Where Foodies Dine in Sydney, Australia: Gastro Park


The Arctic Scampi was the standout dish for me at Gastro Park

I always like trying out new restaurants when I visit Sydney, Australia. Since I was dining with my friends, Justine and Brenton of the RoomCritic and the Offen Store, I knew we’d want a place with great food and drinks and a civilized decibel level so that we couldn’t enjoy our always lively conversation. Jonathan Fambert, the amazing concierge at the Park Hyatt Sydney, suggested Gastro Park in Potts Point.


Wagyu Beef Grissini

Self described as a“ playground of Gastronomy,” Gastro Park certainly hit the mark in terms of a great place for a sophisticated double date. The molecular gastronomy was fun, but not overwhelming and technique didn’t dominate the flavors of the restaurant’s modern Oz style cuisine. But the presentations were fun and made for interesting dinner conversation. The Wagyu Beef Grissini was served sticking out of rock, Flintstones-style.


We started with garden tartlets served like a Japanese rock garden

The seared arctic scampi was less flamboyant in presentation, served with coconut, kaffir, and apple sorrel but was such a standout, I wound up ordering two in lieu of an entree.


A delicous version of pork belly


Kingfish carpaccio served with pomelo, fennel and nectarine vinaigrette

Gastro Park prides itself on changing it’s menu frequently. You can get an idea of what they serve from the menu section of their website as well as their Gastro Park Instagram.


Robata duck breast, soy & mustard glaze, kohlrabi ravioli, abalone mushroom


Grain fed beef fillet onion crumble

The liquid butternut gnocchi and mushroom consommé  ($30 AUD) was playfully delicious and fun. Unfortunately, due to second round of cocktails, failed to capture a picture of it in focus. I can vouch for it’s deliciousness.


dessert was steep ($22) but well worth it for the table to split

For dessert we shared the chocolate honeycomb sphere with cardamom and  saffron ginger $22 AUD


Fun and flavorful inspired food and cocktails like those at Gastro Park do not come cheap. But it’s memorable cuisine and clean and contemporary dining space make it a great choice for special meal dinner for foodies in Sydney.

Gastro Park Sydney

5-9 Roslyn Street 2011 Potts Point, Sydney, NSW


Phone: 02 8068 10 17

Official Instagram

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Tasting Tasmanian Whisky and Spirits at the Lark Distillery in Hobart


Enjoying a Tasmanian Single Malt at the Cellar Door at Lark Distillery

I recently visited Tasmania for the first time. The Australian island state has a population of just over 500,000, friendly people, and gorgeous scenery. They also have a booming spirits industry and award-winning whiskey that has beat out those from Scotland and Japan to win coveted World Whiskey Awards. Note: the Tasmanian product prefers the “Whisky” spelling.


Tasmania’s landscape is reminiscent of Scotland

My husband is a fan of Single Malt, so we made it a point to taste some Tasmanian spirits during our stay in Hobart.


Tasmania’s pure water and rich peat makes for drinkable spirits

Lovely water and lush highlands make Tasmania’s landscape reminiscent of Scotland. So it’s not really a shocker that they have the raw materials to produce great spirits.


Taste testing Single Malt Whisky at Lark Distillery 

Fortunately Lark Distillery has a Whisky Bar and tasting room located along Hobart’s waterfront where you can taste a flight of single malts from their range. I opted for gin tasting (Tasmania also produces a lot of nice gin). Lark also offers half and full day Whisky Tours if you want to delve deeper into their world of “Peat and Passion.”


Enjoying a tasting of small batch spirits at the Lark Distillery 

Tasmanian spirits are brewed in small batches and difficult to find abroad. Some of this has to do with the industry being in it’s infancy. I was surprised I was unable to buy any Tasmanian spirits at the Duty Free shop at the Melbourne Airport.


Day drinking + iPhone 6 = Tasmanian spirit tasting GIF goodness

A hotelier at one of Sydney’s top luxury hotels told me he had to wait three months to get a bottle of coveted Sullivan’s Cove Whisky for his hotel’s bar, where the clientele likes a good whisky. It’s clear this is a result of demand exceeding supply, and distribution doesn’t seem to be well established yet. Lark’s worldwide distributors are listed on their website.


The Lovely Courtney McCabe led the spirit tasting at the Lark Distillery

If you’re looking for things to do in Hobart, I’d highly recommend popping into the Whisky Bar at Lark Distillery. The Lovely Courtney McCabe led us through a delightful tasting of local Tasmanian spirits.

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Lark makes great gin, too!


The Lark Distillery

Address: 14 Davey Street, Hobart, Tasmania, 7000

Phone: 03 6231 9088

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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.


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.



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!


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


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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Sydney Harbour Time Lapse Comparisons: iPhone 6 vs. TimeLapse App vs. Hyperlapse

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Rainy morning in Sydney

On my recent trip to Sydney, my room at the Park Hyatt Sydney had a killer view of the iconic Sydney Opera House. I’ve shot some of my favorite time lapse videos here. The backdrop is especially stunning at sunrise, when the harbour come to life and starts buzzing with activity.

Since I knew I was going to be in this spot for a while, I decided to compare a few different #shotoniPhone6 time lapse options. I shot videos using my iPhone 6’s native camera time-lapse function, another using the TimeLapse app, and the third I made with the Hyperlapse app.

First up, the iPhone 6 Native Camera’s Time-Lapse feature: The iPhone’s built in time-lapse function:

I am happy with the  results I got using iPhone 6’s built-in Time Lapse function. The pacing works well for the clouds and rain and the traffic on the harbour. The downside: there is only one time lapse setting. So the results might not be as idea for different shooting situations like capturing crowds or night traffic.

Next, I tried shooting a sunrise time lapse using the paid version of TimeLapse app‘s Sunrise/sunset preset feature:

Morning Sunrise time lapse from my room at the Park Hyatt Sydney

I’m really happy with the resulting time lapse video and love that the app offers presets for different shooting situations. I think if you’re going to shoot time-lapse videos in a variety of different scenarios, this app is well worth the $4.99 as an additional tool for serious shooters.

Next, I shot a bit later in the day using the Hyperlapse app from Instagram. What Hyperlapse has going for it is image stabilization. It’s probably your best option when shooting a time lapse video handheld, if you don’t have a tripod or mount handy.

Sydney Harbour Hyperlapse

I think the resulting hyperlapse video is fun, but not substantial because the app’s default resolution is too low for my liking. Turns out there are “secret settings” you can unlock in Hyperlapse which are shown in this YouTube video.

My issue is that the secret settings are tricky to access, especially if you have cold fingers. But accessing them allows you to unlock an expanded range of options including higher resolution and more speeds. While I currently think Hyperlapse is your best option for handheld time lapse videos, and I’ll have to review my thoughts on as a serious tool for time lapse options after I use it with the unlocked range of functions, and the higher 1080 pixel resolution.

Park Hyatt Sydney

7 Hickson Road, The Rocks

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia2000

Tel: +61 2 9256 1234

Fax: +61 2 9256 1555

Email: sydney.park@hyatt.com



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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


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.


 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.


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.


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

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