A Weekend in Sydney
A few months ago, Fakegf just upped and asked me “shall we go to Sydney… to eat?”. I blinked a few times before saying “yes”. That’s how we ended up spending a weekend in our sister city with The Angmoh’s blessing… he said “you guys go have your foodie fun, I’ll stay in Melbourne with the dog“. He even very kindly sent us to (and picked us from) Melbourne airport.
Incidentally, this trip also turned out to be a chance gathering of bloggers. We caught up with ex-Melburnian bloggers Billy (Half-Eaten) and Penny (Addictive & Consuming) over the weekend. I-Hua also flew up from Melbourne to visit family that same weekend. Forming this mini food congregation made things considerably more fun!
Flour and Stone
53 Riley Street
Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
02 8068 8818
Once we touched down on Saturday morning (on time thankfully, thank you Virgin Australia!), we made a beeline for this much talked-about bakery and brunched with Billy, I-Hua, her sister and nephew.
Pork & fennel pie | Winter vegetable pithivier
Entering this tiny little bakery in Woolloomooloo, our noses filled with the delightful aroma of baked goods and butter. There was a constant queue of people buying pies and pastries. Luckily, a couple of brunchers left just as we arrived and we secured a table in that tight squeeze of a shop.
Flour & Stone’s savoury offerings were very nice! I might even venture to say that they’re better than the savoury pastries that I’ve had in Melbourne.
As for dessert, I can’t really recall what we had (except for the lamington), I found them okay albeit on the rich and sweet side. Incidentally, this was the lamington that inspired Fakegf to create her very own sacher-tortington during this year’s Sweet Swap. She ordered it again this time round so that I could taste it. Believe it or not, I actually prefer Fakegf’s hybrid lamington (with its uplifting orange rind centre) over this version!
358 Cleveland Street
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
02 8399 1440
We fasted for the rest of the day so that we had stomach space for dinner here…
In Argentina, a porteño is essentially a local living in a port city, but the word somehow evolved to describe the people living in Buenos Aires. I wonder whether this was how the restaurant’s name came about… existing with an eye towards serving up authentic, quality Argentinian fare to the point where its customers end up feeling like true porteños when dining there.
Being such a huge food destination in Sydney, Penny advised us to queue up an hour before the doors opened to get the first seating. We turned up 45 minutes before… and true enough, by the time the restaurant opened for business, there were nearly 70 people in the queue. That wasn’t including the 30-40 customers in another queue who had group reservations!
Having visited Buenos Aires earlier this year, I’ll have to say Porteno actually pulls in reminders of that crazy sprawling city. The insignificant looking exterior belies a spacious, breathtaking interior that felt warm, fashionable and confidently relaxed.
We dined here with my cousin Stacey, who’s studying in Sydney at the moment. Three diners meant more dishes could be sampled… yay! Wise tacticians at heart, Stacey and I took a strategic photo depicting the two of us cousins dining together with big smiles… full of family resemblances, including our pork-chop noses! Publishing that photo on Facebook made both our families very happy!
Blood Sausage with Red Peppers in Garlic
We started off with an entree highly recommended by Penny: an embracingly rich morcilla that’s nicely paired with red bell peppers. Fakegf usually stays away from blood sausage because of the strong iron taste of blood, but Porteño’s version was gentler and she found she could nibble at it without a problem. Actually, good morcilla aside, we actually were more excited by the red peppers underneath it.
Chanchito A La Cruz (8 Hour Woodfired Pig) $46
Costilla De Asado (Greenstone Creek Grass Fed Angus BBQ Beef Long Ribs Grilled Over Charcoal) $40
Next came the cornerstone of Argentinian cuisine: meat meat meat… slow-cooked ala true asado style: spreadeagled and then barbecued over an open wood fire.
Both dishes were as perfect as cooked meats could ever be. Shockingly succulent pork with crisp crackling, and beef ribs with delicious charring. I have to tip my hat off to the chefs here, these meats tasted better than anything that I had during my trip to Argentina!
Nappa Cabbage, Raw Zucchini, Aged Pecorino & Pedro Ximinez Vinegar Dressing $16
BBQ Eggplant & Bullhorn Peppers with Garlic, Chilli and Sherry Dressing $16
Of the supporting dishes, I wasn’t that excited about the nappa cabbage… then again I’ve never been fond of cabbagey salads with grated cheese. However, the three of us fell completely in love with the eggplant and bullhorn pepper dish. Next time I dine Argentinian, I’m going to chase after every dish that has red peppers in it!
