Tag Archives: Tourist Roads

The one where I picked strawberries in October

Words I never thought I’d say (or type), and yet here we are. After seeing innumerable pictures of folks back in the states picking out that perfect pumpkin, decked out in their fall finest, set against a backdrop of crisp autumn weather and falling leaves, I decided something must be done: I could pine for pumpkins, college football, puffy vests and boots, and the changing leaves of North Carolina or I could make my own fruit picking adventure. (Spoiler alert: I ultimately chose the latter.)

Sad but true

I mean obviously I came to Australia knowing that their seasons were opposite from those in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s a really odd thing to wrap your head around when you have forever been programmed to associate certain weather/clothes/activities/holidays/food, etc with seasons and months and then it’s all turned on its head. Even Dubai would “cool off” a bit as October, November, December approached. And while I certainly am not complaining about the burgeoning spring and summer weather here in Perth, one can’t help but feel a tug of nostalgia.

But I digress.

So given that pumpkins are a fall harvest food, Perth isn’t exactly a hub of pumpkin patches in the middle of October (spring to them). (Side note: they do sell imported pumpkins in the grocery stores for wistful expat suckers like me…just with a hefty price tag.) So given that it’s spring here, WA does have strawberry picking in full bloom – a good substitute in my opinion!

strawberrypickingperth3

My fellow expat blogger friend, Becca, had gone to a strawberry patch the week prior and returned with a huge haul of gorgeous berries…as many as you could pick and carry for $10! (The price is a key point here given this – a small carton of strawberries in the store here will set you back at least $6).

I was curious as to why the farm/patch (?) would let ordinary folks pay such a reasonable price to pick their own berries when they could sell them at a “better” price to local grocery stores. So after a bit of research, it turns out that these plants have reached the end of their commercial life, meaning that the strawberries are “too red” to be sold to the groceries – the stores need the berries to be less ripe (green) to increase shelf life. Bonus: if you go berry picking, you’re (in theory) getting the strawberries at their peak!

The strawberry plants went on and on and onAshlie, Keller, and I were game. Maybe we wouldn’t get a jack-o-lantern out of the deal, but we could pop over there in our t-shirts and shorts (don’t forget the bug spray and “sun cream”!) and make ourselves some strawberry shortcake in no time. We opted to split a tray and got to work…little K had a great time picking out the strawberries with us. 🙂

Nice little morning picking berries

Nice little morning picking berries

Fresh from the vine

Fresh from the vine

Our haul by the end of the morning - almost too many!

Our haul by the end of the morning – almost too many! (And please forgive K’s cap…) 😉

Cheap labor

Cheap labor

As you can see, we walked away with an impressive stash of strawberries. I can’t imagine having my own box of them!

Washed and ready for eating

Washed and ready for eating

If you’re in the Perth area, the patch we visited was at 263 Old West Road in Bullsbrook, WA, which was about 30-45 minutes outside of the CBD. You can just park on the verge and it’s open 7 days a week from 9AM-5PM until mid-December.

In the meantime, Ill be in the kitchen dicing, freezing, cooking, and baking strawberries – it may not be a jack-o-lantern, but having spring in October isn’t a bad deal 🙂 Until next time…

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The one with Les 7 Cascades

One of the highlights of our Mauritian adventure was definitely the “Les 7 Cascades” hike (“The 7 Waterfalls”). We met an uber fun Irish couple at the hotel who had completed the hike a few days prior and they raved about it; they also recommended using the guide that was praised on TripAdvisor – he wasn’t part of a large company or anything, but rather just had his cell phone number up on TripAdvisor for people to independently book him as a guide for the day.

The reviews for Jay and the hike speak for themselves!

The reviews on TripAdvisor for Jay and the hike speak for themselves!

And let me tell you: Jay was worth the hype (the hike in it of itself was, too!) Les 7 Cascades was exactly that: 7 waterfalls essentially stacked one after the next, all in the middle of a fairly untouched forest in the middle of the island of Mauritius.

