Back from Sydney! As we didn’t really do any touristing (The Boy and I have been to Sydney before and seen the usual sites), I only really ended up taking a few photos, mostly of food. We set out to try a few things that aren’t so readily available at home in Canberra, so here’s my assessment of the Sydney foods what we tried.
Chinatown Night Market
We arrived in Sydney just in time for the last bit of the Chinatown Night Market, which felt a lot like a mix of the markets I saw in Hong Kong, China and Japan. Imported trinkets, fake ugg boots, busy crowds and the wafting smell of food. We didn’t get there until toward the end of the market and a lot of the good stuff was gone, but we did have some takoyaki (needed more octopus), various skewered barbecued meats (onto which was poured a disturbing amount of oil), a custard filled Japanese pancake (delicious, wish we’d gotten there in time for the red bean ones), coconut juice out of a freshly cut young coconut, and some Dragon Beard Candy. The dragon beard candy was the best bit for me, despite being extremely messy to try and eat in small bites – the process of stretching the ring of sugar(?) until it ends up with a fairy floss like consistency was fascinating to watch. I think I need to take more photos of the markets next time I’m in Sydney for them!
Dinner at Encasa (warning! Link contains Comic Sans!) ended up being incredibly disappointing for such a highly rated restaurant. Sure, it was a busy Saturday night, but it was thirty minutes or so before the first plate came out and the final one came almost an hour later, with the rest of them spaced in between. I’m definitely not an expert on tapas but personally I think it works better when you can pick at all the plates at once – not have the first dishes cold or eaten by the time the last ones come out. Service was terrible; we saw tables that were seated and ordered after us served before us; when I cancelled our last dish saying it was taking far too long, they brought it out and refused to accept the cancellation or apologise for the wait. The food was not terrible but in my opinion somewhat bland – the garlic and chilli prawns didn’t seem to have any chilli at all, and the chorizo was lacking in any heat. If the service was any better I might have felt more forgiving, but between everything it was disappointing and we left full but not particularly satisfied. Maybe I should have known better – their logo and entire branding is in Comic Sans, which isn’t exactly confidence inspiring. Maybe it lives up to the high ratings and reviews on less busy nights, but personally I’d recommend avoiding it on the weekend.
The main reason I wanted to go to the Lindt Cafe was to try their macarons – I’ve never tasted one before, which led to me being not sure if I’d done them right when I tried to make them some time ago (I hadn’t). These were lovely and crisp on the outside, chewy in the middle, and really damn pretty. The rose one was a bit more of a nanna’s potpourri rose flavour rather than a fresh rose flavour, but the pistachio one was something I can aspire to!
The Good Food and Wine Show
The Good Food and Wine Show was the main reason we were in Sydney for the weekend, and it was definitely worth the trip. The number of stalls was massive, with food, wine, magazines, sauces, oils, utensils and vaguely related things (there were at least three different magic chamois stalls?!). Most stalls had something to taste, which filled my cheapo heart with glee as I ran around sampling everything I could. One disappointment was the lack of anyone selling cheese – especially has half of the show was wine, and I would have thought cheese would be a logical thing to complement it. I somehow expected the show to be something like a massive providore, with free samples – this was true in some parts promoting regional wines and food (apart from the lack of cheese!), but there were also large numbers of bigger brands which I was less interested in.
We went to see George and Gary of Masterchef do their little talk, which was amusing even if it was fairly scripted and difficult to see from behind tall people. I liked the way they parodied things they tend to get criticised for, like turning ‘just a splash’ of olive oil into half a bottle. I don’t think I’ll be buying their cookbooks anytime soon though; I always find the amount of oil and butter they use somewhat horrifying.
I will say this for the show – if you wanted to (or even if you just weren’t very good at keeping track) you could very easily get very drunk just from tastings. The rum guy in particular was a little too generous; I think I ended up having a shot or two just from that. We didn’t really buy much as we didn’t have a safe way to transport it home on the bus, but we do have the details of a few different wineries and breweries to order from online, and plans to check out more wine regions around Australia.
Spice I Am
There are two Spice I Am restaurants in Sydney – a takeaway place and a swanky restaurant. I point this out because we headed out for the former when we actually wanted the latter, then ended up having a much longer walk than we’d anticipated and rocking up 40 minutes late for our booking. We were greeted in Thai with smiles and bows anyway, and had wonderful service throughout the night. The food was brought out quickly and was well presented and delicious. The decor is beautiful and modern; even their menus felt lovely and extravagant (okay yes, I tend to judge a restaurant by its menu). It definitely isn’t a cheap place for dinner, but this was the second time I’d been there for a special occasion and wasn’t disappointed. It’s definitely inspired The Boy and I to experiment more with Thai flavours and look beyond the obvious dishes. Asian desserts are definitely something I’d like to explore more – the warm black sticky rice with coconut ice-cream wasn’t too sweet but incredibly delicious; definitely the highlight of the meal for me!