Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Winter Festival: ice-skating at Bondi Beach

I haven’t ice-skated since I was about 15 when we used to spend Friday nights alternating between ice-skating and the local Blue Light Disco, so I was a bit shaky on my feet as I headed for the rink at the Bondi Winter Festival,  an ice-skating rink set up on the sand at the south end of the beach.

After a few laps in my bright orange hired skates, gravitating to the edge for dear life, I realised the ice had melted slightly around the edges and it was harder to skate there, so I counted to 10, let go and ventured out with the big kids. It all came back to me and soon I felt like Jane Torville of Torville & Dean (remember that dynamic duo?) until I fell straight on my arse. Jane never fell over, but today it was a free-for-all as people fell, laughed, got up and fell again.

Luckily I only had the one stack in what was a fun afternoon as some latent muscle memory kicked in and I kept my balance. Its $26 to skate for 45 minutes (including skate-hire) and $19 for kids. I booked online a few hours before heading down for the 4pm session. 

There was something rather magical about ice-skating while looking out over Bondi Beach as the sun set and watching the huge waves crash against the shore. 

It’s a great set-up and family friendly, especially with the addition of Bobby the seal for kids under 12, who could either grab on to the tail for balance or sit on his back and get pushed by a parent. My friend said her husband skated too fast and her daughter fell off as he took a sharp corner and had to be coaxed back on. There’s only 12 per session, so I’d recommend booking one in advance – in fact, I wouldn’t have minded one myself to help my balance!

If ice-skating’s not your thing you can just head down for some wintery treats such as mulled wine, chai, hot chocolate, pancakes, goulash, hamburgers and chestnuts. The Alpine Lodge – Sydney’s latest pop-up bar – has a log fire, creating a cosy ambience, or you can go outside under the heaters and watch the action on the ice. 

At 5.50pm we were treated to a professional ice-skating performance with the super-skaters gracefully dancing on the ice and generally showing us amateurs how it was done.

There’s only a week left at Bondi, but from July 22, it moves to St Mary’s Cathedral, and I might just return for a second go at re-living my Torville & Dean fantasies.  

Saturday, 2 July 2011

AquaBar: for mascarpone pancakes with a view

I love mascarpone, but considering its base ingredient is triple cream cheese, I’ve had to wean myself off it, one day at a time.

So, when I saw that Aquabar, a cute café in North Bondi, had leek and potato pancakes topped with mascarpone, smoked salmon and rocket on the menu, I reluctantly turned the other cheek.

Bondi Curmudgeon, though, who regularly eats sausage rolls for breakfast, ordered it for himself and swore he wasn’t taunting me as he gushed over every mouthful.

I begged for a tiny teeny taste – although Joey doesn’t share food – and it was so good that my tastebuds went into an instant sulk and refused to eat any more of the baked eggs with spinach I’d ordered in the name of being ‘healthy’.

 So, we returned a week later, sitting in the empty spare room of the café, while everyone was crammed into the main dining room or bracing the cold and wind outside.

The cheery waiter took our coffee orders and warned us there had been changes to the menu.

“It’d better not be the mascarpone pancakes,” I said, in a tone harsher than I’d intended. 

Luckily it wasn’t - he can completely change the rest of the menu if he wants as I’ve found my dish and I’m sticking to it.

Unless it’s lunchtime and then I’ll be forced to have the smoked-salmon angel hair pasta with caramelised lemon which is my other Aquabar favourite.