September Festivals and Things to Do!

Woohoo yeah! Woohoo yeah! It’s spring baby! Say hello to longer and warmer days, which equates to more time to enjoy Ol’ Sydney Town! Here are my top things to see and do for the month of September!

Cronulla Spring Festival- Aug 31 – 1 Sept

33-35 Cronulla Street, Cronulla

Want to be the first to usher in spring!? Join the Sutherland Shire’s biggest community event! Sun, sand and good times! Enjoy 100+ fresh food and artisan stalls, live music, community performances, amusement rides, a petting zoo, and a pop-up bar featuring the best local craft brewers! Something for everyone!

For more information on the Cronulla Spring Festival, click HERE!

Father’s Day At Casa Porteño- 1 Sept

358 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills

Our dads are a blessing to us! And we probably don’t appreciate them enough? This Father’s day why not treat him to the ‘Chefs Banquet Menu’ a belly filling meal of all the best Casa Porteño has to offer! Beer or bubbly on arrival (12 noon) – $120 per adult.

For more information on this delectable Father’s day treat, click HERE!

Malaysia Festival 2019- 21 – 22 Sept

Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour

If you’re unable to return or visit Malaysia, no dramas as Malaysia will be at your door-step curtesy of the Malaysian students studying here in Syd (the largest student run festival). Over two days in Tumbalong Park, Malaysia Fest will wow you, feed you, and entertain you with performances, contests and food stalls! Come check it all out at the Tumb!

For more info on what you can expect from Malaysia Festival 19, click HERE!

AFL Grand Final Day the Light Brigade Hotel- 28 Sept

Cnr Oxford Street and Jersey Road, Woollahra

If you can’t be in Melbourne for the AFL Grand Finals, but you want to experience the GF Day vibe?! Come on down to the Light Brigade! All 4 levels of the hotel will be celebrating the day from pre-game entertainment, the game live on all the big screens (with sound) and 4 different options to take it all in! From the bar, the bistro, from your private lounge, or if you want to escape it all! Escape to the roof-top with your cocktail and nibblies!

For more details and option prices, click HERE!     

Sydney Fish Markets- Any-time

Cnr Pyrmont Bridge Road and Bank Street, Pyrmont

Is your tummy calling!? Calling you to lunch at Sydney’s Fish Markets- the largest fish market in the Southern hem and only second to Japan’s markets in terms of the wide seafood variety on offer! Come and grab a bite or join a behind the scenes tour- to see all the goings on at a fully working fish market!

For more info on the iconic Sydney Fish Markets, click HERE!

Xo Crossover Dance Studio- Any-time

Level 1, 22-26 Goulburn Street, Sydney

Do you find that the beat lives within you? And that you need to unleash that beat for your own sanity sake? In a controlled manor of course, of course. Why not join Sydney’s premiere street dance studio? Try-out Hip-Hop / Breaking / Popping / Locking / House / JFH / LA Style / Jazz / Waackin’ / Girlstyle / Kpop & more! Only $10 for your first introductory trial class, no matter if you’re 50 or 5, I’m sure they’ll take you on! I just wonder how “& more” dance is like? *Shrugs*.

For more info and session times, click HERE!

Product Recommendation- Pistachio Squares

Here’s another praline-like product which I’ve been obsessing over!

Pistachio Squares by 180 Snacks! The product title says it all! It’s square in shape (a cube actually), it only contains 4 ingredients- dry roasted pistachio’s, organic brown rice syrup, sugar Cain, and Himalayan pink salt! Can you say premium produce?

Each cube is a size perfect to be popped into your mouth (slightly larger than a dice), it’s crunchy, salty and sweet all at the same time! It’s gluten free, kosher, free of any genetic modifications, dairy free, and peanut free!

In one word its ‘Perfect’! As the ultimate tasty and healthy snack- not to mention if you’re like me and you need something sweet after something salty; and then something salty after having something sweet? 180 Snack’s Pistachio Square is ideal! Being both sweet and salty, so you just need one square and it’s satisfied both of your savoury and sugary cravings!

