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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Last Stop in Australia: BONDI BEACH!

For me, Bondi beach was magical. It reached above and beyond all expectations of what the best beach in the world should be. Then again, I come from a place of Jones Beach, not the most exotic. The beach could be viewed in its entirety from miles around it seemed. The bus dropped us off at street level, set above the beach near all the shops and restaurants. I feel like I stepped into the inspiration board for the creative teams behind Roxy, Hollister, and Quicksilver. Surf shops were at every corner, and on Sundays there is the Bondi Beach Market with independent Australian designers selling clothing, accessories, jewelry, vintage clothing, art, home goods and more. Down on the beach, the waves are incredible. Surfers are out, rain or shine. It is a bright blue ocean followed by golden sand followed by a field of grass.
Bondi Beach
Walking the boardwalk
The Bucket List inside
The Bucket list outside
Crate stools for tables outside

The sun would come and go, then a few sprinkles of rain would pass through. It wasn't weather for laying out, but with the town overlooking Bondi, we decided to sit outside at The Bucket List and soak up the view. It's an indoor/outdoor bar and eatery serving up Pimm's pitchers and buckets of prawns to those who come in from the beach for lunch. Inside, there's wicker lampshades, pastel picture frames, and teal banquets with white painted wood. Outside, colorful milk crates double as chairs with painted wood boards attached as seat cushions. Don't forget to check your surf board at the door upon entry. We sat down with a pitcher of sangria and did some people watching and wave watching over the Bondi Pavillion.

For lunch we moved on to Ravesi's. Again, overlooking Bondi Beach, we sat upstairs and enjoyed a Thai beef and prawn salad, an avocado beet goat cheese salad, and shrimp and chips. To finish out our day, we went for happy hour at Bondi Social. We sat on the upper level balcony overlooking one of the most famous beaches in the world.
Enjoying our last day in Sydney at Bondi Social
Bondi through the eyes of Pinot Grigio

Saturday, March 23, 2013

An Australian Staple: Harry's meat pies

Harry's Cafe de Wheels

Corner Cowper Wharf Roadway
& Brougham Road in Woolloomooloo

What is the story behind Harry's Cafe de Wheels? It's an Australian staple that everyone must try, and I learned this from my foodie hero Anthony Bourdain. But why? Maybe it's the original food truck. In 1938 it all began at the Woolloomooloo navy pier by a man named Harry Edwards. When Harry fought in WWII in the Middle East, he was nicknamed 'Tiger' and there you have it. 'Tiger' is the most famous pie at Harry's, and it was my top choice to try. Over the years its popularity grew, as it was sold and bought by new owners. In the 90's, pies were shipped to an Australian themed Oscar party in LA by Rupert Murdoch. And now, it is a Sydney icon, says the National Trust of Australia.

We paid a visit to the original location in Woolloomooloo. Being a gluttunous pig while I'm on vacation, I ordered two pies. I mean, we were on our way to the beach. You would think one pie would suffice but NO, I wanted an extra helping of carbs and fat to round out my curves. My first (and favorite) pie was Harry's Tiger pie. It was filled with chunky beef and topped with mashed potatoes, mushy peas, and gravy. This was mind-blowingly, life-changingly awesome. Extreme comfort food. The pies weren't as big as I expected so I felt less piggy ordering two. My next one was the Curry Chicken pie, and it was a bit spicy and full of flavor. It was great, but nothing beats the Tiger pie!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Down a dark alley in Sydney....

Basement 152-156 Clarence St., Sydney
(Too cool for social media)

This place got written up enough times that I don’t need to go on and on about it. It’s a hidden whiskey bar down a dark alley, and there is a line, so come early! The bartenders are in aprons and mustaches, young and cool with an old-school look. The multi-tiered shelves were chock full of countless whiskey bottles, so you better get your spectacles on to read the board with over 300 kinds listed to choose from. The fun of getting the highly coveted seats at the bar is watching the bartenders at work. They swing like monkeys across the bar, latching on to the ceiling planks, climbing the whiskey wall ladder. It was a show. Aside from just whiskey, they can make any drink you choose, and they have a nice beer and wine list.

We were indecisive. I usually like to try what they are known for most, but in this case there were too many varieties to choose from. We spoke to our bartender about our dilemma and he came up with something for us to try. A juicer sat on the bar top. He put a whole Australian granny smith apple in the juicer (core and stem included) and out came a frothy green liquid. He poured the green apple juice into a glass with whiskey and shook it with ice. I was seriously skeptical, because my taste buds literally NEVER crave the sourness of a green apple, let alone mixed with whiskey. But to our surprise, this drink was phenomenal. We were very happy with our bartenders’ expertise and vowed to spread the good word of Baxter Inn back home in the states.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Voted Most Wild and Crazy Bar in Sydney (by me)

The Norfolk
Bloody Mary anyone?
305 Cleveland St.
Surry Hills, Sydney

Have I covered enough bars yet from my Sydney trip? Nope! We found our way to the suburb of Surry Hills. We've been hearing a lot about the party scene in that area, so why not check it out on a Saturday afternoon? We had good intentions at the start of our day, I promise. We went to an outdoor market that offered mostly garbage, and it inspired us to find an afternoon cocktail. 

