Sydney Eats

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I could probably separate all of our dining experiences in Sydney into separate posts. But quite frankly, I don’t want to get stuck in Sydney. Visiting the cosmopolitan New South Wales Capital was only a small part of our trip! So here, you go… The best {and the worst} of it.

Breakfasts

We didn’t always eat brekkie. But we did almost always stop and get a flat white. {BTW! I found a place in Minneapolis that can make a flat white! Rob and I will be making a trip to Royal Grounds soon…}

Flat White

We’d usually get them to go from any place coffee stand on the way to our first destination for the day. There was also a little chain shop called Pie Face on the corner by our hotel. One day we stopped and sat down for our coffees and breakfast.

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This is where Rob fell in love with Aussie Meat Pies! I got a mini chicken and mushroom one as takeaway for our train ride to the Blue Mountains one day, too.

What are they?” you ask?  Well, in terms of filling, think shepherd’s pie or, better yet, a chicken pot pie. But scratch the pie crust. Aussie meat pie crusts are much flakier! Think croissant or puff-pastry. They come in all sorts of flavors. Rob’s favorites were mince beef and chunky steak. The golden pastry-like outer shell can make them quite messy. But they are so delicious and very filling! You can find them in coffee shops, on menus and in grocery stores. You can have them for a snack or any meal. There are even gourmet versions!

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Lunches

Our first lunch in Sydney was another sort of pie – pizza! Since we arrived so early on a Sunday morning, by the time we had walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens and Hyde Park, we were just looking for something that was open and not serving just breakfast or brunch. The menu and the ambiance really intrigued us as we walked by Macchiato Wood-Fire Pizza & Coffee Roastery.

If you check out their online menu, you will see that pizzas were right around $20 – $25. Generally speaking, everything in Australia was more expensive. While we were there, the exchange rate was nearly $1 US to $1 AUS. {It was more like 95 cents U.S. to $1 AUS, but it looks like at the time of this post it’s about 88 cents US to $1 AUS.} To make things simpler {and feel like we didn’t spend as much money as we thought upon return!}, we just assumed a 1:1 conversion.

But just for comparison, the style and size of pizzas they offered were similar to Pizzeria Lola here in the Twin Cities, which is a high quality place with plenty of accolades. Lola’s pizzas run about $10 – $15 each. Our expectations were high! The pizzas at Macchiato sounded gourmet and delicious. And we were hungry!

I couldn’t remember exactly which one Rob ordered, so I’m guessing at it based on the descriptions online:

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Spicy Sausage Sizzle  – chipolata, chorizo, fennel, chilli, balsamic reduction, mozzarella – $23

“Try these, Rob said. “These onions are really mild. I can barely taste them.”

“That’s fennel,” I said. He crinkled his nose and proceeded to pick them off. Silly, he must have read “fennel” and thought they were sausages with fennel seed. Overall, sadly, there was not much flavor here. We did liked the type and texture of the crust, but it didn’t have much flavor either.

And as for mine… To be honest, I’ve never ordered shrimp on a pizza before.

But I was in Sydney, I had to get prawns!

King Gamberi butterfly king prawns, rocket, cherry tomato, garlic, basil, lemon zest, mozzarella ............ 27

King Gamberi - butterfly king prawns, rocket, cherry tomato, garlic, basil, lemon zest, mozzarella – $27

So splurge I did. The first $27 pizza of my life. The prawns were huge! But they were so incredibly fishy tasting that they overpowered the entire pizza and I couldn’t taste much else. And I hadn’t even considered the difficulty in removing the shells to eat the pizza. Awkward.

I think we set our expectations too, high. The service was horrible. It took a long time to get waited on and we had difficulty communicating with the broken English of the foreign staff.  {We found this more than a few times in Sydney.} Of course, we didn’t care if they weren’t Aussies. It just made it difficult to communicate. So much so, that it took probably 20 minutes to get the bottle of wine that we ordered. And that was only after we flagged our server down. She thought we didn’t want our wine until we got our pizza! Huh?!

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This wine was pretty good and one we kept in mind for future reference for the rest of the trip. In the restaurant, it was $30/bottle. We found wine in restaurants throughout Australia to be really affordable for the quality than what we are used to back home! That was a win for us and one of the reasons it became our beverage of choice.

