Archive for the ‘Mardi Gras Festival’ Category

Pacific Sun, Surf, and The Best Mexican Food I Have Ever Had

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Today was the first day I have been able to sleep in, and it felt lovely. I awoke around 11 (still way earlier than I get up at home, so there is progress to be made.) After a quick spot of brekkie I grabbed my laptop and camped out in the hallway for a few hours for wifi access. Then I got a call from Matt Ballew, a friend from high school who is also studying in Sydney through a Boston University program. He told me where he was and said that we could meet at the bus station and head to the beach for the day. He didn’t have to ask me twice.

He gave me directions to his apt, which of course I proceeded to get wrong, but a few phone calls and U-turns later I had figured it out and found him and three of his BU friends at the central bus station. We got on the bus towards Bronte Beach, about a 40 minute bus ride, but we were actually headed for Tamarama Beach, which is just a short walk from there. The way beaches work here is that instead of it just being an endless expanse of shoreline like it is on the east coast of the US, the beaches are all these cove type areas, and each one has a different name, although they may be less than 1 km apart, such is the case with Bronte and Tamarama. Even though the beaches are often close together, each one has a different culture attached to it, in the same way that Rehobeth beach has a different culture than Virginia Beach or the Outer Banks.

Tamarama beach is often referred to as “Glamarama” due to the number of gays that tend to frequent its shores. This is of course why Matt wanted to go there. That and because last weekend was the kickoff of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebration, the largest pride celebration in the world, so there are lots of gays arriving in Sydney for the festival. The festivities generally stretch a few weeks, with the official kickoff being in late Jan, and the big street parade in March. The universe has aligned in my favor for this particular celebration as the street parade falls on my birthday!!! I can think of no way I would rather celebrate my birthday than with all the flamboyant gays of Australia in a giant drinking, dancing street parade. I can’t wait to write that blog post, its going to be wild.

So we arrived at Bronte Beach and walked the 1 km over to Tamarama. The views on the way were spectacular.

Bronte Beach

Tamarama

Bronte Beach is where the first surf lifesaver club originated. Surf Lifesavers are volunteers who are trained to perform life-guarding duties, but it is also a social club that hosts competitive surfing events and other social events. The yellow and red tent on Tamarama beach is where they sit. They also post yellow and red flags on the beach and you are supposed to swim in between the flags as that is where the rip tide is not, so it is where it is safest.

The ocean is so brilliantly blue here.

Sunbathers/potential skin cancer victims.

After some swimming and a good amount of catching up with Matt he suggested that I grab my camera and we climb some of the rocks that line the cove. Never having seen real tidal pools this was actually really neat. When we were there the tide was in, so many of the rocks were underwater, but he said at low tide you can walk a good 100-200 feet off shore just by climbing over the rocks.

The rocks were very slippery, but the views were well worth it.

Some of the tidal pools were a few feet deep and so people brought their little children over and treated them like baby pools. Dogs are not allowed on most Australian beaches, but over on the rocks is fair game, so we saw a bunch of dogs playing.

Dogs playing in the ocean!

I wonder how much these houses go for. I would guess minimum an arm, two legs, and your first born son. And thats probably lowballing it.

Tidal pool

Tidal pool wildlife, also Matt's toes.

Sea Anemones!...or rather ocean anemones....?

Ugh. So lovely.

Yep, still reflecting sunlight. Awesome.

After an afternoon of sun and surf we took the bus back to central, and after Matt had changed and rinsed off went to my apt so I could do the same. My roommate Jill ended up talking to Matt for a good 20 minutes about boston related things since she goes to Mass Art College and he goes to BU. Once we left my apt we headed up towards USyd, because on the way is this little mexican restaurant called The Flying Fajita Sisters. While I had been cautioned by my sophomore UMW roommate Mary Cait not to eat the Mexican food here (she studied in Australia last semester and had a bad experience with a burrito where they put parsley on it instead of cilantro) I was willing to put my faith in Matt when he told me that it was amazing. It sounds odd to say, and even more bizarre to have lived the experience, but I had the best mexican food I have ever had…IN AUSTRALIA. This seems completely counter-intuitive, as when you are in rome you should do as the romans, and when you are in Australia you should probably not try to eat cuisine that is from the complete opposite end of the earth, but I did, and it was life-alteringly good.

For an appetizer we had chips with three different dips, made from scratch on the premises. One was some sort of cheese with fresh chilies on top, one was refried bean infused with some sort of delicious spice, and the other was a green mystery dip that was just as mysterious as it was deliciously amazing. All three were served hot, and the chips were also warm and made form scratch on the premises. Because it was a saturday evening I had to of course get a cocktail (T minus six days till I’m legal in the states!) After giving the drink menu a careful look over I settled on a water melon, mint, citrus concoction that had some sort of tequila in it. AHMAZING. Next course was grilled fajitas. Since Matt and I are both vegetarians we opted for the grilled mango and cheese fajitas. I squealed with delight when I saw this on the menu because my love of mango is passionate and endless. However, the addition of cheese is an odd thing that I never would have thought of, but works amazingly well. The outside was crunchy, and the inside was sweet, thick, and had a hint of nutty saltiness due to the cheese. My taste buds reached a state of nirvana somewhere around the second bite.

For dessert we went with fried bananas finished with coconut creme, sprinkled with toasted coconut and white chocolate and a coconut and lime brulee. Words do not express the sheer blissful delight that washed over me with each spoonful. I had truly died and reached culinary cloud nine.

Banana, coconut and white chocolate. Brilliant.

Blurry, but o so tasty. Brulee is french, not mexican, but so wonderfully tasty.

Drinks, chips, and a dinner cruise to culinary nirvana.

After we had finally pulled ourselves away from this small island of mexican heaven we walked back to Broadway st (the main drag that separates where he lives and where I live) we hugged, said our “see you laters” and went our separate ways. I spent the rest of the evening catching up with my roommates and watching odd australian movies on tv. I collapsed into bed around 3 am full and happy. This country continues to surprise me in the most wonderful of ways. I mean mexican food in the pacific on the complete opposite side of the world? WIN.