Crave Sydney Food Festival

October 20th, 2011

The Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park

If you’re in Sydney this October, your taste buds are in for a treat. The annual Crave Sydney Food Festival is on, and there are a number of food and wine based events planned to show off Sydney’s vibrant and diverse food culture.

From October 1-31, The Crave Sydney Food Festival brings together some of Sydney’s best chefs and restaurateurs, as well as general food enthusiasts. With spring in the air, it’s a great time to sample amazing food and wine and enjoy the buzzing community atmosphere at different events and restaurants throughout the city.  Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular events –

Night Noodle Markets: From October 10-14 and 17-21, Hyde Park is transformed into an Asian style market, with hawkers selling amazing fares from dumplings to noodles to desserts. Tables and fairy lights scatter the park complimenting a festive atmosphere. You can grab some food between 5-9 pm, and enjoy a glass of wine as you do!

Let’s Do Lunch: Throughout the month of October, a wide range of restaurants take part in ‘Let’s Do Lunch’ deals, where they offer a set main course, a matched glass of Brown Brothers wine, Coopers beer or San Pellegrino sparkling or Acqua Panna still mineral water, plus coffee, for just $38. It’s a great opportunity to try some of Sydney’s best restaurants – even those that are hatted!

Cocktail of the Month: Some of Sydney’s coolest bars are also taking part, offering a cocktail and canapé combo for just $20.

Breakfast on Bondi: The newest event on the Festival calendar is Breakfast on Bondi. On Sunday, October 23, Sydneysiders and visitors will gather on the shores of the famous Bondi Beach to welcome the day and enjoy good music, good food and good company. Celebrity chef Bill Granger will be there, and you can either BYO picnic or pick up coffee, drinks and other food options from local restaurants and cafes.

Pop up dinners: These dinners are perfect for those who like a bit of mystery when they dine. These mystery dinners are food adventures, at which attendees will eat and dine at hidden kitchens and secret food destinations. Are you game?

For more information on the above events, visit http://www.cravesydney.com/index.php. You’ll see what other events are on and be able to book and plan your next meals. If you’re visiting Sydney while the festival is on, make sure you venture from your Sydney accommodation to sample some of the delicious fares of this international food festival. If you’re looking to visit Sydney during this month of culinary delights, there are a number of hotels in Sydney to choose from.

What are you ‘craving’ at the Crave Sydney Food Festival?

Outdoor dining in Sydney

September 22nd, 2011

Spring is in the air in Sydney, and it’s time to welcome back the warmer temperatures. Sydney is a city that’s best enjoyed outdoors – even when you’re dining!  Al fresco dining areas abound in a city that likes to show off its outdoor lifestyle and beautiful natural assets.

So if you’re in Sydney in spring, make sure you sample some of these dining options – many giving you vantage points of some of Sydney’s best natural and tourist sites!

Bondi Beach

On the foreshore of Bondi Beach, there are a number of open air dining options. Once you’ve walked the spectacular Bondi to Bronte walk which offers breathtaking views of Sydney’s famous coast, settle in for a meal or a drink at one of the alfresco dining options along Campbell Parade. At the southern end of Bondi Beach you’ll also find Bondi Icebergs, a well known institution offering great food and the best views of the beach.

Circular Quay

If you want to see Sydney’s iconic landmarks, there’s no better place to situate yourself than in Circular Quay. From this bustling area you can see the Harbour Bridge stretching across beautiful Sydney Harbour, and have a front row view of the Sydney Opera House. There are a number of dining establishments that are well positioned for you to enjoy your meal and the view, but it’s also just as nice to grab some takeaway and perch yourself on one of the many benches or grassy patches. If you’re looking for a Sydney hotel, there are a number located in or close to Circular Quay.

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is a great place to soak up the sunshine in Sydney. There are a number of restaurants, cafes and food courts with outdoor seating and views of the sparking water.

