Sydney is a big place. Big. BIG. big. Large. Like Madame DeFarge. All knotty, uppity and out for revenge. [an account of the journey there]
I’d present a coherent food experience but the trip was decided on a few days before we left so no meticulously planned set of reservations for my moleskine notepad. Melbourne is all streets and cafe reccomendations, Sydney is all celebrities. Closely regarded monomonikered – Bill, Neil Kylie, Tetsuya; they don’t have KFC, they have Sander’s (you must try the chicken). I managed to knock off two. Bill and Kylie.
Bill Granger, Bill’s, Surry Hills
Bill has more than one place, A revelation which made for a hasty humid sweaty walk along Oxford Street to Surrey Hills to meet the Sydney food bloggers for brekky. First thing I have to say is that the great thing about meeting fellow bloggers is that you can conversationally cut to the chase without those awkward “so what do you do” type forays where you end up talking about house prices because you both assume that that’s what the other person wants to talk about and instead talk about stuff like skinning rabbits. Lovely bunch of people. Hello Sarah and Duncan, Sue and J, and Saffy who organised it. I was a bit sad to let them go and had to make up some story about wanting to go to Central Station so we could follow Saffy around. The food. No sign of Bill with his daughter on hip but Toni did have his famous scrambled eggs. They were good but a bit milky and underwhelming after the build-up I heard. The ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter were extremely good though and if there’s a gripe it’s that having to get bacon on the side is like having to pay for tomato sauce with a pie. Just saying.
Kylie Kwong, Billy Kwong , Surry Hills
There are no reservations so you just rock up and wait at the pub until they call you. Ideal for chancers like us. We got there a bit after six and there were just two people sitting at a table doing business like stuff and waiters standing around. I was a bit hesitant to enter thinking it was closed but no we were just the first and within half an hour it was full.
Kylie was actually there but spent the evening sitting there wondering if she should come up and talk to me and what she’d say once she did. Eventually deciding she’d probably feel like a wanker and settled for a smile and a nod when she caught my eye.
Great great great food. To get a wider range as there was just the two of us we went for the Kylie banquet. Only about $70 a head and great value since we sat on mineral waters after swearing off alchohol for 24 hours after too much sparkling and beer.The great thing was that it didn’t end up being like a dego, it was just a lot of dishes that didn’t look any different in size to the a la carte. We had
[checks notes on back of Newtown Beauty Therapy flyer]
steamed oyshes w/-ck mm; scallop wontons + crown; kingfishsashim; cutthefish-dried pork-lapsun; mussels in black bensau with garlic oneu size mantdy; sillu tofu ws hh peas br?l; duck; spqer;
All extremely good and extremely smart. Lots of looking over at other tables to see what they were having. Mucho ribboning and clever combos of core of ingredients with a menu that was obviously very personal rather than arch. The quality of the ingredients like the kingfish and the oysters and the tofu and seasonal touches like peas. The cooking was spot on and things like the cuttlefish just right. The duck was very arresting with large slices of orange and length of cassia bark on perfectly crispy skin. So impressed I bought the cookbook. Staff were great and knew their stuff. Vibe is a very imprecise quality bit the vibe was good.
Elvis’ Birthday Night Tribute at the Empire somewhere near Newtown
Lovley night. You don’t have to be young to be in a band you know. The drummer looked like Dennis Lillee and didn’t miss a beat. The organist looked like he’d just stepped off minding the door and kept scanning the room for someone to drag out into the street no doubt. The lead guitarist looked like he’d fallen asleep after a Bachelor and Spinster’s Ball 15 years ago and was awoken, befuddled at first, for this very gig. The MC made we wish there were more cabaret style Singing raconteurs in around these days. John Kennedy was a taller skinnier deeper voiced Nick Cave with better sidies and a more kinetic pointing style. Outstanding. Headliner Dave Graney was shit. Like being at Kim Il Sung’s Karaoke party. Did the cold spoon by following upn a rousing everybody up on stage singalong of Viva las Vegas for all the other artists with Are You Lonesome Tonight.
Stranger’s Dining Room New South Wales Parliament House
This was the best for lots of reasons. Firstly that I would be having Sardinian style Roast Suckling Pig at a venue supported by the NSW taxpayer. The bits of pork from the flesh of each rib tasted that much sweeter and the crackle that much cracklier with the though that it might inspire a hundred speed dials to Alan to have whinge about how they only had beans on toast for lunch. No really thank you, as a little person, it was a special honour. The other thing was that it was a rare opportunity as the staff cafeteria was out of action so it was open to staff and they’d just got a new chef who was great. The place was abuzz with talk of suckling pig even at the bar where I picked up a bottle of Keith Tulloch 2000 Semillon. The decor is decidedly 70’s but they’ve got this great colonial style tableware with gold trimmed plates and everything bearing the emblem or the stamp of NSWG. I didn’t think to nick any but if they ever have a garage sale, I am so driving back over there. Cappucino and a dessert of Baked Apple with an Orange Glaze and a Blood Orange Sorbet. All fabulous and all for not much more than a meal at Cocklebiddy. Thank you New South Wales, here have some resource derived export revenue.
Three fave places: Kinokuniya bookstore, Dinosaur Designs, and DEUSexMACHINA. Fucked if I could find a copy of Gravity’s Rainbow anywhere. 5 000 0000 copies of Ayn Fucking Rand though.
You HAVE to do the Sydney by Diva tour where you are driven around the city in a bus with a drag queen for a hostess. It’s hilarious. My cheeks ached. Goes the classic sites like the Opera House and Bondi with bits on local history, tells you where to meet a feller (anywhere with bushes it seems) and where you can wash your hands, very personal at times – I was touched (but not as much as the Canadian guy). Lots of champagne and cheezels if you’re in economy and you get to do a choreographed routine.
And that’s most of it, shouldn’t have left it for five years. Worth the drive. Cheers to all the nice folks I met and caught up with.