While Melbourne's Food and Wine Festival began in a haze of car exhaust, Michael and I skipped over to Sydney for the weekend. Our excuse was to celebrate the engagement of our friend Brent to the lovely Jamee, but we also found time to see a couple of the city's other sights and restaurants.
Our first memorable eating experience was at Chilli Chimney. There's nothing to distinguish it from countless other Indian restaurants and takeaways in the inner-city suburbs except for our fabulously friendly waiter. More than simply reciting the evening's specials, he took great delight in explaining that he'd never seen such east Indian dishes on any menu and described their contents in meticulous detail. Michael and I were correspondingly delighted that the specials were vegetarian and consequently ordered them. On the left are deep-fried "chops", patties of moist grated carrot and beetroot, along with a host of spices that I can't remember. On the right is a dish of cabbage kofta with garlic sauce. It was wonderful, and if I were a local I would have urged that enthusiastic waiter to introduce them to the regular menu.
For Saturday morning I had booked us a table at Bodhi in the Park. This is a vegan yum-cha restaurant nestled in Cook & Phillip Park, the grazing vegetarian's dream: at any ordinary yum cha it's easy to become the staff's least favourite customer as you inspect every dish for pork mince and/or meat stock. It's a real treat to greedily take a plate of anything that looks appetising, and greedy I was! Take a look what Michael and I called 'breakfast':
soft bean curd
passionfruit jelly: don't forget to pick up a spoon from the waitress, 'cause it's mighty awkward trying to use chopsticks as I did!
Others have complained about the patchy service, but we were pretty well attended to. With park views, sunny skies and a few cute children to watch at neighbouring tables, I can't think of a more pleasant way to watch a Saturday morning become afternoon.
Other highlights included catching up with Jackson and Emma, friends from Brisbane who were also visiting for the engagement celebrations, and seeing the shortlisted entries for the 2007 Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes at the Art Gallery of NSW (just a short walk across the grass from Bodhi).
If you'd like to read more about vegetarian eating in Sydney, I'd recommend checking out the Veggie Friendly blog: the front page is temporarily filled with NYC reviews but check out the archives, listed by city, for lots of reviews.