The only problem is……. It’s an obscure product. The only sellers we know of who are stocking this Californian product in Sydney is Costco, so you’ll have to be a member (or know one) to get your hands on this nutty treat!And knowing Costco’s unpredictable stocking behaviours- it’s not guaranteed that the Pistachio Square will always be there either. Boo!

So while stocks last, try out 180 Snack’s Pistachio Squares! They’re great!  

<Insert packaging pic>

Netflix Recommendations- Blown away

You know you’re starting to scrape the bottom of the reality-TV competition barrel when you’ve dropped millions in producing a Glassblowing competition. Oh goodness

But well, if you’re Netflix you’ve got the available funds to do so, so why the heck not!

I have to admit prior to watching Blown away, I hadn’t thought all that deeply into how glassware is made (although I have been to Corning HQ in up-state New York). But since watching the 10 episodes of Blown away, I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the delicate art of glassblowing.

In Netflix’s original reality-TV competition ‘Blown away’ 10 contestants compete and vie for the grand prize of $60K and an Artist residency at the Corning Museum of Glass. Over 10 challenges, the contestants sweat away in a purpose built facility enabling all 10 Glassblowers to work simultaneously on their gelatinous works of art. And being newbies to the glassblowing scene, we became familiar with new terms like punty and glory holes…….. And watch how volume, colour, texture and shape is added to an  inanimate object- delicately brought to life by the Master Glassblowers- showing off their artistry and creativity! Truly incredible!

So if you want to experience the highs of pulling off an incredible glass masterpiece! Or watch the heart-breaking lows when pieces of art go smashing to the floor in a devastating error! You can experience all the highs and lows of glassblowing on Netflix’s Blown away! To start streaming, click HERE!

That’s it babe! I’m going to retain every empty beer bottle from now onwards!

Exploring Sydney- Darling Square

Sydney’s latest urban neighbourhood!

As sad as we were to see the Entertainment Centre being pulled down, but now that the re-vitalization of Darling Harbour is almost complete – I guess I have to admit that our Sydney Overlords probably got it right this time! Very appreciative that Sydney-siders now have this brand-spanking new public space to enjoy!

The old Entertainment Centre site used to be the far extremity of our ‘full-circuit’ (the full circle we used to walk around Darling Harbour after a particularly heavy Saturday lunch – the Entertainment Centre being the far south, while the Pyrmont footbridge was the far north of the loop), so we were particularly aware of the Entertainment Centre’s demise as our circuit was cut short by all the years of construction. And as we watched the Centre of dreams being flattened to rubble, we watched the gradual upward rise of 1 Darling North, Darling One, 3 Urbanest Darling Square, and 4 Urbanest Tower. And the most eye catching of the 5 new buildings – what my wife dubbed ‘The Bee-hive’ when it first started to take shape – is ‘The Exchange’.

On Thursday 1 August 2019, The Exchange first opened its doors to the public to little fanfare; the first we noticed that the empty stalls were now trading was last Saturday (ten days after they opened up). We had taken our first sneek peek , and this Saturday we came back for a proper look and taste test.

Steam Mill Lane has now been around for more than a year, but on the far side of the Exchange, closer to Chinatown, is the latest Melbourne-like laneway – Little Hay Street.

Made up of a mixture of retail stores and restaurants, the trendy and the hip have made their residence –  walking past you can’t help notice the distinct buzzing sound of someone getting ink done at ’13 Feet’. And fingers crossed that it was only the direction of today’s blowing winds, but the new laneway was a bit of a chilly wind-tunnel.

And after checking out all that could be seen from the outside, we went on in to The Exchange to see what we could eat! Maker’s Dozen refers to the ground floor food court and mezzanine level of The Exchange (there are 6 levels – occupied by Darling Square Library, reception/admin, and a childcare centre on the upper levels).

The first thing you notice that makes the Makers Dozen stand out from the neighbouring food courts down this way (Dixon Street food court or Eating World), is the rough bumpy cobbled tiles underfoot, and the some-what blaring music coming out of speakers set high overhead. And the overall vibe of the place, is one of activity with a touristy vibe to it? I felt this same vibe at Boston’s Faneuil Hall? The options in the food court were Pastries, fusion Asian (Viet, Japanese or Chinese), Sri Lankan, or Poke. And 2 beverage outlets – one alcoholic and the other non-alcoholic to quench your thirst. And after we had decided that we’ll keep coming back to the Maker’s to try all 12 options – it made our decision easier to make! Today we were in the mood for Baos, so we lined up at Mr Bao Buns for his fluffy sweet buns! Mmmmmm.

