Wednesday, 13 April 2016

FroliciousMama Down Under; The Australia Diaries 2


On Sunday the 17th of January 2016, I checked in at Heathrow Airport, got on a flight to Beijing, and proceeded on a fantastical adventure, alone, child and husband free, to Sydney Australia.
This is the second of my 3 part series, if you haven't already please read the first post >>>>> HERE

Pullman Quay Grand Hotel Bar/Restaurant

Sydney City

Being away from home without the children allowed me to have free uninterrupted adult time so bars, restaurants and general nightlife became a major part of my trip.  Most of the bars I was taken to, took full advantage of the amazing views this beautiful city has to offer.  From many a roof terrace to a revolving 360 degree bar there was much to do, see, eat and drink!

My Plane arrived early Tuesday afternoon, by 3 after a quick freshen up and a change of clothing in the airport bathrooms, I was eating my first meal in Oz and by 4 we were at a bar!  I hit the floor running, and my girl Vee had a master plan to counteract my impending jet-lag!  This included not allowing me to sleep until Oz night time!  It didn't work, but it was a great effort on both our parts.


The ECQ Bar Pullman Quay Grand Hotel Bar/Restaurant

What a fabulous use of windows and a balcony!  The Pullman Quay Grand is a beautifully luxurious 5* Hotel located in East Circular Quay near the Sydney Opera House.  A very chic and might I say sexy interior with a cleverly placed bar looking out onto the Harbour...  For a first photo op.  It was a most perfect beginning.  Great choice Vee.  The first picture of me in Oz posted on Instagram was of me here.  See above.  We only stayed for drinks as I was flailing fast!  The waitress was beautiful and very welcoming.  Brain still not in gear and with a friends up coming Gin party that I was missing, I went for a suggested Blueberry and Lemongrass Martini costing $22.  They must have poured the entire bottle of Gin in my glass, potent is a word I can loosely throw in as a description.  It was pretty but perhaps too strong for a first drink after a 31 hour flight!

Pimms for a my friend and a Blueberry and Lemongrass Martini for me @ ECQ

Without seeming like a lush, cocktails became a thing for me.  I attempted to go for the most authentically Aussie mix that I could find.  Going against every stereotype of larger, I can assure you that Sydney has a very sophisticated palate that didn't focus too heavily on the stereotype.

The Star

The Star is a huge casino, much bigger in expectation than I could have imagined.  On hearing we were going out to a casino my enthusiasm was non-existent not being a fan of gambling, however I was proved wrong when we rocked up there for after dinner drinks and on another occasion for snacks and drinks before a show.

Cherry Bar

A gorgeous and funky little bar, with waiter service and the sexiest cocktail menu I've seen in a while, Cherry remains one of my favs.  
The night we were there had a sophisticated and grown-up vibe.  I often feel old and married with children in bars, which I am, but who needs to feel it; so it was refreshing to feel quite at eases with a mixture of generations enjoying chats whilst they languish over a beautifully presented glass, or in my case, cup of something.

Chapter. 4 I love you and will scour the Uk for an equivalent.  Perhaps I can speak to my lovely friend Maria from @MindingBelliesWell and have her re-create it with the fabulous brand of Gin she uses, and then borrow a lovely tea cup from.


My favourite cocktail of the whole trip, and in a quintessentially British cup!

Sky Terrace @ The Star

Even though it was quite cloudy, the views across the city were phenomenal.  With a croquet lawn, music and very big bar, Sky Terrace should have been a hit.  But for me, being served drinks in plastic beakers and food in cardboard boxes took away from the luxurious setting.  A real shame as the food and environment were great.

Croquet lawn

I felt as though I were at a children's birthday party.  The chargrilled Teriyaki chicken skewers were relish though $12
Arty Rhino!

Rock Lily

We were fortunate enough to have been made an impromptu VIP area close to the stage as this club got seriously packed.  And not surprising, Suite AZ, a 6 piece Soul & R'n'B band were wicked and their guest singer Angel Tupai absolutely killed, her slow and sexy rendition of drunk in love had me sweating!!!  One of my most memorable nights out in Sydney I danced for 3 hours straight!

I will NEVER drink Coffee Patron again!  What a hangover.

Opera Bar

This became quite a regular haunt.  Buzzy, glamorous,  breath taking panoramic views and central, it is clear why 'The Opera Bar' is so popular.  We generally used it as a meet up and pre-party drinking place and it served as a great warm-up, when my friend Vee and I attended the amazing performance of Jazz singer Diana Krall, as guests of world renowned drummer Karriem Riggins, who took pics of us I'd like copies of!!! (Karriem!)

On a clear warm night, there was no-where better to be.  The multi-cultural and age mix of people was vast and wonderful, if I were to provide a negative comment, to some it may seem a little 'bouji' which is just perfect for me!  It had been said to me, that it was also extremely image conscious, however, being not very myself, I hadn't noticed. 

