Sydney gourmet tours of the Eastern Suburbs with Ultimately Sydney
These private Sydney gourmet tours of the Eastern Suburbs take guests to several specialty food stores that offer a cornucopia of tasty treats. Sample many of the wares along the way and see a different side of the harbour city. Duration: 4 hours (approx.)
In the alchemy of a Sydney summer morning, the sun has turned the sea into an expanse of glittering crushed diamonds.
Looking down on the Pacific Ocean from the heights of MacPherson Street in Bronte – a perfectly brewed takeaway coffee in my hand – I know this is going to be a beautiful day. The beachside suburb of Bronte is the first stop on Ultimately Sydney’s Gourmet East private food tour. From bustling Central Station we’ve made our way through Surry Hills and the Centennial Parklands to the hilly Eastern Suburbs.
Everywhere along the route we pass people jogging, cycling or simply strolling in the sunshine. Their key accessories are yoga or cycle wear, a cute dog or two, and of course, newspapers and coffees. It could be Vancouver, except the weather is better. It could be Manhattan, except it’s more relaxed. It simply is what it is – Sydney on a summer’s morning – and these Sydney gourmet tours of the Eastern Suburbs are a delicious way to experience it!
Arriving a little early in Bronte, there’s time for some members of the tour to buy beautiful artisan bread at Iggy’s Boston-inspired breadshop, while others (like me) pick up a full-flavoured coffee from Three Blue Ducks. How I wish my English and American acquaintances could taste this – coffee as it should be enjoyed, and as only Australian baristas seem to be able to make it.
Our first official appointment of the day is at the Orchard St naturopathic juice and tea dispensary. Named for the bohemian street in New York where its owner first developed her raw/vegan/organic ethos, Orchard St is a pleasure for the eyes as well as the taste buds. We admire the jewel-like colours and savour the intense, complex flavours of four different (and surprisingly delicious juices), while also enjoying the shop’s vintage styling with its gleaming wood and brass fittings reminiscent of an old-school chemist’s dispensary.
A very scenic drive past Bronte, Tamarama and Bondi Beaches takes us to the second stop on these Sydney gourmet tours of the Eastern Suburbs – Hudson Meats in Rose Bay. While we survey the beautifully set-out displays, owner Jeff talks us through the company’s philosophy. Animals must be raised humanely and grazed ethically, with grass rather than grain. Knowing where every product comes from is key to the way the business operates. As Jeff says, ‘We want to know the name of the farmer and the name of the farmer’s dog’. Our tastings here are of fine salamis and superb smoked ham, and many of the group members depart with shopping bags loaded with both cooked and raw meats (our minibus has refrigerated compartments, so any fresh produce that is purchased can be kept safely through the tour).
Heading around the coast and back towards the inner city, I reflect on how nice it is to be chauffeured around Sydney. Any attempt to self-drive this route would be met with severe traffic and parking problems, but we enjoy the luxury of being whisked smoothly from place to place without having to worry about logistics.
Our next stop, the Gourmet Life delicatessen at Darling Point, is for me the undoubted highlight of the tour. Phrases like ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ and ‘treasure trove’ come to mind as we wander through the huge space crammed with diverse culinary delights. And the tastings are sublime. Acorn-fed wild pig jamon is served with Lombardy rice-flour grissini. Pistachios grown on the slopes of Mount Etna are followed by crispy capers from the Island of Pantelleria, located between Sicily and Africa. There are unusual cheeses to try, as well as potato chips flavoured with black summer truffles from Spain.
You can see a pattern here: most of the foodstuffs at Gourmet Life are imported from France, Spain or Italy. Fresh products are flown in and sold on a strictly seasonal basis. Caviar, one of the shop’s main specialties, is sourced globally, with different kinds coming from as far afield as Israel, Iran, Uruguay and Poland. While the caviar is, sadly, out of my price range, I’m happy to leave with purchases of grissini, tapenade and truffle chips, ready for my next drinks party.
There are two more stops on these Sydney gourmet tours of the Eastern Suburbs. During a well-designed wine-tasting at the Five Way Cellars in Paddington we’re able to compare an interesting range of German and Australian Rieslings, and there’s plenty of time also to take in the village atmosphere of this iconic Sydney location. Lastly, a visit to Pasta Emilia in Surry Hills gives us the chance to sit down and sample some delicious pasta specialties right next to the workshop where the organic pasta is handmade. (The restaurant’s ‘Accademia’ also provides opportunities to learn these ancient rustic skills.)
Deposited back at Central Station a little after 1pm, I head for home, resisting the temptation to open one of my bags of truffle chips right there on the train. Of course I could always compensate for any gourmet sins by investing in a naturopathically crafted juice cleanse. Perhaps what I really want is to try more of those hearty pasta flavours? Mulling over the possibilities I’m struck by the energy and passion infusing each of the businesses we visited in their mission to inspire people to appreciate the highest quality of food and drink. Combined with the sheer physical beauty of the city’s east, these Sydney gourmet tours of the Eastern Suburbs are a very enjoyable lesson in the art of good living.
Roslyn travelled as a guest of Ultimately Sydney.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Roslyn Jolly is a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in Luxury Travel, Get Up & Go, The Sunday Telegraph (Escape) and The Australian (Travel & Indulgence). In her former career as an English Literature academic, she studied and taught the work of great travel writers, such as Henry James, Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, and became fascinated by the history of travel and tourism. Two years at school in Wales and three years at university in England allowed her to travel extensively in Europe and North America, which she continues to do. On a trip to Borneo in 2015, her eyes were opened to the wonders of Asia. Her most amazing travel experience so far was looking into the eyes of a Bornean gibbon spotted in the rainforest canopy in Brunei. Dream destinations for the future include Antarctica, Mongolia, Bhutan, Namibia, Iceland and Greece – and seeing more of Australia’s north and west.