Where to go in Toronto in only 3 days

We chose to go to Toronto, primarly becuase it is the gateway to Niagara falls. It’s also a bustling city and a very interesting place. A very wide mix of people, personalities and quite a few odd characters. This makes for an eclectic city.

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Kensington market 

More of a street full of interesting stores than a market as such. Packed with people having a good time, you will find a few streets of small foodie joints from Empanadas to sushi to gelato, you will definatly find something to satisfy that hunger. There’s also a brewery and a number of bars throughout the streets. Mixed with this are vintage stores selling old ripped jeans, leather jackets and tees as well as Nepali gear and a few tattoo parlours.

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We bought a few things like an old school Hawaiian shirt as well as some food. We had the most amazing ceviche to eat, as well as a Mexican bowl and an empanada. Superb! We recommend a visit here because it’s quite an interesting look around.

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Graffiti Alley

A great place nearby Kensington Markets and just off Queen St West. Perfect for tourists, artists and instagrammers alike. You’ll find an alley a couple of side streets pimped with array of incredibly artistic graffiti. It’s colourful and outright cool. Get those cameras ready.

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Baseball – Blue Jays 

We were keen for a game and seeing as though they play for about three days straight, it was easy to get to a game. Downtown, at Rogers stadium, the stadium is covered so it even runs in the rain. There’s also a hotel overlooking the field, so if you’ve got the money, that’s an incredible thing to do.

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We recommend getting tickets via stub hub if you’re buying last minute like us. They have a range of options and prices and you can snag yourself a good deal. We got club tickets that have a private entrance, private toilets, buffet accessibility, and seat drink service. We got these at only $50 a ticket. The tickets were in Club 224B and had an incredible view of the diamond. Right behind catchers plate, we had a great spot – shame the team weren’t so good on the night.

Once there, we realised there was a buffet where you can dine and watch the game. We bought this for $50 each including tips and taxes. The food was awesome: roast brisket, turkey, lamb, Mac and cheese, roast veggies, soup, antipasto and a dessert bar. We think it was worth the price tag. Table service of drinks too.

Where to eat and drink

We mostly ate cheaply here, like at the markets a a few little cafes. We tried Easy Rider on Queen street West, for Mexican inspired breakfasts and also a Vegan cafe called Fresh.

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Versus Coffee 

Great cafe downtown. It is reasonably sized with outdoor seating. Open late (til 6) and weekdays later. They do some interesting Coffees like the campfire (maple syrup and marshmallows), beetroot and turmeric lattes as well as beautiful coloured latte art. Loved it!

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Take a trip to Niagara 

Worth a 2 hour bus ride. You’ll need to stay overnight though.

– see our blog on this here

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Where else?

Now we planned to go to all of these places listed below, but unfortunately our American Airlines flight got cancelled and we had to head to the airport a lot earlier than expected to reschedule. Here’s a list of what we researched up on and were going to go to:

The Distillery district – for food, drinks and boutique stores.

St Lawrence market – a food market and stalls for shopping.

Bata Shoe Museum – an interesting display of all things shoes from Manolo Blanik to Nike and more

Hockey Hall of Fame – all things NHL

Steam Whistle Brewery – for a brewery tour and a few drinks

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If you visit Toronto, we hope you have a great time.

Where to go in Niagara in less than 48 hours (from the Canadian side)

Your best bet is to head from Toronto to Niagara. Go online and buy a bus ticket to Niagara Falls. A regular bus (which takes about 4 hours and only $16) or a Greyhound (approx 2 hours and $40 round trip) and make your way there. The bus seats are comfortable, having charging devices and supposedly wifi (though it didn’t really work). Bus drivers are friendly and departed on time.

The town 

It is like a mini Las Vegas with its hotels, strip mall, entertainment quarter and larger than life concept.

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On Clifton St you’ll find a barrel of activities. Whilst we didn’t engage in any of the activities there, if you’re in Niagara with your family, there is mini golf, go karting, Ripley’s believe it our not, wax celebrities, mini golf, haunted houses, bowling and more.

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Food wise, don’t expect anything too special, Niagara is primarily chain restaurants or cafes. Most of the food is fast food, like Ihop, Wendy’s, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, ice cream shops, fudge shops and more.

