Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cupcakes are like bad medicine

I've been sitting here for a little while now figuring out how to say this, and, the thing is, I can't think of any other way.
On past visits to Sydney (CBD) I have tended to find it to be a miserable and souless city.
There, said it.

You see, everytime I'm in Sydney it rains (like you wouldn't believe) and its so sticky everywhere - outside you get drenched, inside you can't breathe and can barely move through the air.

And I'm used to Melbourne, where you duck off the main street and suddenly you're in a vibrant buzzing arcade of cafes and espressi.

Now, I have always thought that Sydney couldn't really be souless, right?

I mean, I'm the first to admit that I don't know Sydney at all well - I just don't know the places to go.

This visit I was determined to find the heart of the Sydney CBD.

It really didn't start out that well - anyone I know who lives in Sydney had any idea of anywhere to go for the kind of hygge I was looking for, and (of course) it was raining - a lot.

One of my first ports of call is always Darling Harbour - there are so many cafes there, and its so nice around the water, that I always expect it to be full of tourists breakfasting.

I was surprised to see that many of the cafes weren't even opened yet, and any breakfasting was happening in the food court.

(Although, I was excited to see that there's now a Lindt cafe at Cockle Bay Wharf - that's on list for next time!)

Once I dumped the Darling Harbour breakfast idea things improved.
I headed back towards The Galeries Victoria and, on the advice of a number of you guys, spent over an hour browsing at Kinokuniya.

Ooooh, so much to look at!!!!

I was impressed just with the range of regular books they had, before I even discovered all the japanese magazines and books around the corner!!!

I bought the latest Fruits magazine and a completely incomprehensible (to me, anyway) japanese amigurumi mag.

At the absolute top of my list of places to visit on this trip was Cupcakes on Pitt.
I was interested to see what 'professional' cupcakes look like, and (even more so) how they tasted (compared to mine! hehe).

As you may have guessed from the photos (and there are a couple more shots at my flickr account), between Maria (vanilla, cookies&cream), myself (strawberry, choc brownie, strawberries&cream) and the Boy (I brought home a six pack on the bus - vanilla, dark choc, passion fruit, cookies&cream, jaffa, peppermint) we tasted a fair selection of the menu.

The cupcakes were all presented beautifully, and their mini-size and reasonable price ($2 each) appears to have made them really popular with the surrounding offices - there were 'suits' in and out the whole time we were there.

As far as taste, the non-chocolate flavours were far superior to the chocolate (which were a bit dry and packet-mixy tasting) - I think the strawberries & cream was my favourite (although I bet the vanilla sundae - like the top-most photo, but with vanilla cake instead of choc - would also be absolutely delish!)

I still don't quite 'get' the Sydney vibe, but spending more time there and hunting out places I like sure helps.

And, between all those books, the cupcakes and the occasional break in the weather, as we get to know each other better with each visit, it looks more like Sydney might show me her soul after all =)

besos =)


  1. Of course you're not seeing Sydney's soul! You are hanging around Darling Harbour!

    Stop that right now and step away - go for dinner in Balmain or Leichardt, afternoon tea in Glebe, homewares shopping and latte-crawling on Macleay St in Potts Point. Be shocked by the extravagance and wealth of the elderly ladies shopping in Double Bay. Check out the Burley Griffin architecture in Castlecrag. Go to Balmoral beach in Middle Harbour on Saturday afternoon to watch the weddings in the gazebo and see all the families BBQing and playing under the trees.

    It has a different soul to Melbourne (I adore Melbourne) but there is one there - you just have to look for it, just like you did on this trip!

  2. I am glad that Sydney is beginning to make a more positive impression on you! And for what it's worth - I agree with Michelle...there is more to see! My fave Sydney places are mostly in the Inner West...the sandstone glory of Sydney uni, the green slopes of Victoria Park, cafes along Glebe Point Road, the quaint village feel of Summer Hill, savoring Turkish sweets in Petersham and Dulwich Hill!
    But yes, Melbourne is nice too!

  3. Oh, and don't forget Newtown! Spend a few hours strolling up King Street and looking in indie fashion shops or fair trade cafes.

  4. Ha ha! I came back on here to tell you about Newtown!

    And don't get me wrong - when I first visited Sydney I couldn't stand the place - soulless, grimy and really, really smelly. But now I've seen more than just Darling Harbour, the CBD and Oxford St, I think Sydney has a certain charm. Could never live there though ;-)

  5. ....

    I can't believe how many delicious cupcakes you are showing us. Lookit! They're like small pieces of art in themselves! I want to eat them. :P Or just lick the screen, and pretend it tastes like cupcakes with Oreos on top...!

    Oh, and yeah, the Danes will be celebrating our awesome victory for weeks. ;) Especially with beer and songs. We're that kind of people. In '92 when we won the soccer European championship, nine months later there was a small baby boom. :D I wonder if the same thing will happen this time - people are VERY excited!!

  6. I've not been to Sydney for um...30 years!!!!! But those cupcakes look fabulous. I saw pictures on the Cupcake blog. You are so lucky to have had such a wondeeful cupcake experience!!!

  7. Cupcakes wonderful! (I have had the souless thing my last few trips to Sydney - especially around the CBD - but love Balmoral and Mosman and Spit JUnction and the ferries and the zoo and Galaxy and now I want to visit the cupcakes shop and Kinokwhatsit!)

  8. I'm not a huge sydney fan either but that's more to do with heat and crowds. I like Melbourne better. BUT, like the others say, get out of the CBD. Nothing there. CBDs are by nature pretty dull - lots of office space etc. There are much better places. And those cupcakes! Oh my!

  9. We lived in Sydney (well, outer Sydney) for 6 years and never found her soul either. I think as Michelle said, its not in the CBD. Just the tourists are there. But sadly the traffic, parking, crowds and snobbery makes accessing many of the great inner suburbs nightmarish. I hate sharing my experiences with 4.5 million other people!

    Maybe you need to be born there to understand it. Oh, but that bookshop (whose name I can never spell) - that is a GEM!

  10. So most of the Sydney soul advice has been given - but I do have to echo others about Darling Harbour - it is so miserable and soulless that even the tourists don't go there (much). Unlike Melbourne, you have to get out of the CBD to get the real feel for Sydney. Equally unlike Melbourne, you can do so via the harbour - catch a ferry to Balmain, or to Mosman or even to Manly, it's just heaven!

  11. I don't know Sydney well either, and have had some sore-foot trips around looking for places for dinner... we should both listen to what the past residents have to say, I guess.

    I was born in Melbourne, but left when I was 1 month old, and haven't visited for SO long (like over 20 years). I really love your descriptions of the place, and must go down there again sometime.

    Man, those cupcakes are just amazing! I'd love to have a decadent time trying them ALL out ;)

  12. Oh I love Cupcakes and am so pleased to hear that there's a cupcake shop in Sydney now. We're moving back to Sydney after 3 years in Melbourne and I am hyperventalating about the lack of soulful places in the harbour city!


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