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Where to Eat in Sydney: Mr. Wong For Dim Sum

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The house special: pork and asparagus wontons

Sydney is one of my favorite cities to visit and I always enjoy checking out the food scene when I’m there. But unlike New York or LA where reservations are essential if you want to dine a hot foodie spot, many of Sydney’s of-the-moment restaurants don’t take reservations at dinner. The last thing I want to do when I’m traveling is wait in a line for over an hour for a meal.

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Solo diners can eat at the counter at Mr. Wong

Fortunately, Jonathan Fambart, the amazing concierge at the Park Hyatt Sydney, pointed out that many of these same restaurants do take reservations for lunch. So my husband and I switched our plans to make lunch the primary meal of the day. Jonathan got us a table at Mr. Wong, the contemporary Chinese restaurant run by the Merivale group.

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Craft cocktails at Mr. Wong focus on Shochu and fresh ingredients

While we had a table reserved, we opted to eat at the bar downstairs because it was slightly quieter. This is not a restaurant for serious conversation, as the brick walls and loft-like space make it rather loud. I started with a Yin martini made with shochu, vodke, Aperol, apricot brandy and fresh peach. It was not overly sweet and not Mad Men-strong, making it a nice choice for lunch.

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Dim sum being prepared in the kitchen at Mr. Wong

Dim sum is only available at lunch, and we ordered a few different things to share. I very much enjoyed the pork and prawn shumai (AUS $12). The duck spring rolls (AUS $12) were also a nice alternative to an entire Peking Duck.

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The oysters at Mr. Wong go for AUS $4 per piece

My husband very much enjoyed his rock oysters served drizzled with a ginger rice wine vinaigrette.

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Duck Spring Rolls at Mr. Wong

There are also a wide variety of roast meats and live seafood on the menu at Mr. Wong, should you be in the mood for mud crab, rock lobster or a whole roast duck.

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The Yin Martini at Mr. Wong

The atmosphere is stylish and the Central Business District location make Mr. Wong a popular spot for business lunches as well as dinners.

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The decor is Cantonese contemporary chic

The standout dish of the meal was the special pork and asparagus wontons (I can’t remember the price). They were exceptional and had the right amount of smokiness and heat. I was expecting the duck to the highlight of the meal but I can’t stop thinking about those wontons!

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The downstairs dining room and bar at Mr. Wong

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Mr. Wong exterior tucked away on Bridge Lane

If you don’t want to wait for a table for dinner, head to Mr. Wong for lunch. The pork & asparagus wontons are not to be missed.

Mr. Wong

Address: 3 Bridge Lane, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

Phone:+61 2 9240 3000

Hours:

LUNCH Mon – Sun 12:00pm – 3:00pm
DINNER Mon – Wed 5:30pm – 11:00pm
Thurs – Sat 5:30pm – 12:00am
Sun 5:30pm – 10:00pm
YUM CHA Sat – Sun 10:30am – 12:00pm

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#shotoniPhone6 Elephant Spotting

Editor’s Note: This post deviates from the blog’s usual format by using photos only by other photographers. It made sense in this post. – Jen

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Ryan Vaarsi took this photo of me taking an obligatory selfie with my #shotonIphone6 elephant in NYC

I am incredibly honored to be one of the photographers whose work is featured in Apple’s World Gallery and #shotoniPhone6 Global Campaign. The World Gallery spans across 70 cities in 24 countries and features iPhone users of all professions, ages and cultures. This initiative’s geographical scale makes it the largest mobile photography gallery ever assembled. These images are being featured posted on various Apple channels, outdoor billboards, print publications, as well as Apple.com.

Last week I got to cross paths with my Namibian elephant on the ACE line of the New York City subway, where World Gallery ads line the corridor from Times Square to Port Authority. I brought along my friend, fellow photographer Ryan Vaarsi to document the occasion.

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 Having a Carrie Bradshaw moment in the NYC subway (photo credit: Ryan Vaarsi)

All the iPhone photographs featured in Apple’s World Gallery and #shotoniPhone6 campaign were found because they were published on line by the photographers.

When I started this blog, I did it to open doors to new and more interesting experiences. But I also did it to push myself to take better photos and explore more of the world. Never would I have thought that might lead to having an image I shot of a Namibian elephant wind up on in an ad for Apple that has been spotted on subway transit ads in Bangkok, New York, Montreal and London.

My life’s a trip that way.

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Passerby on smartphone in front of #ShotoniPhone6 ad (photo credit: Ryan Vaarsi)

I realize I have my blog readers to thank. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know if I would get to be a part of this incredible campaign. So…

Thank you very much blog readers! You keep me inspired and I am grateful for you everyday.