Where to stay

It is a big tourist town, so naturally there’s plenty of hotels from holiday inns to the Hilton. We chose to stay at an air bnb – the host John runs a bnb called Archie’s bunker. It is a short walking distance to the falls and is a great location. John and wife Trish are so hospitable and were super good communicating with us prior to coming. When we arrived, the Australian flag was flying high. Our room was the Oh Canada room and it was dressed with all Canada themed decorations. Kitted our with towels, cups, gowns, slippers, a kettle and more, all you need for your stay. We liked the special touches of a chocolate by the bed, 2 souvenir pins and a bunch of brochures to read on the area. He also prepares breakfast and it was an amazing spread of granola, yoghurt, fruit, pastries, juice, coffee and he made us eggs Benedict! We loved this. What a marvellous place to stay. Only $100 a night, it is a bargain.

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At Niagara Falls 

Walk along Niagara Parkway and you see two parts of the falls. The horsehoe falls is the most spectacular.

In the evening the falls are illuminated and the colours change. It is super impressive. Fireworks also take place from 10pm, be sure to get in early for a prime spot.

Mist Rider Zip line 

The zip line is super fun to do. This is $60-$70 depending on whether you go at day or night. We did the night version at 9pm where you get a light up wrist band and zip line when all the falls are lit up with coloured lights. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush and we enjoyed it! They have fireworks at 10pm so you can also see those!

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Journey Behind the falls 

For an experience in the tunnels below and behind the horseshoe waterfalls themselves. Pay your $25 entrance fees and head down in an elevator (about 35 metres below). You’ll be up and close to the falls in the two viewing platforms and behind falls when traversing the tunnels behind. You will get wet – but they will give you a recyclable poncho.

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Hornblower Niagara Cruise 

We booked one of these cruises to get close to the falls. It is $25 plus tax for the trip including the poncho. Line up and you’ll find yourself herded down to the deck to board. They pack it to the brim. The boat round trip takes about 30 Mins and you get close to the horseshoe falls. It’s worth it for the view. You will get wet. Very wet. Be sure to wear that poncho.

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Skylon tower 

Perfect for an awesome view of the city and above the falls. Pay your $15 entrance fee and get the lift to the top. Once you’re there, walk around and get your view of the entire city. Take your photos and that’s about it. They do have a revolving restaurant and buffet if that takes your fancy.

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Where to eat

The food in Niagara isn’t great. It’s mostly a mix of chain restaurants focusing on big and greasy: think burgers, wings, ribs and more. If that’s your thing, you’ll be sorted. We found it hard to find somewhere to eat. We ended up at a Turkish restaurant for a salad and meat skewers to share just to stay healthy.

Apparently the buffets in the casinos are good value and you can also eat in the revolving restaurant in the tower.

Queen Victoria Place Restaurant 

A large restaurant with a great view of the falls. In the evening there’s also music playing on a stage nearby. The restaurant serves western food, relatively healthy with entrees, mains and desserts. They’re quite pricy but the food looked really good, like antipasto, salmon and risotto to name a few. We had drinks here only – a beer paddle and a local wine paddle to sample a few of the variations. We enjoyed sampling these. Service was a bit varied. When we ordered, the drinks came out fast, but it was hard to get the waiters attention. Despite this, I’d recommend visiting here because a drink with this view is worth it.

Hope you have fun if you visit Niagara! We did!

Where to go for Latin food out west!

In Sydney, only about half a dozen places come to mind when opting for Latin American.  When you think about it, that’s not a lot considering the region we’re talking about includes about 20 or so countries speaking Spanish, French and Portuguese. 

So when Parramatta Leagues Club seizes the opportunity to set the standard out west, this manifests in the vibrance of Pablo’s Cantina Y Cerveza.

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The hallway that greets you leads you past the bar and microbrewery, with strategically placed art pieces featuring the strong primary colours associated with the culture. A great open dining room awaits with an outdoor balcony area with booths and casual spaces.  Noticeably, the table arrangements are configured for large groups.  Perhaps because familism is at the heart of Latin culture – extending beyond the nuclear family, viewing all life events as occasions to gather and celebrate.

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The staff set the tone in service providing the warmth, recommendations and comfort in your dining experience.  El-Salvador born, Patricia, gives us insight into the fire of that Latina spirit she embodies and what we anticipate in the Pablo’s concept. 

The classic Mojito and Margarita transports us to the warmth and sunshine that’s become a stranger to us this Winter.

