NSW Holiday 2007-2008 – Day 8

Back in early December when we talked about what we wanted to do on our holiday, Jac suggested we spend a weekend in Newcastle, since I’ve never been there. Although we were both really looking forward to spending time with the girls at Nelson Bay, the idea of going off on our own for a couple of days was very appealing, and I booked us in for two nights at a hotel by Newcastle Beach.

And so, on the 29th of December L made breakfast before we caught the bus to Newcastle.

We feasted on bacon, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and toasted English muffins.

Bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and toasted muffins

L and Jac also had smoked salmon.

Smoked salmon

A glass of OJ to wash it all down – perfect!

My plate and a glass of OJ

The bus (AU$11.70 per adult, one-way) took us in air-conditioned comfort all the way to Newcastle train station, at which point we disembarked and walked to our hotel.

Noah’s on the Beach
Corner Shortland Esplanade and Zaara Street, Newcastle NSW

The mini bar fridge is to the right of the cupboard in the photo below. The coffee and tea stuff (cups, kettle, Arnotts Nice and Milk Coffee biscuits, sugar etc ) are in that cupboard.

Our room

Our room had a a private balcony and a view of the ocean.

Our room, our window

The circular pool you can see off to the left is called the Canoe Pool – it’s a large, round shallow sea water pool built in the 1930s for children, now very popular with families, perfect for little kids to go paddling. Kids sit on the sandy bank at the entrance of the Canoe Pool, building castles with the soft, wet sand. To the left of the Canoe Pool (not in the photos) are the Ocean Baths – a proper sea water swimming pool which was first opened in 1922.

View of Newcastle Beach and the Canoe Pool

The hotel really was in a brilliant location. It was lovely knowing the beach was literally just a couple of minutes’ walk away, and the shops within a comfortable walking distance.

View of Newcastle Beach

I tried out the video functionality on my camera for the first time this holiday – here’s the first of a couple of videos I’ll be sharing with you. Nothing spectacular, but I thought some of you might like to see them. The quality really does drop once they’ve been uploaded via YouTube, but I think they’ll give you an idea of how things were. :) So how’s this for a view?

View Newcastle Beach

I didn’t notice the paraglider the first time, until I zoomed in a little.

View of Newcastle Beach, zoomed in

After we’d checked out our room and the view, we decided to go for a walk in search of lunch. I remembered seeing a restaurant called Sticky Rice Thai on our way to the hotel, and to be honest, I was really craving rice.

Sticky Rice Thai
Corner Scott and Zaara Streets, Newcastle East NSW
Open 7 days – dine-in, takeaway, home delivery (limited area) and beer on tap

You can order from a selection of curries, wok stir fries and noodles, cooked with your choice of vegetables and tofu (AU$8.00), or beef, pork or chicken (AU$8.50), or seafood or king prawns (AU$12.50), all served with steamed rice. Jac was craving some vegies and ordered vegetables and tofu stir fried with eggplant, chilli, garlic, basil and black bean.

Vegetable and tofu wok stir fry with egg plant, chilli, garlic, basil and black bean

I ordered the panang curry with chicken. The menu described this as a medium-hot curry “served in thick red curry with coconut milk, capsicum, kaffir lime leaves and basil”. I loved how the curry was presented, with the pure white coconut milk in the centre – it looked so creamy and appealing like that. Of course, I stirred it through before tucking in.

Chicken panang curry

It was simple fare, like delicious home-cooking. Everything tasted so fresh. Couldn’t ask for more, really! Jac’s eggplant stir fry sauce was gorgeous, the vegetables perfectly cooked. And my curry was totally drinkable. We would definitely eat at Sticky Rice Thai again!

After lunch, we got into our bathers, grabbed our towels and headed to the Canoe Pool. I left the camera back in our room, just to be safe. We spent a couple of hours in the water – the lack of waves in the pool was perfect for me as I’m not a swimmer at all.

The Delany
134 Darby Street, Newcastle NSW

After studying our Newcastle guide book, Jac was keen to take a walk to Darby Street where there are lots of places to eat. She felt like having a good pub meal and a couple of drinks, and rather liked the sound of a pub on Darby Street called The Delany, so off we went. Jac took us along a route up hills and down windy stairs so we could get a good look at our surroundings, all part of our plan to include plenty of exercise on our holiday.

