Captain Cook Cruises, Sydney, AUS

Last night in Sydney, last night in Australia, last night of vacation.  Why not wrap it up with a dinner cruise around the city?  So, we boarded a boat for a Captain Cook Cruise. They call it a ‘Sunset Cruise.’  This has pros and cons.



Beautiful view of that yellow object fading in the sky
The colors of the sky against all the buildings
Just a nice setting for dinner


Since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s now fall, which means the sun is setting quite early.  Dinner was a 5pm.

Regardless, this was quite a nice way to close things out.  First thing offered when we sat down was bubbly!

Then then first course (entrée per them) was Smoked Ocean Trout, shaved fennel, dill, capers with black caviar dressing.

That fennel was so perfectly mandonlin-ed.  I’ve going to have to make some of this stuff!


For the main course I opted for the Tasmanian Grilled Salmon Fillet, accompanied by Dutch carrots and asparagus served with capers and lemon oil.

Tell you what, Tasmania should be known more for just their Devils! (they have such great wine, too!)


During the dinner they also served red or white wine.  I sampled some of both.  They were Shiraz or Sauvignon Blanc, Tyrell’s Wines, Moore’s Creek.


They didn’t have any dessert on the menu I could eat and were so kind as to bring a fresh fruit plate.


Scenic, delicious way to end the trip.



Golden Century, Sydney, AUS

Decided to check out Chinatown while in Sydney, AUS.  Walked around the whole area and then of course had to have some dinner.  Finally decided on Golden Century.


It was quite the large restaurant and we were in the minority.  That had to mean great food!  The menu could easily put your back out if you weren’t careful.  Huge and heavily bound.  We got there a bit early and not too many tables were full.  Within 15 minutes the place was packed.

Our waiter didn’t speak too much English and wasn’t too responsive, but eventually we were able to order some wine — decided to go with Hentley Farm Brass Monkey Vineyards Pinot Gris.  Some nice pear tastes on there; wise choice.


After looking through the novel of a menu, we finally decided on steamed prawn dumplings, steamed chicken with ginger and shallots, and poached Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce.



IMG_5806 IMG_5805


The dumplings took awhile to arrive but once they did, ummm, very good.  Then then other food arrived quickly.  The chicken was awesome!  Overall, very nice dinner.  Couple things — fairly pricey and why is this place open until 4am — what do you do until 4am????

The Morrison, Sydney, AUS

First night in Sydney, wanted to have something easy and close to the hotel.  The concierge recommended The Morrison, which was about a block away.  That worked.



They had a interesting spread on the menu.  We opted to actually try one of those funky guacamoles that was on the special — pea guac.  Not bad, though I like it ‘straight.’


For the main course we went with a whole baked fish, believe it was flounder.  Absolutely delicious!  They just use chilli, olive oil and parsley.



We paired all this with a nice white, Under & Over Pinot Gris.  Nice and refreshing and a perfect match for the meal.  The service at the restaurant was not tremendous but the food made up for it.



Earn What You Eat, Cooya Beach, AUS

We traveled just north of Port Douglas, AUS to visit Cooya Beach (Kuyu Kuyu). This is a traditional fishing ground of the Kuku Yalanji people.  We were taken out by the Kubirri Warra brothers for a walk on their beach, mudflat and mangroves and introduced to traditional fishing and gathering techniques, and we got to find our own tucker (aka food).

So, we walked out in the water (pants up to knees and barefoot from their house — no shoes allowed) with sticks in hand and started working for crabs.  The past few years in MD crabs have been expensive.  Yes, frustrating.  But our guides were telling that around that area the prices is around at least $200/bushel.  Ok, at the end of our half hour ‘fishing’ trip, I see why.  You walk around with a sharp edged stick in hand and look for crabs and stab them.  That’s about it.  Talk about labor hours! I was lucky enough to get one.  And getting that one (key number)…once I saw it and it didn’t scurry away, it probably took me about 5 minutes to stab it.  Dang!