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The mains selections are hard to choose from, and our curiosity in experiencing the flavors of Head Chef Kamal’s menu leads us to a section of tapas. 

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The Beef Short Ribs and Pork Belly are the main attraction for us as we test the promise of their acclaimed Argentinean style Parilla.  Slow cooked over wood charcoal, the fatty belly is buttery in texture, lightly seasoned.  The mustard apple reduction and prunes provide a sweetness that brings out the best in the meet ending with that crackle that captivates you as the plate is set on the table. In contrast, the habanero salsa adds a kick to the primal cut of beef. There is just the right amount with slight whiffs of fire from the chill peppers allowing the meat that has absorbed the marrow and juices from the slow cooked to dominate.

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The corn cobs are the perfect side dish as you alternate between the sweet heat bites from the pork and beef.  It takes the protein to new levels as the bursting kernels release hints of smoked char, paprika, citrus lime and a fresh herb salsa!  We take our time, savoring each bite and enjoying the roller coaster of taste Chef Masood & Chef Christine have prepared for us this evening. 

The cauliflower has a nice golden scorch from the crisping adding to its already crunchy body.   Again that smokey flavor coming through balanced out with the lemon juice in the sumac dressing and black olive in the black mayonnaise.  

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An excellent choice at one of Parramatta’s destination venues.  It’s easy to pictue the open spaces here for a number of group functions and celebrations for lunch and dinner.

Joseph Lloyd, Contributor

Pablo's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Handcrafted using 4 ‘W’s’ @ Makers Mark

Maker’s Mark and its seal of quality are famous the world over. A family business specialising in Bourbon, a type of whiskey from the US and are proud of the artisan skills that go into making the product and the brand. Kurt is a huge whiskey (whisky) fan and with it being Kurt’s drink of choice, he was over the moon to be invited to the Maker’s Mark immersive pop up highlight the 4 W’s that make Maker’s Mark. The event was held at the old Copper Mill in Alexandria. A great venue, the Copper Mill is a converted industrial space, with much of the old character retained. The walls are thick cement, as were the doors, which were super impressive, as they opened with ease everytime, into a new room with it’s own character and feel.

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We were visiting for a Maker’s Mark Event and were greeted at the door with a refreshing welcome cocktail of Maker’s Mark ginger and lime. We met their brand ambassador who was to guide us on this interactive Maker’s Mark experience to show us the four W’s that make Maker’s Mark.

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We are first provided with a leather apron to look the part. Then we are led up stairs into a room where bread is being baked. Baking bread was how Bill Samuels Sr perfected the recipe for the bourbon that is still being produced today. The process explained and we also sampled some quality sourdough.

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We are then led into the next room where water is the ingredient championed. Maker’s Mark pick their distillery site with this factor in mind. In this room we sample the product neat (straight up) and also on the rocks (over ice) this also demonstrating how a little water from the ice can change the flavour and intensity of the Whiskey. We are also shown a demonstration of some magnificent ice carving by Ice carving master Kenji. We also stamp an ice cube with the Maker’s Mark seal, pretty cool!

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We are then ushered to another room, where it is explained where the famous Wax seal originated and how a woman’s intuition named and shaped the design of the bottles. Margie Samuels inspired by the Maker’s Mark on English Pewter she collected is how the name was inspired, Margies designing of the bottles and labels to make Maker’s Mark stand out in the market. In this room we get hands on making our own cocktail, the old fashioned. This cocktail is a mix of sugar, Angusturo Bitters and of course the Maker’s Mark Whiskey.

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The final W is wood, and we enter another room where the barrel making process called coopering is demonstrated. Wood iis  another important component as the wood from the barrel instills flavour into the bourbon. The American Oak provides subtle vanilla notes to the sweetness of the bourbon. In the Maker’s Mark 46 bottling they also age it in French Oak which adds some spice to the bourbon.

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Makers Mark a quality product and a great drink to be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in a cocktail. A great event put on by Maker’s Mark and thanks to the FCBA crew for providing a ticket which we won in a competition.

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Wayward Brewing Co team up with The Oaks

What an absolute pleasure to experience an event of Wayward Brewing Co teaming up with the Oaks Hotel in Neutral Bay for a four course meal matched with beers. With our foodie friend where_do_i_eat_pete, this was sure to be something right up our alley. This is a great venue in the Oaks, a comfortable space indoors with a beautiful outlook on the iconic oak tree.