We arrived only a short while before the kitchen closed, and pretty much ordered the last meals of the night. Jac had a medium-rare 250 gram sirloin (AU$18.90) with diane sauce, which came with a choice of chips and salad or chips and vegetables. The chips were super crispy on the outside (well, the ones not already soggified by the steak and sauce). The steak was a perfectly tender medium-rare, with a delicious charry taste, enhanced by the flavour from the little bit of fat in the meat – it was all good, according to Jac. The diane sauce was a lovely dark, rich colour and tasted as good as it appeared – the onions were soft and had absorbed all the flavour of the sauce. Jac also said “you can really taste the grog in the sauce!” Being a diane sauce, “the grog” would’ve been brandy.

Sirloin with Diane Sauce

I had the atlantic salmon (AU$20.90) panfried with gremolata crust, served with a lemon butter sauce. I was given the choice of chips and salad or rosemary chat potatoes and vegetables on the side. The gremolata (usually made from minced parsley, lemon peel and garlic) had a nice zesty flavour, but seemed to consist of breadcrumbs more than anything else. Although slightly browned, it was soft and crumbly, definitely not qualifying as a “crust”, falling off every time I cut into the fish. The tangy lemon butter sauce was served in its own dish on the side – probably a good thing, as the sauce on the gremolata would’ve probably created a gluey, gluggy mess. The vegetables – carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and red cabbage – were very tasty. The potatoes had crispy edges and were deliciously fluffy on the inside, but could’ve had a stronger rosemary flavour. I must say did enjoy the fish, despite the “crust that wasn’t”. Despite all my criticisms, the only bad part of this dish is the gremolata, and the dish could be improved by either (1) getting the crust crusty (!) or (2) losing the gremolata completely – besides the problem with its execution, it seemed to be lemon overkill, having gremolata and a lemon butter sauce.

Atlantic salmon

Service at the Delany was great though – friendly and efficient. And even though we were the last people sitting in the dining room, we were told we were welcome to stay as long as we wanted, though if we wanted to order more drinks we’d have to go into one of the bars. There was a band playing in the bar in the next room, with lots of people dancing and having a great time by the looks of it. It seemed like a place for a good night out. We’d eat there again – the caesar salad we saw at an adjacent table looked great, as did the oven-baked chicken dish. By the time we’d finished dinner and watched the band next door for a few minutes we felt really quite tired, and decided to walk back to our hotel for a cuppa.

I’m not sure what the name of the park is that we cut through to get back to the hotel (it’s the park next to the old Customs House), but I was horrified to see cockroaches – big brown ones (the ones most of us visualise when we hear the word “cockroach”)- running around everywhere along the path as we walked – they must live in the limestone walls or in the drains below or something. I knew I was in trouble after I’d counted twelve cockroaches in the space of five steps. I was only wearing thongs (flip-flops) and had cockroaches run over my feet a couple of times. Yes, I shrieked like a wimp and couldn’t get out of there quickly enough!

Earlier that day we’d walked around the shops and malls after lunch, and I’d bought a piece of banana bread from a bakery/cafe (sorry, I forgot to write its name down). It was my little sweet snack to have with a cup of Ecco. I don’t think I’ve mentioned – we’re totally into drinking Nestlé Ecco now. It’s a coffee substitute that contains no caffeine – the ingredients are listed as barley and malted barley (63%), rye and chicory. Serious coffee afficianados will scoff at the idea of a coffee substitute, and I wouldn’t expect you to find the flavour of Ecco acceptable – but for us, it’s a great alternative to real coffee and tea, both of which contain caffeine. Anyway, we brought Ecco with us on our trip so we could enjoy our hot beverage of choice whenever we liked. I like my Ecco with a quarter of a teaspoon of honey, two-thirds water and one-third soy milk.

Banana bread

Even at night, we enjoyed the view. The traffic noises fade out, but the crashing of the waves never stops.

Night view from our hotel window

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