Jay, a 4th generation Mauritian with his family originally emigrating from Mumbai, told us he liked to start the hike from a vantage point across the valley from the waterfalls and hike so you could see all the waterfalls at once and get an idea of what you would be trekking.

They're a bit far off, but you can kind of see a few of the "cascades"

They’re a bit far off, but you can kind of see a few of the “cascades”

Another element of the hike with Jay that we really enjoyed was the fact that he took you from the bottom of  les 7 cascades and then you worked your way up to see them from the bottom up, whereas all of the other tour guides/hikers worked from the top down. Jay said that was a fine way to go, but if you started from the bottom (insert Drake song here) and hiked upwards, you could actually see the waterfalls as you went.

The start of the hike was pretty steep and it was drizzling, so when I slipped onto my bum about 15 minutes in, I was a bit worried, but thankfully that was the only “slip up” (and I had a muddy bum to prove it!)

The first of the 7

The first of the 7 cascades

The waterfalls and forest was of course gorgeous, but there were little (but DEEP) pools of fresh water that we could jump in and swim around – the water was chilly, but totally worth it!

A little paddle-around

A little paddle-around

A little climb up into the rocks so we could frolic in the waterfall

A little climb up into the rocks so we could frolic in the waterfall

And all the way through the hike, Jay provided a plethora of information about Mauritius: the Mauritian people, the flora/fauna, how things have changed over the years, and the culture around the island – he was full of fun facts! And of course a great photographer (plus his wife makes you lunch and a snack – amazing authentic Indian food!!)

It was a breathtaking hike with a top notch local guide. We had a great day! Until next time…

Mauritius6 Mauritius5

IMG_7882 IMG_7801

 

The one where we celebrated our anniversary in Mauritius

Right around this time last year, Mauritius almost beat out Cape Town as our October Eid trip, and although we have never once regretted our choice to go to South Africa instead, both Barr and I always wistfully thought about the island of Mauritius.

Image via WorldAtlas.com

Armed with some Starwood points (and the celebratory excuse of our wedding anniversary), we decided to take the plunge and book a (direct!) flight from Perth to Mauritius. {The direct flight from Perth thing is a big deal – and all within 8 hours!}

Mauritius60

Mauritius is an independent island republic of about 1.2M people, and boasts an incredible multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural population: French, Creole and English are the primary languages known and spoken and you see every house of worship on the same city block, which is pretty neat.

Of course tourism plays a big role in Mauritius’ economy, with plenty of serene resorts, crystal clear waters, and year-round temperate weather. It’s also a huge kite-surfing mecca. While we didn’t get an opportunity to learn kite-surfing this time around, that’s one of the next things on our bucket list! There was plenty of beach time, kayaking, hiking, and just general relaxing.

Pardon the photo-heavy post, but the shots tell the story of the trip! 🙂 Until next time…

IMG_7753 IMG_7756MauritiusMauritius32 PMMauritius56

The one where spring arrived in Perth

Last week it didn’t really seem like spring here in Perth. Lame. But what a difference a week makes!

Perth CBD from King's Park

Perth CBD from King’s Park

Cottesloe Beach

Cottesloe Beach

Temperatures have upped all the way to 25/26C (that’s ~78F), with the forecast for this weekend slated to be 32C (91F)! While I don’t miss the oppressive Houston or Dubai summers (or late springs/early falls for that matter), I did miss warm weather and continual sun – what can I say? I must suffer from seasonal depression disorder 😉

I am so thrilled with this sudden shift in temps and sunshine that I took advantage of it this week and spent lots of time outside in two of my favorite Perth outdoor spots: King’s Park (larger than NYC’s Central Park!) and Cottesloe Beach.

