Aria Restaurant Sydney - 24 hours and counting.....

There is this great couple that recently moved to Sydney from Atlanta.  Their names are Mollie and Dan and their blog is here.  The reason why I bring them up is due to the fact that we have a date with them tomorrow night - a date I have been looking forward to for a month - A date to eat incredible food...

The idea hatched itself over some glasses of wine (could it have happened in any other setting?) - basically, the four of us love to eat really incredible meals in top restaurants and we are blessed enough in our lives to have the means by which to pay for these meals.  So, we decided to make a list of the top restaurants in Sydney (after all, we are in a foodie's paradise - why not take advantage of it?) and then eat at one every month.  Obviously there are going to be some hiccups in the plan as we will be in New Zealand for a good chunk of December and will need to skip that month; but the four of us are also pretty easy going so no rigid schedule is being adhered to.

This month, November, is our first month in action on this plan.  We chose the restaurant Aria (when I say we, I mean Mollie and myself - the poor guys are just arm candy for this project!) which is located just before the forecourt of the Opera House and has a lovely view of both the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I think any food tastes better when consumed looking at a view like this

The restaurant is owned and run by celebrity chef Matt Moran who is most recently famous for guest-judging on the third season of Masterchef Australia.  Side note, if you don't download and watch this show, you should.... I think it's better than the American version and that's really saying something...

As you might have guessed by now, I'm more than a little excited about our dinner there tomorrow night.  I think we've all agreed to go with the tasting menu (always my favourite way to eat since you get to try lots of things) and with good reason.  Check this baby out:

sashimi and tartare of yellow fin tuna with yabbie tails, cucumber ,honeydew melon and wasabi

chicken and foie gras parfait with a salad of smoked duck, rhubarb and black pepper
roasted fillet of King salmon with fennel, orange and watercress

with dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms
Kurobuta pork belly with pork croquette and caramelised apple
roasted fillet with ricotta gnocchi, pumpkin and mustard fruit purée and a sage and balsamic sauce
panna cotta with pistachios, balsamic strawberries and strawberry sorbet

Suffice to say, my mouth is already watering!

It's Spring!! I'm Cheerful!!

One of the best things about living in Sydney is the glorious weather.  I know... that sounds dramatic - but I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio.  A place where it was not uncommon to have snow 6 months out of the year.  A place where summer only lasted a few weeks each year.  Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit; but as someone who is always cold, moving here was like a lifetime dream fulfilled!  No Snow! Ever!  At worst it gets down in the 40's during winter! Heaven...

Granted, now that I've been here for 2 winters, I'm starting to feel like 40 degrees is actually really really really cold!  Oh acclimatisation, you are a cruel trickster!

Anyway, I can't decide if it's all the excellent sleep I've been getting or the fact that Spring is truly here that is making me in such a stinking good mood - but, who cares?  Life is awesome!

I do think that the warmer weather has a lot to do with my happiness though - Spring in Sydney is scattered with these really lovely signs of growth.  I know I have posted about the Jacaranda Trees in the past and I know I have posted pictures of them; but I just can't convey how gorgeous it is to look out of our windows and see dots of brilliant purple all over the cityscape.

This is not my picture - I found it on-line and stole it...

The sky is crazy blue every day - a blue that you will. not. believe. until you actually come here and see it for yourself.  It's warm enough to sit outside on the ferry in the mornings on the way to work.  The past few mornings it's actually been a bit too hot to sit in the sun on the ferry and we have had to seek seats with some shade (well, Joe thinks it's too hot - I think it's glorious!).

It's still light out now when we leave for work.  The windows are open in our bedroom now and so we are being woken up by water, sail boat and bird noise.  Not a bad alarm clock if you ask me!  Basically, everything is sunny, warm and beautiful! (see what all this extra sleep does to me?  I am so annoyingly cheerful!)

Summer in Sydney is festival time.  Every week there are new tents, signs, and exhibits being set up in Hyde Park.  We just finished up with the Crave Food Festival and it's attendant Night Noodle Markets.  Joe and I went last year; but had to give it a miss this year as it was taking place right during the week of surgery stuff (see previous post). The events for the Annual Sydney Festival have just been announced and already my calendar for January and February is chockers with events.

