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Sydney cafes

Four Sydney cafes down, three more to go.

bills
This was a recommendation from my friend Charlotte and it was spot on. See, always ask your foodie friends for recommendations – they will never fail you!

We checked out of our hotel located at the Sydney CBD area and moved into another one at Surry Hills. While we were no longer in the heart of the hustle and bustle, Surry Hills won us over. It was quieter, most charming and had plenty of indie and vintage shops to give the area character. We had fun exploring the neighbourhood on foot.

There are three bills outlets in Sydney and conveniently, one was situated within 10 minutes of our hotel. After checking in, we took a leisurely stroll over for a cup of coffee and a late lunch.

It was an amazing meal. The coffee was good and the miso charred steak sandwich that I had was delicious. The beef was well-seasoned and tender, and the bread was crusty.

We liked it so much that we went back for dinner on our last night in Sydney. Mr Thick’s lamb cutlet was so simply cooked and yet so fantastic, we couldn’t stop raving about it. Meanwhile, my veal ragout was melting in my mouth and I was reduced to a blubbering state of infatuation.

It wasn’t only the food that was superb, the service was impeccable as well. The staff never failed to make us feel welcome and at ease, and they took care of the little man too.

Definitely a must-go in Sydney.

Single Origin Roasters
Again a recommendation from Char, Single Origin Roasters was merely 15 minutes away from our hotel. Yay! We decided to make it our first stop in the morning before starting our day. SMARTIES!

The coffee was delicious. Fragrant and packed the right amount of kick. I was all zinged up after that. Mr Thick, on the other hand, couldn’t stop raving about his ham and cheese toastie while my banana bread with espresso butter was just as good.

We sat there in the cold, crisp morning, sipping our hot coffees and munching on our delicious breakfast. Life was good.

Bourke Street Bakery
Once again, this winning recommendation came from Charlotte. And again, we were lucky that our hotel in Surry Hills was within walking distance of Bourke Street Bakery.

We decided to pop over to the boulangerie as the afternoon faded away, and after a lengthy stroll in the neighbourhood. The weather had been chilly, and we were looking forward to having some nosh in our tummies to warm us up.

Oh. My. Word.

The hot chocolate that I had was spicy and had that bittersweet tang of dark chocolate. The crust of our lemon tart was buttery and crumbly, and the lemon curd was just tangy enough to make me squeal in delight.

I wish we had the time to buy and eat more baked goodies – we reached the bakery slightly before it closed. Regret maximus!

Poor little buddy though. He couldn’t partake in the yummy food and decided to eat his shoe instead. That happened a lot during the trip.

Caffeine addicts love Sydney

My name is Yann and I am addicted to caffeine.

No, not really. Oh fine, YES I AM. I’m holding down a full-time job AND mothering a tiny tyrant so I definitely need my daily caffeine fix. And because I am still nursing the kiddo, I try my best to limit my caffeine intake to just ONE a day. And that means that my ONE caffeine shot has to be supremely out of this world.

Which is why I hate, HATE it when the coffee SUCKS.

And then we went to Sydney. And I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

A cafe! Here! And here! And there! Oh, look! ANOTHER CAFE?
WHEEEEEEEEEE!

Yeah, I kinda liked Sydney.

Anyway, one of my rules when we were there was that we would explore a new cafe every day. This turned out to be a fantastic rule because it forced me to check out new sights on the days that Mr Thick had to work and I was alone with the little man. I ended up walking and walking and walking and discovering fantastic new eateries.

And because I am not only Fabulously Gorgeous but also ridiculously nice, I am sharing my list with you! Nah, much of the list came from suggestions from very nice friends so I am merely paying it forward.

Le Pain Quotidient
We stumbled upon this cafe on the day that we arrived in Sydney, all bleary-eyed and exhausted from the red-eye flight. And it totally helped to soothe any frazzled nerves that we had.

The mocha with Belgian chocolate that Mr Thick had was nice and thick, with a hint of bitterness. My butter croissant and lemon tart were okay but his leg ham and gruyere cheese omelet was yummy.

I liked the place so much so that I went back to it one afternoon to rest my weary legs after shopping at Bondi Junction.

Taste Baguette
Convenience was the keyword in leading us to this cafe. It’s situated right at the foot of our hotel and we decided to just pop in for a bite.

BEST DECISION.

The Vietnamese Style Lemongrass Chicken and Grilled Portuguese Chicken sandwiches that we had were delicious. DELICIOUS, I tell you. Every bite was full of flavour. And I loved the crusty baguettes!

And the icing on the cake? The coffee (Campos beans) was kickass. As in, it kicked my sleepy ass into GO GO GO! mode. It made me very happy.

The staff was awesome too. When I was there for lunch one day with just Aidan, they were extremely attentive and friendly, and even helped me with the napkins and water.

Le Grand Cafe
A cafe situated at the Alliance Francaise de Sydney, this little nook is never crowded nor noisy. There’s always jazzy French music playing in the background, and it’s perfect for a solo traveller. In fact, I liked the place so much so that I brought Mr Thick back for a coffee break one afternoon.

The croissant that I had was nicely buttery and flaky, and the flat white was nice enough.

