If you’re travelling on Scoot in June or July keep an eye out for my story White Knuckle Winter, about the fun adventures to be had in Sydney over the cooler months. From sailing the harbour with salty sea dogs to dry canyoning with Blue Mountains Wild Adventures, there’s a lot to get cold hearts racing! You can take a look at the whole mag here too.
Love to get wild in the Blue Mountains?! Then jump on an awesome canyoning or abseiling day or half day trip with Blue Mountains Wild Adventures to experience the best spots the World Heritage listed National Park has to offer. James and his guides are fantastic and go to heaps of great sites like Claustral Canyon, Juggler Canyon, Tigersnake Canyon and Empress Canyon, as well as Malatia Wall for abseiling and run tours of the iconic Six Foot Track. I’ve done Juggler and it was SO MUCH FUN! Check out this little video of a Blue Mountains Wild Adventures group in Butterbox Canyon.
Head over to the website (brand spanking new one) or call James on 02 9389 0535 to book. They’ll pick up from Sydney or Katoomba and all gear is provided.
It’s a fact that getting around Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs you’re going to see a facelift or two. Some bad, some good. A few trout pouts and surprised expressions, a few very discreet nips and tucks. Gazebo Sydney, in Elizabeth Bay, has just booked herself in for a little facelift and the results are in – she looks fab!
I went for dinner last week with a few other foodies to try out the new menu by Head Chef Jason Dean (ex Gastro Park) and take in the new look. After a bit of a hiatus from these sort of dinner (thanks to my little man!), it was great to get out. I’d been waiting for the right invite, and as soon as this one dropped, I was keen to try. I’d been for lunch a while ago so it was going to be fun to see the development.
We started with a Negroni. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan, due to a disastrous relationship with gin shots (seriously, who does gin shots? Not a great idea!), so I had a couple of sips to be social then another foodie took it off my hands. The Four Pillars gin, I’m told, was good. I loved the De Illuis Semillon that replaced it much better though! This Hunter Valley winery shows such heart, and they’ve struck a winner with this Semillon. It’s not a hugely popular grape, like a Sauv Blanc or Chardonnay, but if you aren’t a regular Semillon drink, then one from the Hunter Valley should be your starting point.
First up we had what our table described as a deconstructed green curry. Generous sized prawns, coconut snow, green chilli (which looked like a scarily large blob of wasabi) and daikon. Delicious. This was shared with the cucumber cured kingfish served with a smoked oyster dressing, apple matchsticks and lime.
Next up we had a really interesting pairing of duck and honeycomb. I love honeycomb and have tried to make it at home with mixed results. Sometimes it’s been foul (burnt sugar!) and sometimes delicious. But with duck? I wasn’t too sure about it but always keen to try a new combination. It definitely worked, and especially well with the lovely red wine it was paired with – a Gamay – Nugues Beaujolais Villages Rouge 2012. Gamay, again, is underrated and if you haven’t tried it yet, do. It’s earthy with a really subtle sweetness to it. The glazed pork with carrot puree (little man would’ve loved the puree!), coriander and sweet & sour turnips was soft without being too fatty. I think I’m the only person who doesn’t like fatty pork belly!
Desserts came in two stages – pineapple with coconut and tarragon followed by cookie dough parfait with raspberry and yoghurt caramel. The pineapple was like a pina colada and the parfait was a satisfying end to the meal, even if the cookie dough chunks were a bit small for this cookie dough fan.
Gazebo Sydney is open Monday-Friday 4pm-12am, and weekends 12pm-12am.
A few years back I lived in Melbourne and a venue called The Botanical was in my neighbourhood. The Bot, as we called it, was a Melbourne institution – known for long lunches, even longer dinners and a good night out in the champagne bar out the back. One of the things that made The Botanical so great was the service, and that was led by Erez Gordon. Erez’s style of service is exemplary, but delivered with such ease it’s like you’re catching up with an old friend…who likes to pour you generous glasses of wine! Chef Paul Cooper hit Erez’s radar when he hired him to work the pans at The Botanical, just as Erez was exiting. Paul spent time in the kitchen at London’s Pied a Terre and is considered a nose to tail specialist.
The guys now live in Sydney with young families and have teamed up to open Bishop Sessa in Surry Hills. I had to try it.