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Wayward head brewer Shaun Blissett and beer brigadier Jackson Davey were fantastic in hosting and narrating the Wayward Brewing journey, as well as how each of their beers tasted on the evening were created.

Of the four beers, two of the beers were limited releases, and all of them matched perfectly by the sumptuous menu prepared by the chefs at the Oaks Hotel.

 The starter dish was the beef cheek slider with rocket and vegemite aioli, which matched with the Acre Pilsner with Yuzu. The slider provided a slight, however beautiful vegemite after taste, and I think it took only a few minutes to easily down the Pilsner. This Pilsner was 4.5% ABV (Limited Release).

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For entrée, we were served the irresistibly refreshing and delicious king fish ceviche with jalepeno, dried shallots, coconut cream, ponzu and lime, and this dish matched with the Sourpuss raspberry Berliner Weisse. If the ceviche were served at a fine dining restaurant, I would be very happy with it, even more so at a pub! The coconut and lime brought out incredible flavours. The sourpuss beer was interesting as it neither tasted like a beer or a cider, and with its low 3.8% alcohol content, made it a very easy drinking beverage. 

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The main dish was absolutely outstanding with the smoked lamb shoulder with roasted potatoes, heirloom carrots and brussels sprouts, shared amongst 4. Perfect for this style of event. This was matched with the Charmer India Red Ale. The lamb just melted off the bone, and the India Red Ale had incredible “hoppy” content with great flavour. 

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By the time dessert came, I was quite content and full, however there is always room for dessert, especially when it included Messina gelato and a soft centred chocolate pudding, matched with the limited release Slapshot stout beer. 

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A warm thank you to Amy Fourro at The Oaks for the invitation to attend this food and beer matching master class. As well as a big thank you to Shaun and Jackson of Wayward Brewing Co for hosting an informative and entertaining evening.

For those considering attending in the future, The Oaks always have superb events at good prices

 

Vapiano’s Winter Yumderland!

If you’re familiar with this international brand you’ll know that it’s not about the bells and whistles of their dishes.  Value driven, geared to the no fuss, corporate worker, international traveller and family diner expecting the satisfaction that ‘Nonna’s classics’ cemented into many of the native’s childhood memories making it impossible to surpass.  However, as an avid city diner, and regular visitors here, we have seen the transformation of its seasonal menus over the years. We have frequented their daily lunch specials and happy hours, it’s quite common to spot many service staff we’ve met from other venues we’ve dined at.   That speaks volumes.

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There’s a certain reverence the old Italian culture has with its food and it centres around family and celebrations around many of the Catholic holidays.  Vapiano does well to capture those basics without the extravagance, re-invention or tweaking so many rely on to keep the short attention spans of diners who have so much choice.

It’s value driven, it’s prepared fresh and it’s done in front of you.  The main dining area gives a panoramic view of the kitchen and a bird’s eye view from the second level balcony that’s ornamented with fresh basil pot plants.  Set in the Grace hotel, it’s high ceilings and luxury setting provide an experience somewhere above casual dining without the pretentiousness of over-the-top fine dining.

“Before the meal” or Antipasti is a traditional opener we have of – toasted ciabatta, prosciutto, spicy salami, Parmesan, buffalo mozzarella, mixed olives, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto basilica and bruschetta.  Proscuitto is a definitive staple that will never not the set the tone of a meal, once described to me as a cured meat prepared with “salt and time”, there’s a captivating feeling about this thinly sliced translucent protein that’s synonymous with Italian culture.   Neutralising that saltiness was the Insalata mists piccolo of  fresh mixed leaf salad with cherry tomatoes and carrots.

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It’s supposedly, one of the most searched soups in Australia, so naturally, The Pumpkin Soup served with freshly made bread brings the warmth to the menu needed this Winter.  One of the new highlights of the Vapiano season, the texture is rich and creamy evenly balanced.

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What raises the casual dining status of this establishment is the fully equipped bar providing a pit stop for grown ups whipping up the classics and a few signatures of their own.  A school night, the intermission between courses called for a Virgin colada, Mockito and a ginger hibiscus sparkling situation.

