Sydney, a City Tasting Tour
The view may be picture perfect, but Sydney’s food is the real scene stealer. Passionate producers surround the city, local fishermen pull in to the wharfs at Pyrmont and chefs forage by the beach as waves' crash beside them.
While Australia is relatively young, what its cuisine lacks in history, it makes up for with variety. Multi-cultural influences are met with local ingredients and adapted with a laid-back flare. As a result, Sydney’s cuisine is as diverse as its landscape and it’s virtually impossible to pinpoint a single, traditional dish. Some will say it’s as simple as fish and chips on the beach; while others will point you in the direction of the city’s hottest restaurants.
Sydney chefs are an inquisitive bunch, known to travel the globe in search of inspiration. Quay is not only perched on Sydney’s foreshore, but also on the San Pellegrino Top 50 List, while Marque received the hotly contested International Breakthrough Award in 2010.
Water laps against the city at almost every angle, so it’s little wonder that fresh, local produce dominates the Sydney food scene. The city meets the sea at Sydney Fish Market - so expect to be lured by local Sydney Rock Oysters, native Rocklobsters or even classic King Prawns. Satisfy your senses at Eveleigh Farmers’ Market, where every Saturday, local farmers and artisan producers unveil some of the state's finest produce. Stalls line the old Eveleigh rail yard, flaunting fragrant herbs, vibrant heirloom vegetables and home-made delicacies. But for true, over-the-top indulgence, Victor Churchill is the answer. At this family butcher, meat is honoured like a work of art and handled like a precious jewel.
Boutique roasters and funky cafés scatter Sydney’s suburbs, but there’s one inner-city cafe not to be missed. Hoards of Sydney-siders detour via Mecca Espresso each morning, where the beans have been hand-picked from around the world. But once the rush is over, the fun begins, with a range of specialty coffees on offer, including cold-brewed espresso. Across town, Bourke Street Bakery has its own cult-following - but who can blame them - with buttery croissants, wholesome loaves of bread and a killer flour-less chocolate cake. Once you’ve polished off a lemon curd tart, wander along Crown Street, the heart of Surry Hills, which is bursting with restaurants, providores, butchers and wine bars. For one last decadent treat, you’d be foolish to skip Gelato Messina. Expect to be tempted by dangerously delicious desserts, including Rococo: a mix honey, chocolate, coconut and crunchy, sticky nougat.
Raising the bar
Fabulous new wine bars are popping up all over town, with boutique wines and serious cocktails. Tucked away in an unassuming lane way, 121BC ticks all the right boxes with Italian wines and tantalizing bar food. Bar H is another favourite, with a tailor-made wine list by Charles Leong, a veteran of Sydney’s wine industry. Not to be outdone, talented chef (and co-owner) Hamish Ingham takes charge in the kitchen - so you’re guaranteed to find something which takes your fancy. And last, but certainly not least, is The Wine Library in Woollahra. Nestled amongst Sydney’s finest fashion stores, this sexy new-comer offers all day dining, with a fifteen page wine list to boot. (Hint: Arrive early and settle in, as this local gem fills to the brink most nights of the week.)
Top of the shops
Variety is the spice of life, so along with Sydney’s superb farmers markets, butchers and espresso bars, be sure to swing by Herbie’s Spices. Owners Ian (Herbie) Hempbill and Liz Hempbill have been associated with spices for over forty years and their exhaustive collection includes many native Australian spices, such as wattle seed and lemon myrtle. Sydney’s most decadent pantry can be found at Simon Johnson, a store bursting with oils, vinegars, cheeses and everything in between. The man himself, Simon Johnson, scours the world for the very best products and you can easily lose track of time as you peruse the collection. And if you can’t resist temptation, skip Pure and General, which stocks a desirable range of plates, cutlery and glassware along with French copper pots and marble rolling pins.