I’ve never really put it out there online, but I’m pregnant at the moment. All the good stuff seems to be off limits to me at the moment, so I called ahead to let them know. It was clear from the beginning that they understood what a pregnant woman needs, as well as her dining companion!
We decided to try the six-course degustation, mine at $69 food only, and my partner’s at $119 with matched wines. Over the six courses, only three were modified for me, but the modifications were spot on. I started with an heirloom tomato salad and my partner had wild Yellowtail Kingfish, green beans, crème fraiche and smoked eel veloute, matched with a glass of Manzanilla (sherry). I had a sip of the sherry and my god it was good. Even with my tomatoes it worked.
The Roasted Ayelsbury duck breast (mine was cooked a little longer so it wasn’t rare) with beetroot, turnip and a delicious mulled wine dressing was succulent and well matched with the very interesting 2012 O’Leary Walker Pinot Noir from Adelaide Hills.
Technique shone through in the final savoury dish, the potato wrapped, red wine braised Wagyu with mushroom and bacon ragout and a rich smoked tomato sauce. This completely sells it short, but it felt like a very grown up, very refined sausage roll. And I mean that as a MASSIVE compliment. Who doesn’t love meat delivered in a crispy shell? It was wintery, satisfying and a beautiful combination with a few sips of 2012 Mandoleto Nero d’Avola from Sicily.
We sat down stairs where I felt we benefitted from Erez’s attentive service and got to watch all the comings and goings and the bar. Tthere’s also a room upstairs which was really lively, and jumping on the Friday night we were there. I highly recommend dinner at Bishop Sessa and can’t wait to head back myself.
527 Crown Street (The old Tabou restaurant)
Surry Hills, NSW
Phone 02 8065 7223
I took a trip down to Mollymook a few weeks back to try out international chef, Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant at Bannisters Lodge. Everything was gorgeous, from our luxury suite to the Madras snapper curry I’d been craving since I saw him cooking up a storm on his India series. The New Daily have published my review and you can read it here.
I’ve had a little profile appear in this week’s Wayside Chapel newsletter. Wayside is a place where homeless and disadvantage people can go for a shower, buy a nutritious cheap meal, get great support and access to services, as well as enjoying the company of others. I volunteer there on the front desk.
I was in two minds about posting the profile here – as much as I love promoting the work of The Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross, I also felt like a bit ‘on myself’ putting my connection out there. Then I thought, that’s ridiculous, so here it is. Have a read and learn more about what happens at Wayside. You can also donate money or time if you visit here.
When did you start at The Wayside?
I started on the CSC (Community Service Centre) desk in June 2012.
What attracted you to this fabulous place?
I moved to Sydney a few years ago and wanted to do volunteer work connected to disadvantaged, vulnerable or homeless people, but found all the organisations I approached didn’t need volunteers at that time. My partner’s father sent me the Inner Circle newsletter and immediately I felt a connection with Graham’s words and the idea behind Wayside. I’ve always felt very strongly about helping those who may be doing it tough, with no judgement or divide, so Wayside was a perfect fit for me. I have great respect for the work of Wayside and have even roped my sister in with fundraising and my brother now volunteers in Youth.
What is the highlight of volunteering here?
Every time I’m on the CSC, I walk away with an amazing story, a new connection, or something significant to think about – sometimes from visitors, sometimes fellow volunteers. Everyone has a story to tell and it’s a privilege when a person decides to share something close to their heart.
And maybe a lowlight?
The day I learnt that I should wear my glasses when I’m on the CSC desk. A lovely, but dentally challenged visitor accidentally spat in my eyes while we were chatting in one of my first shifts. I’m not a hygiene freak but I learnt it’s probably a good idea to keep my glasses on!
What is your passion?
My passion is writing and I’m fortunate to have made a career of it. I write about food, wine and travel for magazines and newspapers, a bit of corporate content and have a blog [www.theairloom.wordpress.com] and a website about socially responsible travel [www.unravelledtravel.com]. Travel is my other great love and I try to get away as much as I can, both for work and for play. Recently I’ve enjoyed spending time in Japan, Egypt, Morocco, Scotland and road tripping in WA.
Photo: Anna Partridge.