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The Gamberi risotto with prawns, onions, capsicum, spring onions, sun dried tomatoes.  In both dishes, tomato sauce binds the dishes together.  It may sound run-of-the-mill, but in actual fact there are so many different ways to spruce it up.   The cream in the con carne sauce softens the flavour while enriching the body of the liquid.  While in the risotto, the white wine adds a subtle fruit flavour to the risotto that stimulates the bland starchiness of the rice.

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Pollo e spinaci – tagliatelle with tender chicken breast, onions, pine nuts, cream with basil pesto and Parmesan tossed with fresh spinach. The nutty flavours in the pesto and the parmesan compliment each other nicely with hues of saltiness and mint accenting through.

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The  folded homemade pizza dough (calzone) with spicy pepperoni, Aussie smoke ham, mushrooms on homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella will be another Winter favorite striking the nostalgic cords of all with its resemblance to the classic pizza pockets.  Breaking through that flakey crust into the hot filling, a burst aroma rushes at you.

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Homemade pana cotta with fresh vanilla and strawberry sauce is a regular favorite, however the other highlight of the Winter Yumderland menu is the new fondue dessert. For a limited time only marshmallows, strawberries and chocolate brownie bites are accompanied with a palette seducing Nutella dipping sauce.  It’s a simple arrangement that strikes a chord with all.

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The grandeur of the Grace Hotel adds to the flavour of Vapiano’s ambience which generally would be unassuming but flavoursome.   The large spaces, high stools, bar options, cater easily to al group celebrations.   For visitors at the hotel, lifts the experience if looking for an easily accessibe alternative to room service maintaining it’s casual vibe within a very luxurious modern space.

Vapiano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sydney’s Biggest Backyard turns 50!

Sydney’s Biggest Backyard on show is a public celebration to commemorate its 50th Anniversary. Stretching over 27km from Blacktown to Liverpool and Fairfield, we spent the day exploring Bungarribee Park and some of the many free activities open to the visitors until the 4th August

It was great to see the recent $15m dollar conservation and redevelopment project bustling with locals bringing about a sense of community sometimes forgotten in high density urban spaces.

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A morning coffee from Lord of the Beans, we started off on the 3.1km off-leash dog walking trails.  It was a great way for our puppies, Richard & Bolt to enjoy the sunshine.  Alternatively, you can take in nature’s surrounds on one of the cycling trails. 

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Throughout the area, there are 20 barbecues, making it the perfect setting for treasured family outings.  

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Part of the Open Day celebrations included an animal visit from some of the reptiles and furry friends soon to be moving into the new Sydney Zoo currently being constructed on site!

A green corridor to the Western Suburbs, the community were able to partake in tree planting which is part of the long term conservation plan to restore the Cumberland Plain. 

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A recreational space to enjoy, some of the new features include flying foxes, swing sets, a climbing tower for little kids and big kids alike to enjoy.  

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Black Bear BBQ recharges the batteries from all the exploring. A local area Blacktown restaurant provided lunch for the day at their pop up food truck.  

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A roll full of slow cooked beef brisket or pork belly was the order of the day, leaving such an impression that would lure us back to their flagship restaurant on our next visit!

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A surprisingly warm Winter’s day, and our afternoon sugar craving is satisfied with desserts from Mikey’s Ice Cream Van.

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The rest of the program included the more relaxing Aboriginal Stargazing at The Dairy and bird watching at Plough & Harrow, to the high-intensity Spartan Workout Tour in the great outdoors, there is a plethora of events and special offers to suit all walks of life.

For pooch loving folk, visit one of Sydney’s biggest off-leash dog areas, the Warrigal Dog Run. Grab your four-legged friend and be dragged along on a Street Paws two-kilometre amble through the beautiful pathways at Bungarribee as a warm up for the WSP Street Paws Festival in late winter. A small registration fee of $8 will be donated to Pet Stock Assist, which helps local rescue groups foster and adopt out animals in need.

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Parkland lovers can also take advantage of one of the special offers available throughout the program.

Joining in the celebrations, Sydney Motorsport Park will open its gates for people to take the family car on a free ‘dawn patrol’ around the iconic circuit. In addition, Sydney Zoo will provide a sneak peek at the soon to be world-class zoo, exhibiting a wide range of animals in a safari-like experience, due to open in early-2019 at Bungarribee.