King’s Park

King's Park, Perth

King’s Park, Perth

Police on horseback

Police on horseback

Spectacular spring day

Spectacular spring day

One of the floral displays

One of the floral displays

ANZAC Memorial

ANZAC Memorial

A portion of downtown Perth from the park

A portion of downtown Perth from the park

Cottesloe Beach: I love this beach! Clearly it has the turquoise waters and fine white sand 🙂 but I think the forestry (Norfolk Island pines, primarily) and pathways that line the beach on the back make this a special spot.

Cottesloe

Cottesloe

The Cottesloe Pylon

The Cottesloe Pylon

The Indiana Teahouse is a building you’ll see featured prominently in photos of “Cott” (I put this in quotation marks because although a lot of people call Cottesloe “Cott”, I don’t think I’m cool enough to do that yet); the Indiana Teahouse was built in 1910 as an ice cream parlor. Now it’s a little restaurant spot right on the beach.

"Cott" and the Indiana Teahouse

“Cott” and the Indiana Tea House – you can really see those pines that line the beach

Indiana Teahouse building

Indiana Tea House building (and a few sunbathers – they were brave because even though it was sunny, it wasn’t exactly bikini weather!)

Thank you for indulging me with [landscape] photo overload…the scenery was just too good to pass up!

Have great weekends, y’all – and until next time….

The one with the Lancelin roadtrip

One of the weirdest things about living in Australia is wrapping my head around June, July, and August being winter months. Now while winter in Perth is hardly a sacrifice (no snow, temperatures do not dip below 10C/50F…knock on wood, no need for a big heavy coat), it’s still odd to have the heater on in July. Or an ice skating rink set up in Perth CBD, serving hot chocolate and mulled wine (hello?!?! I associate these things with Christmas!) But no matter. If this is winter in Australia, I’ll take it! 🙂

Winter in Perth does not suck

Winter in Perth does not suck

So even though this past weekend it was a bit chilly and overcast in Perth, Barr and I decided to “brave” the elements and go on a mini road trip. I read about the Lancelin sand dunes and adjacent beaches, about an hour and a half drive north of Perth. The drive was beautiful; we kept commenting that we couldnt believe that just twenty minutes from our house was so much tranquility and…well, just nothing (with the exception of sheep!)

You can read more about my thoughts on Lancelin on my WeekendNotes article here.

Easy trip from Perth CBD to Lancelin

When we rolled up to Lancelin, we were blown away (and not just because it was a windy day) 😉

Lancelin, Western Australia

Lancelin, Western Australia

The colors of the water were some of the brightest turquoise I’ve ever seen – seriously it rivaled the Maldives and Caribbean!

And then there were the dunes:

Lancelin Sand Dunes

Lancelin Sand Dunes

We dont have the proper car to do the dune bashing and didnt call ahead to book sand-boarding, but there were plenty of folks extreme sport-ing around the dunes…even in the “dead” of winter!

Taking it all (and hopefully relaxing!) in Lancelin - please note the fleece :)

Taking it all (and hopefully relaxing!) in Lancelin – please note the fleece 🙂 We may be at the beach, but it was pretty chilly!

Lancelin beaches

Lancelin beaches

It was a great little day trip for us on a chilly winter day – I would love to go back in the summer to check out the beaches then! Until next time…

The one explaining Dabbawala

No no, dabbawala isnt an Aussie slang word. Dabbawala refers to a delivery person in India – picking up hot lunches from the homes/kitchens of a worker/employee in the late morning and then transporting and delivering said lunchbox to an office, and finally returns the empty lunchbox back to the customer’s home in the afternoon.  Here’s a good visual:

Dabbawala delivery system in Mumbai (via MyDestination)

So what prompted this post, you may ask? Well, I went to see the foreign film, The Lunchbox, earlier today – a sweet, Indian film about the unlikely romance that blossoms as a result of a dabbawala delivery mix up (which as you’ll learn, isn’t all that common.) I won’t spoil the ending or the plot for you; however, if you get the chance, see the movie – so cute! Even if the character in the center of the picture below looks a tad creepy…

The Lunchbox movie poster (via Wikipedia)

Back to the dabbawalas.