A little side note: There is no real tipping tradition in Australia. You can leave an extra dollar or two, but our Aussie friends told us we are never obligated. They said that they personally like to round up to the next $5, but only based on service. When traveling, we generally feel guilty for not tipping or only tipping a little, even in we are in a country where it’s not common. But whenever we got our restaurant bills in Australia, the shock of the total always made it a bit easier not to tip unless the service was exceptional.

To give you another idea of prices, check out this cocktail menu from a cool joint near the historic precinct known as The Rocks {which is a must visit for the history.} Although some of these sounded great, you might now understand why we chose wine over cocktails!

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Cocktail Menu at The Push.

I loved the decor at The Push  and the jazzy music that was playing, too. Although we were the only ones there for an early lunch, I could just imagine the night crowd. It felt like my kind of place. For lunch, something caught my eye on the menu – the Fish and Chips because:

  1. I was recommended to try fish and chips {grilled, not fried!} by Tiffany.
  2. The fish was barramundi, a fish I hadn’t yet had and also read I should try while there.

But somehow, I thought I read “herb-crusted” rather than “herb-battered” on the outside menu.

 BARRAMUNDI herb battered, house made tartare, mushy peas, hand cut chips  - $21

BARRAMUNDI - herb battered, house made tartare, mushy peas, hand cut chips – $21

But the flaky, fried fish really hit the spot that day! We hadn’t had breakfast that morning. Probably too much morning coffee combined with a pint of cider at the oldest bar in Sydney beforehand wasn’t the best thing on an empty stomach. I can skip the mushy peas next time, though. I’ve never been a fan.

Rob ordered a Sausage Roll, which doesn’t seem to be on their current menu, with a side of hand cut chips. Sausage rolls can also be found anywhere you find meat pies! And the flaky outer shell shown above can give you an idea of the type of crust you’ll find in a meat pie!

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Dinners

We have two particular dinners on which I’d like to elaborate. So I’ve changed my mind. You’ll have to hear about those later this week!

Other posts on our Aussie trip:

The One Thing I Didn’t Need to Bring to Australia
The Wattle and Bush Tucker
Scenes from Sydney
A Morning at Bond-Eye

The Blue Mountains

 What item in this post would you most be interested to try?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

San Marzano Meat Sauce over Spaghetti or Zoodles

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Warning: Today’s post is purely selfish.

I have no photos to share of this recipe I’m about to share with you. And I’m the one who prefers a photo of a dish with a recipe.

It’s selfish because when I made it, having used a few different sources, I didn’t like toggling between all of the recipes!

Then, I didn’t want to forget what I did. I needed the recipe down in print. And needed it linked to my Recipe Arsenal.

And I’m sharing it with you…

Because it turned out Fabulously.

Remember when I was testing out jarred San Marzano pasta sauces?

And how I said I couldn’t give up my tried and true jarred marinara – Ragu. {Despite cringing at the sugar and sodium content!}

Well, I can now.

Thank you, Snack-Girl for the inspiration! I adapted your recipe to mix in with some ground beef with my uber-favorite San Marzano tomatoes to create a meat sauce to top spaghetti or Zoodles.

Heeeeerrrreee goes!

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San Marzano Meat Sauce

Adapted from this Six-Minute Marinara Sauce recipe by Snack-Girl.
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • extra virgin olive oil (1/2 to 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic (I always have them on hand in the freezer because of this tip from An Organic Wife)
  • 1 lb ground beef (or pork or turkey)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (I did 1 tsp because I like a little more kick!)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

Method:

  • Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or skillet.
  • Add diced onion and garlic cook until soft. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.
  • Add ground beef and cook until almost completely browned.
  • Add salt, red pepper flakes and oregano and mix well.
  • Add San Marzano tomatoes and juices. I took the whole tomatoes out of the can and roughly chopped them before putting them in the pan and adding the juices. But this was very messy. You can try breaking them up after you add them to the pan, but that might get just as messy!
  • Simmer until heated through. Reduce heat to low until ready to use, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve over hot spaghetti or Zoodles {recipe below}.