Flour and Stone
This was a recommendation by the fantastic Mrs Ergul. I had snapped a photo of Hyde Park on Instagram and she immediately left a comment, suggesting that I check out Flour and Stone.

I love them foodies. They always know where to go when it comes to good food.

It. Was. Yummeh.

The spicy chicken sandwich that I had hit all the right spots while the lamington was simply heavenly. The coffee was decent but then again, I couldn’t drink it fresh because the little buddy was demanding all of my attention.

Okay, that’s enough caffeine for now. I’ve still got a couple more to go and I’ll share that with y’all soon.

Sydney dreams

So. Sydney.

We were there for all of seven nights and we fell in love with the city. We didn’t want to leave, partly because we loved being out there on our own. Just us three, our little family unit, 24/7.

Well, sort of, since Mr Thick was actually there on business and we were the tagalongs.

But I daresay the trip has emboldened us and we will, if finances allow, be embarking on more adventures. Traveling with the little man is so easy now and he is such a good companion. His current temperament is mellow and cheerful, and we are very lucky indeed.

(Note my emphasis on “now” and “current”. As with everything related to baby, the only constant is change so we never think ahead and always focus on the present.)

What we loved about Sydney:

Baby-friendly facilities
Never once have I felt unwelcome while pushing the stroller around the city. All the curbs have ramps to slopes built in for strollers and wheelchairs to move around easily. The public transport system are excellent too, with seats dedicated to those with strollers and wheelchairs. We ditched the car seat and took the bus and train when we needed to travel out of the CBD, which was where we were based for much of the trip. I took the train with Aidan in the stroller on my own and found it a breeze. When the wheels were caught in the gap between the platform and the train, many good Samaritans came forward and helped to lift the stroller up. Amazing.

Beautiful architecture
The city had preserved the colonial buildings magnificently and I loved the juxtaposition of history and contemporary. Somehow the mix of traditional and modernity worked perfectly.

Fresh produce
My brother-in-law, an Australian, tells me that Australia doesn’t import many things and everything is made or created within the country. And it shows. I loved the wide variety of organic and free-range products. Some are pricy, yes, but at least we have plenty of options. Organic has become such a way of life for them. It would have been so much fun if we had gotten a service apartment with access to a kitchen.

Spring
The weather was beautiful. Perfectly crisp, perfectly cool. We walked almost everywhere. On the days when Mr Thick had to go into the office, I would strap the kid into the Boba baby wrap and explore the city on foot on my own. I reckon I walked more than 5km each day!

Green spaces
There were so many beautifully manicured parks within the CBD alone! Whenever I get tired of walking, I’d sit on one of the benches and enjoy the peaceful grounds. There were art installations in the parks (Art & About Sydney 2012), which I really enjoyed. We also had dinner at the Night Noodle Markets at Hyde Park one night. And I had my first glass of wine in 16 months there! Yums.

Awesome cafes
Good coffee, fantastic weather, delicious bakes. Can you blame me for not wanting to leave? I had a “one new cafe to check out a day” rule and that was fun! It forced me to be more daring. I’ll leave that for another post for those heading to Sydney soon. Some of these places are to die for.

But of course, with our income, we wouldn’t be able to survive life in Australia. And that’s the clinch – the higher cost of living. Never again will I complain about the cost of transport in Singapore. A train ride in Sydney cost us $4 while the cab ride from the airport to the hotel was a whopping $90.

Oh we spent a heap of money, more than we should, but we had fun and made many beautiful memories.

Till the next holiday.

G’day mate!

We’ve had a such a fantastic time Down Under and needless to say, none of us – baby included! – wanted to be back.

The little man was such a perfect traveller, charming the pants off everyone that he met. Mama here scored a free donut and a babycino on his behalf. This one is definitely not shy, he was smiling and babbling to anyone who would even glance in his general direction.

Wonder where he gets it from, as his parents are v v v stoic persons of v v v few words.

Anyway, I’m still exhausted from all that holidaying. Plus, school has started and I have classes to teach! So postings will be a little light until we have finished packing and catching up on our sleep.

In the meantime, here is a photo of the little buddy looking oh so cool for school in mama’s sunnies.

Oh how I love, LOVE this boy of mine!

Hong Kong eats: Tai Hing

Mmm mmm mmm, more roasts coming your way!

Well, pictures of roasts anyway. This time, we found ourselves at Tai Hing Roast Restaurant, a recommendation of Cousin Ching’s colleague. Apparently, her colleague was on a business trip to Hong Kong and a local co-worker had taken him there for a meal. It was so good that he told Cousin Ching we MUST check it out. And check it out we did, one rainy evening!

The Causeway Bay branch that we went to was a like a hole in the wall eatery. Woe betide if you have four persons in the party – you’ll need to sit arm to arm in order to squeeze into a booth. Even with the just the three of us and mind you, we were all slim people, it was a bit uncomfortable.

But who cares? The food was delicious!

We each ordered the two-meats combination meal, which included a plate of vegetables and a soup. I opted for roast pork and roast goose. Even the soup, a run of the mill pork and corn soup, was so thick and yummy. I drained the bowl. The meats were nicely fatty and none too dry.

Me likey. Very much.

Pictures!

The order chit

Blanched lettuce with oyster sauce

My roast combi

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