The Sutherland Shire is where Sydney's urban sprawl starts to recede. It's where tourists come to blister in the sun on our sandy beaches and to surf and swim in our shimmering seas. It's also transformed to a destination where a happy mix of visitors and urbanites come to dine and drink for the day. From picnics near the promenade to a small bar detour, here is how to spend the perfect weekend in the Sutherland Shire.
The Saturday morning Shire Farmers' Market has become a great place to catch up and connect with friends and family. Located in the Flora St Carpark in Sutherland, the market has up to 55 stallholders selling their wares each week. Specialties at the market range from French pastries and Thorough Bread sourdough to Pepe Saya butter and fruit and vegetables, some of which is grown by the stallholders themselves. Visit www.shirefarmersmarket.com.au for more details.
The Foodies & Farmers Markets in Menai is another local fave: held on the second Friday of each month. This family-focused market promises to tantalise your taste-buds with a spectacular array of International street food and mouthwatering desserts. Our local producers bring a variety of local fresh produce and many more goodies to take home.
If Rudi's Butcher isn't on your radar then it should be. The butchery, delicatessen and smokehouse specialises in handcrafted artisan German-style sausages such as wurstwaren and hackbraten. Rudolf Birmili is Rudi who migrated from the southern German city of Stuttgart in 1981 and established the butchery in 1983. Rudi's son Stefan now holds court in the family's meat temple in a blue apron offering customers a taste of this and that or advice on just how long to cook that leg of lamb over a gentle heat. Liverwurst, Schinkenwurst, jagdwurst and gelbwurst all taste of lip-smacking German tradition.
The Grate Cheese Company doubles as a mini showroom devoted to cheeses. Follow your nose to find a range of artisan cheeses -- from creamy bries to sharp cheddars -- that have been sourced from around the world. Fromage fanatics flock to the shop, in Gymea Village, which stocks everything from a 45kg wheel of grana Padano to tubs of fresh labne and beautiful fresh fetta, King Island brie and Soresina provolone piccante mandarino. Look in the larder for a range of crackers, quince paste, fruit and dried nuts to complement your DIY cheeseboard. Oh and do go for the full lactose overdose and book a Paint, Wine & Dine class.
Carbo phobes need look away now. Bourke St Bakery has planted its flag in Kirrawee and don't the neighbourhood locals love it! Everything from the sourdoughs to pastries and cakes is made by hand at the little café on the Boulevarde: the bakery's prune and brandy tart is an exercise in extravagance while its meat pies and sausage rolls have become Sydney staples. ThoroughBread is another haven for bread lovers with those in the know travelling to and from Kirrawee's industrial precinct to find this unlikely bread paradise. The sweet potato wholemeal and rye is a high point of any trip to the Monro Avenue bakery.
Essenze Chocolate's chocolatier, Vincenzo Morgia, is regarded as one of Australia's best: his handmade chocolates are made using the finest Belgium couvertures and traditional European techniques. Choose from a selection of more than 50 handmade chocolates in the store where the chocolates are made fresh daily. Curate your own chocolate box and fill with bite-size flavour bombs such as pistachio marzipan, burnt butter and sage, apple pie and cappuccino. The Caringbah chocolate shop Essenze also has a bite-size range to please vegans. Cheat sheet: the chocolates will do the trick if you want to impress your friends with petit fours post dinner party.
For Nina’s Chocolates it all began in the early 90’s when George Magganas, a chocolate obsessed Food Technologist founded his first Nina’s Chocolates boutique in Gymea. Using only the finest Belgian Couverture Chocolate and for fillings, fresh local ingredients are complimented with the finest flavours sourced worldwide.
Andy Orrell is the hirsute brewer behind the Hairy Man craft brewery that is so beloved in the Shire. Find lines spilling out the door here as backyard home-brewers come to live out their fantasies at the brewery that doubles as a tap house. The cellar bar is set up on Woolooware Bay and is open from Thursday to Sunday for a quiet one and a rotating roster of food trucks.