Zoodles

(Serves 4)

There are many ways to make zoodles {aka zucchini noodles}, but this is the way I like to do it! I used this method to julienne the zucchini and then made a variation based on the Zoodles in this Skinnytaste recipe.

You will need approximately one medium zucchini (or 2 small) per person. It may seem like a lot, but remember the “noodles” will cook down. I based my recipe on serving four people to correspond with the recipe for San Marzano Meat Sauce above.

Ingredients:

  • extra virgin olive oil (1/2 to 1 Tbsp)
  • 4 medium zucchinis (or 8 small)
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Julienne the zucchini by holding it in one hand and pushing a julienne peeler into the flesh, starting at the top moving down. You should end up with strings of zucchini. Continue the process until you start to hit the seeds or core of the zucchini. Don’t worry if they stick together a bit. They will break up as you move them around in the pan.
  • Heat a large sauce pan or skillet over medium heat.
  • When hot, add the oil, onions and garlic.
  • Saute until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add the zucchini strings. {aka Zoodles!}
  • Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 1 minute.
  • Stir everything together and saute for an additional 1 to 1 and 1/2 minutes, or until your desired firmness.
  • As the zucchini cooks down, it releases a lot of water. So sometimes it’s a good idea to drain the Zoodles before serving. This will keep your sauce from getting runny!
  • When serving, top with San Marzano Meat Sauce, sprinkle on some shredded or grated parmesan and enjoy!

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 And usually at this time, I share:

planning

But I’m behind on my meal planning for this week. So it’s your turn to help!

After my farmers’ market stop, here is the veg I know have on hand:

  • tomatoes
  • brussels sprouts
  • onions
  • multi-colored carrots
  • potatoes
  • cabbage
  • red kale
  • spaghetti squash

And here are the protein bases I’m working with this week:

For lunches, I’m going for some Quick and Easy Bowls because I made a fantastic one this weekend. I can’t wait for lunch! Here is what went in it:

  1. Base - steamed/sauteed red kale
  2. Grain/Starchbrown rice
  3. Proteinbutter beans (but great northern beans or cannellinis would be nice, too.)
  4. Veggies – steamed/sauteed onion, multi-colored carrots, tomato
  5. Fatshredded mozzarella
  6. SauceRoasted Tomato Dressing, then seasoned with a little bit of Italian herbs, salt & pepper

What would you make with these ingredients?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Falling in Love with Fall

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It’s been a beautiful fall. I love the view from our backyard.

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The past couple of years we’ve had a short to non-existent fall season here. It would go from summer to winter in about a week with no chance for the leaves to change color properly. It made the winters even more long and unbearable. But this year has been an exceptional year for color changing!

Shamrock told us that he and Sophie wanted to go for a walk and enjoy the foliage, too.

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We obliged. It is Sophie & Shamrock Saturday, after all!

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And today was the perfect, cool, football-weather morning to take the dogs for a walk.

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Only these photos don’t even do the true colors justice.

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Soon, all of these leave will have fallen…

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…And it will become colder than in the movie Frozen. I’m feeling grateful for every moment of fall because I’m not like Elsa. The cold really does bother me. But I still refuse to wear a winter coat until November.

Happy Fall!

Cheers~
Carrie

 

The Blue Mountains

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We had an extra day in Sydney to take a nice little day trip. I had planned a few guided tours throughout our stay in Australia, but our trip to the Blue Mountains was one I wanted to play be ear. Ultimately, we followed this gal’s advice and decided on a DIY trip. It’s only a two-hour train ride from Sydney Central Station to Katoomba. Then the hop-on, hop-off Explorer Bus provided easy transportation throughout the region. That may sound touristy, but it didn’t matter. Because, they do it right here.

The Blue Mountains were a barrier to the Australian interior for European settlers in Sydney. Although native Aborigines lived here for thousands of years prior, the mountains were not officially crossed by Europeans until 1813. You can only imagine what that meant for the incredible hikes and views we experienced here!

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By now, you probably have learned of my almost debilitating, irrational fear of heights. So during our hikes, I was doing a lot of focusing on putting my next foot in front of me. No worries, though! I did stop from time to time to take in all of the beauty and breathe in the fresh mountain air. In many areas, though, the routes were narrow with no railings to line the drop off cliffs. That is why you get a photo where there actually is a railing! I felt comfortable enough to take one here.

