This summer I whizzed down to Sydney to launch Saffron in the Souks. It was a whirlwind week of TV, radio interviews and a kick ass podcast with Delicious Magazine who had done the most amazing extract from the book in their June edition of the magazine. Without doubt, Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world; miles of blissful beaches, chic suburbs, the harbour and endless restaurants to choose from. I love it. So for anyone heading down under, here are a few of my favorite things to do in the city.
Huge thanks to Etihad for supporting my flights and helping me pull off my book tour.
A return fare departing from London – Sydney starts from £697 in economy class. This fare price is inclusive of all taxes and subject to availability. For reservations and further details visit www.etihad.com or call 0345 608 1225.”
Drive up to the Northern Beaches and discover a sophisticated stretch of coastline with plenty of envy inducing houses dotted around several beautiful bays. My favourite is Palm Beach of Home and Away fame. It’s easy to avoid the soap nerds and have a wonderful time hiking and swimming in the crystal clear waters. Stop for coffee on the beach at The Boat House and then head over to Barrenjoey House for a long lunch of crisp calamari and seafood spaghetti, washed down with buckets of rose.
Sizzling Surry Hills
Surry Hills is one of the slickest neighbourhoods in the city, full of chic independent shops and awesome restaurants. Every turn reveals a new coffee shop, cooler than the last. I love Ruben Hills. The coffee is on point and the food amazing. Melbourne export, Chin Chin is a glorious industrial-chic, neon lit Asian restaurant that promises good vibes and plates of sultry massaman beef curry, zingy kingfish sashimi and nutty beef pad seuw. Sorry Melbournites, I prefer this one. It’s bigger, badder and more fun. If Middle Eastern food is more your thing, Nomad is one of the greatest restaurants ever. A mighty space with a roaring bar and huge wood fired kitchen, dishing up silky smooth cannellini bean hummus, charred octopus with chorizo and the most succulent lamb I have ever eaten.
The Paramount House Hotel is an urban chic bolthole perfectly located opposite Chin Chin in swanky Surry Hills. You can literally roll home after dinner. The rooms are very hipster without being annoying; exposed brick walls, recycled linen and fancy Aesop products. They have roof top boxing classes in the morning so you can wake up and kick some ass before breakfasting at their in house cafe, Paramount Coffee Project.
Like wine and cheese, craft beer is an artisan product that deserves respect. It’s having a real moment in Sydney, with many top restaurants and bars offering an interesting range of Ozzie brewed beers and IPAs. The Inner West is the epicenter of the business and I enjoyed a sensationally sloshed afternoon with Dave’s Travel Group visiting several breweries. We started at Willie The Boatman, tucked behind Maniax, an axe throwing club (there is so much to talk about here but another time!) where we supped on Marrickville Beer and their remarkable Old Salty, a German inspired gose beer with a refreshing minerally aftertaste. We then moved onto the rock and roll Young Henrys and finally the tasting room at Batch Brewing.
I am a sucker for a walking tour and I have done several in Sydney with Culture Scouts. Forget the normal dullard tours, these guys unlock the city, taking you to see some of the coolest spots that you would otherwise not find. They do a brilliant tour of Redfurn, a grungy suburb with an incredible street art scene and a new inner city tour that explores the artisan traders and sensational speakeasys right in the centre of town. We ended up at Mojo Records, a decadent dive bar with distressed leather booths, killer soundtrack and a wide selection of Australian beers.
Sizzling Street Food
Kensington Street in Chippendale is a food lover’s paradise, with an incredible selection of restaurants, bars and street food. At one end, The Old Clare Hotel oozes sophisticated cool with a host of deliciousness to explore; feast at Automata or Barzaari, grab a negroni at The Clare or swing by A1 Canteen for brunch. This cool café has an interesting menu of Middle Eastern and South East Asian inspired dishes. The smoked feta toast is amazing. Further down the road is Spice Alley, an epic selection of hawker stalls selling beautifully cooked, reasonably priced Asian food. The nasi lemak from Alex Lee is rocking. And finally, at the other end, Concrete Jungle Café is an Instagrammer’s wet dream. They make very pretty dishes, jooshed up for the feed. Thankfully, everything taste amazing so definitely drop in.
There is so much happening in Newtown that I insist you hop in a friendly Uber and get your asses over there to have a wander. Night time is best, as the cities rather brutal lockout laws don’t apply. Wander down King Street and you can find everything from vintage clothes stores to XiangJing hand pulled noodles at Chinese Dumpling Master (amaze!) and killer cocktails at Earls Juke Joint. There is a serious selection of food to choose from. Bloodwood is one of the best restaurants in the capital. The food is eclectic and the vibe riotous. Others I love are Hartsyard, Queen Chow Enmore and The Stinking Bishop.