Beyond awkward

DD and I decided to party like it was 1999 over the weekend rather than COVID-ridden 2021.

We had the best time gallivanting around Sydney. Bulk fun and all that. We were a bit worried about the weather in the lead up, as it was predicted to be freaking torrential, but the gods smiled on us.

We kicked off with an invitation to The Whisky Show: Breakout Edition from the lovely Oliver at The Whisky List. Oliver (below) just quit his day job to go full time with his whisky business, so I gave him a big hug, because I love seeing people chase their dreams.

The Whisky Show was a chance to sample 40 different whiskies from 16 brands, including Bunnahabhain, Deanston, Tobermory, Ledaig, Springbay, Reservoir, Benriach, The Remnant Whisky Company, The Highlander Inn, Stellum Spirits, Headlands Distilling Co, The Firkin Whisky Co, Barrel Craft Spirits, Dram Mor, Westward Whiskey and Rolling Cask.

Blimey, I feel a bit dizzy just writing those words. Our favourite whisky was this one:

I say “favourite”, but they all made me cough a little and my eyes water. I am not a straight spirit-sipping kinda gal. (Don’t tell Oliver.)

Add some Diet Coke and I’m there, although I am also coming around to a Highball or an Old Fashioned. It would be blasphemy to put Diet Coke in the whiskies we tried on Friday night, as the were all around $150-$200 a bottle.

DD described the whisky in the pic above as being like popping candy in whisky form. It’s apparently the kombucha version of whisky, which gives it a certain zing. I forget the technical reason why.

We also liked this Westward Whisky, which is made using a beer that has something to do with snowboarding … the finer details tend to blur a little after your 10th tasting.

Then we wandered up to Temperance Lane for dinner at a restaurant called Esteban. I’d received a gift voucher during lockdown to order food from there, to accompany a virtual Patron tequila tasting, but I was out of the delivery area.

As we walked up the lane, there was an awesome mariachi band playing “Tequila!”

I know, right.

The food at Esteban was divine, we nibbled on delicious morsels including Mooloolaba Prawn Tacos with tomatillo crema, salsa mexicana and cilantro served on a yellow corn tortilla; grilled ocotopus served with with chile de arbol & green olive raisin purée; chorizo tostaditas with smoked butter bean puree, pickled onion and mahon anejo; and Byron Bay pork belly & crackling with tomatillos, micro salad and crema ranchera.

Soooo good.

As were our cocktails. DD went for a straight Margarita and I had a concoction called The Smithy – hibiscus-infused Patron Blanco with Domaine De Canton, granny smith apple and lime.

We’d booked a table outside, but the weather app predicted 100% rain, so we’d risk managed a few days earlier and swapped for a seat at the bar. The rain didn’t appear, but it was lots of fun to watch the four or five bartenders constantly shake up $21+ cocktails. Where does all that money come from?

I’d love to go back one day – the flavours were spectacular.

After dinner, we wandered down to Circular Quay for a nightcap at Opera Bar. DD bought me my first-ever pét nat – Big Dreams from the Adelaide Hills. It was … interesting. Pét nat is short for ‘pétillant naturel’, and translates from French as ‘naturally sparkling’. These wines are made with as little intervention as possible; there’s nothing added during the process, and nothing filtered out at the end. The wine is simply taken from the tank and bottled while it’s still undergoing fermentation, then sealed using a crown cap, which traps a small amount of carbon dioxide – the natural result of fermentation – to create the bubbles. That’s also why they’re a little cloudy.

The Opera Bar is such a stunning spot. It’s a front-row seat to Sydney at its finest.

Then we wandered to the Sir Stamford Hotel, where we’d booked a room for the night. I swear, the room was the same size as my combined living/dining/kitchen. Freaking huge. In the lobby we ran into my brother in law, who’d been to the 7pm session of The Whisky Show and absolutely loved it, as evidenced by his chock-a-block goodie bag from the gift shop.

The next morning we decided to say farewell to yum cha institution the Marigold Restaurant, which is closing in December after 39 years in the business. Sad face.

Half of Sydney had the same idea and the queue at 10.30am was INSANE. We went yeah, nah and headed to Zilver (a yum cha place about a block away) instead. Dodged a bullet on that one … turns out my ex and SSF (aka THE OTHER WOMAN) were waiting in the queue with the kids for yum cha.

That wouldn’t have been awkward at all.

(Lying. It would have been beyond awkward, even after seven years.)

Then we decided to go and see the new James Bond movie at United Cinemas at Circular Quay. It is very long and hard to follow, but Daniel Craig is a good looking rooster and the stunts and choc tops are fabulous, so I didn’t mind giving up three hours of my life to see it.

Then we raced over to collect our friends Glen and Emily to go on a sunset cruise on Sydney Tall Ships, which are owned by the parents of one of the youngest’s friends. It was meant to be DD’s birthday present in August during VIVID, but COVID screwed that.

There were 50km an hour winds in the morning, which had us little worried, but they died away in time for our 5.30pm boarding. Hurrah! And we had a glorious few hours on Sydney Harbour.

Click here to read more about our cruise.

I was so sad when DD dropped me home and headed back to the Northern Beaches, because I’d gotten used to having him around.

But I felt very, very lucky as I headed to my own bed on Saturday night.

And then it was Sunday, which should have been a day of rest, but was madly busy.

I’ll relax when I’m 90.

Song of the day: Powderfinger “My happiness”

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