They have 5 savoury Gua Baos on offer- Chicken, beef, pork, mushroom, and tofu ($6.50) each, and again being lazy and not bothering to expend too much effort deciding, we just ordered one of each. And a sugarcane drink ($6.00) to wash it all down with.

After making your orders and payment, you stand off to the side and wait for your name to be called (if you so choose, you can stand closer and watch your food being freshly handmade!) And once you receive your food, you go look for seating (either inside or outside). We elected the inside seating area.

The plan was to share each bao i.e. I eat half and when I’ve reached the half way point, we swap. But probably easier in theory than in practice, as the baos were bursting open with all the fresh filling and the toppings were balancing  vicariously on top.

We started off with the non-meat options first, I had the mushroom (sautéed mushroom, fresh lettuce, pickled ginger, rocket, with a lime-y tasting Aïoli?); while I took a bite from my wife’s Tofu (deep fried tofu cube, pickled ginger, and pink cabbage).

On our second round of baos, we tucked into the meats – I had the beef (Korean Bulgogi balancing on a bed of shredded Kimchi, lettuce and other herbs); while my wife had the pork (crispy pork belly, +an extra piece of crackling, coriander and thinly sliced cucumber, with the hoisin sauce you’d usually find with duck pancakes).

And after two baos, my wife felt full-ish, while I was still wanting. And with one bao left, we properly split this one- the chicken was a Japanese karaage (a piece of fried chicken smeared with a tasty mayo, balancing on a bed of fresh greens).

And the sugarcane drink was sweet and refreshing, I think a squirt of condensed milk (?) was added to give it some extra sweetness that cloudied the water.

The stand out for us with Mr Bao was how fresh all the ingredients were! Every veg was crisp and flavoursome, and the toppings were generous and cooked perfectly! The actual bao? One word, PERFECT! Pillow-like, sweet and a joy to eat – says my teeth. Maybe a bit hard to get full on, but we’d definitely be back to Mr Baos, perhaps for entrees before tucking into another store’s main-sized meal.

Getting here:  you can drop in on Darling Square anytime. It’s so centrally located – a stone’s throw from Chinatown, before or after an event at the ICC, or take the kids there during an outing at the Powerhouse Museum! Or purely make a trip out – walk here from Central station via the ‘Goods line’.

Get on down here, before every man and his dog makes a bee-line to the bee-hive shaped Maker’s.  

The Exchange, 1 Little Pier Street, Haymarket

Weekend trading hours 7am – 11pm

Two Sticks- Haymarket

Are the chopsticks really the most distinctive feature of the two sticks experience?

Oddly on a Friday night, Two Sticks seemed like a quiet haven from the hustle and bustle of da city- with music playing at low tones, patrons sparsely sprinkled around the collection of round tables, and the diners all having their low volume conversations.

It has been several years since we’ve last dined at the Sticks, and we noticed a few changes i.e. the store has now taken over the shop to its right; they’ve introduced a ‘Value meal’ – a choice of A and B, or A and C; and we had a debate about whether or not the pots had changed as well?

But after labouring over the Value meal ( a choice of 3 soup noodles from section A; a choice of a handful of sides in section B; or a choice of one of 2 drinks in section C), in the end we decided to just order from the regular menu. I ordered the Signature Rice Noodle Soup ($13.80); my wife wanted the Tomato Beef but they’d run out, so she ended up ordering the Pork Ribs Rice Noodle Soup ($13.80); and a serving of the Spicy Chicken Wings to share ($5.80 for 5 mid-wings). Orders and payment were made at the front counter and tap water was a self-service affair.

After returning with her water in a plastic disposable cup, we sat back and took in Two Sticks – 6 years since it first opened in 2013. At that time, Two Sticks was a recommendation from my good mate, his wife was a trending Foodie and had been invited as a guest to dine at the Sticks when it first opened.