Apricot & Chocolate Tart, Familia Marguery Muscat & Creme Fraiche Ice-Cream, Vanilla Chantilly $16
Postre Chaja (South American Style Pavlova with Pistachio) $16
Reading the dessert menu, the selections sounded rather boring and we were puzzled as to why Penny said they’re good. However, after a few bites, we realised how mistaken we were and that Penny was right.
Leche Quemada $16
Burnt Milk Custard with Rhubarb, Fennel Ice Cream & Oats
I won’t go into detail, but just remember this: no matter how full you are, you should still try the desserts here. Stacey, in particular, was very happy with the sweet offerings.
With all the buzz going around on Instagram and the blogosphere, I visited Porteño with very high expectations… AND they’ve lived up to it! I now understand why everybody keeps mentioning this place when asked to give Sydney food recommendations. The equivalent place for Argentinian fare in Melbourne is San Telmo, which does a good job, but doesn’t come quite as close to perfection as Porteño does.
33 Bayswater Rd
Kings Cross, NSW 2011
02 9357 7331
It’s hard trying not to pull a ‘Melb vs Syd’ type of comparison whenever I leave home turf, but the choices for good coffee in Sydney remain rather slim. And if you’re looking for exceptional coffee in Sydney, I believe it still currently doesn’t exist.
All that said, Fakegf pandered to her Angmoh’s wishes and we popped into this cafe at Potts Point where the skilful barista can (with much showmanship) literally ‘paint’ incredible images in his latte art. The coffee (by Allpress… *koff*) was good enough to wake me up and not put me in a grumpy mood. On this front, that’s all I should ask of Sydney… I was contented.
We then lined up at 11.30am outside Ms G’s with I-Hua, her sister and nephew. Sadly, a waitress soon appeared and told us the restaurant doesn’t open till 1pm on Sundays… *pout*.
Of course being the fast-thinking foodies that we are, Plan B sprang to mind very quickly. We swiftly made our way to a food court in Chinatown…
Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen Noodle $11.5
Hakata Ramen Noodle $10.5 | Tonkotsu Ramen Noodle $10.5
(+ soft boiled egg $1.5)
… and slurped into what might possibly be the best ramen in Australia. The tonkotsu broth was full of flavour and thick with boiled down collagen, and don’t you agree those soft boiled eggs looked like liquid gold?
This shop is so proud about maintaining standards that you can customise your broth and request for it to be less salty or less thick (I requested less salt for Fakegf and myself). When I received my order, the guy even said I could return my bowl if it’s still too salty and they’d happily cook me a new bowl.
Black Star Pastry
277 Australia St
Newtown, NSW 2042
02 9557 8656
We bade I-Hua and sis adieu after lunch. With many hours to kill before our flight back, there was time for yet another pilgrimage, this time to a bakery in Newtown that I-Hua recommended. We arrived to find a queue of people snaking outside. It seemed like every place we’d visited in Sydney involved stressfully long queues! Fakegf lined up while I reserved a ramshackle table for us.
Strawberry watermelon cake $7 | Truffle Eclair
Our cakes and pastries came… they were lovely. I’ll have to begrudgingly admit it’s quite a few notches above what Melbourne’s best patisseries can offer. The strawberry cake had a juicy slice of watermelon in its centre, topped with pistachios and drizzled with rosewater. Amazing. And the truffle eclair… double amazing! OMG, I have to relocate to Sydney now… no?
Vegan pyramid w/ spiced pumpkin & chick peas | Lamb shank & red wine pie $7.8
We also bought a few pies to take back with us. Quite funnily, we spent $16 on tupperware so that we could safely transport $22 worth of pastries back to Melbourne.
Our visit to Black Star Pastry strengthened my conviction that Sydney has better bakeries than what Melbourne has to offer. Heck, even the ramen and Argentinian fare here is better. However, Melbourne comes out top in the caffeine department. And so each city has its own food strengths and weaknesses.
285A Crown Street
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
02 9331 0833
Pimms & Lemonade 18
We spent the rest of the afternoon digesting and having drinks in a Surry Hills wine bar…
Mapo Korean Restaurant
Kimchi | Chicken Bibimbap 13
Beef Bulgogi Hot Pot 14
… before going back to comfort foods with our last meal in Sydney, drawing parallels with the way we’d go back to the comforting embrace of our home city – Melbourne, dastardly cold and wet, yet still our beloved home all the same.