This delivery system works so well in India (primarily Mumbai) because office workers in India prefer to eat home-cooked lunches, coupled with the fact that many Indian women (wives, mothers, daughters, sisters) work from the home and can utilize the dabbawala’s service.

The dabbawalas are impressive, yall! I did a bit of research after the movie, and they kept the service up during floods, monsoons, even the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai – there are currently over 5,000 dabbawalas working tirelessly in Mumbai delivering over 200,000 lunch boxes each day!

Love this b&w shot of a dabbawala – so cheery! (via Jwritings.com)

Indeed, the system is so impressive (and fascinating) that professors from Harvard Business School wrote a case study on the process – a quote from a report from NBC News:

So deeply imprinted that the dabbawalas rarely, if ever, make a mistake. Their delivery system has been awarded a six sigma level of efficiency. That means they make around one mistake in every six million deliveries. 

“A hundred things can go wrong along the way — tiffins delivered to the wrong destination, tiffins lost, tiffins broken — but they rarely do,” said Sawant. “Our motto is ‘error is horror.’”

Their delivery system has garnered international fame as a highly specialized trade, attracting Prince Charles and Richard Branson and warranting a case-study at Harvard Business School, visits from global delivery giant FedEx, and a series of documentaries.

Intriguing, right?? If it’s good enough for HBS, Prince Charles, FedEx, and Richard Branson, I’m sold 😉 Not to mention the tiffins (or their snazzy lunchbox containers) are super practical for warmed food – I love the 4-5 stacked compartments!

An example of a tiffin used in the dabbawala delivery service

Umm borderline obsessed with this colorful tiffin! (via Women’s Day)

So I’ll leave yall with a video I found in my googling – it made me cry (pretty easy feat in my case, but I guarantee that even if you’re not a crier – *cough Barr cough* – you’ll smile huge in the last minute or so): the dabbawalas make about the equivalent of $5(USD) a month, working rain or shine – and always on time at that! I love punctuality (*cough Barr cough*) 😉 The Indian head bobble is also prevalent in this clip – love!

Want to read more on the dabbawalas? Here are some of my favorite links that I came across:

Add this to my ever growing list of reasons why I want to visit India. 🙂 Until next time…

 

The one with South Australia: The Barossa Valley

I’ve come to the final leg of my South Australia journey – the Barossa Valley! Prior to my trip I had never heard of the McLaren Vale or the Clare Valley, but the Barossa was one wine region of which I was previously aware, Penfolds and Jacob’s Creek, specifically.

The glorious Barossa

The glorious Barossa

The Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley

The Barossa Valley

We went the B&B route again and really lucked out to book into Goat Square Cottages (located in the village of Tanunda), which were some of the oldest (and extremely well preserved) homes in the area – it was such a cute set up!

Our first vineyard visit was to Gibson Wines – the grounds were incredibly quaint; we especially liked this original little house next to the cellar door:

The grounds of Gibson Wines

The grounds of Gibson Wines

We actually stumbled upon our next stop quite by accident: Flaxman Wines. Remember how I mentioned that Ashlie and I had another Masterchef Australia “experience”? Well our quick stop at Flaxman was it! One of our favorite contestants from Masterchef Australia, Colin Sheppard, is a winemaker in the Barossa – we randomly drove right past his vineyard so we decided to stop to see if the cellar door was perhaps open. Sadly, it wasn’t, but that didnt stop us from cheesing in front of his house (total creepsters, but who cares?!)