At the time, their uniqueness was the fact that your food was served up un-cooked, and in front of you the waiter would tip your plate of uncooked ingredients into your piping hot pot of soup (in the process, cracking a quail egg in as well) and you wait as the once boiling hot soup cooked your meat and egg to a level where it was safe to eat.

But those were the days of Two Sticks in the mid-2010s, these days the pot is served up with all your ingredients already in your pot all cooked and ready to eat (although the ceramic pot is still hot enough to garner a ‘hot pot’ warning from the waitress after she placed it in front of us).

The point of argument between my wife and I, was that I swear the pots used to be taller, less squat, and were made from terracotta, instead of these ceramic squat pots? *Shrugs*. But armed with a long-handled soup ladle and your two sticks, you go fishing for food from your squat narrow-opening pot, like ice fishing it is!

In my Signature Rice Noodle dish, there were circular rice noodles, strips of bean curd, coriander, black fungus, thin sliced rare beef, and 2 (yes, count them!) – 2 hardboiled quail eggs! All of which were floating in a pot of tasty thin soup.

My wife’s Pot is the one pictured above, she had all the same core ingredients as I, however her soup was red tinged due to the spiciness, and instead of having rare beef she had pork ribs. Many many pieces they gave her, they did.

And the wings, it reminded me of the charcoal grilled chicken wings you used to be able to get from Pizza Hut? The skin was charred to a crisp, and dusted with chilli powder. Mmmmmm.

Our verdict? 4.0 From 5 Stars! (2.5 from 3 for Food (everything was tasty and they were very generous with their portions, my pot felt like the magical pot! There was always another spoonful of food, just when you thought you were finished!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (all the staff were polite and efficient); 0 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the music was only playing in the front half of the store, and the shop fittings felt a little tired and worn after 6 years); and 1.0 from 1.0 for Value for Money (2 quail eggs? Ridiculous! And recently we’ve eaten at a few restaurants at this price point, but I’ve left feeling the most full and satisfied after our time at Two Sticks!)).

In conclusion, after 5 and 1 years, Two Sticks does feel a bit frayed around the edges, and the number of clientele on a Friday night (it was probably 60% full) was a reflection of this. But after all these years, the quality of food has remained at the same high level, although not served up in the same way as before. And I don’t know why, each time I think of their name Two Sticks, I always think to myself……Really? Are the chopsticks really the most distinctive feature of the Two Sticks experience? If I was in the marketing department, I’d suggest ‘Squat Pot – Long-handle Ladle’ (spoken out loud in the same cadence as Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo- by the Blood Hound Gang), or perhaps ‘2 Eggs’? As who else serves you 2 quail eggs in each serving of food? Count them! 2!  Ridiculous!

Two Sticks- Friday 16 August (4.0 Stars)

PH: 0420 944 532

694 George Street, Haymarket

Mon-Sun 11.30am – 9pm

Spiced Fish Gnocchi Recipe

Serves: 4


500g Baza fish fillets

500g Gnocchi

3 Roma tomatoes

4 Cloves garlic, crushed

125ml Cream

120g Baby spinach leaves

½ Lemon

2 Teaspoons butter

1 Teaspoon Smoked paprika

1 Teaspoon Cajun spice

½ Teaspoon White pepper


Step 1: Prepare ingredients by crushing garlic cloves; dicing tomatoes into 1cm cubes; and slicing baza fish fillets into large 3cm by 3cm pieces.

Step 2: Place all spices in a small bowl.

Step 3: Pre-heat pan and add butter, when butter has melted add the crushed garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Then add in the spice mix and allow spices to release their flavours (1 min). Then add baza fish fillets to pan, stir frying until fish starts to turn opaque (3 mins).

Step 4: Add diced tomatoes to pan and allow mixture to come to a gentle bubble, before adding cream to the pan.

Step 5: Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and add gnocchi to pot, and allow to cook until the water comes back to a rolling boil (approx. 3-4 mins). Then turn off heat and drain.

Step 6: When the mixture with cream starts to bubble, squeeze juice of half lemon into the pan, and mix through. Allow to cook for a further 2-3 minutes, then turn off heat and stir in spinach leaves.

Step 7: Divide gnocchi among 4 bowls, and top off with the spicy fish mixture. Enjoy!