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See those cables? That is for a cable car that crosses one of the valleys. You aren’t going to get me to do that! Instead, we just hiked and spent the day at our own pace. It was wonderful and peaceful. But I will remember one thing. When an Aussie says that a trail is a “gentle stroll,” it’s not the same as my definition. A gentle stroll doesn’t get my heart rate up, nor vary greatly in elevation. They are a fit bunch over there! I even passed a few elderly people who took all the steps and made it up the winding hills. Impressive!

But it was also a very chilly day. It’s much cooler {duh!} in the mountains than in Sydney. Unfortunately, Rob refused to bring anything but shorts on our trip to Australia. I think he was happy that he brought along his Michigan pullover!

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So what makes the mountains appear blue? That blue haze is a reflection of the sunlight off of the millions of droplets of oil released by the eucalyptus trees.

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We could ride the bus all day , going around as many times and stopping at the 29 stops as much as we pleased. But we finally stopped for a late lunch in the town of Leura. It felt good to get out of the chilly air. Rob ordered a chai for a little warmth; but I skipped the coffee because I was just so thirsty. I had about 18 glasses of water instead.

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This cute little place was called the Red Door Cafe. I ordered a sandwich that I didn’t really like. Rob, having eaten his first {very filling!} Aussie Meat Pie that morning, decided to just have a little dessert – a Caramel Slice. I didn’t get a photo. I was too busy sucking down water. Besides, how was I to know that this was an Australian delight with which we’d fall in love?! But you can click here for a photo and here for a recipe.

Do I dare try to make it? That could be dangerous! In any case, why haven’t I seen these in the States? It seems like a simplistic dessert that’s very similar to some of the bars we make here in the Midwest. But with caramel? Yes, please!

Where have you been all my life, Caramel Slice? Funny thing, though, is that I read in an in-flight magazine from Sydney to Melbourne that “The Caramel Slice is soooo 2012.”

What food have you loved on vacation that you’ve tried to replicate back at home?

Other posts on our Australia trip:

The One Thing I Didn’t Need to Bring to Australia
The Wattle and Bush Tucker
Scenes from Sydney
A Morning at Bond-Eye

Cheers~
Carrie

 

A Morning at Bond-Eye

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This title is meant to help you to pronounce the famed beach of Sydney:

Bondi Beach

I would have pronounced it Bond-ee. I mean, especially when Aussies tend to shorten words and make them cute by adding an “ie” or a “y.” For example:

Australian = Aussie (a given)
barbecue = barbie (you already knew this one, too!!)
mosquito = mozzie
football = footie/footy
breakfast = brekkie
sunglasses = sunnies

Adorable, no?!

But now get those out of your head because Bondi Beach is pronounced Bond-eye Beach!

What a beautiful day we had the morning we took the train and bus to Bondi. A nice gentleman on the bus noticed Rob’s Michigan hat and started a conversation. He was accompanying his daughter to school. That year, he had just returned to his home near Bondi Beach after years of living in Japan. He recommended that we pass the Bondi Beach bus stop and get off just one further. That way, we could walk back to the beach and get a beautiful view.

And so we did.061

It truly was a beautiful walk.

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Listening to the waves pound on the rocks was so peaceful.

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For part of the way, there was a bit of a trail to follow along to the beach.

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With great viewing points.

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Then, a view of the beach.  067

But the trail and this handrail didn’t last for long!

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Once we turned the corner around the building in the photo below, we were climbing the rocks on the shore!

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I put away my camera, not only to keep it safe, but also to just enjoy the rest of the hike along the rocks. It was a bit slippery, but I enjoyed every step. There was a separate little roped off area where dogs were swimming. We stopped to watch for a while. And then, this:

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We walked along the beach. The water was cold! Then we sat on the boardwalk and watched the surfers. I’m guessing most were newbies since the waves weren’t too big. We watched runners jog past. How jealous we were to have such a beautiful place to run! And we counted pupper dogs, giving them names that sounded appropriate. My brother and I started this fun, silly game when we went on a trip to NYC together back in 2004.