 Heaps of flowers have been set-up in the forecourt of St Mary's Cathedral as they are every spring and summer.

There is just something so awesome about looking forward and realising that from the beginning of November to about May it is just going to be lovely outside.  Realising that you have a full six months in which to spend your weekends on beaches or sprawled out on blankets some where watching an outdoor cinema or listening to a free concert.

Jealous yet?  Want to visit yet?  Seriously, Tourism Australia should hire me to market to cold mid-westerners!

Basically this taunting is fully intended for my family.... Come visit! Soon!

Good Excuses for the Win!!

I know I haven't been here in forever and usually I don't have a very good excuse for my prolonged absences; but this time I have a few decent excuses.  Our life has been busy busy over the last couple of months...  We took a beautiful holiday to Fremantle and the Margaret River region.  We drank (and bought) lots of gorgeous wine while we we there and returned in just enough time for a busy week of catch-up before Joe went in for surgery. Ha ha!!  See?  I do have good reasons?  I win....

Gorgeous Picture of Watershed Winery in Margaret River - stay tuned for more posts on this later

My poor husband had been having horrible problems with breathing that were growing steadily worse over the last six months.  Sleep was eluding him (and by proxy, me) and slowly, breathing during the day also became a real hardship.  He started up with a horrible hacking cough, his asthma returned and every cold virus and allergy irritation seemed to be attracted to him.  It all happened so gradually over a period of months that neither of us really saw the true impact that it was having on us.  We were both exhausted, we were getting sick constantly and poor Joe could hardly breathe!  He finally got a referral to see an ENT specialist who took one look and told him that he need surgery and soon...

Basically, everything in Joe's breathing area (Please don't be intimidated by my fancy medical terms - I'm really just like you) was swelling up and slowly cutting off his airway. Nice right?  Additionally, he has some genetic malfunction where his esophagus is weak and will continue to swell and get irritated  if not taken care of...  The long and short of all this gross medical talk is that Joe had to have surgery.  In this surgery, he had his adenoids and tonsils removed - he also had part of his soft palate shaved back and he had his entire esophagus cauterised, widened and scored with little cuts to ensure a strong esophagus for life.

It was a rough procedure and there was a whole lot of pain involved.  A whole lot.  Joe could tell you a lot more about the specifics of the pain; but let me tell you, it was hard just to watch him go through it.  It was made much worse by the fact that the dose of pain meds that they gave him wasn't even half strength. He wasn't eating or drinking and I started getting concerned.  Thank goodness for my lovely sister Julie who is a nurse.  She gave me all the proper info on what safe dosages were, I called Joe's Dr., he agreed and we went forward with better pain management.  That's when things started turning around and the healing process began.  Yesterday was just 3 weeks out from the surgery and Joe is feeling like a whole new person.  He still gets a bit tired and sore when he talks too much and he still has to concentrate a little bit when he's drinking so as not to allow the liquids to come out his nose!!

The best part of this whole procedure has been the sleep.  Oh!  The Sleep!!  Neither of us realised (again, as it al happened so gradually) how little sleep we were actually getting through the night.  It has been absolute heaven to go to bed every night and wake up feeling truly rested.  As the sleep has improved, everything has improved.  We are in good moods all the time, we want to go out and do things, we are happy and life is beautiful.  I know that anyone reading this who is a parent will understand what I am talking about when I say that 6 solid months of interrupted and crappy sleep can make life seem like a very dark place.

Anyway, if you add together the general misery leading up to the surgery, the surgery, the recovery and some other largely life-changing decisions that have gone on in the last week and a half (and no, I'm not preggers) than I would say that I have some darn good excuses for neglecting you for the last month or so.

I promise I'll be better from here on out - and really, with this much sleep in my life, I am feeling like there is not much that I can't do right now.

More news to follow in the coming weeks - we are welcoming summer, our first overseas visitors and some big changes here so there should be plenty of writing material!