I had the good fortune to take the train from Melbourne to Sydney for two days on Bondi Beach and two days in Sydney city. People in Melbourne seemed aghast I was going to Sydney (and vice versa), so I made up an elaborate tale about how my flight left from Sydney so I had to make my way there (leaving out the details about spending four extra days as a tourist). And how I had to go to Melbourne, because that’s where my conference was. In reality, I loved both places equally – Melbourne for its family friendly eco ways, and Sydney for being so hip and glittery.
My two favourite things in Sydney were not food related, but of course I also ate along the way. I’d never miss a meal. That’s just ridiculous.
First, I hiked from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach. This took a glorious two hours, snaking along a paved cliff-side path. There were some odd sights for my gawking pleasure – beach volleyball in the middle of winter, dreadlocked gentlemen crawling up from amongst the rocks, a full cemetery with dozens of gravesites embedded on the side of an ocean view, outdoor pools that spilled into the ocean (including a polar bear one, aptly under a restaurant named ‘Iceberg), and lots of overheard talk about the Tour de France win.
But first, I had to eat. I was staying half a block from Bondi Beach, at Bondi Beach House. My accommodations were terribly tiny, but quaint, and in a perfect pedestrian location. I ambled down to Bondi Trattoria for breakfast each of my two mornings, and here’s what I saw…
It was sunny and +15. In the dead of winter. I’m situated on a porch of a cafe right on Bondi Beach – I arrived from the train in the dead of night, and so have little sense of my surroundings. There are lots of babies and dogs around here – it is obviously Sunday and a day for families. High end babies and dogs, mind you – this neighbourhood reminds me of Kits in Vancouver, but with a more magnificent and open beach.
I’ve learned to order the flat white, which is a cappuccino without the foamy bits, and not nearly as milky as a latte. In Edmonton, only Transcend offers the flat white.
The waiter just came around and asked, “do you mind if I nick your pepper?”.
I’m eating a crostini – a big piece of bread – with lox, avocado and mayonnaise – surely three of my most favourite toppings in the world. Oh, with ‘rocket‘ – I’ve eaten lots of rocket – it seems beloved by the Australians (and me).
After my big walk, I wander around Coogee, looking for a phantom restaurant at an address that does not exist. I finally give up, and head to the place that is packed with the most people – Barzura. This is a big risk for me, an obsessive restaurant planner…but my hunger and need to pee win out.
I order the fish and chips at this place at the tip of Coogee Beach. It is stuffed with families doing the Sunday nosh, and I talk the host out of seating me at the bar and get a proper table.
I eat. The fish is a flathead, lightly battered with beer, but the chips look floppy and frozen, Irish pub style. But I cannot say for sure. Ordering a raspberry muddled alcoholic concoction helps everything go down smoothly. It starts to rain, so I use that as my excuse to cab home and forgo the two hour trek back.
The next day, I frequent Bondi Trattoria again. If it worked yesterday, why not today? Plus, they let me sit on the patio, instead of by the toilet.
This morning I indulged in two poached eggs on a potato frittata, heaped with smoked salmon and spinach, floating in a mustardy hollandaise sauce. Since I did not have dinner last night, and I walked eight hours, AND I’m on holiday, I’m indulging, big time. I happily eat the whole thing. This is my last few hours on Bondi Beach before I head into Sydney city. I order another flat white and wander down to the beach to contemplate life (no epiphanies as of yet).
Up next – Sydney city, and the Opera House that reduced me to tears. Some good eatin’ too.