I posted this shot on Instagram and tagged Flaxman Wines - they commented on it! Made my day :)

I posted this shot on Instagram and tagged Flaxman Wines – they commented on it! Made my day 🙂

Our last stop that day was Penfolds. I wont lie (and I’ll probably be lambasted for saying this), but I wasnt a huge fan of the wines we sampled. We were about to head out when I saw that you could try a Grange! Granted you had to pay $50 for just a small taste, but we figured that between the three of us (Ashlie’s friend from Melbourne, Jessica, joined us for the Barossa leg of our trip), this may be one of our only shots at trying some (without having to purchase an entire $800 bottle!) The woman at Penfolds really did an excellent job at “selling the experience” of having a Grange – she told the story of how it came about and some of the more famous (ahem, pricey) vintages – she was also very generous in her “sample” pours for Ashlie, Jessica, and myself. The Grange saved the entire Penfolds experience for me; it was absolutely amazing wine (though I’m not sure I would shell out hundreds of dollars for it, even if I had that kind of money on hand!)

Definitely worth it! (The tasting at least)

Definitely worth it! (The tasting at least) Do you see the $1,250 price tag in the background associated with a certain vintage of the Grange??

After washing up, we went to dinner at fermentAsian (pronounced “fermentation”, which I thought was exceedingly clever), a Thai restaurant in Tanunda. Several folks in Perth had raved about this spot, and I can absolutely see why. Do not miss it should you be in the Barossa!

On our last day in South Australia, Ashlie booked us into a cooking class at Casa Carboni Enoteca in Angaston (another town in the Barossa). Run by the sweetest couple, Matteo and Fiona Carboni, this wine and food shop also has hands down one of the best cooking classes I’ve ever attended.

Casa Carboni (via SAlife.com)

We started at the farmer’s market to get some fresh ingredients for our recipes, where Matteo pulled me aside to let me know that they had made special accommodations for my Celiac. Yall, I had no expectations of being able to eat much (if any) of the recipes we made in this Italian cooking class, but the fact that Matteo had thought of me when purchasing flour, drawing up the menu, and ensuring I had a special cooking area, really allowed for the customer service of Casa Carboni to stand head and shoulders above anything I’ve experienced.

Our menu included:

  • Piadina Romagnola (flatbread served with antipasti)
  • Yellow (egg) pasta dough, served with pumpkin and bacon balsamic sauce
  • Potato gnocchi, served with a lamb ragu
  • A chocolate bonet and rosemary syrup

We’d never made our own pasta before, so I would say that was a highlight! Rolling the dough and cutting our own noodles was really neat (Ashlie and I actually got back together last night to try it ourselves!)

The class was small, with a limit of eight students, and getting to know all of them during our long lunch (made from scratch, thankyouverymuch) was another highlight. Check out Souvlaki for the Soul’s post on her experience with a Casa Carboni class – I echo a number of her sentiments (plus her pics are a lot better!)

Showing off our freshly rolled pasta at the Casa Carboni cooking class

Showing off our freshly rolled pasta at the Casa Carboni cooking class

Showing off our freshly rolled pasta at the Casa Carboni cooking class

Showing off our freshly rolled pasta at the Casa Carboni cooking class

Following the cooking class, we made one more special stop to a vineyard appropriately named Kellermeister. Keller was so great during our very grown up trip, and it was icing on the cake that one of the wines was named the “Firstborn Shiraz” (K is Ashlie’s first born, she likes Shiraz, you get the idea…)

Luckily, the domestic flying with liquids rules are stringent like they are in the states, so we could carry on as many bottles of wine as we could carry (chill out – it wasn’t that much wine!), but it was nice to be able to just carry them with you versus having to ship the wine or sneak it in a checked bag and hope it doesnt break.

If I were to do a similar trip again (or make a recommendation to anyone interested in the South Australia wine country), I’d say that the Barossa has the most to offer in terms of other activities outside of wine tasting – actually, the wine in the Barossa wasnt really my favorite; however, the towns are larger, with a lot to offer in terms of eateries, shops, etc. Try to fit in a visit to the McLaren Vale if possible! The wines were definitely my favorite there. You can’t go wrong with any of the three regions we visited, though – the views and people (truly, the people we met were just incredible) make each worth the trip. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the trip. 🙂

Bye bye Barossa!

