view. It’s amazing that from here you can still see the Harbour Bridge our past the trees.

We’ll definitely be coming back here to Black Lizard. Very impressed.

Black Lizard Cafe Balmain Jim & Christina

We hope you’ve enjoyed this IG Edition. We’ve got some killer travel stories coming up, so make sure you don’t miss them.

Have a great week and we’ll speak again soon.

Jim & Christina xx

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