Woolloomooloo

For an up market dining experience, head to the Woolloomooloo finger wharf. There is a range of dining options to choose from including Brazilian, Spanish tapas, Italian and modern Asian. If you’re on a tight budget, try the iconic Harry’s Café de Wheels around the corner. It’s a Sydney institution and you can try Australia’s culinary icon – the meat pie. Keep your eyes peeled – you may just spot a celebrity in this area!

Manly

Take a ferry ride across the harbour to the North Shore of Sydney and the Northern Beaches. You’ll find the beautiful Manly beach and a number of eatery options from which you can watch surfers and soak up the Aussie beach culture. Popular with locals on a beautiful afternoon is Manly Wharf Bar.

All of these dining areas can be easily accessed from your Sydney accommodation. So get out there and enjoy an al fresco meal Sydney style!

Paddington Parks

August 25th, 2011

There’s always a green space to spread out a picnic blanket, read a book in the sun or take some time out in Sydney. But one of the most ‘park centred’ suburbs is a surprising one. When you envision Paddington you don’t necessarily think ‘space’. But if you look past the famous Oxford Street shopping strip and side lane boutiques you’ll realise there are two particularly important open-air locations. Think Paddington Resevoir Gardens and Centennial Park…

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

It’s a new addition to the Paddington street and landscape but after being officially opened in March 2009 it has become a popular outdoor space that embodies an important part of Sydney’s history. For years the reservoir, which played a crucial role in Sydney’s early water supplies, stood disused and derelict. These days, you’ll see children playing, families picnicking and people spread out in the sun with their weekend newspapers. It’s a park (sitting on the roof of the reservoir) that has been completely reconstructed. What’s more, there’s even a sunken garden in the western chamber.

If you’re after visible ‘historical’ remnants you’ll find some vibrant graffiti in the eastern chamber, which is now also used as space for community and cultural activities. For the rustic architectural lovers amongst us other features to look out for are the timber and stonework.

The gentrification of this historic space on the corner of Oxford Street and Oatley Road has brought the key elements of the original designer, Edward Bell, back to life.

So for anyone in and around Paddington, the Walter Read Reserve is a must do and see ‘relaxing’ location. It’s got some big names to live up to after being described as a combination of the Baths of Caracalla and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon so this is something you’ll have to pass judgment on and check out for yourself!

Centennial Park

Sydney is lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of natural space but Centennial Park could almost be described as the ‘lungs’ of the city. Entering through the gates you leave the busy streets and traffic behind. Whether you’re sitting back or getting some exercise, it’s a good place to be. For those seeking some down time, find a spot by the water, under a beautiful Morton Bay Fig, or in one of the many quiet corners of the park. Otherwise, get your roller blades and bikes out, take a run, walk or horse ride.

Apart from being a space loved by many, it’s one of the most historic parklands in Australia. Not many would believe it was originally a swamp. Luckily for Sir Henry Parkes vision, it didn’t remain so. His wanted to create a “People’s Park” in which the public could “take in the air” away from the city centre. He certainly achieved it.

If you’re set on making the most of these two open spaces and experiencing a different side of Paddington why not treat yourself to a hotel? Paddington is a stone’s throw from both the city, and the beaches – another kettle of ‘open space’ fish. So for your next trip to Sydney consider the range of Paddington accommodation on offer and it could be you walking to the Paddington Reservoir Gardens or Centennial Park with your weekend paper to lie in the sun.

Musical magic in Sydney

August 5th, 2011

If you’re a musical lover, Sydney is a good place to be this winter and spring season. With everything from the classic Mary Poppins to modern day Hairspray, you will have your pick of shows to dazzle you while you sit fighting to need to sing and dance in your theatre seat.

For those Sydney bound, here’s the must-see list.

Hairspray – Lyric theatre

This is without a doubt the feel good musical of the Sydney season. Wouldn’t it be terrible if we were all the same? Here’s a production with a message. Everyone’s different. Everyone has something to offer. Let this show lift your spirits – perfect for the young theatre-goer or anyone who loves big and colourful energetic displays.