When we found The Norfolk, it was full of life. It was only mid-afternoon, and already stag parties were clearly intoxicated, judging by the golf ball they tossed into my beer (oh, I learned that that's Australian for "CHUG IT!!!!!"). I did as the locals do, and chugged my beer like I was back at a Long Island college bar (cough, Mulcahy’s, cough). 
We made some small talk with the drunken locals, and witnessed the various exotic potions that got them to their current state of mind. After a few drinks we needed something to eat, and we spotted tacos on the menu. We got 8 tacos from the selection of pork, beef, fish, chicken, lamb, and veg. They were perfect, and it got us back in the right state of mind to finish out our night. 
The Norfolk got busier as the day turned to night. Eventually we quit while we were ahead and left for our hotel. On our walk home, we crashed a stage performance of Peter Pan and rolled around on the streets laughing, but that’s another story. 
I get why Norfolk is so popular. It’s the most fun we’ve had in Sydney so far. With chalkboard walls filled with reasons to make drinking fun (i.e. Bloody Mary Bar!) I can see why this place is wild even during a Saturday afternoon. 
Australian mixology at its finest

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Trying the Best Cake in NYC (and bone marrow too...)

The Marrow 75

99 Bank St.
I was browsing through New York mag to find the best of the best in restaurants and bars, when I stumbled upon The Marrow. It was voted best cake in NYC, and it wasn't even cake I was looking for but I knew I must go. I heard of this place before, so I assumed I must have read that they serve good bone marrow. Duh. I did my research and sure enough, they have an increasingly popular dish: bone marrow with sea urchin! Gasp.

I made a reservation almost immediately upon reading the menu filled with savory German/Italian comfort foods. Next thing you know, I'm on Bank Street in the West Village with a Marrow 75 in my  hand. Oh, that's their signature cocktail: pink gin, lemon, sage, blanc de blancs. My new favorite cocktail, and I usually don't even like gin! I guess I love a pretty presentation with unique ingredients and the perfect balance of sweetness to alcohol.

It was a whirlwind of small plates. Some of the dishes were crispy braised duck, foie gras mousse, burrata, and short ribs. The duck was incredible. Our waiter sold us on the way it was cooked and pressed to obtain such a crispy edge. We tried the cotechino with lentils, but both the sausage and the lentils were too salty for my taste.

Now lets get to it. The bone marrow!!!! This was (obviously) the highlight. For only $16 you get a nice size bone. I've paid more for less (cough, Landmarc, cough) and this was truly a breath of fresh air. There was actually more marrow than I expected so I could barely finish it all. At one end I pulled out a huge piece and I felt like I just struck gold! The sea urchin was full of that BRINY flavor. I always joke about that word because I have yet to hear a food review on sea urchin without "briny" being in it. Yes, it does taste like the ocean in the best way. It also has a nutty taste. And a mucus texture, says my friend. I think the texture is more firm than the mucus I have tried, but who am I to argue. Anyway, the bone marrow was topped with sea urchin and Meyer lemon aioli. I would've been happy with just the marrow and sea urchin. Better yet, I'd be happy with just a box of sea urchin for $8 from the Korean market.

Now, now, now. You didn't think I would leave without trying the best cake in New York, did you? I really let myself go with this one. The Ginger Stout Cake. It looked like a slice of bundt cake with cinnamon and ginger spice to it, roasted pears and honey ice cream. I usually skip dessert because I'm too depressed by how much I've already eaten, but for the best cake in the city I made an exception. It really was fantastic, and instantly I felt my food coma being replaced by a sugar rush. My heart was beating a little too fast after my body took in all that sweetness, but it was welcomed.

Do yourself a favor and go here! Do the Fat Jackie Pre-Fixe: Marrow 75 Cocktail, Bone Marrow, Ginger Stout Cake. The End.
The Ginger Stout Cake
Foie Grad Mousse
Short Ribs

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Taking Tips From the Concierge

A good time nearby, said Troy, our trusted concierge.

The best local bar near our hotel (The Grace) in the central business district of Sydney. First, they won several awards on their beers. And I can tell you first hand, the beer is good. The bartenders were giving us generous samples of each beer until we found the one to settle down with. It was a long night of sampling. We met some locals, had a beer with our concierge Troy, and laughed with the bartenders. This was a good night all around. I should have taken notes because by the end I just couldn't remember the names of all my favorite beers. 
Chatting with some locals
The only way for two drunk girls to properly end the night is at the fast food joint next door, Oporto. We can't believe our drunken minds that anyone would name a sauce preggo. We banter with the cashier about how crazy that sauces name is, and ask if it will get us preggo. I thought she was amused by our slurring 'comedy', but looking back I now realize she just wanted us to take our food and call it a night.