Then we went for coffee.

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It was time for me to try a long black, which is the Aussie slang for an Americano, my coffee shop beverage of choice. It was a bit chilly that day, so it was perfect to sit out in the sun and sip a cuppa {more Aussie slang} with the view of the beach in the distance and the smell of the sea in the air. Truthfully, though, this coffee made me jittery. I may have already had one flat white earlier that day… ;-)

It’s surprising that I never grew up near water; because it’s by the sea where I always feel the most content and happy. Or maybe it’s just being out in nature without a care in the world? In any case, these were happy moments that have become happy memories.

Where do you feel most content?

Read more about our trip to Australia here:

The One Thing I Didn’t Need to Bring to Australia

The Wattle and Bush Tucker

Scenes from Sydney

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

The Best Wine Bar in Minneapolis

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

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Let’s get right to it. In June, I met up with a Wineaux friend I hadn’t seen in a while. When we were trying to decide where to go, I somehow remembered reading about a wine bar that was deemed “The Best” in Minneapolis. I think I remembered Terzo Vino Bar  because I heard about it from more than one source. It was even cited as one of the “Hottest Wine Bars Across the Country.” Who better to try out a wine bar with than a fellow wine lover?

What I love about Terzo is that not only they do take reservations, but they also “reserve” half of their tables for walk-ins. Anyone wanting to enjoy a glass of wine and some nibbles should be able to do it on a whim, not require a reservation! I love that.

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While waiting for Jaime, I sipped on a glass of Prosecco. I always love to start with a little bubbly when it’s offered by the glass. It was not served in a flute, but a regular wine glass, which may becoming the norm these days. While I’m not sure it’s actually the case, it made me feel like I was getting more vino!

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As I sipped, I perused their menu of small plates to get some ideas for dinner. I always like to check out a restaurant’s menu online before I arrive, but Terzo only posts a sample menu. Their menu can change daily based on what’s fresh, available and in season. That’s another thing I love!

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Then I looked over the wine list. It’s all Italian and very extensive! It’s also not listed online. But Terzo does boast a 1000-bottle cellar and around 40 wines by the glass on any given day. I like to think I know a thing or two about wine; but this list made my head spin! There was so much that was new and unfamiliar to me. It’s another reason why I love wine. There is always something new to learn, try and taste! Here are just a few pages of the list:

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There was also a list of beers that I knew would please my husband. And at this point, this was the first time I found my beloved local Indeed LSD Honey Ale on a restaurant menu! {I later found it on tap at Red Cow!}

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When Jaime arrived, she was just as overwhelmed as me by the wine list. Since I had the chance to overhear the servers tending to other guests while I was waiting, I knew how knowledgeable they’d be. They answered difficult questions about wines on the list and used descriptors that I wouldn’t have even thought to use before! I was impressed.

We chose a bottle at our price point and asked our server, who probably could have passed as Ryan Gosling’s brother, for some advice based on our usual preferences. Jaime and I tend to like big, bold reds best. Ryan’s brother recommended a wine just around $40. Of course, I thought I took a photo of the label, but Jaime’s beautiful mug is as close as we’ll get. ;-)

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I believe it was a Super Tuscan called Lagone Aia Vecchia. And if I remember correctly, it was a blend of cabernet, merlot and sangiovese.

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Honestly, it is the best wine I’ve had in a restaurant at this price point! I am generally disappointed when spending that much money on a bottle when dining because it usually means I’ve chosen something something mediocre, sweet or without character. But, this time, our server nailed it.

We decided to order as we went, sharing plates. It was perfect! And it was something that’s not always easy to get Rob to do with me. But one thing Rob would like, is the placement of the silverware. He doesn’t like his touching the table. He always moves them to his napkin. But look at this!

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We started with the trio of bruschetta, which was just divine:

{bruschetta trio}
tomato & egg yolk, truffle mushroom,
garlic & oil 13

I didn’t get photos of everything because I was too busy sipping wine and catching up with Miss Jaime! We did enjoy another small plate of asparagus with burrata, though. You know they had me at burrata.