There are also standout brews on tap in Kirrawee at Shark Island Brewery, named after the surf break off the point of Cronulla: try Shark Island Lager, a good German-style beer, or the Greenhills Summer Ale, a grassy blend of Australian hops.
Complete the trifecta of your craft beer crawl at Sunday Road Brewing where you can taste award winning brews, Enigma and Blackwoods. There is always a great line up of food trucks. Sunday Road is open from Thursday to Sunday.
If you’re looking for something a bit spesh and a little different, here's are a few to try;
Cronulla's newest venture is The Pines, a warmly outfitted restaurant with plush seating and an airy bar and dining room down by the sea. Executive chef James Metcalfe (who has worked at two-hatted restaurants in Sydney and Michelin-starred restaurants in London) is working alongside seasoned sommelier Chris Hoy (ex-Rockpool) on the beverages. Opt for the set Food with Friends menu ($75 pp or $155 pp with six matching wines), which comprises a succession of carefully composed dishes such as leek and parmesan croquette with charcoal mayonnaise, a salad of pickled beetroot and burrata, and squid ink risotto, all of which bring a truly unique and special experience.
Alphabet St - Betel leaf with tea-smoked trout and tomato relish; fish floss, sweet pork, green mango and nahm jim; steamed whole fish with a lime and chilli broth. These are a few of the dishes that are guaranteed to provide first-timers with a sensory overload at Alphabet St. The contemporary Thai diner serves culinary treasures from Thailand and beyond: it's loud, insanely popular and -- insert eye roll emoji -- no you can't rock up without a booking as -- like sister restaurant Giro Osteria two doors down -- it's one of Cronulla's best restaurants. Sip on an apple martini and enjoy the entertaining spectacle of the neoprene-clad surfers thumping past like extras from Puberty Blues.
Warm and generous hospitality is one of the hallmarks of a Middle Eastern feast and Yalla Sawa reflects this in spades. The cosy corner restaurant in Cronulla is run by a local Lebanese family, who are renowned for food packed with personality (they have stakes in the beloved Brass Monkey live music venue, too). Order the dips, the fluffy falafel made from 'mum's recipe' and anointed with tahini sauce and the lamb shank tagine, which thrums with spice and sweetness.
With sweeping ocean views, Sealevel Restaurant and Bar offers high quality dining, dishing up a modern Australian menu with French and Italian influences. Focusing on seafood, you will enjoy a rich experience evoking all of the senses while soaking up the views of Cronulla's sandy stretch of beaches.
Jensens - Executive chef Carl Jensen has a well-known ability to take simple seasonal ingredients and flip them into something special. Zucchini flowers, dumplings and John Dory, crispy-skinned barramundi with charred pumpkin, lamb wellington, and caramelised pumpkin and ricotta ravioli are some of the loveliest options imaginable on a warm evening. Even on a chilly evening, with the rain hammering down outside, the restaurant feels warm and cosy. When it opened Jensen's seemed like an ambitious project for Kareela, but Shire locals know and love chef Jensen who flips the spotlight between here and Summer Salt down by the sea.
Watch the sun fade out and the lights of the Sutherland Shire blink on. Head out for a pre - dinner drink or night cap. Start at the Blind Bear -- Cronulla's first small bar -- then connect the dots between a few of the Shire's best bars -- from Croydon Lane Wine and Tapas Bar, Cony's Cronulla presented by Grind Espresso and Baker Lane in Cronulla up to the Black Swan Wine Bar in Caringbah.
Sunday afternoon’s in Cronulla have a particularly good vibe, as more and more venues put on quality live music. Enjoy a delicious cocktail or refreshing beer, and soak up the tunes. Visit Next Door, Croydon Lane, or Henrys.
If you feel like cooking up a storm yourself, check out these three local cooking schools. Head to Regina Della Pasta to make beautiful fresh pasta and package it up with a spritz on the side , The Village Cooks focus on a broader italian cuisine, including pastry making, handmade pasta, preserving and seasonal Italian home-style cooking and Sutherland Shire Cooking School who run classes for beginners through to experienced chefs, teaching up to date culinary food trends.
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