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My #shotoniPhone6 elephant on Bangkok’s skytrain (photo credit @Kangg)

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Where to Eat in Milan: Unico Milano

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The view from the terrace at Unico

Here’s the thing about dining at restaurants with Michelin stars… you don’t fill up from what you order.  You get full by eating all the interim courses that come in between. Chef Fabio Baldassarre’s Unico Milano is no exception. Located on the at 20th floor of the WJC Tower, Unico comes with sweeping views overlooking an industrial suburb of the city.

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Unico Milano’s Dinner Menu

Unico’s tasting menus run 90 Euros for four course or 120 Euros for six courses. Tasting menus are for the whole table. If you prefer, ordering a la carte is also an option.  We went for the four courses, which felt more like 8 after the amuse bouche, pre-dessert and palate cleansing snacks in between.

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 This tortellini was delicious and creamy

The meal started with venison carpaccio served with blueberries, tassel hyacinths, sour cream and shock of cold foie gras ice cream. It was interesting but venison isn’t my protein of choice. I was delighted by the bonus course that wasn’t fully described to me but was served in an egg with a light sprinkling of caviar.

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Left: venison carpaccio Right: veal cheek casserole

The second course was the standout for me: house made fresh chick pea tortellini pasta served with red prawn, buffalo mozzarella mousse and black truffle. If ordering a la carte, I would have ordered this dish for my entree for Euro 28 and skipped the veal entirely.

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One of the courses between courses, featuring caviar in a delicate egg mousse

I was underwhelmed by the veal cheek casserole made with celeriac cream and artichokes. It wasn’t appealing visually and the texture was off-putting. Service as top notch and sweeping as one would expect at a Michelin starred restaurant, and there is an excellent wine list. But the atmosphere is cold and non-romantic.

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Hazelnut Sablè for dessert

For dessert, we were served hazelnut sablè, with dark chocolate cream and mango ice cream, It was not overly sweet and delicious although a bit cold for a winter’s night.

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The dining room at Unico Milano

In a city filled with charming views and great food, I don’t think Unico Milano is worth the 20 minute taxi ride from the city center. It’s better suited for business meals on expense accounts for foodies already in the Portello Area.

Unico Milano

Address: Viale Achille Papa 30

20149 Milano, Italy

Pnone:+39 02 392 148 47

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Because Eataly: a Photo Essay of a Foodie Heaven in Milan

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 Looking down at the produce at Eataly Milan Smeraldo

I recently spent a few days in Milan, Italy. One of the highlights of my trip to the Italian fashion capital was stumbling upon a huge and gleaming Eataly.

Artichokes at Eataly Milan 

The gourmet grocery store and community concept was created by Italian entrepreneur Oscar Farinetti and is backed by some of my foodie heroes–  Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

Scenes from the produce aisle at Eataly

Part of Eataly’s manifesto is “providing the best possible products at a reasonable price point.” While I did not comparison shop for produce while in Italy, I can say that produce at Eataly is crazy beautiful.

 Smile in the produce aisle

I am a big fan of Eataly NY  and Eataly Milan Smeraldo’s huge 3 story space was even more impressive than the NYC Eataly.

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 Salumi, spec, and other assorted meats

I’m not sure what Los Angeles and Seattle are both still devoid of an Eataly…

 Up in the salumi case at Eataly

In addition to the gorgeous food, Eataly offers classes so you can learn more about food you love, too (assuming you speak Italian).

 The insalata aisle at Eataly

There is fresh pasta section, gorgeous steak cases, a fabulous wine edit and loads of beautiful meat and salumi.

 The salumi guy

Batali’s rock and roll taste is not far from my own, and the music section of Eataly has a nice edit of cds and books.

 Left: The music edit at Eataly reflects Batali’s Seattle roots

Batali’s Seattle roots are evident in the books section, with titles about local musicians Duff McKagen of Guns N’ Roses and Kurt Cobain.

A stylish shopper at Eataly

There is even a performance space and schedule of live music which shows how serious Eataly is about their community. If you’re in the area and haven’t had the Eataly experience, it’s well worth popping in for a browse or a meal right on premises.

 Eataly Milan Smaraldo Exterior

Eataly Milano Smeraldo
LUN – DOM: dalle 10.00 alle 24.00
Piazza XXV Aprile, 10 – 20121 Milano
eatalysmeraldo@eataly.it
+39 02 49497301

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Glamping with Wilderness Safaris at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia

Desert glamping in Namibia at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

My recent trip to Namibia was the first time I traveled with Wilderness Safaris and I was truly impressed with everything about Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. It’s brand new, having opened in August 2014.