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And finally, we split an entree. When it comes to steak, I prefer a medium-rare filet. But I was feeling all adventurous, so I agreed to share the flat iron steak cooked to Jaime’s (less rare) liking. The steak was exquisite and I was surprised how much I loved it. It would be really difficult not to order that next time!

Our entire shared meal seemed seamless. Because the kitchen knew we were sharing everything, each dish came out with the food cut at a nice angle for easy splitting. It didn’t ruin the presentation nor did we have to massacre the beautiful dishes ourselves.

Of course, we couldn’t help but end with dessert. I took no notes, so who knows what flavors these were back in June. But who can go wrong with chocolate! All I remember is that we loved it. Terzo 17

So is this the Best Wine Bar in Minneapolis? I would have to say…

Absolutely, YES!

No, it doesn’t have the variety of wines from all around the world. But then again, by specializing in one area, they can focus on doing it right. And they do. The staff is well-trained and the I felt absolutely spoiled. Jaime and I spent way more money than we had expected to; but we had no complaints about the food, wine, nor service. In fact, it was perfect.

Terzo is also where I chose for my birthday dinner this year. You’ll have to wait to hear all about that Next Wine Wednesday.

What is the best wine bar you’ve been to?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Scenes from Sydney

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What I love about blogging is that my travels can become a virtual scrapbook. I tried scrapbooking once. You know, the kind where you crop photos and insert special backgrounds, captions and shapes into a real, hand-held book?

That wasn’t for me. In fact, it totally stressed me out. Trying to come up with a layout, decide which photos to use and not to use… And then there was the fear I would have too many photos leftover or not enough pages!

When I blog, I can write about whatever I want, whenever I want, about as much or as little as I want to share. Plus, the best is that I can post… in any order I want! And Kat taught me, that it’s even okay to write about Travels Past. {Hello, Ireland! I still have more I wanted to write!}

But what I want to do more than anything, is get out as many of my trip thoughts and memories into words onto these pages before they start to fade. So here are some scenes from Sydney!

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

After a four-hour flight to L.A. followed by a 15-hour flight to Sydney, I knew we had to hit the ground running and put ourselves on local time. The only trouble: It was only 6:30 a.m. in Sydney. I did get more sleep on the flight over than I had expected. (I fell asleep every time I tried to watch a movie!) But our goal was to make it through until at least 8pm that night.

Upon arrival, we had so much adrenaline and thought, “This isn’t that bad!” Still, the airport felt like chaos to us and Rob and I were trying very hard to be patient with each other. For that reason, we decided not to go with the local public transportation to get to our hotel, but took a taxi instead (approximately $47 – ouch.) By the end of our stay, we learned how easy and less expensive AirLink (train to airport) is. Note to self for next time!

Upon arrival to our hotel {we stayed at the Meriton Service Apartments – Kent Street}, we hadn’t anticipated that our room would be ready. We figured we’d just drop our bags and be on our way. But we were in luck. Our studio apartment was available. I made this accommodation choice based on price. Circular Quay/The Rocks area was too expensive for our 17-day trip budget. The Trip Advisor reviews were great and the extra discount they offered made it affordable. The location was ideal – just a block away from the train station and two stops away from Circular Quay. And the fact that these were serviced “apartments” meant our amenities included kitchen and laundry!

I guess you could say that we even had a view of the sea:

Sydney - Hotel View

We got settled, promising each other while unpacking that we would not lie down! We came all this way and we couldn’t waste this day nor risk the chance of being stuck in the wrong time zone due to jet lag.

Instead we tried to follow this advice by getting fresh air and sun and followed this suggestion on what to see in Sydney if you only have 48 hours. We were in no hurry; but I’ve always found that getting an overview of a city is a good way to get a feel for everything and decide on what you truly want to focus for the rest of your stay. Besides, I liked the idea of staying outside to keep the fresh air moving through our lungs. It was a beautiful, cool spring day. Remember, the seasons are the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere!

I don’t know why I was so confused about public transportation in Sydney. I’ve been to many big cities before and navigated them just fine. Actually, I do know what confused me. It’s the fact that they called what other cities call the metro, subway, tram, light rail, etc… They called, wait for it – THE TRAIN. Whenever I read, “the train,” I kept thinking it meant we had to go long distances or outside the city.

