The Pantry, Manly

I came out to Manly via the famous Manly Ferry from Circular Quay this morning just after sunrise (around 7am). The journey was quiet and relaxing and I really enjoyed seeing Sydney from a different angle, out on the water and seemly surrounded on almost all sides by land. I was in Manly for the day visiting an old friend and it wasn’t until around 11am that I realised I hadn’t eaten and was absolutely starving. I had it on good authority (from said friend) that we were headed for a place that serves ‘THE BEST’ eggs benedict in Sydney. Since this is my all-time-favourite breakfast, and I consider myself to be quite the benedict-connoisseur, I had high expectations.

The Pantry, located on the actual beach at Manly, within a beautiful purpose built ‘beach shack’ which has an ocean side deck area and small inside dining room, is quite a unique place indeed. The spectacular ocean view, superior service and reasonably priced (for Sydney) but absolutely delicious food, makes for quite a wonderful dining experience and I’ve yet to experience Eggs Benedict with a better view.  The interior, with its ‘shabby chic’ lime washed wood and contrasting dark aged leather and dark stained wine cabinets, creates a calming effect within the space that also managed to move effortlessly from good looking ‘breakfast spot’ to a romantic dinner setting.

Back to the Eggs Benedict though; he might just have been right. The perfectly poached eggs sat upon fresh cut organic ham and lightly toasted, thick cut sourdough bread and topped with a heavenly light bearnaise sauce. My biggest gripe when it comes to eggs benedict is the bearnaise, which is almost never made correctly and more often than not ends up ruining the entire meal. It’s beyond frustrating, especially when everything else on the plate is well made – sorry, rant over. This time however, they got it spot-on. It might have had something to do with the authenticity of the place, including the lovely French waitress who served us, but the meal itself proved to be better than I could possibly have expected and it definitely served it’s purpose in keeping me thoroughly satisfied for the rest of the day.  I believe the dinner menu here is equally well rounded and uncomplicated; our waitress recommended the burger for future reference and I will most certainly take her up on that the next time I happen to be in town.

The Pantry, Manly | +61 (2) 9977 0566 | | | The Pantry Manly, Ocean Promenade, North Steyne, Manly NSW 2095

#HealthKick – Getting Started

Being in the summer sunshine has had a strange effect on me, not least because I’ve been staying outside of Sydney in a quiet suburban area and indulging in the peace and quiet, but I’ve suddenly been motivated to get back on the health and fitness train. The intention is to get myself back to fighting-fitness and super-glowing healthiness. This is no small task, so I decided that I would start small with a few runs a week and some diet changes, the start of which was a pledge to have a daily Green Smoothie.

I look back through old photographs and realise that I was once super-healthy and quite fit; I was of course working as a personal trainer at the time, which may or may not have something to do with it. I was also happier and more settled, which is another set of personal obstacles I am currently working on. All this self-improvement seems like an awfully big and rather daunting task.

I will not be defeated. I will remain positive. I will not beat myself up. I will keep on keeping on. Even when I take a step backwards from time to time, I will take two more steps in the right direction to make up for it. Even when all the cards seem to be dealt against me, I will find the positive and the seek out the motivation to return to my present goals. 

I keep telling myself these things because honestly, I know that sometimes the hardest thing to do is keep going. Results take time, they do not come over night and sometimes we get tired, or the climb to the top gets tough, or we feel like giving up when there seems to be no end in sight. I have different goals for myself these days too, more realistic and healthier goals – I am not on some foolhardy vanity mission to lose 10kg’s in weight by Christmas, I simply want to improve my fitness and health on a daily basis and for this there is no end goal, there are just lots of little goals that keep growing every day and keep me motivated.

I don’t want to live in an all consuming, all-or-nothing world of weight watching, calorie counting madness, I want to eat well and live well. I do not want to be skinny, I want to be stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been. The hardest part of my day is putting on my running shoes and stepping out the door; the best part of my day occurs a mere 2 minutes later when I find my rhythm and feel the warmth in my body and the wind on my face and the pure, unadulterated freedom of the open road.  There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you are taking the steps you need to take to being the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.