Mary Poppins – Capitol theatre

Who hasn’t seen Mary Poppins as a child? Who hasn’t uttered the word, ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’? There wouldn’t be many. This is the multi-generation childhood classic which has made its way from book, to the big screen and now, to the stage. Sit back and enjoy the dance scenes, spectacular sets, ‘lift offs’ and the overall imaginative magical world of Mary Poppins.

Jersey Boys – Theatre Royal

There’s a reason this musical is so popular. It’s brilliant. On paper, the story of four blue-collar kids becoming a hit doesn’t sound like too much of a show-stopper. But it certainly is.  These boys are a sensation in storyline and on the stage. Go along and watch the rise of Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi – the four seasons – who sold 175 million records before the age of 30. You won’t be able to help yourself singing along to their big hits like “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. It’s a foot tapping spectacular!

Strange Bedfellows – The New Musical – Princess theatre

It hasn’t quite yet rolled into town but come October, Strange Bedfellows – The New Musical, based on the hit movie with Paul Hogan and Michael Caton, will be on stage! The flick, which also won Best Film at the Toronto World of Comedy film festival, had no trace of singing. But that’s about to change. This is a production set to take Australia, and the world, by storm. Think footsteps of The Boy From Oz, Shout and Priscilla. If you’ve ever been impressed by well-known composer John Foreman (known for his work on Australian Idol) you’ll love his original score for this musical.

Of course, any busy theatre-goer needs a place to rest their head after an evening of entertainment. Make a weekend of it and treat yourself to a Sydney musical trip. The beauty of Sydney’s theatres is that they’re all within a stone’s throw of each other. If you base yourself in the city, any location is a cab ride or short walk away. There’s always the CBD but also check out the surrounding suburbs. For something a little different, think Glebe, Paddington, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills hotel options. Surry Hills accommodation, for example, takes you one step out of the business sector and into the café culture and boutique shopping strip heart of Sydney.

Sydney, an enclave for artists

July 20th, 2011

Melbourne is often labeled the most ‘artistic’ and cultural of all the state and territory capitals. But Sydney gives it a good run for its money. While natural features like the harbour and beaches dominate the Sydney ‘snapshots’, it’s also a home to just as many galleries as its southern sister.

If you want a taste all you need to do is take a stroll around some of Sydney’s art hubs. Apart from the ‘big Kauna’ (Art Gallery of NSW and Museum of Contemporary Art), you’ll find smaller commercial galleries sprinkled through the streets. One of the most densely populated districts is the very centrally located Darlinghurst. Here’s a ‘to do’ list to get you started:

  • TAP Gallery (278 Palmer St, Darlinghurst): This is a space that provides exhibition space for emerging artists. As a result, it’s often somewhere to see some of the most exciting and innovative work on the market.
  • Urban Uprising (90 Fitzroy St, Surry Hills): If TAP gallery is innovative… Urban Uprising is groundbreaking. This new gallery has a mission to bring street art from around the world to audiences in Australia. This fresh approach to graffiti challenges the divide between high and low art. We’re talking big names like Banksy, Insect, Beejoir, Faile, Gee Vaucher, Jamie Reid, James Cauty, Shepard Fairey, Blak Le Rat and Nick Walter. If you are a street art fan you’ll be weak at the knees by now. If you’re new to the genre, do yourself a favour and make a beeline to this gallery.
  • King Street Gallery (177 William Street, Darlinghurst): Here you’ll find a number of Australia’s most prominent paintbrush wielders including Elisabeth Cummings, Idris Murphy, Jenny Sages and Wendy Sharpe. It also throws a line to emerging artists, who often exhibit some of the best work.
  • The Artery Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery (Shop 2, The Westbury, 221 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst): This not-for-profit gallery, established by Alesha Glennon who set out to establish ‘a gallery with a difference’, returns all their profits to charity. Drop by and experience the colourful, engaging showcase of indigenous art.
  • National Art School Gallery (Cnr Forbes & Burton Streets, Darlinghurst): This gallery, showing a range of interesting exhibitions, is housed in one of the oldest and most prestigious visual arts schools in Australia. It’s worth going in just to have a sticky beak behind the historic walls.

