Friday, August 1, 2008

Loving Sydney

When I was at Lion Nathan in the 90’s, I lived for a while in Sydney. We bought all of Alan Bond’s breweries and overnight moved from being a New Zealand beverage operator to being the biggest beverage marketer in Australasia. Australians are not terribly welcoming to the idea of New Zealanders taking over their icons, especially something as dear to their hearts as beer. Despite this I had a great time in Sydney, although it did occasionally get out of hand. I rented a large house in Rose Bay overlooking the water and was soon joined by David Campese, probably Australia’s most celebrated rugby player, who moved in for a year or so. We were soon joined by Ewen McKenzie, the Wallabies prop, who is now coaching in France, and then for a short while by Phil Kearns, the Australian captain and hooker. It was an action-packed place in the evenings I can tell you.

Anyway, the point of this is I was back in Sydney last week for the first time in three years. I really love the city. I stayed at one of my favorite hotels, the Park Hyatt, which is right on Circular Quay. My room was directly under the Harbour Bridge, surrounded by palm trees, water and all the traffic that comes through this port. It’s only a three minute walk to the agency which has a premo location on The Rocks. As it happened, I hit Sydney on the same day the Pope left and the whole city was in very high spirits - uplifted and upbeat.

Sydney is a modern city but many of its traditional values remain, including some of the best restaurants in the world all of which have been around for 20 years or so. Master chef Tetsuya has now moved into new beautiful premises and is still cooking up incredible contemporary Japanese seafood. Armando and Gemma have operated the best Italian restaurant in the world, Buon Ricordo, for 21 years and that’s where I ate last night. Italian sausages followed by pork and a bottle of great Brunello to wash it down. Neil Perry’s Rockpool goes from strength to strength, as do two other classic haunts of mine, Darcy’s and Lucio’s in Woolarra.

Sydney is the perfect city for food, socializing, sports and shopping. It’s got to be one of the world’s Lovemarks.

To add to the glamor, they won the first Bledisloe of the year on Saturday too...Bugger!!