Summer Sydney trip

22 December 2019

We spent the second week of December in Sydney and squeezed in so much - loads of family time, early Christmas dinners with friends, and Tony's birthday too. Somehow, we also managed to keep working.  Tony was developing some new prints at Cicada Press and I worked out of the Sydney office where most of my team is based. Here are some highlights, starting with a long weekend in the northern beaches:

We'd partly based our travel dates around a baking and cookbook workshop I wanted to do in Palm Beach with Gillian Bell and Julie Gibbs. We rented a cute Airbnb in Avalon, where we could walk to the beach, bars and cafes. I'd never visited this part of Sydney before, so it felt like a mini holiday. Our favourite discovery was a pizza shop with a kooky fit out, dukebox tunes and delicious seafood pizzas. We also loved this laneway Italian restaurant, where an older Italian woman ran the kitchen and the pasta was delicious.

The workshop itself was my first experience of a cooking class and I learnt so much from watching and asking questions. I am a big fan of the Dispatch to a Friend podcast and was excited to meet one of its hosts Gillian, and watch her make one of her famous cakes. Her co-host Annabelle happened to be there too, as a participant, and it was an extra surprise. Cheese souffles were made for lunch, along with a couple of big salads, and it was definitely unusual to be among people with cookbook collections as big (if not much bigger) than my own. And I loved hearing from Julie, who has edited many iconic Australian cookbooks from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion to the recent Flour & Stone cookbook (which I immediately went out to buy, it's on sale here).

Ahead of our visit, I ordered a couple of salads for work lunches along with some choc chip cookies from Kate who runs her own catering company (she featured on the blog years ago!). I'm signed up to her weekly newsletter just because I'm a fan of what she does, so it was fun to actually place an order and enjoy the food while I was in town. They were delivered to my office on Monday afternoon and it was so nice having something healthy to eat most days, to balance out all of the dining out. Plus, it was one less thing to think about during a busy week that was filled with meetings and job interviews.

I've been busting to try this rooftop produce market ever since I saw it on Harriet's Instagram. The market is designed to be zero waste, so you place an online order during the week. It's the prettiest and calmest place to pick up your shopping on a Saturday morning, and we definitely scored a few extra items like excess mangoes and a generous extra handful or two of cherries. It was also the best excuse to have breakfast downstairs at the Paramount Coffee Project. It's one of my favourite places in Sydney because the interior is so relaxing and the food is always next level. 

Our final night in town was also Tony's birthday. A month or two in advance, I'd organised for his best friend from high school and his fiancee to join us (and have enough time to organise a babysitter). It was meant to be a surprise... but I was so excited, I told Tony a few days after it was all locked in. We went to Don Peppino's because Tony loves Italian food and  it was high on my list after hearing about it on Highly Enthused. It was even better than I'd hoped. The food and wine were incredible, the service was super friendly (I didn't even ask for a candle on the dessert - it just happened) and the vibe was fun and low-key. We ate freshly made pasta, steamed fish, peach salad and ordered all of the desserts. 

I gave Tony some Airpods and as it turns out, he chose the exact same thing for my Christmas present. We had one weekend apart (Tony went ahead of me to Sydney), where we both went shopping for gifts, only to choose the exact same thing for each other :) 

We're now back in Canberra and readjusting to our life back at home, which suddenly feels very chill and quiet. We were lucky enough to stay with Sean and Emma, Tony's brother and sister-in-law, and their three kids. We got used to the activities and action that come from living in a busy and loving home. It was such a welcome shift from our usually work-focused lives to wake up and hang out with our nieces and nephew. And it was extra fun being there at Christmastime too, with the tree up and excitement building. We left presents (but not under the tree, apparently it was too risky 😂) and hope to visit again soon.


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