It’s been a while considering that we’ve been able to put out a weekly Edition. Lockdown in Sydney and the rest of NSW has indicated we haven’t been doing very much.

But finally, thanks to the huge majority of people doing the ideal thing throughout the lockdown as well as nearly everyone in the whole state listening to science and getting the Covid vaccine, we’re all in a better place.

Lockdown has eased, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, shops and everything else we’ve missed so much have opened again. now we wait for state and international borders to open again.

Not to mention our freedom to visit regional NSW, of which our plans are swiftly evolving, so enjoy this space.

We hope you take pleasure in this weekly edition and hopefully the return to better times.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

Pretty much all we’ve been able to think about considering that mid June – a real beer in a real pub. and it doesn’t get much a lot more real than the Unity Hall hotel in Balmain!

We’re with our mate Brett for our first freedom Beer and kid does it taste good!

From the Unity – or the untidy as locals like to call it – we head into Newtown. It feels so odd going outside our suburb or beyond the 5km radius of our home. and don’t get me started on eating and drinking in a restaurant again. I’d nearly forgotten what it’s like to be around people!

We’re at Bloodwood, an institution in Newtown, with extraordinary food, superb drinks and the best staff anywhere. but why are we here?

Timing couldn’t be better for lockdown to ease – just in time to celebrate our awesome mate Kath’s birthday. She and her hubby Jarrod are such good mates of ours. We were so ecstatic to be able to come out and celebrate with them.

They run Nip of Courage, an Australian craft spirits distribution, marketing and wholesale company. They have a lot more Aussie craft spirits (and only Australian made craft mind you) than any other shop in the world by our reckoning.

Check out their range – they also deliver to your door within hours of you ordering if you live in the greater Sydney area by the way.

Oh and we also write for their blog!

Food at Bloodwood is off the charts, but thankfully owner and head chef Claire Van Vuuren has stepped in to take us through a tasting menu of all the best bits from her kitchen.

These scallops are a dish we’ll be trying to find again though next time we’re here!

Having a stroll round Balmain again today (you’d think we’d be bored of our neighbourhood after being stuck here for nearly a third of a year) and we come across this little fella.

This blue tongue lizard is just hanging out at the edge of a little park near White Bay. So good to see such diverse nature so close to houses and industry.

This evening, we’re catching up with the family for the first time considering that June. It’s so good to see restaurants and bars really thriving again.

Woolloomooloo Wharf is wonderfully busy and we take pleasure in the noise and smells coming from all the places on the edge of the water.

Our booking is at China Doll, easily one of the best Asian-influenced restaurants in the city. We get started on drinks – Christina’s bought this very fancy looking tequila cocktail called When Doves Cry.

We’re talking Herradura reposado tequila, pink grapefruit juice, soda and roasted sichuan peppers for an extra kick.

It’s incredible to be with everyone again, and we’re all in such good spirits. Christina and her mum haven’t seen each other for so long – one of the lots of significant impacts of the pandemic.

But enough about that. It’s time to eat!

It’s good to see the restaurant closures haven’t had any negative impact on the quality of China Doll’s food. everything that comes out of the kitchen is absolutely exquisite.

From the pork stomach to the special fried rice to the tempura salt and chilli prawns to the green curry, it all tastes superb. and not just because it’s the first thing we’ve eaten that we haven’t had to cook in ages!

We finish off with a round of desserts that are equally as good, then pop across the road for a nightcap in the pub. Perfect.

Christina’s up early again this morning to catch the sunrise. Mid spring in Sydney is always a gamble; no one really knows if it’s going to be hot, cold, windy or Defcon 5 hailstones, but this morning is divine.

There’s absolutely no way I’m getting up at sunrise though. There’s a reason why there are only two words for this time of morning – dawn and sunrise – but at other end of the day (sunset, dusk, twilight, golden hour etc) there are loads.

Noon, however, is very much my time of day. Christina coaxes me out for a stroll with the pledge of a pub lunch, so we head to the royal Oak for a cheeky beer and a burger.

Pretty delighted – I think this might be the start of a burger excursion of the pubs on the peninsula. One down, 15 to go!

We’re pretty ecstatic today – a delivery has arrived courtesy of Westgold Butter. and amongst the goodies is this sweet work of art by cake maestro Andy Bowdy.

Westgold have conducted a fascinating survey on Australians’ eating routines and how our perception of food is changing.

You can find the full survey here but in summary, Westgold have categorised us into four main groups: Food Snob Rejoicers, Food Snob Deniers, moving On Up and Old Schoolers.

Take the test and find out what kind of foodie you are!

There’s something about freshly baked warm bread, the highest quality salted butter and a rich sweet strawberry jam that puts everything else to shame.

This is the first time we’ve tried Westgold butter but it won’t be the last. really looking forward to trying out the unsalted butter on my signature macadamia shortbread cookies too.

The bread’s all gone by the way!

Today is national Barramundi Day! Did you know that 60% of the barramundi we eat in Australia is imported?! We certainly didn’t, so today is an effort to show how crucial it is to make sure – if you’re ordering barra from a fishmonger, in a restaurant or chippie, or picking some up from the supermarket – to check it’s an Australian fish.

As part of the day, we’ve been invited to take part in a live cooking masterclass with arguably Australia’s a lot of sustainable chef Matt Stone.

Matt’s showing us how to cook a crispy barramundi burger (Matt filleted his own portions, but we got ours ready done from Sydney Fish Market!). The class is fascinating, showing creative tricks only top chefs know. and here’s the result:

Actually quite pleased with how this turned out. and dare I say it better than a beef burger! I’m shocked at myself!

You can see Matt’s recipes for the burger, potato bun and tartare sauce and also view the masterclass here but in case this link doesn’t work for whatever reason, here’s a PDF of the recipe too.

This afternoon, I’m on another video masterclass – and this time it’s all about cheese and beer! white wine and cheese we all know got together, but beer is also an exceptional bedfellow with our much-loved part of dairy.

There’s a wealth of masterclasses at this year’s Bon Fromage Festival, celebrating European cheeses. Register for either the complimentary masterclass or the paid version which comes with a relevant kit. I missed out on the kit, but I’ve been brewing my own beer and I have some superb cheese from Ocello, so all’s not lost!

I’ve also made a few notes on the masterclass, so enjoy this space for some pro ideas on putting cheese and beer together!

This evening, we’re settling down to finish off the cheese from today’s fascinating pairing masterclass – though we’ve swapped out the beer for some beautiful Pinot Noir I’ve decanted into a wonderfully sophisticated carafe from Waterford Crystal.

And my laptop has gone in place of this absolutely sensational fire table from EcoSmart.

This is a bit of a sneak preview of what we’ll be talking about in our Christmas e-zine hint that will be out mid November.

We’re so ecstatic about bringing you our sensational gift guide, supplying inspiration to you and a hint to give your loved one too!

We hope you’ve took pleasure in this weekly edition and that you’re safe and well.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

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