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Stories from our Travelers

A Taste of Sydney

Café umbrellas along the harbor

A mocha at Bills

Harry's Café de Wheels in Wooloomooloo
by Melissa Cicci

[From Summer 2009]
In the middle of winter down under, Sydney is a sparkling jewel. Sunlight bounces off the harbor and is reflected in the glass towers of Sydney’s CBD, or Central Business District. The Royal Botanical Gardens and parks lining the waterfront are still vividly green, despite the cooler winter temps. At lunch hour, business people trade their suits and ties for jogging attire. Seemingly everyone is getting fit in the midday winter sun. Sydney is ideal for runners and power walkers - flat, at sea level, and with crisp, cool air. What better way to build up an appetite and sample the eclectic tastes of this city?

On a recent visit to Sydney, I logged as many hours eating as miles walking. In the busy CBD, I sampled sushi at Sosumi Sushi, in the historic General Post Office (GPO) building. Tucked into the vault level of Sydney's former central post office, Sosumi Sushi is one of several popular lunchtime dining spots. Diners hop on stools and pluck their choices from a revolving sushi train (á la Rowan Atkinson in the Bond-satire, Johnny English). Also among the GPO restaurants are a Neapolitan pizzeria, a tapas bar, a wine and cheese bar and an upscale steakhouse.

In the harbor-side Rocks district, Sydney's oldest neighborhood, I gulped down the best cappuccino I've tasted - anywhere - along with buttery, sweet brioche at La Renaissance Patisserie. For a full breakfast, my family and I walked deep into the arty Darlinghurst neighborhood to eat at Bills. A long communal table anchors the center of the bright, serene space. The toasted coconut bread with fresh unsalted butter - heavenly. We struck up a friendly conversation with our server, Wayne. As it happens, Wayne is a regular visitor to Santa Fe, New Mexico, our hometown. We traded travel and restaurant recommendations.

On Wayne's advice, we ventured into hip Potts Point for dinner at Fratelli Paradiso. Delicious, dark and Italian sums up the atmosphere, food and servers at this neighborhood restaurant. Lightly breaded calamari with greens, penne with lamb ragú, and sautéed spinach - all simply and tastefully prepared.

Wayne also suggested that we pick up lunch fixings at David Jones Foodhall (think Harrods' food court in London, or Dean & DeLuca in New York) and enjoy a picnic in the Royal Botanical Gardens. Although we didn't have time for a picnic, we did sample the foodhall's offerings and also purchased pink Australian sea salt and raspberry hibiscus flowers (mix with champagne) to take home.

Among other delicious stops in Sydney: Rockpool Bar and Grill in the CBD for mussels in white wine, empanadas and excellent Australian wines by the glass. At Harry's Café de Wheels in the waterfront Wooloomooloo area, we tucked into "Tiger" pies (lean beef with peas, mash potatoes and gravy) and ginger beer. Harry's rolling carts are a familiar site in Sydney, and clearly a tourist draw, but offer a casual and hearty ending to a day spent on foot in Sydney.

Bills 433 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst, Tel. +61 2 9360 9631
Fratelli Paradiso 16 Challis Ave, Potts Point, Tel. +61 2 9357 1744
Harry’s Café de Wheels Woolloomooloo, Tel. +61 2 9357 3074
David Jones Foodhall 65-77 Market Street, Sydney, Tel. +61 2 9266 5544
La Renaissance Patisserie 47 Argyle Street, The Rocks, Tel. + 61 2 9241 4878
Rockpool Bar & Grill 66 Hunter Street, Sydney, Tel. +61 2 8078 1900
Sosumi Sushi No. 1 Martin Place, Sydney, Tel. +61 2 9229 7710

Photographs by Larry and Melissa Cicci.

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