I drove to Sydney a couple of weeks ago by myself. It was an unexpected journey and I had to drive up and return within a couple of days, so it was not a leisurely road trip but one I enjoyed all the same.
I have always adored driving. Since my first driving adventures at the age of 18, I have never tired of the freedom one experiences when on the open road. My first journeys were mainly exploring the Surf Coast and in particular Johanna Beach where most of the time revolved around surfing.
If the truth be known, I was not the world’s most committed surfer, but I really enjoyed the independence, being with friends and an adventure. I was certainly foolhardy a few times when it came to tackling waves.
Having driven to Johanna, I could not sit on the beach while my fellow travelers launched themselves into the giant southern seas. Many times I should have stayed on the beach, as I was not sufficiently skilled to tackle such enormous waves.
In hindsight, I could have gone for a walk and/or made a campfire and cooked some lunch. I was, however, 18 so I bit off more than I could chew and “chewed really hard”.
I would scramble my way through the surf and somehow find sanctuary “out the back” too far out for waves to break. From there the theory is to paddle into 12-feet waves and repeat the process for several hours.
My time instead was spent wondering how I would ever find my way into shore, as the waves were far too terrifying to catch. Incredibly, we all survived those escapades and the fond memories will stay with me forever.
A big part of these road trips was the food. In 1979, there was not much on offer. The place we loved most was the health food shop at Lorne, which served the best ham and salad sandwich with homemade peanut butter. (Something I do to this day is spread peanut butter on a salad sandwich).
I have digressed somewhat from my trip to Sydney, but while driving, I yearned for a simple ham and salad sandwich. There is scant variety on the Hume highway north. All the usual suspects offering burgers, fries and coke with a couple of “healthy” chain operations which I find thoroughly unappealing.
All I wanted was a small food store or milk bar where someone would make a fresh sandwich, assembled right there before my eyes. You would think that not too much to ask, but it was mission impossible.
The best I could find was a truckie’s roadhouse where I had an acceptable toasted sandwich and a nice coffee. That was breakfast and I waited until I arrived in Sydney late in the afternoon for lunch. Fortunately, my destination was very close to Bondi, so I went for a swim and then had a plethora of cafes and restaurants from which to choose. We went to a small café called Brown Sugar and I had lemongrass cured tuna salad with mixed grains, coconut, sesame, kale, pickled cabbage, avocado, cucumber ribbons and soy lime dressing. It was almost worth driving to Sydney for a few hours at Bondi.
It was so good, we returned for breakfast the following day and I indulged in sourdough buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, banana and bacon. I learned this combination from my wife’s uncle who went to university in Carolina and started his weekend with waffles, bacon and maple syrup. This recipe by Jill Dupleix is delicious.
Waffles & Bacon
• 2 large eggs, separated
• 375ml buttermilk
• 2 tablespoon melted butter
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 225g self-raising flour
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Pinch of sea salt
• 1 tablespoon caster sugar
• Maple syrup
• Streaky bacon
Whisk the egg yolks lightly then whisk in the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla. Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt into a second bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the egg mixture, mixing lightly until smooth. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Preheat waffle iron then ladle the batter into each mould and cook for five minutes or until golden. Serve with maple syrup and crispy fried bacon. (For super-crisp bacon, lay the rashers flat on an oven tray and bake at 190 degrees for 10 minutes).