When talk turns to traveling to Australia I think people are daunted by the flight, and scared of the spiders, snakes and sharks, but if Oprah is prepared to risk it, so can you! It's not my hometown, but I still love Sydney. Here are are some of my tips for visiting Australia's largest city. Below the pics you'll also find a recipe for a scrumptious salad...
Bills is my favourite breakfast spot in Sydney. There are a few branches to choose from but I usually go to the original one in Surry Hills. I love a big breakfast and Bills does simple, but really yummy, breakfasts that I find myself randomly thinking about and craving when I'm not even in Australia. I usually have the scrambled eggs – a dish Bills is famous for – with nice chunky farm-style toast and fresh sliced avocado, a homemade tomato relish and fresh juice. The restaurant is tiny and you can't book a table, so you might find yourself waiting by the door but people are prepared to do that day in day out, because it's so great.
Uccello is an Italian poolside restaurant that's part of the incredible suite of Merivale bars, restaurants and clubs that even includes a penthouse where Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom had a birthday party recently. It's quite the 'It' place and I feel like I'm in LA when I'm there and eating by the pool. (See my favourite Uccello recipe far below)
est offers what I'd call a classic Aussie menu taking inspiration from around the world and using great, fresh produce: meat, fish and vegetables. Lots to choose from on this menu – grilled fish and seafood, an amazing ice oyster bar, hefty steaks for Kris and beautiful butter lettuce salads and French fries on the side. The interior is beautiful, comfortable and with classy fixtures.
I've climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge a few times, it's one of my favourite things to do in Sydney and I'm desperate to do it again. I'm not scared of heights and it's a very gentle climb up, and descent down. There's one little ladder of about 10 steps you have to climb, then the rest is very gradual. I don't think you would do it if you were really scared of heights, but it doesn't have the fear factor you might imagine and, unless you try it, you'll never know how fabulous a panoramic view of Sydney it offers. Something to keep in mind is that they breathalize you before the climb. If you have been drinking heavily the night before and you're over the limit they won't let you climb. Make sure you buy a picture of yourself taken on top of the bridge – as everyone has to wear a grey 'adventure suit' over their clothes so a photo makes for a hilarious memento!
There's something we have in parks around Australia that we think is perfectly normal, but which absolutely fascinates my friends that visit from overseas. Believe it or not, many of our parks – including those near the Sydney's Bronte Beach - have outdoor barbeques. Sometimes you have to put a coin in them to operate them; sometimes you can use them for free. You just push a button to get them heating up, give them a clean off with half a lemon (when they are warm but not hot), and cook all the fabulous food you've brought along in your backpack or esky. Then you sit down at a picnic table nearby and enjoy your lunch looking at an incredible beach view. These barbeques are such a part of growing up in Australia and they're part of my perfect recipe for a cruisey day at the beach.
If I'm in Sydney for New Year's Eve I'm quite prepared to skip the late night partying in favour of staying fresh for the Bondi to Bronte walk on the morning of New Year's Day. In fact, any time I have a couple of hours free I'll throw on my trainers and hit the trail. Leaving Bondi, you travel South, passing a famous restaurant called Bondi Icebergs which I love at nighttime (beautiful view of the ocean, dim lighting, sound of waves crashing in the distance 1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach, Sydney). You'll stumble across the pathway, then you just follow it all the way along the coastline to Bronte beach where you're spoiled by the choice of cafes. By the time I get there I'm usually be starving so I'll sit down and have a huge brunch with a big glass of fresh juice. The walk takes about an hour, breakfast perhaps a little longer, and it's a very healthy way to spend a morning. Note: there are quite a few steps, so if you have a little one, maybe take them in a harness, be prepared to carry the pram up some steps, or a simply give them a piggyback.
About a kilometer south of Bondi is a pretty little beach called Tamarama which the locals have re-christened 'Glamarama' because everybody on that beach has the best body. It's an unwritten rule that if you don't have a physique that looks like its been retouched in Photoshop, you don't go to 'Glamarama' but if you want to see – or be seen – it's the place to be!!!
If you're a serious fitness fanatic the outdoor saltwater pool next to Bondi is a must-visit. People in training for triathlons and ocean swims work out there and will be clocking up the laps there summer or winter. The pool has waves in it because it's constantly being filled and re-filled by the ocean, so you need to be a relatively strong swimmer to tackle it. If you don't have webbed feet it's still an impressive sight to behold though.
Ethan's still a little young to enjoy all the amazing children's activities Sydney has to offer but once he's a bit older our first stop will probably be Taronga Zoo. Among the hundreds of amazing animals there we're really looking forward to showing him Kipenzi, the tiny baby gorilla recently born at the park.
If your children are a little older they'll love iconic Luna Park which, with a gaping clown's mouth as the entrance, is jam packed with rides and old-fashion fairground sideshows. And, as a bonus for the grown-ups, when you look across the water from Luna Park you can see the whole city laid out in front of you. Both these attractions overlook the iconic Sydney Harbour and it takes my breath away each time I see it.
Uccello's Shaved fennel and pear salad with figs, castelmagno cheese and herb dressing
I never know what to do with fennel – I never buy it – but when my friends cook it or I have it when I'm out, I love it. I probably would never have ordered this salad from Uccello's menu but Tabs and I had been working so hard and she saw it and ordered it to keep us going while we waited for our lunch. She knows me so well and just knew I'd love this.
For the salad
- 1 bulb baby fennel, shaved
- 1 fresh fig, cut into 6
- Half a soft white pear, thinly sliced
- 75g Castelmagno cheese, shaved
For the herb dressing
- Pinch of fresh mint
- Pinch of fresh marjoram
- Pinch of fresh oregano
- Pinch of fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chardonnay vinegar
- Salt and black pepper to season.
- Toss the shaved fennel, fig segments, pear slices and Castelmagno shavings into a bowl.
- Finely chop all the dressing herbs and add them to the oil and vinegar mix.
- Dress the salad and enjoy!