Bye bye Barossa!

Until next time…

The one with South Australia: The Clare Valley

Onward from Adelaide! We drove about two hours north of the capital to the lovely Clare Valley, one of the oldest wine regions in Australia, best known for their Riesling grapes and wines:

When I first heard “Riesling”, I was skeptical – I’m not a sweet wine person and I had already conjured up images (tastes?) of your typical German Riesling, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Rieslings in this region of the world are far less sweet (actually not sweet at all) – and rather more like a Chardonnay/Sauv Blanc blend (IMO – I’m no sommelier).

We booked in at the Riesling Trail Cottages Bed and Breakfast, and it was so stinking cute! It was right on the Riesling Trail (which used to be an old railroad track, but now is just a lovely bike/walk trail through the vineyards in the Clare), and our cottage was so cozy and quaint. Although we arrived to much chillier weather than we had anticipated, we were undaunted and went to Sevenhill Cellars, an area settled by Jesuit Fathers and Brothers in the mid 1800s – the St Aloysius church there is breathtaking, as are the views from the vines:

St Aloysius church in Sevenhill Estate – Clare Valley (via Heritage Buildings of South Australia)

Sevenhill Vineyard in Clare Valley at sunset

Sevenhill Vineyard in Clare Valley at sunset

Sevenhill Vineyards in the Clare Valley

Sevenhill Vineyards in the Clare Valley

The wines werent our favorite, but the heritage and scenery at Sevenhills was not to be missed. There are still active Jesuit brothers living on the property, most of whom are deeply involved in the development of the brand.

The next morning dawned cold but sunny – something that had alluded us a lot since we had arrived in South Australia! Since that was our final full day in the Clare, we decided to make the most of it. First we rented bikes to see the Riesling Trail and soak up the sun and fall weather – the changing leaves and gorgeous colors reminded both Ashlie and I of crisp North Carolina fall days (except we didnt have any ACC football games to attend 😦 )

Ashlie and Keller taking in the scenery

Ashlie and Keller taking in the scenery

Me goofing off in the leaves

Me goofing off in the leaves

We stopped to get some breakfast and coffee, but funnily enough, the Little Red Grape cafe also had a cellar door! Coffee and Shiraz at 11AM? Sure!

Coffee and wine - breakfast of champions!

Coffee and wine – breakfast of champions!

We biked into the town of Clare and grabbed lunch at Mr Mick – great tapas (and an even better Cab Shiraz!)

Our littlest companion was ready to head back by this time, and frankly, so were we! After quick showers and naps, we made one more vineyard stop at Cardinham Wines. We had heard about this cellar door from a friend of Ashlie’s from Melbourne, who actually owned a wine shop and collaborated with Steve Smith, the winemaker at Cardinham. We arrived shortly before the cellar door was scheduled to close, but Scott welcomed us so warmly (and there was even a sweet dog for Keller to play with – bliss!) The wines from Cardinham were such a treat; both Ash and I purchased a bottle of the Stradbrooke Cabernet Sauvignon (you know it must have been a winner if a die hard white wino like myself splurged!) 🙂 But wines aside, Steve was the star of the visit – such a personality – it was a great spot to end our jaunt to the Clare Valley wine region.

Ashlie and Steve at the Cardinham Estate cellar door

Ashlie and Scott (“Scooter”) at the Cardinham Estate cellar door

So there you have our little trip to the Clare Valley wine region! There is one final leg to this big tour of South and Eastern (Sydney) Australia: the Barossa, so stay tuned. Until next time…

The one with {culinary} adventures in Adelaide: Restaurant Orana

We get a lot of the same television shows as the United States here in Australia, but there are some shows that are uniquely Aussie. Case in point, one of my personal faves, Masterchef Australia. Yall – I am 100% OBSESSED with this show. I love cooking and reality shows (duh), and bring on the Australian accents, and I’m sold.