After we were done ‘crabbing’ we continued, but it was through a bit different areas.  This is where oysters and escargots live.  We found many of them.  I don’t like raw oysters but when it Rome… These were pretty good.  Because of the salt water they are in, it seeps into them.  They were very (good &) salty.  And the salt crystals on them were darn good, too.  We also found many of the escargots.


When we returned to the starting point, our guides cooked all of this up for us and we had a small feast.  Great local findings.


Fetta’s Greek Tavern, Cairns, AUS

When in Australia, one must eat Greek!  Was on a tour bus on somebody mentioned this great Greek place in Cairns.  Sounded good so decided to check it out.  The name — Fetta’s Greek Taverna.


Got there, got a table and right away we knew this was authentic Greek.  Was tough to understand the staff because of accents, we could not figure who our waiter was vs who the (apparent) drink order taker was.  We asked a lot of questions and the waiter sort of gave answers but we couldn’t totally understand him.

Most important thing for me to get at a Greek place is an appetizer and we and opted for the Melitzana, an eggplant, onion & garlic dip.


After that we decided to split several small dishes.  We went for dolmas, a village salad (with true feta) and octapapodi (octapus marinated in olive oil, vinegar, garlic & oregano).


For wine, the waiter wasn’t overly helpful but this guy sitting next to us piped in and gave us amazing help and suggested a wine I would not have jumped on, but so glad I took his advice.  We opted for the Bay of Stones Merlot.  Not what I would expect from a Merlot.  This was another amazing dinner in Great Barrier Reef world.  This place is just great!


Dundee’s, Cairns, Australia

April, Cairns, Australia. It’s the place you go to visit the Great Barrier Reef.  You get off the plane and it’s upper 70s to low 80s.  Heaven!  Can we bring some of that to the DC-area…PLEASE?

The first night there we walked around and checked out menus for dinner and finally decided on Dundee’s, which is one of the many restaurants right on the water.


While going through the menu of course some wine was needed.  We opted for some (get Austin Powers in your head) Mojo.  Very nice Shiraz from Barossa Valley.


After much going through the menu we decided on one of their very popular dishes to get a true local flair, the Australian Sampler Plate — A taste of Australia’s most popular cuisine – chargrilled eye fillet, pan seared wild barramundi, kangaroo striploin satays, crocodile tail satays, emu chipolatas and a tiger prawn satay served with honey roast sweet potato, teriyaki, spicy peanut and plum sauces with lemon beurre blanc.

We also decided to get some salad to have a bit of veggie, so went for Rocket & Apple Salad and Mixed Leaf Salads.

That mix of meat was so unique.  I’d had the ‘roo, but the croc was pretty cool.  Similar to gator.  The emu was nice.  Praws, just like shrimp.  The barramundi was great.  All this, the salads and that wine…glad the hotel was about a 2 minute walk away.


Cheers to Beer(s) in AUS

Ok, there is of our amazing wine in Australia and New Zealand.  But, one must not forget about the brew!  Some amazing stuff come from malt, yeast, hops and water.  Some were enjoyed with aforementioned meals in posts.  The couple below were ‘just’ enjoyed in Cairns, AUS near the Great Barrier Reef.  The James Squires Pale Ale was perfect.  Not hoppy, just smooth.  The Golden Ale was a bit light, but nonetheless refreshing!

The XXXX Australian was one of those to just drink because it’s hot out and you wanted to try local beer.  Think Foster’s.  The picture of it focuses more on the beautiful water because of that.


Random Wines from AUS and NZ

So many great local wines at your fingertips when in Australia and New Zealand.  Of course many of them aren’t available in the US. Some of them we sampled included:

Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, Tasmania — some nice fruit

Scrubby Rise Sauvignon, Semillion, Viognier, Australia (Adelaide) – pretty light

Priory Ridge Pinot Noir, St. Helens, Tasmania – ooo, nice.  Some pepper on it

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – pretty traditional sauv blanc

Brancroft Estate Brut Cuvee, New Zealand – some nice crisp bubbles

Gibbston Valley Pinot Gris, Otago – much tropical fruit

Millton Viognier, New Zealand – smooth

Pegasus Bay Riesling, Canterbury, New Zealand – very nice dry riesling!

Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc, Otago – lots of flavors going on

Explorer Pinot Noir, Central Otago – drier than expected, earthy

Terra Sancta, Mysterious Diggings Pinot Noir, Bannockburn, Central Otago – nice pinot

Mojo Shiraz, Barossa Valley – berries

South Island Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough – really good for an basic bottle

RedBank, The Long Paddock, Shiraz, Victoria – good happy hour wine

Kuru Kuru Pinot Noir, Central Otago – chocolate, some spice

Stefani Estate Shiraz, Heathcote — delicious!

Corbans Pinot Gris, Gisborne, New Zealand – a bit too Chardonnay-like

Mt. Difficulty Sauvignon Blanc, Bannockburn, New Zealand — grassy






Forrest Brewing Company

On the return day from visiting the 12 Sisters, we took a different route.  This let us stop at a brewery vs. a winery (for both drink and food).  The location, Forrest Brewing Company.


I decided to do a tasting and what’s nice is they don’t give you 4oz pours so you can easily taste everything on the 6-taster flight.  The pour is just shy of 2oz.  With this it comes on a nice wooden palate and you get:


Pilsner (no formal description) – nice and crisp

Silver top (no formal description) – bland/flat

Pale Ale (…lovely apple flavours then a lingering nudge of caramel malt. The finish leaves a refreshing crispness. The Cascade hops lend a lasting touch of bitterness gently balancing the malts. We let malt, Otways water, hops and yeast do all the work, you won’t find any preservatives in here. Best served cold and enjoyed whilst fresh. ABV 4.8%) – good bite

Irish Red (Coloured copper red with earthy malt flavours of dark caramel, chestnut and a touch of roasted barely. A spicy hop note dominates leaving a crisp refreshing bitter finish. We let malt, Otways water, hops and yeast do all the work, you won’t find any preservatives in here. Best served cold and enjoyed whilst fresh. ABV 3.6%) – just a bit awkward, would need to try it again when not sampling others

Sista Ginger (Our Forrest ginger beer recipe contains only the freshest natural ingredients, freshly grated ginger, hand squeezed lemons and choice exotic spices. We use slow fermentation to achieve a crisp, slightly cloudy, lightly carbonated and refreshing alternative to malt beers. Brewed using our ale yeast, it’s happily alcoholic.  ABV 4.1%) – clear, like water, not great

Pobblebonk (Our Autumn seasonal beer is a French style Saison de Miel. Named after a local frog and using Otway’s Strawberry Clover honey, plenty of orange zest, it’s even got a stella hop…s Pouring golden orange with white foaming head, it’s a fruity number with peppery spice, clove, orange and honey notes. An interesting beer yet refreshingly easy to drink. One for a sunny afternoon by the river or slow contemplation on the veranda. ABV 7%) – citrus all that way

For lunch several of us had:

Eggplant Brulee Salad – Caramelized with sticky soy sesame marinade, Asian noodles, snow peas, yellow capsicum, bean shoots, greens, fried shallots.

Porterhouse Sliders

Feelin’ Crabby – softshell crab sandwich





All the food was great and the beer was quite nice to enjoy/taste.

Lorne Hotel, Great Ocean Road

Had a nice stop for lunch on a drive out the Great Ocean Rd in Australia on the way to see the 12 Apostles.  The place we found to eat was the Lorne Hotel.



Started off with some brew – Carlton Draught and LazyYak Pale Ale.  Just nice light beer, perfect for mid-day.


For lunch, the decisions came down to a Roasted Beetroot & Quinoa Salad, a Greek Salad, both with Prawns and a lamb dish.  Presentation and taste, all delicious!