Finally had the chance to go out and explore the city on my own on Saturday morning before I met my high school senior Nicole for brunch, so I took the opportunity to head out bright at early (read: 730am) to visit the Surry Hills markets! I had a lovely walk, but I kept getting lost along the way despite using google maps. Thankful for the friendly and approachable Sydney-siders who gave me directions! Anyhow, I love walking in the early morning, and watching the world wake up. From the people setting up the cafes to the pink of dawn in the sky, it's a calming feeling.
I got to the market at about 8, which was too early as there were only a few stalls open; the majority were setting up. After walking around the few stalls that were open (and scoring a denim jacket for $10!), I decided to look for some good coffee around the area and discovered that the Reformatory Caffeine Lab was only down the hill!
The cafe has no seats, and it only has a few ledges on the wall for one to put their stuff on and read/write/etc. I did a fair bit of writing there, although it was a bit hard at first as my fingers were cold! Winter problems. The coffee that accompanied me had a good kick to it. The folks are friendly; the service was great - I could tell that they cared a lot about their customers. I spoke to them for a bit, and they gave me a few cafe recommendations in Sydney! I hear they're currently branching out of Australia, and I do hope they make it over here one day.
The Reformatory Caffeine Lab
7b/17-51 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Mon-Fri: 6am - 4pm
Sat: 6am - 2pm
The Surry Hills market is quite a small one, mostly selling second-hand clothes, vintage pieces and artisanal products. On my second round, I picked up a piece of an old map, a jar of mixed berry and lavender jam for the family, and a pair of denim overalls which I have recently discovered are too big for me. Decided to head over to John Smith Cafe where I was to meet Nic for brunch early, as I got kind of bored of the market. BUT I found a lovely little park along the way, where a group of little boys were playing rugby so I made the most of the cool weather and sat down on the grass (embracing nature!!!!!) at the corner of the park, where I people-watched and continued reading The World Is Flat. #morningslikethese, yes please.
Honestly, I don't really see anything wrong with people to spend time alone. I love spending time with myself (oh dear I'm putting myself at risk of sounding narcissistic) haha I just constantly need some time alone. I believe I'm more introverted in the sense that I draw energy from being alone than from other people (I find the latter draining), through 'detoxing', self-reflection and introspection. But hey, I'm still able to hold a proper conversation. I work in a cafe, a job that requires the more extroverted side of me to show and I don't think I do a particularly bad job at work. I believe that everyone has an introvert and an extrovert in them, but usually, one side outweighs the other. So spending time alone does not make one sad, and it does not equate to being lonely, or unsociable. It might just mean that they're more introverted, or maybe they're just tired. But there's nothing wrong with that!!! Anyway, everyone is different so just do you and let other people do what's them :-)
Finally made it here!!!!! I actually discovered this place through Townske, the lovely travel guide site that I chanced upon not too long ago. This place is known for its food, and I was really looking to trying it. Though choosing this place was quite a struggle in itself - there are just so many cafes in Sydney!
The waiter that served us was really funny and friendly! I got an eggs benedict and a flat white, while Nic got granola and a soy latte :-)
The eggs were (thankfully) well-poached, with a golden river of yolk flowing out from a firm white. I loved the use of sourdough rather than the traditional English Muffin, the bread was just delicious. Beautiful crust. I just wish that there was ham or something on this instead of us having to pay an additional $4 for pulled pork or avocado :-( The flat white was not the best I had, but it wasn't too bad actually. In my whole trip, I don't think I've encountered a cup of coffee that I didn't like. But there is no such thing as a good or bad cup of coffee, there's only ones you like and the ones you don't but that doesn't make it 'good' or 'bad', I guess.
By the way, I'm giving the toilet a special mention as I really liked their toilet! They have a bunch of quotes written on the walls and I like how it gives you something to read as you go about your business. Hahahah. I went back before we left the cafe just to take pictures. I'm not weird, I promise.
John Smith Cafe
1 John Street, Waterloo NSW 2017
Mon - Fri:
Sat - Sun:
We decided to take a walk down to Newtown where Black Star Pastry was! Apparently they have a watermelon cake that's very good (more on that later). It was a lovely walk with Nic, just catching up and talking about life :-) Newtown's a very interesting stretch, with many food options and quirky shops. The queue for Black Star Pastry stretched out of the shop (although it is a very small shop), but thankfully, the queue moved quickly. I think many people just takeaway the cakes/pastries/coffee as there isn't much space to sit inside anyway.
