Winter skies, mussels and a platter of perfection

Although it’s now August and getting to the end of the Australian winter, the skies around Sydney tell a different story.

The temperatures around the country have really dropped again with winter giving it one last go – hopefully the last – until spring. Mrs Romance and I thought we’d managed to avoid the winter here with our long trip to Europe, but seemingly not.

Still, the cold weather has given us good reason to enjoy some delicious comfort food and get stuck into a bottle of red or two. In fact, we’ve got a post about winter reds worth drinking here.

This week’s IG Edition is full of food too. We’re out with our friends in a local Mexican place, we cook up some delicious mussels and Mrs Romance puts an incredible cheese platter together with a new favourite ingredient!

It’s certainly still winter here in Sydney. But at least it’s warm enough to be outside during the day. We’ve taken a break from work to pop to our local. The sky is so pretty through the trees in the little beer garden here in Balmain.

The garden out the back of the East Village Hotel in Balmain is a great spot to relax and enjoy a beer. These guys always have interesting brews on tap too. Mrs Romance has gone for a schooner of Brookvale Union Ginger Beer. You’ve got to check out this brewery’s landing page – it’s hilarious!

As for me, I’ve gone for a glass of Wayward Brewery‘s Charmer India Red Ale. It’s another local beer (from Camperdown, NSW) and it’s a ripper. Ruby red, full of fresh hoppiness and balanced malts. Definitely one I’ll be looking for again.

Today, Mrs Romance and I are out and about in spite of the chilly day. We’ve decided to walk to the Sydney Fish Markets to get something for dinner. The walk across the Anzac Bridge is always a pleasure… especially if you time it for when there are as few cyclists going by as possible. The path isn’t really wide enough for everyone.

You have to be in the mood for the Fish Markets – it’s always pretty busy there, but the produce you can get here is excellent. We’ve picked up a couple of bags of mussels for dinner and some delicious bread from the bakery that’s here too.

The mussels are alive and kept in sea water before they’re vacuum-sealed. Once they’re refrigerated, the mussels go into hibernation mode and sleep. They last for about a week in the fridge, but they’re so fresh when you cook them.

Back at base, we’ve cooked up a tin of tomatoes, a jar of tomato passata with an onion, garlic, herbs and chilli for as long as we  can. Then, in a big pot, we heat the mussels until they start to open. You don’t need any water – as the mussels cook and open, they release a lot of broth you don’t want in your sauce.

You can add a little of the broth to the sauce for extra flavour, but it’s only the mussels you really want.

The bread we’ve bought – fetta and olive – goes perfectly with the mussels and spicy tomato sauce. Such a great meal for a cold night.

This evening, we’re exploring Balmain a bit. The sky is so beautiful again and the old buildings around the suburb like St Andrew’s Church make for an amazing skyline.

We’re out with our awesome friends Stevie and Mel, and Paul and Ewelina tonight. Stevie (on the left) is Mrs Romance’s hair dresser of Stevie English Hair fame and he’s started producing these very cool hats with his salon logo on them. I’m pretty happy with mine.

On the right is Paul, who has one of the smartest businesses going. He runs Sustainable Salons and Refoil – a company that recycles everything from the foil and colour tubes to cut hair in salons to turn it into useful products. It’s brilliant and so forward thinking. We love these guys.

We’re in Coogee for dinner with these lovely people – at Poco’s Cantina in The Spot. The burrito, the nachos and the fajitas are standout here. It’s only a little local place, but worth trying if you’re into Tex Mex.

This afternoon it’s still pretty fresh, but we also fancy something with bubbles. What better than a popping a bottle of sparkling red?! We’ve had this bottle of Schild Estate sparkling Shiraz in our fridge for a little while now, and today feels like the best moment to open it.

Schild Estate always makes excellent wine anyway – in fact if you’re ever in a fix about what to grab at the bottle shop, Schild is about the safest bet you can go for. It’s a beautiful family-run winery with 3 generations behind its wine, and the sparkling Shiraz is such a great expression of that.

I don’t think I can imagine a better way to end a week than with one of Mrs Romance’s awesome platters. And this is how they begin like. Keep scrolling to see the finished product – and if you want to read about the best tips on how to build your platter, check out Mrs Romance’s instructions here.

And here it is! The voluminous, sumptuous, plentiful platter we’ve got our mate Anton round to help us with.

This platter is a little different though – I’ve made a pâté to go with the cheese, meat and bread. This pâté is absolutely delicious and so easy to make. I honestly didn’t know how it was going to turn out – especially as it’s vegetarian – but excellent port from Cockburn’s Estate and some rich Stilton becomes the best pâté.

Here’s our full recipe for my Port and Stilton pâté – I think this would be a bloody great present for Father’s Day coming up too by the way!

Each week we go back in time over some of our favourite travel destinations using never-before-seen photos of our travels. Here’s where we’ve been looking back on this week.

When we were Brussels recently – apart from all the chocolate and waffles, we certainly enjoyed some great beer. We even found a rooftop bar near where we were staying. Play Label is a music label which also has ten pin bowling alleys and this rooftop bar!

The view down over this part of town from Play Label is so pretty. There aren’t many rooftop bars in Brussels, so it’s great that this one has something like this street to look at.

I love this shot Mrs Romance took of this chef here in Brussels. He’s just taking a break between services – and he’s got such a great face. He actually looks happy – and not just because he’s on a break!

Another one of my favourite photos from our trip in Belgium. We were exploring Brussels when we came across these Japanese pole-dancers practising their moves in front of this statue of the Crusade knight Godefroid de Bouillon!

They’re amazing – check out the Instagram account of one of them: @qream_mako

This is the Place Royale just behind the statue of Godefroid de Bouillon. It’s a beautiful building with so much history to it. The view from the top is said to be amazing – you can see all the way down to the old town from here.

If this isn’t a classic Belgian street scene, I don’t know what is! We didn’t really know what to expect from Brussels, but we’re so pleased we managed to get here. We can’t wait till we’re back in Europe so we can explore more of this much underrated country.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s IG Edition. We’ll chat again soon!

Jim & Christina xx


  • Reply August 24, 2017


    Amazing photos, makes me feel like I’m enjoying the experience with you guys. The view from the rooftop bar is spectacular.

    • Reply August 29, 2017

      Mr Romance

      Thank you, David! Really glad you enjoyed the post!

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