Get your Tarzan on and hang out at TreeTops at Plough and Harrow with a buy-one-get- one-free offer. Climb, weave and fly through magnificent gum trees on a self-guided rope course and experience the iconic Australian bush like never before. People from as young as three years and up can monkey around in total safety at the multi-award- winning adventure land.

The Parklands provides a home for popular tourist destinations such as Wet’n’Wild and Sydney Dragway, as well as legacy Olympic sites, such as the equestrian, baseball, softball and shooting venues.

Bookings essential for most events and to redeem special offers view the full program via:

https://www.westernsydneyparklands.com.au/about-us/celebrating-50-years/

Joseph Lloyd, Contributor

Where to go for 48 hours in NYC

Having been to NYC before, we have done all the tourist stuff like Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Empire State, 9/11 Museum, shopping, Times Square and more. This blog will not be about those. These are all amazing things to do but you need at least a week to do all of that. Here’s where to visit if you are revisiting or just have a small amount of time like us.

Accomodation 

We stayed in SoHo in an AirBnB because hotels are super expensive. We like Soho for the cool boutique shops, restaurants and cafes and you can easily get a subway uptown or walk, like we did.

Food

Milk

Well known to instagrammers and foodies alike, this small milk bar is famous for its cereal milk and birthday cake ice cream, cookies and crack pie, it is certainly worth a try. Get over to their Brooklyn store, they are offering these flavours in shakes with booze added and they are pretty cheap too. We tried the cereal White Russian with vodka and Kahlua, it’s definitely worth requesting sprinkles on top.

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Dominique Ansel

A patisserie like no other. It is famous for cronuts and beautiful patisserie goods. Get in early because they do sell out of the cronuts. You’ll also wait in a line of about 20 Mins or so for everything else.

We tried then frozen s’mores – quite possibly best dessert ever. Frozen cake and chocolate on a stick covered in Marshmallow and torched in front of you. It was delicious! I also had a cookie milk shot which is essentially a soft cookie cup with a chocolate lining on the inside then milk is added. An awesome dessert too. So many good things here, you’ll find it difficult to pick just one.

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Supermoon Bakehouse 

Over near the Williamsburg bridge they do pimped croissants, famous for their creamy fillings and artistic toppings

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Dr Smood 

A super healthy cafe with protein snacks, juices, salads and other breakfast and lunch meals. There’s also a number of products to go. I tried the hot oatmeal – topped with nuts and dried fruits and also poached pears. I really enjoyed this. It’s also great to see this place recycles.

The Bombay Bread Bar

This is a modern Indian restaurant with a cool fit out. The Bombay Bread Bar delivers their own interpretations of traditional cusine and some great cocktails. Service here was excellent.

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The cocktails here were stiff. We tried the ‘Bollywood Swingin’ made with Beefeater gin, bay leaf, lime and passionfruit. Quite nice, bitter taste with a hit of fruity notes. We also shared the Duplex Complex.

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The bacon and cheese naan was out of control amazing. We can’t even explain it. You must order this. Like a thin naan filled with cheese and bacon.

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Kurt was keen for the monkfish as we don’t get this in oz, but he was sadly told they didn’t have it when he ordered. The fish curry was instead striped bass, the fish was nicely cooked but the curry had no bang or oomph to it, flavours seemed a little underdeveloped.

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The Dutch

A cool Bistro with a great drinks list, the sevice at this establishment was on point, allowing a sample of the whisky before purchasing a dram. We ordered a summer crusher cocktail and were sipping away, only to be informed the wrong cocktail was delivered. This turned out to be a blessing as this mystery cocktail we enjoyed more than the actual summer crusher, that was also provided to make up for the error. Having eaten prior to visiting, we ordered a beef tartare to share, a very good version of this dish and we were also impressed with the house made bread, the jalepeno corn bread was the bomb!

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Katz Deli

What can we say, this place is a favourite of many for a reason. Grab a ticket and mosey up to the counter, request a sample of the different sandwich meat on offer.

It is almost impossible to go past their pastrami. We ordered the Pastrami Reuben, possibly the best sandwich ever and would usually serve two.

This sandwich was so good, Kurt got very protective of it and almost ordered a second. There is alot of foreplay involved in getting the meat so tender and moist. It is pickled in brine for 3 weeks, smoked for 3 days, boiled for 3 hours, then steamed at the counter and seved in a generous portion.