To make the most of a day trampling the art filled Darlinghurst streets, treat yourself to a night in a nearby hotel. Darlinghurst has a range of options. You could also try the close by areas of Surry Hills and Paddington but to be a stone’s throw from these galleries, and surrounded by excellent eateries and bars, Darlinghurst accommodation is sure to be a winning choice.

Time to detox?

July 4th, 2011

If the long weekend got the better of you or if you’re just feeling sluggish from too many winter meals, it may be time to detox.  The thought of dieting and exercising in winter is far from appealing but it doesn’t have to mean a complete lifestyle overhaul. There are small changes you can make to your daily routine so that when summer comes around, the thought of that bikini doesn’t make you want to head for the hills.

Alcohol-free days

You don’t have to give up the drink completely, just try cutting back. Aim for four alcohol-free days a week if you can, and that still gives you the whole weekend to let your hair down. Alternatively, you can get on board the popular ‘Dry July’ campaign, and try being dry for the whole month.

Substitute heavy food

Don’t worry, you don’t have to go all Gwyneth Paltrow and start eating raw vegetables and tofu to stave off those extra kilograms. But instead of curries, casseroles and stews try chicken and vegetable soup or a noodle stir-fry. They are just as comforting and filling but don’t have those extra calories.

If you think you can handle it, give vegetarianism a go for a week or two. There are some fabulous restaurants around, like Yullis, opposite the Clock Hotel, Surry Hills and Bodhi, in the city. Having a break from meat can help give your liver a rest and make you feel less sluggish and lethargic.

Set fitness goals

It’s usually easier to get up for that run in the morning if you are working towards something. Sign up for the City to Surf or the Blackmores Running Festival so you know you have to get fit before the chilly season is over.  Group fitness classes are also worth the cash in winter. You know you have to wake up because you will get in trouble if you don’t turn up! Plus, there are other people to whinge with.

Incidental exercise

Little things like walking to work, walking to the next bus stop and taking the stairs rather than the escalator can help in your detox. They may sound miniscule, but if you walk up four flights of stairs a day, that can add up to an extra 45 minutes of exercise a week!

Take a mini break

Too tempted by the after-dark delights of Surry Hills, Glebe and Paddington? Accommodation for out-of-city breaks can be really cheap if you keep your eyes on red hot click websites. It could be easier to just escape the delights of the inner city and treat yourself to the ultimate detox away from the bright lights!

Househunting in Sydney

June 16th, 2011

Looking for a rental house in Sydney is rarely a pleasant experience. No matter where you’re looking, you will probably have to face packed viewings, overworked and overtired real estate agents and extortionate asking prices. But it doesn’t have to be that bad – try some of our hints that will help get you through the day.

Have your forms ready before you see the property

It sounds simple but having your applications form ready on the day of the viewing can help you immensely. Not only will it show the agent that you’re keen, it also saves the Monday morning rush – when the reliable photocopier at work is bound to be broken. Make a couple of copies of your passport and other forms of identification to save you time later and make sure that the people you want to move in with have everything ready as well.

Go to every viewing you can

Even if the photos online make the house look like a dump, you will never know unless you go and see the place yourself. Often the best real estate finds are those that weren’t advertised properly.

Check for bus routes

The property may look great on the morning of the viewing but make sure you keep an eye and an ear out for little things that could make a big difference when you move in. You might not initially notice nearby buses and trains, noisy local pubs and flight paths but you definitely will once you move in.