The food was quite good, great for bar food which is what we had, but there were other options available in the different areas of a very large bar.  Live bands kept a vibrant and party vibe going well in to the night.

Slightly toasty!!!

By the time we'd taken these pictures we didn't remember what they were!
But I had a wonderful 'Sydney Sling' on my first few!

Awaiting Diana Krall

Jazz and Afros just go together.

The following places were eateries that also served great cocktails.  To be fair, this isn't much in the way of helping those of you interested in Restaurants as we rarely visited any opting for bar food whilst out, however, those that we did go to and I loved, are up next!

Jamtown Manly Beach

At the event Soul of Sydney, held in the city park very much like our own Hyde Park here in London, I met an American-Jamaican.  We had a conversation about how he copes with living in Oz and what he misses in regards to food.  Other than having to adapt a couple of recipes and hunt for ingredients he was happy.  Being of Caribbean decent and living in an area highly populated with Jamaican restaurants and take aways, I questioned why there weren't any in Sydney.  Jerk chicken had become world wide, Jamaican culture was every where.  Why not here.  And so I was schooled.  

I have been to Jamaica twice and Barbados too many to count.  Now I am no expert on Jamaican culture, but, my first time in Jamaica I stayed a full month in Falmouth, a beach town not far from the city of Montego Bay.  My eldest two boys have Jamaican heritage and I worked 10 years on the biggest Reggae radio station in London BEAT fm.  What I am trying to say is... my knowledge and understanding is a little more than the average, so, when some one says, try this it's authentic, I am not one to be fooled.  

Many of my experiences in Sydney reminded me of the Caribbean and made me long for progress there is certain aspects as I could see what my homeland would be like with a little thought and development.  So as I walked into Jamtown the nostalgia hit me caressing all of my senses and I was home.  I have visited many a Jamaican restaurant in London and have yet to go to one that had it all right.  'ALL' right.  Without writing an entire essay I'd like to say, from the music, and I mean real reggae/dancehall, not that thing people do 
"I luv Regayy, Bob Marley and Eddie Grant!  It's wicked!!!" 
(think Essex accent) cue eye roll...
My eyes wandered long and hard around what looked like I'd been transported onto a beach in Negril.  Bam!  But could it be too good to be true? It smelt right, sounded right and looked damn near perfect.  Now this, where all else fails, is the test.  The food.  

There were 5 of us Myself, my friends Vee - Aussie, Kirk - American/Jamaican, Julia - Dominican and Ja'nae - African/American from Washington DC.  Vee and I were a little late and arrived at a table already layered with the most amazing starters of fishcakes (tasted just like Bajan fishcakes... tick), Plantain crisps and Rum Punch.  I do not like Plantain.  A sin in my family, but these plantain crisps with the mango and pepper salsa had me.  I have been trying at home to no avail.  When I email the link to this post I plan on asking for the recipe!  The Rum Punch had just the right (or may be more) kick that was required, from that point my expectations flew through the roof and I wasn't disappointed.  My dish of a simple brown stew chicken can often go wrong for others but not for Jamtown.  It was perfectly spiced, fresh and hot, there was also Curried Goat and a lot of rice and Peas at our table which we all scoffed.  The portion sizes were huge, just like back home, and, although I was stuffed half way through, I managed to finish to the last grain.  The only complaint at our table was the bones in the Goat, which, I had to tell my Aussie friend, was usual in goat meat hence a lot of other eateries opting for mutton.  The flavours were authentic and on point, washed down with the wonderful Melon Cooler cocktail I was in heaven.

My one criticism would be that the waitress, after serving us, seemed to be quite rushed and distracted was not able to follow up with us as helpfully as I would have hoped, even being a little snappy, however, with the place filling up so quickly and the food soothing our very full stomaches, all was forgiven.

Jamtown gave me the best of all my worlds in one place and taught me two things
  1. I can't live without Caribbean food and 
  2. It is safe for me to move to Sydney!

 Coogee Pavillion

After a day at the beach, Coogee Beach, this rather large and fashionable eatery was brilliant and was the first time I'd wished the children were with me.  Modern Industrial in style a great family place with great pizza!  There were at least 15 of us including 5 children, the food was good, atmosphere great and brilliant service.  Our bill was a shocker coming in at over $300 for pizzas and cocktails, but was worth every penny!  I do like a good pizza, especially after our Summer in Italy so was impressed by the offerings here.  Upstairs, on the roof terrace, was a grown up space which we sneaked up to, to have a peak.  Full of gorgeous, and young, people swaying and drinking to the sounds of the DJ.  It was little too much for me, still sandy after a day on the beach, but clearly a great night out if you are staying locally and can get washed and changed.  the dress code appeared to be full on GLAM!  I don't think that was set by the proprietors but someone had whispered the word out as glam was in full effect!

House named drink Coogee be loved...  Delicious

Good food, Great friends!!

I hope you've enjoyed your read, please do come back for the final Australia Diaries post...

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- Tomboy x-  

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