We got a watermelon cake and a frangipane tart, and took it away to a nearby park where we sat and ate. I wish Singapore could have Sydney's weather and an equal abundance of parks and open green spaces, I would spend so much time outside reading and chilling if that were the case. It was so lovely being able to do so in Sydney.
Did a little photoshoot with the treats hehehe the grass and my new map make for such a beautiful background! :-) Unfortunately, our goodies got a little bit smushed as we brought them to the park, but they still tasted great! I liked the watermelon cake, especially the biscuity layers (I'm a big fan of digestive biscuits ok) and cream cheese layers!! The use of watermelon was interesting, the flavour of watermelon was quite mild thanks to its high water content (duh) but it was my least favourite part of the cake. Maybe it's just something I'm not used to. I would have liked a stronger base in the pear frangipane tart, but I liked the flavours and the use of pistachio on top.
Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street, Newtown NSW 2042
Open daily 7am-5pm
Walked around Newtown for a bit after, visiting bookstores and smelling candles. There's a bookstore in Newtown called Elizabeth's Bookstore, and they have the "blind date with a book" concept going on on one of their shelves! I picked up a book for my sister (guess which book it was)!
We parted ways around 5ish as Nic had to go back to do some work (p.s. all the best for your exams!!!♡), with promises to meet back in Singapore in the summer (her winter) and of me to bring her to try Froth's Taro waffles! Can't wait for that. :-)
For dinner, we made steamboat back in the apartment - earlier that day, the three of them went to some store and bought a slow cooker for $30, and I met them at Woolies' to shop for ingredients - beef, corn, chicken, and the like. But the slow cooker is REALLY SLOW. I guess it isn't called a slow cooker for nothing and in a way, I guess it does what it's meant to do - cook stuff slowly. We waited for like 30-45 minutes before giving up, transferring all the soup etc into a large skillet over a fire. Speaking of soup, the fish soup we got at first was awful! It came in powder form and tasted odd and watered-down. The miso soup after tasted a lot better but the miso paste looked like clumps of poo (a sadly accurate description). Here is some pictorial evidence of our domestication.
We later went out to the Three Wise Monkeys bar at about 11pm because... I'm not sure why. I didn't really want to go as I had already showered but I'm glad I did go in the end, for the experience and because all the bars we wanted to visit the next day were closed so if I didn't go then, I wouldn't have been able to go at all. Honestly, the bar was kind of like a club - there was a dance floor on the second storey, where a bunch of young adults were dancing very intensely (much to the amusement of the four of us). They looked like they were having fun though, and I guess that's all that really matters.
I wore a Harry Potter sweater to the bar - a Ravenclaw sweater, to be exact. Harry Potter fan through and through. All that was missing was a pint of butterbeer, and my two dear friends, Harry and Ron. I want to be Hermione.
The next day...
I had another early start to the day on Sunday morning, as I decided to visit the Three Williams Cafe to have a cup of coffee while everyone else slept in. I'm so glad I went, though! It was here I had my favourite coffee of the entire trip - the smoothest and most delightful one yet. I had two coffees, actually - I liked it that much. I had a flat white and an espresso. The espresso was served with a side of sparkling water, and it has changed the way I want to drink my espresso forever - or black coffee, for that matter. The sparkling water seemed to highlight the flavour notes of the espresso and it really made the coffee shine.
I had originally planned to head back when everyone woke up so that they would be ready by the time I got back, but the feels to stay at the cafe disappeared so I decided to stop by the park which was on the way back, and read on the grass. Unfortunately, the rain fell on Sunday morning, leaving the grass wet, which was not a very nice surface to sit on. I tried to spread out the Sea Life Aquarium brochure to sit on, but that got soaked through almost immediately. Darn. I was hoping that the visit to the aquarium could be good for something.
I managed to sit on the swings for a while, though! There was a Chinese lady who happened to be swinging as well, and she had some extra newspaper that she gave me to wipe the seat with. It was at that point in time I was very thankful for what little mandarin I knew, as she could not speak English.
Brunch for the day was to be at Brewtown Newtown, a place famous for their cronuts and cruffins - interesting crossovers between croissants and other stuff, and also my baking goals. We walked through a market near the apartment on the way to the cafe! It was a lovely walk - though walking everywhere in Sydney is lovely - and we got some good exercise done.
It was insanely crowded when we reached! We were lucky, however, that our wait was only 10 minutes or so - I have read reviews in which eager customers were made to wait for an hour before they got seated! While waiting, we checked out the upper floor which houses a retail shop as well as a takeaway counter for their pastries, as well as a roaster.