Cape Town Favourites Guide

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while; I’ve been caught up in all the fuss over the Olympic Games since I’ve been in London and am only now getting around to putting this all down on paper, or computer to be more accurate. Having spent almost 6 months in Cape Town this year exploring and discovering all the wonderful eats and treats of the ‘Mother City’, I thought I should share some of my favourites in case you are ever down in that beautiful part of the world. I suppose we should begin at the beginning – Breakfast, my favourite meal of the day! Inner city breakfast spot Manna Epicure on Kloof street is a definite favourite if you love a good eggs benedict. Other good breakfast spots in the city include Clarke’s (though the portions are quite serious so it’s the perfect spot if you’re ravenously hungry); Dear Me, for exceptionally well crafted wholesome food. For the best pastry and bread in town, not to mention some stellar coffee and healthy breakfasts, you have to try Jason Bakery on Bree street. For something a little healthier, Skinny Legs and All on Loop street is fabulous and serves up a variety of muesli and fruity treats. Heading out of town; Rhodes Memorial up on the North Slope of Table Mountain has spectacular views and great food. Superette in Woodstock might look shabby, but the food is incredible. Empire Café in the surfer town of Muizenburg is great for a full-on, post-surf breakfast, and the stunning views over the ocean are not bad either.

Long lunches are really what Cape Town is best for, but where you go is really dependent on the mood you are in. For something laid back and interactive try the Neighbourgoods Markets at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock – the market is full of fabulous food and crafts and there are some very good restaurants in the vicinity; if you’re after something a little more up market, The Test Kitchen here is by far one of the best eateries in Cape Town. My favourite lunch spot is The Food Barn in Noordhoek – see Food Barn blog post for review. The best views in town during lunch would be Harbour House at Cape Town Waterfront, or their sister restaurant in Kalk Bay. The Lookout Deck at Hout Bay sits over the water and does fantastic seafood, and for something really special I suggest trying The Greenhouse at The Cellars Hohenort on a Sunday, just remember to book in advance.

If, like me, you like to be outdoors, then there are some excellent activities in and around Cape Town. If you run, try parking in Camps Bay and running out along the water’s edge to Llandudno – beware the cyclists here though. If you like a good walk there is Lions Head or Table Mountain – although Table Mountain can be done by cable car if you just want to see the sights. If you’re an adventurous soul, there are some other stunning walks outside of town which include my favourite, the Krom River Walk, Du Toitskloof in the Limietberg Nature Reserve; it’s one of the least known tracks and there are never many people around, if any, although you will need to collect a pass before you go.

There’s scuba-diving, rock climbing, hand gliding, surfing, river rafting, horse riding and plenty of ideas for kids activities – check out Uncover The Cape and Cape Adventure Zone.

As the Cape is known for its wine, I would suggest trying some of the wine estates for good food and wine tours – there are several tour operators and if you are staying at one of the hotels you can usually book something through the concierge.

Dinner spots in and around Cape Town vary; for something inexpensive but really fabulous try Society Bistro or La Mouette. For something more ‘fine-dining’ there’s Savoy Cabbage, Aubergine, Signal, Le Quartier Francais and The Roundhouse (both highly recommend you try this); or La Colombe, which is my absolute favourite and comes rated at number 16 on the World’s top 50 restaurants.  Cape Town is full of stunning eateries and it really comes alive at night – for a more comprehensive guide check the Eat Out guide which has extensive lists and good search options to help you decide.

Fashion: Waterfront, Long Street, Kloof Street and Neighbourgoods Market

Bars: Cafe Caprice, Orphanage, Asoka, Tjing Tjing (above Dear Me), and as always, the infamous Rafikis (cheaper, louder and more often than not, crowded).

Hotels on a Budget: Daddy Long Legs, 51 on Camps Bay, Ashanti Lodge.

Luxury Hotels: Cape Grace, Babylonstoren, Ellerman House, any of the Collection McGrath Hotels, The Twelve Apostles, Tintswalo Atlantic, Constantia Uitsig, Le Quartier Francais, Delaire Graff, and my favourite, La Residence.

Best Burgers: Clarke’s or Royale Eatery

High Tea: The Mount Nelson, Twelve Apostels or the One & Only.

Craft Beer is a full on thing in Cape Town and I wholeheartedly recommend checking out &Union – especially on a Tuesday night when @Texxonfire does a live music night with up-and-coming bands.