With at least another four weeks left of Sydney’s lockdown, we’re all feeling a little antsy. As much of our work time, and all our leisure time, is spent in our homes, it can be easy to run out of ways to stay entertained (turns out we all spent way more time at the pub that we thought). But there’s still loads you can do from home that’ll keep you occupied, support local businesses and see you through lockdown safely. Here are Broadsheet’s picks for August.
Order a Mexican feast
I think most of us can admit we’ve been getting through this lockdown with an awful lot of takeaway orders – knowing you can have a fab restaurant-quality meal in your own digs brings a little glimmer of joy each week. And this lockdown, there’s a whole lot of Mexican going around – cafes pivoting to tacos, inner-city windows doing brekkie quesadillas and schmick wine bars bringing strong Mexican flavours.
Taco king Toby Wilson (Ghostboy Cantina, The George) has opened a pop-up bricks-and-mortar outpost of his taco truck Ricos in Chippendale (stay tuned for a possible permanent diner in the same spot). From Thursday to Wednesday it’s serving outstanding breakfast tacos and filter coffee. Our pick? The sensational, spicy chorizo and potato taco, topped with a wedge of medium-boiled egg. It’s also doing DIY taco kits on Tuesdays, if you’re more lunch- or dinner-inclined.
Nearby, outstanding Pyrmont cafe Quick Brown Fox Eatery has swapped its usual menu of banoffee pie waffles and congee for a Mexican pop-up, Buen Taco. It opens on Wednesday. We reckon the star menu item could be the birria taco – a fried tortilla stuffed with slow-cooked shredded beef, cheese and coriander, served with a side of luscious dipping sauce made with the meat juices and chilli. Sign us up.
Sydney’s queen of tacos Rosa Cienfuegos keeps on pumping out the good stuff. Get her famous tamales, tacos and burritos made fresh, or get everything you need to build your own to keep in the freezer, should a taco emergency arise, from her Redfern diner Itacate and her tamaleria in Dulwich Hill. Lovely Glebe wine bar No. 92 GPR has embraced the Mexican heritage of its chefs by launching a lockdown pop-up, Mexico Mi Amor. It’s doing cook-at-home enchiladas and enfrijoladas, as well as burritos (including a fun Korean fried-chicken version), guacamole and carne asada fries. There are still more takeaway Mexican options here.
If you feel like you’ve walked all the backstreets in your area one too many times, and are looking for something a little different, there’s a host of virtual exercise classes around to help you work up a sweat. My pick is Fluidform’s Pilates classes – there are hundreds of videos to stream at your own leisure – and even the short ones (around 10 minutes) will have you sore the next day. I admit it, I’m a Pilates convert.
Pilates doesn’t tickle your fancy? We’ve rounded up nine virtual fitness classes – including dance sessions, hardcore HIIT classes and barre – that’ll keep your mind and body busy for the next four weeks or so.
Hit the booze
So far, so wholesome. But sometimes you just need to kick back on the lounge with a boozy beverage and take the weight off for a bit. Thankfully, plenty of Sydney bars and restaurants are doing deliveries of the alcoholic kind. Start off with our hitlist of alcohol-delivery services – from wine purveyors such as Drnks and P&V, to craft beer sent to your door, gin subscriptions and even sake to go.
If you’re missing cocktail bars, the next-best thing is bottled (or tinned, or pouched) concoctions. We reckon Maybe Sammy is doing some of the best, with beautifully floral twists on classics such as Gimlets and Martinis. PS40 is bottling its ever-clever creations and doing same-day delivery across much of Sydney, while waste-free bar Re– is managing to bring it cocktail genius into homes. Then there’s the classics: Continental’s Mar-tinnys, Tequila Mockingbird’s Margaritas and Jacoby’s tiki-inspired drinks.
Add some swish to your home
With so much extra time spent at home, it’s the perfect excuse to jazz up your living space a little. Sydney homewares brand Alex and Trahanas has dropped a new collection that’s celebrating long lunches in coastal Italian towns. It’s all about beautiful hand-painted ceramics made in Puglia, hand-carved wooden trays from Florence and candles from Greece. It’s even upping the festivities with a pasta pack collab with Fabbrica.
And if you’re one of millions of Sydneysiders who live in freezing houses (and are really feeling the chill now you’re working from home), we’ve found 10 beautiful woven blankets that’ll see you through winter – there’s merino wool blankets that are knitted to order, tapestry-style woven cotton blankets with fun patterns and the classic Tassie-made woollen blankets you probably remember from your grandparents’ spare room.
We love a good lockdown switcheroo – and scores of Sydney diners have embraced their inner bakery for the lockdown. Every weekend, Dulwich Hill cafe The Fold is selling Sri Lankan-inspired sweets, fluffy Japanese cheesecake, carrot cake, tarts, chilli-pork sausage rolls and curried beef pies.
Over in Bondi, Totti’s is transforming into Royally Baked every Saturday morning. Pop past for a bacon-and-egg version of its beloved puffy bread, Pinbone’s famed bacon-maple tart, Basque burnt cheesecake and fried bread stuffed with mortadella.
Unmissable and online
Two of the Art Gallery of NSW’s blockbuster 2021 exhibitions have been brought online thanks to lockdown – and they’re entirely free. Check out the mystical works of abstract artist Hilma af Klint in a Youtube video walkthrough – a survey of the Swedish artist’s work at New York’s Guggenheim Museum broke attendance records back in 2019, so it’s definitely worth your time.
The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman exhibition is also unmissable; take yourself on a self-guided virtual tour that’ll let you see the works hung in situ in the gallery.
To your (Provi)door
One of the pitfalls of ordering takeaway is that is can occasionally be a bit cold, soggy or deconstructed by the time it reaches your plate. Not so with Providoor – an upper-crust meal-delivery service that our Melbourne pals tell us have got them through numerous lockdowns. Each box comes with food prepped by restaurant chefs that requires just a little bit of heating and prep at home once you’re ready to eat. And some ripper restaurants have got on board, including Golden Century, Rockpool, The Apollo, Monopole and more. I recently ordered the Cicciabella box and can confirm it brought joy to my Friday evening.
Show your support
While we’re all focused on getting through this lockdown, it can be easy to forget about those who are doing it tough. Welcome Merchant, a platform that highlights and uplifts refugee-powered or aligned businesses, gave us the lowdown on 10 businesses to support during lockdown. Get great Syrian meals from a Bass Hill restaurant, enjoy Iraqi sweets from a Fairfield bakery and order a loved one a bouquet from a florist employing refugees and new migrants. While many of them are in areas currently experiencing a hard lockdown, they’re great to keep in mind if you live nearby.