Drive (if you can)

You may be a public transporter during the week but if you can borrow a car for house viewings, it will make the day a lot easier. Not only will you be more likely to make it to viewings on time, you will also be able to see properties in different areas that you may have struggled to get to on weekend buses and trains.

Have somewhere to crash afterwards

House hunting can be an exhausting activity. If you are not from Sydney, make sure you have somewhere you can rest and relax afterwards. If you have been looking around the Eastern Suburbs in Double Bay, Paddington or Surry Hills, accommodation options are everywhere. North of the bridge, there are plenty of cute hotels and rental apartments in Milson’s Point, North Sydney and McMahon’s Point. Or if you just want somewhere to rest your feet for a while, there are plenty of chilled out pubs, bars and cafes. Try the East Village Hotel, Darlinghurst or Pocket Bar in Paddington. For a quick meal, head to the Golden Sheaf in Double Bay or Commodore Hotel in North Sydney.

Be patient

There is no doubt that looking for somewhere to live can be stressful, time-consuming and frustrating. But good things come to those who wait and the property market in Sydney is definitely a waiting game. The longer you wait, the more you know exactly what you are looking for and what you are not.

What to do in Sydney over the June long weekend

May 24th, 2011

If you are keen to avoid overcrowded resort golf courses, delayed flights and the inevitable traffic out of Sydney over the June long weekend, why not make the most of the holiday and take a break… in Sydney. The Queen’s birthday weekend is the perfect opportunity to kick back, relax and get to know Australia’s biggest city.

What you can do

Darling Harbour Jazz and Blues Festival, June 10-13

The legendary homegrown jazz festival is returning to Sydney’s waterfront to celebrate some great national and international jazz acts. Often described as Australia’s greatest jazz musician, James Morrison will be joined by angelic Aussie songbird Katie Noonan. They will perform alongside US legends Topsy Chapman and the Ron Carter trio for a huge three-day event. And the best part? It’s free!

Vivid Sydney

Sydney’s creative festival will be in its final days so make sure you don’t miss out on the spectacular events. The Opera House will be lit up in a photo projection display and there will be dancing fires set up every night in the Rocks.

Sydney Film Festival

The festival starts on June 8 and runs until June 19. The schedule is jam packed with new films from all over the world, including short films, Australian films and documentaries. The films are screened in a number of venues across the city including the State Theatre, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Come Together Festival

Held inside the Big Top at Luna Park, Come Together Festival would be an awesome way to spend the Saturday of the long weekend. Australian hip hop act Drapht are headlining the festival and will be joined by fellow Aussies Illy, Urthboy and M-Phazes from Bliss’N’Eso.

Shopping

Why not use the weekend to catch up on that winter shopping you never ended up doing? See if you can handle the new Westfield, located in Pitt St Mall. Or if you prefer al fresco browsing, head to Crown St in Surry Hills for some awesome vintage stores and boutiques. And if it all gets too much, rest your weary feet at the conveniently located Clock Hotel. Paddington is another great shopping hotspot and is a five-minute walk up Oxford St from Surry Hills. Then if the thought of lugging all of your new things home is too much, why not make a weekend of it and get some accomodation? Paddington, Surry Hills and Darlinghurst are full of boutique hotels and reasonably priced option that are sure to tickle your fancy.

Sydney on a cold, winter’s day

April 27th, 2011

Contrary to popular belief, Sydney is not in an eternal state of summer. It can get rainy, windy and cold and suddenly your favourite rooftop bar is closed because of the bad weather. In a city where one’s social life can tend to revolve around the beach, the harbour or beer gardens, it can be tricky to find things to do in Sydney when the weather isn’t so good. Never fear, there are plenty of things to keep the cabin fever at bay on a rainy day, a rainy night or whenever you need to get out of the house.

