ARIA – Circular Quay Sydney

ARIA – Circular Quay Sydney

Aria on Urbanspoon

On my final night in Sydney, we certainly saved the best for last. My little sis (The Singer) and I had a stunning dinner at ARIA, at Circular Quay. ARIA, run by renowned celebrity Chef Matt Moran, currently holds two Chef’s Hats. It sits right next to the Sydney Opera House – easily one of the best views in the world!

We were given a little tour first, including a peek inside the special Chefs Table. The private dining room is pretty much IN the kitchen! 2013-01-02 13.38.28

The singer and I were unbelievably lucky to have the best seat in the house – at a table right on the widow, overlooking the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Which proves that it’s not what you know, but WHO you know! I was totally excited that I was dining at the same place that countless A -listers and even my favourite actor, a certain Mr DiCaprio had dined at **squeal**.

We had the degustation menu. Our Sommelier literally took us through a journey round the world’s vineyards on each course. She was fantastic at explaining all about the wines and their features.

We were lucky to get a couple of extra courses included, all part of the special VIP service. We tried one of ARIAs signature dishes – the Duck Consume. The master stock was deep with flavour. I could have swum in it – that was one of the most delicious dishes I have ever had; definitely in my ALL TIME top 10. IMG_9424

Peking duck consommé with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms  ($36)

We had course after course, pork belly, lamb, scallops… IMG_6718IMG_4474

I was done before dessert, but managed to fit in the soufflé dish.IMG_7285

Then came a raspberry dessert cocktail – with deep-fried white chocolate.IMG_5101

That was not all.. we then had port and petits fours!! Never mind wearing a posh frock – I should have brought elastic pants!! I left very full and satisfied. I also got a signed Matt Moran cook book, so I was super stoked! And off we trotted into the night, walking it off in high heels…IMG_4280

ARIA is pretty much the only place that has defied my “VEIW=BEWARE” rule! Stunning, Exquisite food.

Sydney is the only (mainland) capital city that Chef hasn’t visited – He did Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane on his culinary competition adventures last year. I literally CANNOT WAIT till we can go over there together and eat, eat, eat!!

Sydney – Surry Hills

Sydney – Surry Hills

I had a real food safari when I visited my beautiful little sis (The Singer) in Sydney earlier this year. It was my first trip to Sydney and I had a feeling I was going to REALLY love it. I didn’t realise what a treat I was in for, staying in the gorgeous inner city “village” of Surry Hills. In the mornings, I literary rolled out of bed and walked across the street to a lovely café. There were so many dining choices, I’d have to pack up and leave Perth for 6 months, just to try everywhere on the amazing Crown Street. Along this leafy road resides many a celebrity chef and some very highly regarded restaurants; Kylie Kwong’s “Billy Kwong”, Luke Nguyen’s “Red Lantern”, Bill Granger’s “Bills” and “Marque” (Mark Best). Marque is one of Australia’s very best restaurants – awarded the converted title by Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine in 2012.

Mad Spuds Cafe on Urbanspoon

Breakfast was always a treat. The Singer and I would have something really substantial, to set us up for a day of shopping and sightseeing. My breakfast favourite was “Mad Spuds Cafe”. They specialise in deliciously topped baked potatoes and their brekkie menu is fantastic too. There I had a whopping breakfast pan fry up. The pan included Boston beans and a chilli sausage, so that was a bit different! Their juices are outstanding too!! 2013-01-05 10.28.46

Fouratefive on Urbanspoon

Another good spot for breakfast was “Fouratefive”. We sat under the trees on the Crown Street pavement, where we watched busy Sydney-siders trot by. I had a very fresh and tasty Bircher musili there.2013-01-03 07.39.59

Sushi on Stanley on Urbanspoon

Dinner on my first night in Sydney was at Sushi on Stanley, in Darlinghurst. This popular teeny tiny Japanese Restaurant was where I was introduced to the amazing Edamame. Baby soy beans, steamed, still in the pod; what a perfect little snack whilst perusing the menu! Just squeeze the pod and they pop into your mouth; in theory anyway… I clearly needed a bit of practice!sushionstanley We had a bento box and some other bits and bobs. Saying this restaurant is small is an understatement – it probably only seats 10-15 people! I loved it. It was ever so fresh and easily the best casual Japanese food I have had.

Gelato Messina Surry Hills on Urbanspoon

messinaOn day two, I encountered another Crown Street icon – Gelato Messina. The singer and I shared a tub or two over some Sex and the City re-runs. Their flavours are divine. We tried “Apple Pie”. That’s simply to die for. Its real apple gelato with house made apple pie throughout. We also had “Pear & Rhubarb” which is fresh pear gelato with poached, spiced rhubarb. AND there are no nasties. On a phone call to Chef I started gushing about how amazing GM’s gelato was – only he already knew, he’d worked with their fantastic products himself. 2013-01-03 14.16.39a

El Loco on Urbanspoon

We were heading to a concert one evening and we dined at the casual Mexican – El Loco. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this place!! It was very kitsch, bright and cheap. The street style soft tacos were spot on. We had lots of different fillings – as they’re all just $5. My favourite was the Pollo (chicken, sweet corn salsa).  The frozen Margaritas were great too, except for the killer brain freeze! On my final night in Sydney we headed down to Circular Quay for a pre-dinner drink and El Loco had a “pop up” restaurant right outside the Opera House. It looked fantastic at night, just as colourful as the Surry Hills restaurant. 2013-01-03 18.14.562013-01-03 18.10.06

The thing that really struck me about dining in Sydney was that it was so much better value-for-money than Perth. Having said that, I didn’t really go dining at any of the tourist hot spots like Darling Harbour etc, so perhaps they do bump up the prices there. We ate out every meal time! There was a lot of innovation in Sydney; lots of funky little one-of-a-kind cafes and restaurants. Not just a whole stack of Domes and Gloria Jeans. At the time, I felt like Perth was heading in this direction too, and has been for the last year or so, which is great for us all!! The last 6 months have been huge on the Perth dining and bar scene. 2013-01-02 15.30.24

Whilst on my Sydney trip, I really felt like a change for myself was in the air and the beginnings of my blogging idea started developing. I was surrounded by inspiration at every turn; even from a certain Crown Street shoe shop…2013-01-03 15.52.56

Miss you S-Town, till we meet again x2013-01-05 11.55.31