By Mara Papatheodorou, your Tastes & Traditions Expert
Sydney is a spectacular combination of cosmopolitan cool meets casual fun. Called Harbour City due to its picturesque waterfront setting, the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House are two of the most recognized and visited landmarks. To appreciate this fine city’s celebrated skyline take a harbor cruise, walk and climb the harbor bridge or ride to the top of the Sydney Tower for a great look. Stroll the tranquil grounds of Royal Botanic Gardens in Farm Cove where plants have been cultivated for over 200 years or take a leisurely walk through the Domain, the colony’s first governor’s private land that is now a beautiful grassy park. On the artistic front, The Art Gallery of New South Wales houses some of the finest Australian and Aboriginal collections while The National Maritime Museum highlights the country’s ties to the sea.
Wander the historic Rocks District, named for its rugged cliff surroundings. Located here are the Sydney Observatory, the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Rocks Discovery Museum. Campbell’s Storehouses is a group of renovated storage rooms used in the 1800’s for tea, sugar and textiles that now features excellent diverse restaurants. For excursions just beyond, head to the Blue Mountains National Park to see the famous Three Sisters rock formation or for a stunning overview enjoy a ride on the Scenic Railway or Skyway. Animals abound at Taronga Zoo or have some fun in the sun at famous Bondi Beach.
Today’s “Mod Oz” Cuisine is a flavored fusion of the many nationalities that call Sydney home. Mediterranean influences come from the Greeks, Italians and Turks while Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese populations bring out the Asian aspects of certain “local” dishes. Cooking on the barbe (barbecue) whether tender beef, lamb, sausages or scrumptious seafood (see below) is very popular. Wine is a big commodity throughout Australia and some of the world’s best whites and reds hail from different regions, especially the New South Wales areas. For whites, sip and savor Chardonnay or Semillon and for red, it is all about Shiraz (see below). Enjoy your time down under!
SAIL: Sydney. Before sailing away, bring Australia’s flavors and flair home. Aboriginal art and tabletop items honor the country’s history while kangaroos or koalas in all sizes and designs are nice gifts as are Australian Anzacs-traditional oat and coconut cookies.
SIP: Red Wine-Shiraz. Shiraz is the Aussie name for Syrah. It stuck after Scotsman James Busby, considered the father of Australian wine, brought these grapevine clippings from the Rhone to Australia in 1832. The full-bodied varietal thrived and the country became a large producer of this robust red wine.
SAVOR: Seafood. Fresh and flavorful, Barramundi (Australian cod) is a local favorite as are Lobster and Sydney Rock Oysters delicious with white or red wine. Finish with the national dessert, a Lamington-a sponge cake square covered in chocolate and coconut.