I took a long time deciding on what to eat - eggs or waffles, that was the question - and eventually decided on the poached eggs on toast with a side of smashed avocado. The serving of avocado was generous and OK i'm just a huge fan of the avocado-and-poached-eggs-on-toast combination. It's hard to fault such a classic combination, unless the poached eggs aren't runny. Then, we would have a problem.
6-8 O'Connell St, Newtown NSW 2042
Open daily 8am-4pm (but go early before everything good sells out!)
Tried out N2 gelato after brunch, where we got two ferrero rocher ones to share. It was rather pricey, but I guess you pay for the novelty of the whole thing. You do get to watch them churn out the gelato and a free syringe filled with chocolate sauce while you're at it, though, so I guess it's not too bad of a deal. Anyway, I've always believed that paying for experiences > paying for material goods.
Walked around Newtown for a bit (again for me) before turning around and heading back to Brewtown for a cruffin! The selection had gone down by the time we got there, and suddenly our selection pool was greatly narrowed. We settled on a dulce de leche cruffin using the 5 bucks Stace found on the streets so, thanks for the cruffin, dear careless unknown person?
I really liked the cruffin, and its many layers amazed me. I just wish that it was heated up, as I felt like I would have enjoyed it a teensy bit more then. I feel like this is a convenient croissant - it's easy to hold and eat on the go (just like we did) and there's a big hole in the middle just waiting to be filled up, like this one was with dulce de leche. It's one of my new baking goals! As I was searching the internet for recipes, I chanced upon a number of news articles on how the original recipe from Mr Holmes' Bakehouse in San Francisco was actually stolen from the bakery itself! Funnily enough, nothing else was stolen - not cash, not equipment, etc - but the recipes. Wow indeed.
Took a walk through the University of Sydney on the way back and they have such a beautiful campus! Ok so I don't know if this again was the influence of the weather or if the campus is actually as pretty as it seems to be, but I think it's a combination of both. That plus the fact that the grass is always greener on the other side. I do have to say though, I love their Hogwarts-like buildings.
Is it alright to say that dinner that night was a disaster? Ryan and Leonard had gone to Ryan's cousin's house for dinner that night, while Stace and I planned to go to Chur Burger in Surry Hills and Baxter Inn after. It was a 1.3km walk there, and about 1km in we realised that we didn't check if it was open on Sunday night. A quick google search after told us that it wasn't, and neither were all of the other places that were on our list or that we could think of at the top of our heads, or even most of the "Surry Hills Dinner" places that came up on google.
So we walked, and googled for places, and walked some more, and another google search told us that Baxter Inn was closed for the day too! I guess Sydney-siders really take "sunday-is-rest-day" seriously. Good for them, but bad for us. We soon chanced upon the World Square mall where Burger Project was, and we decided to go for it as we had planned to eat burgers anyway and because I was tired and really just wanted somewhere to sit haha.
The burger tasted very much like a macs burger at about 2-3 times the price. I'm trying to think of a saving grace right now, but the only thing that comes to mind is the cute boy who took our orders. And maybe the fries, I guess, because they were nice, hot and crispy with a traditional salt-and-pepper seasoning.
Went to Macs after to try out the chocolate banana mcflurry after seeing an advertisement for it on the windows! This was in conjunction with the release of the minions movie. We had such high hopes for this, BUT...
There are no actual bananas in this?!?!?!
The disappointment was real, guys. The yellow things you see are marshmallows - the incredibly hard, break-your-teeth kind of marshmallows. Cries loudly and melts into a pool of mcflurry. I'm just glad they used the chocolate sauce that is used in the hot fudge sundae, because I do love my hot fudge sundaes. But STILL. I couldn't stop staring at the mcflurry incredulously because I have never felt so cheated before in my life - (hyperbole, but please understand my disappointment) - even as I was crossing the road. It was pretty dangerous, but I could already imagine the various possible headlines.
"Girl, 19, hit while staring at banana chocolate mcflurry"
"Disappointment leads to death with the new banana chocolate mcflurry"
Bit of a stretch guys, but you never know.
Met the guys back at Woolies' where we stocked up on some goodies to bring back before heading up to the apartment to begin packing (the highlight of every trip).
The Final Day
Me being me, wanted to get up early for breakfast (the last breakfast!!) before we had to leave for the airport at about 1-ish. So Leonard accompanied me to the Three Williams, because fantastic coffee.
Had my flat white (again) and coffee was as good as ever. A muffin from the display counter was its' partner, and it was chock full of my favourite fruits (basically, berries) and chocolate chunks. Yummers. It wasn't too sweet either, save for the sugar-crusted topping.