Twilight outside tent #2 at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

Impressive, elevated tents at Hoanib

Namibia doesn’t allow permanent camps, instead they grant land concessions for a number of years. So everything about Hoanib will be able to disappear without a trace to help conserve Namibia’s natural environment.

Visiting the Roaring Dunes was one of the highlights of my stay at Hoanib

While the tents may be temporary, the camp is still amazingly stylish and comfortable. The guest tents have a genius design. They are built on platforms elevated over the sand, which helps keep their interiors at a comfortable temperature both day and night.

The Hoanib Staff waits to greet you with cool towels and fresh lemonade

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is run with Wilderness Safari’s ethos and commitment to the 4Cs – Commerce, Conservation, Community and Culture. The staff is committed to contributing meaningfully to the wildlife and the people of Africa. The staff is great and this attitude makes you feel really good about spending money here.

Bella, the resident cat at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

General Manager Clement Lawrence and his team are all warm, personable, and take very good care of you. The service style is laid-back and unobtrusive. This is perfect for the modern luxury travelers who don’t want to feel like a Colonial with a staff fawning over you all the time.

The pool is perfect for cooling off on hot days in the Namib desert

Emms, our guide and tracker was incredible. He was friendly and warm and just plain fun to hang out with and have a chat. Fatima keeps things the ship running tight back at camp. There are only 10 tents, so the camp feels intimate.

Looking from the pool into the dining pavilion

Located in the private the Hoanib River Valley in the Private Palmwag Concession, the property is remote and way off the grid. It’s luxurious for sure, but you’re glamping.

The living room in the

There is no wifi, phone service, or television. With your days filled with game drives and wildlife walking through the camp serving as “Namibian television.” I did not miss being connected. That being said, we did pack our own satellite phone for emergencies. 

Left: The main tent looks gorgeous against the desert landscape Right: Zulu baskets

Clement let me know I could send an email from the office if it was necessary.

Table in the dining tent facing the gorgeous rocky landscape

Left: the communal living room Right: The fresh lemonade was my personal favorite beverage

You’re not exactly roughing it here. The bathrooms were spacious, chic and had plenty of hot water heated by the solar panels that surround the camp.

I loved the modern safari chic vibe of Hoanib’s communal living room

Your days are filled with Game Drives and wildlife viewing (the elephants were my personal favorite), and adventures like visiting the Roaring Dunes along the Skeleton Coast.

A club sandwich & chips for lunch

Hoanib is one of Wilderness Safaris Classic Camps, which is their second tier of luxury. It felt plenty luxurious to both me and my husband.

Left: A view of the lunch buffet Right: a pastry at lunch

This means there are fewer selections for entrees at lunch and dinner than you’d find at one of the Premier Camps,  but we felt well fed and still had plenty of options and never went hungry.

Pops of cornflower blue looked fantastic against the desert backdrop

Your days are filled with Game Drives and wildlife viewing (the elephants were my personal favorite), and adventures like visiting the Roaring Dunes and seal colony along the Skeleton Coast.

Left: Local handicrafts on display at camp Right: I loved these these cool bar stools

A rare rainy morning before a game drive

On a rare rainy morning in December, it was chilly when we left for our morning game drive. Emms, our guide, made sure we had blankets and ponchos to keep us warm and toasty.

Sundowners were my favorite daily ritual

Emms also delivered us to a great spot for sundowners every evening, and it became my favorite daily ritual.

Not a bad place for a sundowner

Namibia’s dramatic skies are as spectacular as it’s landscape

Nambia’s rugged and dramatic landscape is matched by it’s crazy beautiful skies. The clouds are ever-changing.

The moon was still visible in the morning

Clear skies mean star spotting and a visible moon

Moon framed in by the ties of a tent at Hoanib

My stay at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp was so memorable and impressive, I’m now very curious about visiting more of Wilderness Safaris properties. Perhaps I’ll go see the gorillas in the Congo next.

Safari chic bathroom selfie, Namibia

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Rates start at $484 USD – low season (11 January 2015  to 14 June 2015, 01 November 2015 to 19 December 2015)

From $720 – high season (15 June 2015  to 31 October 2015, 20 December 2015 to 10 January 2016)

Booking Inquiries:

Wilderness Safaris

Johannesburg

+27 ­11 ­807 ­1800
Mon-Fri 08:00 – 17:00 GMT+2

Cape Town

+27 ­21 ­702 ­7500
Mon-Fri 08:00 – 17:00 GMT+2

enquiry@wilderness.co.za

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