Masterchef Australia judges

Premise: home cooks (no professional chefs/caterers allowed) compete (four episodes a week!) in various culinary challenges. I love that they’re all “ordinary” people with jobs that are outside the food industry – students, moms, insurance salesmen, etc. And these peeps are TALENTED. And I also think I really love that despite it being a competition, they’re all so nice to one another – very supportive and helpful in challenges and stuff – I love the United States, but you rarely find that in our cutthroat reality television competitions/shows. Those sweet Aussies!

Anyway, I was watching the show right after booking my flight to Adelaide and a guest chef was brought in – Jock Zonfrillo, [ruggedly handsome] chef at Restaurant Orana right in Adelaide! After hearing him discuss his restaurant in the city I was to visit, I quickly booked Ashlie and I in for a reservation one night.

Jock Zonfrillo

Jock Zonfrillo

I dont know what I was really expecting – I figured it would be a nice meal, but when I got a phone call from the restaurant the day before confirming the reservation and asking if there were any allergy restrictions (as it was a set menu), I realized that we were in for something more than originally anticipated. I let them know of my Celiac, and for having a set menu, the woman from Orana could not have been nicer – not to mention we ended up adding Jenny and her partner to the reservation the day of, and the kind accommodation continued!

So we arrived at Orana for our 6:30 reservation and were literally the first ones in the restaurant, not that there were many tables to start with – maybe four tables; I’d say the eatery fit no more than twenty-five diners. It became packed QUICKLY though. And I won’t drone on too much longer about it (mostly because I didnt take any pictures of the food/interiors – bad blogger Abby – and what’s a post without lots of fun pics?!), but I’ll leave yall with our menu.

Restaurant Orana's dinner menu from June 24, 2014

Restaurant Orana’s dinner menu from June 24, 2014

It tasted and looked every bit as delicious, confusing, unique, fresh, and local as it sounds. Basically, Orana has full time “foragers” (no, I’m not joking) to find herbs, greens, seeds, etc from the environs in the area surrounding Adelaide. Same with the meats, cheeses, fish/shellfish, dairy. Truly a farm/land to table experience. And before you think that we’re piggles with this huge menu, I’ve gotta say that each course was just a little bite or two, and while I was definitely satisfied, I wasn’t disgustingly full. Now if you’re in Adelaide and after something a little less “fine dining”, downstairs from Orana is their sister restaurant, Street ADL – more “street food”, but still utilizing those same fresh, native ingredients.

Street ADL – via RundleStreet.com.au

This was a true dining and culinary experience – I’m so glad we caught Jock on Masterchef and made those reservations! And as you’ll see later in our trip, Ashlie and I had yet another Masterchef “close call” in the Barossa – what can I say? We’re unabashed groupies! 🙂

Via SA Weekend – Jock Zonfrillo with some native ingredient (saltbush, I believe)

And now a big virtual hug and firework to all my American readers out there – Happy Independence Day! For some reason, I am super homesick today thinking of my family and friends enjoying BBQ, sparklers, beach/mountain time, and a long weekend of fun – enjoy!!! We Blantons will be celebrating the 4th in spirit! 🙂 Until next time….

Listening to this jam on repeat (and getting a bit teary especially at the Blue Ridge Mountains part, I’ll admit it!):

 

The one with Sydney, Part II

I feel like our trip to Sydney was over before it even began, so with that, Ill start this post saying that Barr and I will absolutely be back in Sydney one of these days – hopefully sooner rather than later! Our final two days in Sydney were just as jam-packed and fun as the first 🙂

One of Barr’s [few] requests for our time in Sydney was to see the trail from Coogee to Bondi. Being a [former] Simpson, I suggested we run it…obviously. So after a late Friday night, we snoozed a little later than usual and then got ready for our little adventure to the beach. If you’re in Sydney and are planning to head to Bondi, definitely check out the trail – run or walk, it’s such a fun and gorgeous way to see the coast.

