Don’t worry we didn’t just drink in Sydney, we also ate – ALOT! I love living in Melbourne (a true “foodie” city) but it was good to see and taste what Sydney had on offer. Here are my favourite spots from the weekend…
Stop 1 – Bills (Crown Street Surry Hills)
Bills is owned by the loveable home taught cook Bill Granger and yes, it kills me that the name of his store is missing an apostrophe. Bill is famous around the world for his breakfasts and his ability to create simple meals that taste great. I’ve made a few of his recipes before and they were a huge success, so we thought we would head to one of his restaurants to see what it was like.
The store has a sleek industrial look – there is light bouncing off the white surfaces, metal accents, and just enough wood to warm the look up. We sat nestled in the corner drinking café lattes while perusing the menu.
I always find it difficult to resist the idea of dessert for breakfast so I chose ricotta hotcakes (do they always call pancakes this in Sydney?) with banana, maple syrup and honeycomb butter. The pancakes were light and fluffy, and the ricotta provided just enough of a tart taste to offset the fact that I was drenching them in syrup. S chose the corn fritters with avocado salsa, spinach, roast tomato and bacon. I stole some of his breakfast which was also really yummy, however, I’ve made the fritters and salsa from one of Bill’s books before and we both decided that my version was even better than the restaurant version – yay!
Stop 2 – Bourke Street Bakery (Bourke Street Surry Hills)
I first heard of this bakery when I saw its book in store (my mum owns the book and although we have never made anything from it, I do look longingly at the bread, tarts and muffins within on occasion) and I had decided it was a must visit.
The bakery had rustic looking bread on old wooden shelves and a steady crowd of regulars walking through the door for the favourite treat. You could tell how dedicated this crowd was – all the outdoor seats were full, even though it was a struggle to hear anything with a jackhammer tearing the road up only a couple of metres away.
We chose a few items to take away and eat in a quieter street – they were definitely worth the wait. We munched our way through a pear and rhubarb muffin (it was almost as light as a cupcake), a tart filled with fresh raspberries and silky chocolate mousse and a golden ginger brulee tart with jewel like pistachios scattered on the top. I loved the ginger tart and I think it would have worked perfectly with a big cup of chai latte.
Stop 3 – Cafe Viva (Darling Street Balmain)
Burritos and a mojito for brunch? I know it sounds a bit odd, but it was late morning, the sun was beating down and the mojito didn’t actually have any alcohol in it. We stumbled across a little café and we were really glad to grab a seat in the warm shade outdoors.
S had a fairly traditional breakfast – poached eggs and baked beans on toast with a banana smoothie – but I loved the idea of having something typically unbreakfasty. I ordered a vegetarian breakfast burrito, which was filled with black beans and cheese and came with diced tomato, red onion, guacamole and jalapenos to sprinkle all over the top. I washed it all down with a huge glass of lime, mint and sweet icy water. My breakfast filled me right up and made me feel really fresh and zingy!
Stop 4 – Adriano Zumbo Patisserie (Darling Street Balmain)
I was expecting a giant queue out the door so I was pleasantly surprised to see that the queue was contained within the store. The window display was full of standard (and not so standard) viennoiserie, but the counters within the store were heaving with brightly coloured and oddly shaped tarts, cakes and macarons. As the queue creeped through the store I decided on my order -and was shocked when a woman actually pushed in front of me and ordered when it was obvious I was before her. Luckily I had a huge box of sugar to make me feel better!
S and I wandered down to the local park to get started on our box of goodies but it took us a whole day of sugar highs and lows to work our way through it. The cakes and tarts were definitely the highlight but we also bought a pepito (a pastry filled with chocolate and cinnamon) and two macarons (passionfruit yoghurt and rice pudding) which were scrumptious!
The most creative cake was the cherry can of cola (“Escape from a Colombia Rainforest”) – a chocolate mousse covered with tangy cherry dust. When we opened the chocolate “ringpull” we discovered it was filled with a gooey cherry cola jam.
‘Ed Rocks the Cradle’ was another crazy dessert that somehow didn’t collapse (I have no idea how!). It was a chocolate biscuit base filled with a chocolate/coffee mousse and topped with caramel and Italian meringue.
‘Charlie Brown’ looked a bit plainer but was the best tasting dessert – a tart base filled with layers of caramelised nuts and chocolate mousse, it was topped with a thin sheet of peanut brittle. I adore peanuts and chocolates together and the caramelised sugar managed to further improve it.
After eating so much food we were definitely glad we walked around the city instead of catching a bus or train!
(image credits where not mine: bills restaurant; bill granger’s food; bourke street bakery cookbook)