Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Achtung Sydney - the Concordia Club gets its groove on

So you've seen the Opera House, climbed the Harbour Bridge, frolicked around at Bondi. Now of course you're wondering - where in Sydney can I go to do the chicken dance? To devour a mammoth pork knuckle while drinking German beers and watching croquet?

In the 3 and a half years since I came to Sydney and started venturing into its quirky neighbourhoods, I had, until last weekend, been oblivious to the Concordia Club. Shame on me...this place has been around since 1883! First in Stanmore, now in Tempe (train station's right across the road -easy), I think the Concordia Club, its hearty German fair, its dancing patrons, its croquet comp buzz, gave me a little gift which I could call Sunday afternoon 'contentment'. It's the sort of place you can go to and forget about all those insecurities that can plague you in a city obsessed with the body beautiful and being seen at the latest 'it' small bar.

It's all about Germany here, so order your beverages, line up for your sausages or pork knuckle, take a seat outside and just relax. Best to save some room for dessert though - there are some tasty looking cakes in a little cake shop too...and German groceries...and a guy selling German deli foods. They've got it covered.

And don't forget to buy a raffle ticket. If you're lucky like me, you might just win some of those German deli treats....

My haul!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Deli-cious Dulwich Hill - The Larder and Gino and Mary's

Looking for carefully selected European or Australian cheeses and hard to find produce? Or perhaps you're after imported goods from Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal or South America? Or Australian prosciutto crudo on the bone? Look no further than the humble Dulwich Hill town centre on Marrickville Road, where you'll find well-established Gino and Mary's and newcomer The Larder. Now really, is a suburb complete without a well-stocked delicatessen?

The Larder (Epicerie Fine) opened in April 2011 and is full of charm and potential. French owner Dominique (pictured below) was inspired to open a good food store that specialised in great quality local and imported cheeses and other interesting/hard to find produce. His idea was to help his customers learn to appreciate different cheeses by changing his selection on a regular basis.

As well as the fabulous cheese selection (it is one of only two stockists in Sydney of the Bruny Island raw milk cheese C2), drop by the Larder for duck stock, duck confit, grasse d'oie, grasse de canard, Gokoko chocolate from the Blue Mountains, quinoa, both black and white varieties of chia seeds, Brasserie breads and even organic baby foods. Plans for the near future include in store tastings and expansion into charcuterie.

The Larder, 489 Marrickville Road, Dulwich Hill 2203.

A little closer to New Canterbury Road and on the other side of Marrickville Road is the well-established Gino and Mary's. I've always loved this place - particularly the Sicilian olives and freshly made taramasalata. I also love it because I can find things here that just aren't easy to find in the big supermarket chains, like black beans, good anchovies in olive oil and tapenades.

Gino and Mary took over the deli in 2000, however it has been a Dulwich Hill institution for over 50 years. According to Gino (pictured below), it's all about delivering freshness and quality and caters or everyone in the local multicultural community. There are specialty cheeses from Greece as well as a range of Brazilian foods. Specialties include homemade salami, Australian prosciutto crudo and home-marinated olives on the bone. Small goods are mainly imported from Italy, Spain and Portugal. Specialty homemade Swiss and Italian breads and Italian biscuits are also popular. While you're there, why not pick up a coffee machine as well...or even some vegetable seeds?!

Gino and Mary's Continental Delicatessen, 560 Marrickville Road, Dulwich Hill 2003

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Life in Sydney...beyond Westfield, Merivale and Pie Face

It's been nearly 2 years! My blog is still here, it didn't just fall off the face of the earth...I can't believe it! It's a beautiful day in Sydney today - mid winter, the sun is shining, last time I checked my phone it was heading towards 22 degrees celsius - if you're in Sydney and you've survived the recent rain and winds you will understand how good I am feeling right now.

So much has happened...I started working more, I learned a lot more about photography, I decided to go back to uni and do my Master of Development studies - full time, so I was busy. It's hard to believe that I am already done, that I've turned the last page of another chapter of my life and am just getting a feel for the next one.

I've been thinking a lot recently about the Localist, why I lost my stride and what's inspiring me now. I still love fashion and individual style and am constantly inspired by the people around me every day. One thing that I have particularly loved since moving to Sydney in early 2008 is exploring this amazing city - I'm not talking about its obvious attractions like the harbour, the beaches in the eastern suburbs and the lower north shore, although I'm in no way denying how amazing these places are. I'm talking about the cultural diversity of the city, particularly as you trek further out west, all the little shops, cafes, restaurants, markets and street fairs that still thrive despite the forward march of the chains and the multinationals. I love tracking things down because I am convinced that, if it exists, I can find it here in Sydney, or I'll be able to soon as the city expands each day and more people from all over the world make this city home.

My new idea for the Localist is this: in addition to street style (I'll still be on the lookout!), this blog is going to be an alternative, off the beaten track guide to Sydney for the wandering local or the adventurous tourist, either real or virtual, who recognises that it's well worth venturing beyond Circular Quay (note to local council/state government - might be worth improving the infrastructure beyond the city circle as well?? Last week I witnessed a whole bunch of bewildered tourists trying to figure out where they were on a train with no station announcements and a station with no visible name - this was Newtown under renovation!!). Public transport grievances aside, it's not all bad, and sometimes the best way to get around this place is by jumping on a train or bus.

So while Pie Faces seem to be popping up everywhere, Justin Hemmes expands the Merivale empire and Westfield takes over the CBD, I'll be focusing on the small and local, the people, fashion, shops, restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, businesses, events, the natural beauty - all the things that make Sydney unique and definitely worth exploring!

Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to check in on the Localist every now and then over the last couple of years. Hopefully this change in direction won't scare you off and maybe you'll even drop by again, whether you're in the neighbourhood or on the other side of the world, to explore Sydney with me.