Icebergs

Icebergs

Post run on Bondi

Post run on Bondi

Barr...my amazing photor! On a Blackberry no less!

Barr…my amazing photor! On a Blackberry no less!

A surfer heading down to the beach

A surfer heading down to the beach

I mean...

I mean…

Icebergs in Bondi - so touristy, but we loved it all the same <3

Icebergs in Bondi – so touristy, but we loved it all the same ❤

Couldnt get enough

Couldnt get enough

After our run, we went to breakfast at Aqua Bar in Bondi. I had read about this spot when I googled “Sydney” and “gluten free restaurants” – they make their own homemade GF bread, and it was every bit as delish as the folks online advised.

From Bondi, we grabbed a cab back to the CBD and did a bit of shopping (Zara, Gap, Uniqlo…stuff we can’t really get in Perth). Following that, we took the ferry across the harbor from Circular Quay to Manly Beach (right as the sun was setting, no less!) – we didnt have time to get out in Manly, but the ferry traverses pretty much the entire harbor, giving you some amazing views (and picture opportunities!)

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Brave souls doing the bridge climb

Brave souls doing the bridge climb

The restaurants/bars along the water, adjacent to the opera house (where Opera Bar is located)

The restaurants/bars along the water, adjacent to the opera house (where Opera Bar is located)

Opera House from the ferry at sunset

Opera House from the ferry at sunset

More gorg views

More gorg views

Love this shot Barr captured

Love this shot Barr captured of the clouds

Super tourist!

Super tourist!

I had made reservations at Sean’s Panorama back in Bondi at the advising of another friend (I loved all the recs, folks! Thank you :)) But before dinner, I had hoped to get a drink at Icebergs, but of course the one night we were there, it was closed for a private event – super bummer! But our disappoints didnt last long because Sean’s was ahhhhmazing!! It’s all farm to table goodness with 2-3 options [only] for each course, giving you the freshest produce/meat/spices possible; the menu also changes week to week, depending on what is in season. The eatery itself is super small and intimate, so you definitely need a reservation.

That brings us to our final day in Sydney 😦 We met a guy from work (and his sweet wife) that Barr had  met in a training in Budapest last summer – they’re native Aussies and local to Sydney, and their brunch recommendation (again, back in Bondi – we couldnt get enough!) of Porch and Parlor was another great one. We laughed because of the four days we were in Sydney, we had three separate meals in Bondi right next door to each other 🙂

After another yummo meal, we had booked a bike tour with Bonza Bike Tours (great idea, Son!) – clearly, I have a thing for bike tours in new cities 🙂 We had signed up for the Sydney Highlights Tour, which was two and a half hours around the top spots of the city. I feel like a broken record, but honestly, I truly do recommend this company and tour (our friends did the longer Sydney Classic Tour which they loved too) – the guide gave our small group some fun tidbits and was an excellent photar, too.

The Blantons do Sydney (via bike)

The Blantons do Sydney (via bike)

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

ANZAC Memorial

ANZAC Memorial

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

Our last activity was a dinner with a sorority sister of mine from Wake and her boyfriend, who also happened to be in town – love Facebook bringing people back together again! I hadnt seen Colleen since we graduated five years ago, so it was so special (not to mention random!) to see her in Australia of all places. We went to Yullis in Surry Hills, a vegetarian (and GF-friendly) restaurant. The menu was really inventive and even if you arent veg, it really hits the spot. The company was fab too 🙂

Bean and I at Yullis!

Bean and I at Yullis!

Welp, there you have it – a big four days in Sydney! It was one of the best cities Barr and I have visited, and hopefully we are blessed with the opportunity to visit again. I also hope you enjoyed the copious amount of pics, as well as a few recommendations. Onward to Adelaide, South Australia! Until next time…