Such was not the case in Sydney.

We took the train from our hotel just two stops to Circular Quay. And the moment you descend the train at that stop, you see the beautiful Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is breathtaking!

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydneysiders also call this landmark “The Coathanger.” You can climb this bridge, if you desire. But the hefty $250 – $350 price tag and my extreme fear of heights saved us some money, kept us on the ground.

At this point, we still had a long day ahead of us. We opted to get a couple of coffees. It was time to try out a Flat White! I love that the coffee sizes are much smaller and cuter in Australia than back in the States. We do tend to Super Size everything.

Flat Whites, we miss you!

Flat Whites, we miss you!

I am normally a strong coffee girl. Give me an espresso {called a short black in Aussie lingo} or an Americano {a long black} any day. But there is just something about the Flat White. It’s like a latte – but better. It’s creamier and for whatever reason, the milk doesn’t make my stomach hurt like a cafe mocha does. I enjoyed a flat white most days of our trip.

At Circular Quay, when looking out on the Harbour, you’ll see the bridge to your left and the Opera House to your right. We took the advice to walk clockwise around the Opera House to the Royal Botanical Gardens. There is a beautiful path along the water leading you around the building.

Sydney Opera House Walk

I thought, when I saw the Opera House, I would think, “Oh. There it is.” And be on my way. It’s a well-known, iconic building that I thought identifying it would be enough. But I was in awe. It was so exquisite! Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, building commenced in 1959 and was completed in 1973.

Sometimes I forget how much I admire architecture until I’m on vacation. Although all I brought was my little iPhone 4, I couldn’t get enough of photographing it.

Sydney Opera House - Detail

Isn’t it beautiful? It was a perfect day for a run, along the harbour with the Opera House right there. Look at the beautiful blue sky!

Sydney Opera House - Sails

In fact, in the photo below, the purpose was to capture the Sydney Harbour Bridge reflecting in the glass of the lower level of the Opera House. But I’m secretly pleased that I snapped a runner in the background.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Reflecting off Opera House

To be honest, while there, I didn’t even think about touring the interior. I’m sure it’s beautiful, too. I guess there is always next time. The cost per adult at the time of this writing is about $37 per adult. Maybe a cocktail at the bar? That’ll be on the list for next time, too.

I couldn’t get enough of the Opera House on our ferry back from Manly a couple of days later either. I kept taking photos at every angle. I was still awestruck in a way I never thought I would be.

Sydney Opera House from Ferry 3

There is nothing like it. Maybe it’s the symbolism I see in the design. I don’t know if it was meant to be interpreted this way, but the building kind of reminds me of the sea, as if they are sails on the water. Or… even… shark fins!

Sydney Opera House from Ferry 5

Which is where I must confess my ignorance. While researching our trip, I learned that I really knew very little about Australian geogrpahy before our travels. I pictured the Sydney Opera House along he harbour with the Great Barrier Reef in the water right in front of it! HA! Yes, really. Silly me. Little did I know at the timethat Australia is about the size of the United States. And if I were in, say, South Carolina, I’d have to go to New York to get to the reef. And we did. Don’t worry, I didn’t get all the way Australia without visiting the GBR! But that’s for another post…

Back to Sydney…

One of the highlights of stay in Sydney was the Royal Botanical Gardens.  We only saw a small part of them, but we could spend days there. The unique floral, fauna and wildlife were all so new to us. Upon entry, we heard the song of a bird we had never heard before. And then they swooped down at us. We hung around checking those out first. Later, we learned, these were magpies. And we should be a little more careful! They can take an eye out!

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We also walked through Hyde Park, and before we knew it, we were back to the street that led to our hotel! In retrospect, we should not have walked 8 miles that first day. {We could have still enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine sitting on a ferry in the harbour.}

Because by 5pm, we had a bite to eat at the 3 Wise Monkeys Pub near our hotel and were in bed by 6pm. Okay, so we *almost* made it to 8pm.

How do you combat jet lag?

What is your favorite way to spend a first day in a new city?

More posts on our Australia trip:

The One Thing I Didn’t Need to Bring to Australia

The Wattle and Bush Tucker

Cheers~
Carrie