Wednesday, November 12, 2014

BILLS, BOURKE STREET BAKERY, GELATO MESSINA, A TRIP TO BONDI AND A SUPER WINTOUR&GUINNESS WEEKEND IN SYDNEY

There is nothing quite like an upcoming trip that gets you excited about life. I hadn’t been out of Melbourne since July so I was so excited when a group of friends and I decided to take a trip to Sydney over Melbourne Cup weekend. Like the AFL Grand Final weekend, Melbourne Cup draws mass crowds from all over Australia, and even the world. There is a huge buzz and to be honest, I find the whole thing exhausting. So a trip to Sydney was just what I needed.

A few weeks leading up to the trip I had asked around, predominately my Sydney-sider pals on where I needed to visit in terms of all the coffee and food hot spots. One friend in particular, Rachel drew up the perfect list of places to visit. I think the girl could have a future career as a blogger.

We had a midday flight, which was perfect as it gave me time to zip around town picking up each of the boys before grabbing some breakfast at the Galleon Cafe in St. Kilda. I ordered the French toast with cinnamon, vanilla ricotta and a side of sweet potato hash brown. It was delicious, however it just needed something else to elevate the flavors It became a little same same after a few bites. Having tried the French toast in Truman’s (Albert Park) a while back – I have very high expectations when it comes to French toast these days.
Our flight was relatively painless, there was a little bit of a delay with our take off and after checking into our hotel in Surry Hills – I decided to go for a wander through Oxford Street into the heart of Darlinghurst. I absolutely adore the area and with the trees in full bloom and the hustle and bustle of the locals, any proud Melburnian could be won over.

With the weather switching from one extreme to the other, we decided to check out The Beresford Hotel for an afternoon drink. I ordered the Secret Garden jug to begin and it was on another level. This was a floral infusion of St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lychee's, apple & lemon juice with rosé and lemonade. And afterwards we followed this with a jug of traditional Pimms Cup. I immediately fell in love with this spot. It was the perfect city beer garden with ample seating, a great atmosphere and a superb drinks menu.
After a night out on the town, I jumped out of the bed at 8am on the Sunday for a stroll around Surry Hills. For me, I could happily pack my bags and move there in an instant. It’s the most beautiful suburb, close to the city and full of independent boutiques and cafes. Whenever I come to Sydney, the first cafe I visit is Bills. I always like to visit the original spot in Darlinghurst, but since the Surry Hills branch was right on my doorstep I popped in. Grabbing the papers, I ordered a latte, an orange juice and some chocolate and banana bread with ricotta. The food at Bills never disappoints and it was the perfect breakfast (if not a little naughty).

The others made their way into the heart of Surry Hills, eager to grab some breakfast – so we ducked into Four Ate Five on Crown Street. I just grabbed a coffee, but the boy’s food looked amazing. I would highly recommend it.
After brunch we made our way to Circular Quay to catch a ferry to Manly. Manly is an incredible part of Sydney and judging by the vast crowds of people eager to get a spot on the boat – it’s a place loved by many. The boat makes its way from Circular Quay, passing the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House and its just a breathtakingly beautiful trip. The houses, the boats, that skyline as you sail off – its everything I moved to Australia for. We relaxed by the beach for a while, before walking along the Pavilion towards Shelly Beach Park. The summer sunshine really puts everyone in a great mood, its infectious and lying by the beach reading the latest issue of ELLE Australia, I knew that life is pretty darn good.
Last time I was in Sydney, I was with a group of work friends and we decided to try out Jamie's Italian on Pitt Street. It was a great night and the food was surprisingly good. This time around, we dined on three cheese-fried gnocchi, lamb shoulder and various pasta dishes; all of which were delicious. We ended the night making our way towards the Opera house stopping for a scoop of gelato, eager to see the Opera House and bridge all lit up.
Monday morning, and whilst all the trendy folks of Surry Hills were making their way to work, Kevin and I took a walk around the area looking at all the amazing houses and tree lined streets before grabbing a coffee. We had walked down Bourke Street, which led us directly to Bourke Street Bakery. Being one of my favourite spots in Sydney – I made sure that we grabbed a sneaky croissant and chocolate tart along with our coffees.
That afternoon we made our way via train and bus to Bondi Beach. I had planned to do the Bondi to Bronte walk the last time I was in Sydney but the weather ended up being so bad that we had to scrap that plan. Starting from Icebergs, we slowly made our way along the walk, held up by the masses of school children and tourists, all of whom were there to check out the Sculptures By The Sea exhibit. 
Sculptures by the Sea returned to the Bondi to Tamarama Beach walk a few weeks back and the coastal walk was transformed into a 2km long temporary sculpture park featuring over 100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world. The coastal walk begins at the bottom of Notts Avenue, which runs off Campbell Parade, Bondi and the walk can also be accessed by stairs at various points along the exhibition route at Hunter Park, Gaerloch Avenue and Pacific Avenue. The exhibition finishes at Tamarama Park, however we kept walking until we got to Bronte. After stopping at the Bronte Baths for some photos, we ended up at Three Blue Ducks on Macpherson Street for some drinks. 
After a quick pit stop at the Botanic Gardens, we made our way to World Square on Georges Street for some dumplings at Din Tai Fung. My friend Darkus, recommended the place and we certainly made our way through a lot of food that evening. The food was delicious however I was instantly curious about Burger Project, Neil Perry's latest project which sits next door.
No trip to Sydney is complete without a stop at Gelato Messina. I parked my backside down at the Surrys Hills branch and ordered myself three scoops of what can only be described as the best ice cream I've ever tried. My flavors of choice that evening were PBH Sandwich and Apple Pie. PBH Sandwich was one of the daily specials and was made up of peanut butter and honey gelato with vanilla soaked brioche and banana jam. It was incredible - but didnt come close to the Apple Pie. The apple pie reminded me of being a kid, when after your Sunday dinner you would get a slice of apple pie and ice cream. Total bliss.
The next morning, our final in Sydney – we caught up with my friend Maureen. Maureen was about to embark on a four month trip around the world and having not seen her for a while we knew we had to organise a breakfast. Our plan was to visit The Grounds Of Alexandria but with all the madness, we ended up meeting at Reuben Hills. Kevin had noticed this place during one of his walks during the trip and one peek in the door and I was obsessed. The interior is incredible and Broadsheet perfectly summed it up when they called this place the coffee equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Spanning the length between two parallel streets and occupying two floors filled with mystifying smells and extraordinary apparatuses, the scale and exuberance of the space provokes a level of fascination normally reserved for theme parks and nightclubs. I ordered an extra hot latte along with the banana and coffee bread. The banana bread was delicious and there was a gentle punch of coffee, which set it apart from the usual banana bread you get. Catching up with Maureen was great but as per usual, there is never enough time when it comes to catch ups and we had to run back to check out of our hotel. Grabbing one last coffee at The Paramount Coffee Project (with a sneaky cinnamon cronut) we made our way toward the airport sad to see Sydney go.

It truly is one of the most incredible cities I’ve ever been too and one I hope to get back to very soon. 

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