A rainy day – If you’re feeling cultured, the Art Gallery of NSW hosts Australia’s most prestigious portraiture award, the Archibald Prize, from April 16 until June 26. It showcases around 40 of the best portraits from around the country and draws a huge crowd every year. But if you require a little more physicality in your rainy day, try Strike Bowling in Darling Harbour or go indoor rock climbing at ClimbFit in St Leonards. Alternatively, you could catch a flick at Sydney’s trendy Chauvel Cinema on Oxford St or the Verona just down the road. Both are licensed so you can have that bottle of red while watching the big screen.

A rainy night – There’s nothing worse than a night on the town when it’s pouring with rain – there are no cabs and the light summery jacket you’re wearing doesn’t seem to be keeping you warm. That’s why it’s best to find shelter from the rain and stay there.  Sydney Comedy Festival is being held at venues all around the city from April 11 until May 8 so try and catch some of the international acts on offer, like Danny Bhoy and Nina Conti. Out-of-the-rain watering holes include the Beresford Hotel, Surry Hills or Grasshopper bar in the CBD. For an ultra-hip bar that has an underground feel to it, pop into Shady Pines in Darlinghurst. Accommodation options are a dime a dozen in the area if you’re feeling a little worse for wear and can’t bear the agonising wait for a taxi.

It’s been raining for days and nights - There are always the reliable indoor options like the world-famous Sydney Aquarium or the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Rocks but after days of rain, the idea of any sort of roof over your head can be a little too much to bear. So why not take on the rain? Buy a pair of gumboots, a raincoat and an umbrella from one of the hundreds of stores at Westfield Bondi Junction and puddle-jump to your heart’s content.

There are always things going on in Sydney – rain, hail or shine. All you need to do is pop open that umbrella, pray that the bus is running on time and go and see what Sydney can offer, despite the wintry weather.

The Royal Easter Show

April 14th, 2011

Sydney’s Royal Easter Show is the Australia’s largest national event, combining entertainment, agriculture, food and fashion into two jam-packed weeks. From roosters to rollercoasters and cows to Cadbury, the Show offers something for everyone. Whether you’re young, old, a family, a couple, or taking on Sydney solo – make a day of it and head out to the Showground for a day you’ll never forget….

The Easter Show caters for people of all ages and interests. There are a number of ways you can tackle the show but the most important thing is to make a rough plan so you don’t miss out on anything!

-Transport. Getting to and from the show is easy! Sydney Showground is located in the Olympic Park at Homebush and is serviced by bus, train, ferry and taxis. There are also parking stations if you choose to drive. If you’re an out-of-towner and wondering about accommodation – Surry Hills and Darlinghurst and are both located within walking distance of Central Station, which has direct train services out to Olympic Park.

- For the kids. If you’re heading to the show with kids, make sure you don’t miss out on the Dairy Farmers Milking Barn, where farmers will show you how they milk their cows.  You can also catch a sheep shearing demonstration and visit your favourite breeds of cats and dogs in the Domestic Animal pavilions. Why not grab some fish and chips to eat outside in Cathy Freeman Park before heading into the Kids Carnival for the afternoon to have a pony ride or a heart-racing drop on the Free Fall.  Finish off the day with a trip around the Showbag Pavilion and watch their eyes light up!

- For the adults. There’s plenty to do for adults wishing to enjoy the best the Show has to offer. Start the day with a freshly ground espresso coffee from Café Alfresco before taking a tour around the foodie’s paradise – the Woolworths Fresh Food Dome. Once you’ve tasted everything on offer, chill out and watch the famous WoodChop.  It would be rude not to have a drink, so why not grab one from one of the bars in the arena or head to the Tyrells Wine Bar for a cheeky tipple. Head back to the Main Arena to catch the Precision Driving Team and a wild horse riding performance. And as always, your Easter Show night will end with a bang…

With so much to see and do, one day at the Show might not be enough!  It’s worth coming down to Sydney for the experience of the Show and with 900,000 people expected to attend the show, it’s worth making a trip of it and booking a hotel. Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and the city have plenty of accommodation options that will place right next to public transport networks as well as being in the midst of all the action.