Before I flew out to Sydney, I thought it would be prudent to look up some of the Sydney based food lovers I have met (virtually) through blogging. After all, these are the people who would be in the know and it's always fun to meet people you don't know what they look like or how they sound.
First up was Kate, aka @katejferguson. After a few tweets, we realised that we were mutual friends with the one and only Catty and Kate was instructed to take me out to eat ribs for fear of death. Hurricanes Grill was our destination and is a bit of an institution in Sydney. With two branches (one in Bondi and the one I went to in Darling Harbour) it is very much like our beloved Bodeans in London, serving steaks and more importantly, succulent ribs.
When I met up with Kate, she recognised me instantly. Not only had we scoped each other out on Facebook, but I was the guy very much looking like a tourist drinking on my own. It's always nice when you instantly like somebody and we nattered away quite comfortably until the time for ribs was upon us. Once arrived at Hurricanes, we met up with another of Catty's old entourage, a lovely guy named Geoff. Overlooking the harbour, we asked if we could get moved from our allotted table inside to one outside. Although it was rammed, the staff accommodated us with little hassle and we were soon sat enjoying the view and the lovely late summer breeze.
The menu covers many of the meat groups and advertises itself as a steakhouse but the night was all about the ribs. The ordering could not have been simpler, 3 full racks of pork ribs please, thankyouverymuch. It didn't take too long before they had arrived and the nice touch of adult bibs were tied around our necks by the delightful waitress. The rack was huge but I was hungry. I tucked in rib after rib, savouring every smoky and tangy mouthful. Soon, the gigantic rack was reduced to a pile of bones, sucked dry. I felt like I was in an episode of Man v Food and this time, Man definitely won.
Kate and Geoff were lovely and I actually felt quite sad to be leaving them. Really nice people and perfect eating companions. The next day I had scheduled a lunch with yet another mysterious lady, Denea aka The Gourmet Rabbit. Running a hybrid blog/magazine and hot on the pulse of the Australian food scene, I've been following her adventures with great interest from the other side of the world and I was excited to meet her in real life.
What she had in store for me was quite a treat. The destination was her favourite noodle house, simply called the Chinese Noodle Restaurant located in the heart of Chinatown. The tiny little place had quite a queue forming, but owing to the astounding pace in which they seemed to be able to turn tables, we got a table fairly quickly.
Staring through the open window into the kitchen, I saw the team working at a feverish pace, preparing dumplings and hand pulling the noodles to order. One of those batches of noodles was for us, as well as a mountain of dumplings and some aubergines drenched in a sticky sweet soy sauce. I was stunned. Such a tiny unassuming place was rolling out fresh, springy and extremely tasty noodles, with stunning dumplings to match. I guess I shouldn't really have been that surprised, after all, queues speak for themselves.
Denea and I chatted for a while but it wasn't long before we were shooed away, more hungry punters were waiting for their fix of noodles and dumplings and were demanding to be fed. We settled the bill and at less than £20 for both of us, I laughed a little chuckle to myself at how cheap it was.
She had one last secret up her sleeve as she took me to sample a famous Sydney mango pancake. At this stage, I was full to the point of delirium but I wrapped mine in a little paper bag and saved it for later. It was a little while before I could muster the strength to try it but I am so glad I did. A thin pancake holding a luxuriously creamy egg custard "block" sat on top of the most divine chunks of sweet mango. I was in heaven and devoured mine in under 30 seconds flat.
It was great to meet fellow lovers of food and was a privilege to be shown to some of their favourite places in Sydney. A fitting end to a simply fat (and rather excellent) time in Sydney.
Hurricanes Bar and Grill - Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney
Chinese Noodle Restaurant - Shop 7, 8 Quay St, Haymarket, 2000 Sydney