Tuesday, January 12, 2010

SPT DAYS 18-22: SYDNEY

Miles flown so far: 16,265

Sydney is a sprawling, complex city.  It is much more beautiful than Melbourne, and certainly has more glitz, but it also seems harder to get to know, especially without a car.  We stayed downtown so we had an easy walk to the major sites and some good (if insanely expensive) restaurants, but did not get much of a chance to explore the inner suburbs, where some of the hidden gems of food, shopping, etc. lay in wait.  For sheer glimmering Australian vistas, however, Sydney did not disappoint.  The from the harbor, the opera house, and the Harbor Bridge, to the the botanical gardens, quaint yet slightly rundown Victorian neighborhoods and modernist apartment buildings spilling down cliffs toward the sea-- this city is gorgeous.

An odd apartment complex overlooking the harbor.  The Australian answer to Britain's somewhat depressing but unusually fascinating 70's welfare state architecture.  It seemed totally out of place in this subtropical paradise of a city.

Thousands of Flying Foxes (bats) live in the Royal Botanical Gardens.  They are huge and loud and a bit intimidating.

Here they hang above an unsuspecting tourist.



The Asian cuisines of Sydney seem to be its highlight.  These Malaysian beef and chicken dishes from The Malaya were a satisfying lunch one hot day.

Tucked away on Liverpool Street in the old Victorian neighborhood of Darlinghurst is Bill's-- the site of another great lunch.

I had the breaded chicken schnitzel with slaw.

For dinner that same night we ate at another Darlinghurst spot, A Tavola.  I had the insalata di acciuglie, finocclino e asparagi (salad with greens, white anchovies and asparagus) and the pappardelle con ragusa d'agnello (hand cut pasta with lamb ragu).  Both were totally delightful, and I loved the interior of the place: long communal marble table with bar facing out toward the room but tucked away to the side, good lighting, and a simple color scheme.

Here is the freshly made pasta hanging near the kitchen.

We had another tasty lunch at Spice Temple in the central business district.  Above is the chicken salad, the fried silken tofu, and the spicy pork.  The food was very good, but as a general rule I think Australians could use a bit more restraint when it comes to restaurant design.  Many places we ate were so over designed, with such elaborate menu philosophies and high concept names that at times establishments with perfectly decent food seemed dated and heavy handed.  All the best meals we had in Australia consisted of fresh ingredients, sophisticated but direct menus, and simple, elegant decor.  A lesson to keep in mind for all interiors, and one that I have had drilled into my head by eating at so many overwrought dining spots over the last three weeks.

Also, on our last day in the city, I visited the New South Wales Gallery and saw artist Tazu Nishi's installation piece War and Peace and in Between.  He constructed rooms around the large bronze statues that flank the museum's entrance, creating an amazing contrast of scale and spacial hierarchy that was just fantastic.

We leave Sydney tomorrow for New Zealand and the countryside, and I am ready!

3 comments:

  1. aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!! amazing!

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  2. nom nom nom all the food on your trip looks so good. I hungry!

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