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To do 

Musical lotteries 

Although we didn’t win one this time, sign up for all the lotteries for the musicals. If you win, you buy a ticket at roughly $40 instead of the face value price of the ticket. This is an incredibly good deal. Some shows do this online, others you need to be at the box office 2.5 hours before to put your name in the barrel. Make sure you have your ID.

Sports 

Not really the right season for much sport, but if you go to NYC, be sure to get to a NYC Knick’s basketball game, Rangers hockey game or the Yankees or Mets baseball game. You can also get to Chelsea Pier to participate in some sport, by hitting golf balls toward the Hudson River, stepping into the batting cage for some baseball action, there is an indoor track and a number of courts including basketball and beach volleyball.

Brooklyn

Walk the bridge to Brooklyn via Brooklyn Bridge or Williamsburg bridge for a look around an eclectic area of boutique stores and cafes.

That’s all we could fit in 48 hours – but keep in mind this is a lot. We did walk for about 20kms each day!

Where to get top Indian food on the North Shore

Spice Theory is a new Indian restaurant in Turramurra. The restaurant has contemporary Indian styling and the space has a fresh , clean and bright aesthetic. It has a sophisticated ambience to it and will appeal to the north shore diner.

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The owner Kalaish is a delightful host, and his 30 years experience certainly shows in his hospitable nature. He has owned 8 restaurants throughout his career, originally hailing from Bangalore and thus you will find this to be a genuine and traditional Indian restaurant.

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We were glad to see this place is BYO which made it easy for us to bring our favourite wine.

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The food comes out on heavy plates (stoneware) which we found to be a nice touch.

The food here is quality Indian fare. The appetisers brought out by Kalaish included Pappadums with Mint sauce, Cucumber Raita, Mango chutney and Tomato chutney which was a lovely mix of dips to try.

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The delicious starters included the “Dani Poori Chaat”, a lovely small crispy puffed bread. Served chilled, it’s very light, mild spice and delicate to taste.

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The entree was the “Mini keema dosa”. Dosa are often a popular Indian choice and this large amazing pancake, filled with minced lamb was outstanding.

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We then chose from the menu two dishes, including the Beef Korma and Fish from Pondicherry. Both dishes were delicious. The beef was tender. The korma sauce was delicate and full of flavour. The fish was noticeably very fresh, with a mild curry sauce. Again, very delicate and flavoursome. These were well above the curries we have tried before. There’s clearly a lot of experience from the chefs here.

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Accompanying the mains was plain and garlic naan bread and it was perfectly cooked. Eat it alone or use it to mop up your curry sauce.

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There’s also plenty of vegetarian options and other non vegetarian favourites like Biryani, butter chicken, vindaloo and Rojan josh.

If you’re after a group catch up or party they have two banquets to choose from: vegetarian or traditional.

We found this to be some of the highest quality and tastiest Indian we’ve had in a while. We thoroughly recommend a visit here

The locals are in for a treat. If you’re not in area, make it a destination to visit.

Spice Theory Indian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Where to enjoying Bastille Day with a French wine passport

We attended the free annual event, the Bastille Festival in Circular Quay. Held from 12-15th July, it was a huge street gathering to celebrate all things French: food, wine and art. A precursor to more celebrations to come with the huge World Cup victory by France.

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It was interesting to try different wines from different regions and learn about their influences, flavours and we really enjoyed this.

There were lots of food stalls, an outdoor cinema, music and Christmas in July markets in the Argyle st Rocks Village, so it really made for a lovely night out.

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Held in a few iconic areas of Circular Quay such as near to the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the Museum of Contemporary Arts Sydney, it was the perfect backdrop to this event.

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We specifically attended the VIP French wine tasting tour with a French “passport” to try wines of 7 regions throughout France.

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We had a map to guide us to each spot. There were a mix of different wines but they were mostly reds. People serving gave a brief explanation of what the wine was.

First up was in First Fleet Park in the Rocks Village where we tried a Sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley as well as a Red – a Syrah from the Rhone Valley.

The next location was at the beautiful Customs House Village with reds from Bordeaux and Languedoc. Moving onto East Cirqular Quay Village whee we had a Viognier from Beaujolas and a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. The final wine was from Cotes De Provence.

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It was an extremely busy event and lines were very long so it is clearly popular amongst Sydneysiders and travellers alike.

Thanks to BBR agency for the invitation and tickets.