Australia Day is fast approaching, and what better way to enjoy it than indulge in the great national pastime of eating and drinking. That's why it's a public holiday, after all.
Here are our top foodie picks for a delicious Australia Day.
Out to lunch
Start your Australia Day celebrations a day early and pop into Icebergs at Bondi for a late lunch at their Supernormal pop-up. Andrew McConnell's new Melbourne restaurant will be taking up residence on January 25 for one day only, serving some of the standout dishes from its Asian-inspired menu, including cobia with yuzu kosho, fennel and seaweed cracker.
Nothing celebrates the day the First Fleet scuttled into Sydney quite like watching a group of 20 crabs trying to out-scuttle each other across tables at The Collaroy Hotel. Buy a "crab-lete" (crab athlete) and cheer on your crustacean speed sensation. There are prizes for the winners, but don't get too attached to your crab: it might spoil your enjoyment of the hotel's Australia Day soft shell crab burger. Still on seafood, the Fish Markets will be open all day, with live music, face painting and, of course, all of their retailers - including Doyles at the Fish Markets - open for business.
For a lunch as Aussie as they come, pop into The Australian Heritage Hotel at The Rocks for steaks and sausages from the barbecue, as well as their famous Coat of Arms (kangaroo and emu) pizza and crocodile pizza. The Royal at Leichhardt will also be serving up a true-blue menu, offering their Aussie burger with the lot, while the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel's "bay brunch" will open at 9am, catering to the early risers.
If you want to watch Australia take on India, The Grand National at Paddington will be showing the cricket as they serve up $10 burgers and reubens all day long. On the other side of the bridge, The Oaks will have the match on their outdoor screen, while music lovers can head upstairs to hear Triple J's hottest 100 from midday.
Supernormal at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, 1 Notts Avenue, Bondi, (02) 9365 9000(02) 9365 9000, from 2pm
The Collaroy Hotel, 1064 Pittwater Street, Collaroy, (02) 9981 7333(02) 9981 7333
Doyles at the Fish Markets, Gipps Street, Pyrmont, (02) 9552 4339(02) 9552 4339
The Australian Heritage Hotel, 100 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, (02) 9247 2229(02) 9247 2229
The Royal, 156 Norton Street, Leichhardt, (02) 9569 2638(02) 9569 2638
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, 1 Military Road, Watsons Bay, (02) 9337 5444(02) 9337 5444
The Grand National, 33 Elizabeth Street, Paddington, (02) 9363 4557(02) 9363 4557
The Oaks Hotel, 118 Military Road, Neutral Bay, (02) 9953 5515(02) 9953 5515
While community barbecues will be run in parks across the city, Balla at The Star will also be firing up the barbie, cooking premium kangaroo loin fillet with black peppercorn sauce and Moreton Bay bugs with garlic butter on their wood grill for their "big Aussie barbecue". Barbecue tastes a bit simpler? Consider dropping into the Manly Wharf Hotel: they'll be serving sausage sandwiches with onions and tomato sauce on (hold onto your chia and quinoa loaf) white bread, alongside $5 vegemite and cheese pizzas.
If you're planning on having a barbecue at home, why not make it for a good cause? Register your barbecue with The Big Red BBQ to raise money for Kidney Health Australia. This year, participants are being challenged to incorporate five "kidney-friendly" ingredients into their menu: cherries, eggplant, polenta, ricotta and rosemary. Register your barbecue before January 20 for your free event pack and personal online fundraising page.
Balla, Level G, The Darling, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, (02) 9657 9129(02) 9657 9129
Register for The Big Red BBQ at bigredbbq2015.gofundraise.com.au
Pies and parks
Lavender Bay's parks offer the perfect mix of shady spots and water views. Set up in crowd favourites Watt Park or Clark Park, or walk a little bit further down to Quibaree Park to have the option of a stroll along the beach. On your way, pop into St. Honoré Bakery at North Sydney and pick up some of their gourmet minced beef pies. In the east, Eugene's at Bronte will be selling their slow-cooked beef and mushroom pies just a 10-minute walk from the barbecue and picnic area at Bronte Park.
For a picnic in town, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is close to the buzz of the Darling Harbour celebrations, and will be a perfect vantage point for the fireworks at 8:45pm.
If you just want somewhere picturesque to bring a packed lunch, picnic areas can be booked at Manly Dam ($46 for a standard table or $66 for an undercover one). A bit further out of town, the Royal National Park south of Cronulla offers a variety of picnic areas, while eating lunch on the sprawling hills of Fagan Park at Galston before exploring the park's Gardens of Many Nations (11 gardens, each planted in the style of a different world region) is a great day out.
Wherever you're headed, don't forget the Golden Gaytimes and Paddle Pops: Streets has released green and gold ones for Australia Day.
St. Honoré Bakery, 2/40 Miller Street, North Sydney, (02) 9929 4388(02) 9929 4388
Eugene's, 69 Macpherson Street, Bronte, (02) 9369 1110(02) 9369 1110
Chinese Garden of Friendship, 1 Exhibition Place, Darling Harbour, (02) 9240 8888(02) 9240 8888
Manly Dam, Sir Roden Cutler VC Memorial Drive, Allambie Heights, (02) 9942 2111(02) 9942 2111
Royal National Park, Farnell Avenue, Audley, (02) 9542 0648(02) 9542 0648
Fagan Park, 48 Arcadia Road, Galston, (02) 9847 6791(02) 9847 6791
The Rocks Foodie Market will be happening as part of the festivities at The Rocks, with an array of vendors in attendance including Lowenbrau, Baroque and Hero Sushi.
On the other side of town, a foodlover's delight is being put on by Parramatta Council at their Big Backyard in Parramatta Park. It will be barbecues galore with a range of food stalls including Waroo Spit Lamb and an Argentinian barbecue. There will also be an appearance from former Masterchef contestant Jay Huxley from HUX Grill, who will be in attendance with his BBQute which, as you might expect, is a ute that is also a functioning BBQ.
The Rocks Foodie Market, George Street, The Rocks, (02) 9240 8717(02) 9240 8717
Big Backyard, Parramatta Park, corner Pitt and Macquarie Streets, Parramatta, January 26, 11am-6pm
For lamingtons in Sydney, you can't go past LusciousKiki at Brookvale. Their lamingtons are $3.50 each or $48 for a slab of 14, and they also bake gluten- and dairy-free goodies. Their zany range includes the "violet crumble" and the "mango ginger tango", but if you're bringing a plate to an Australia Day celebration, you've gotta go for their "gotta be made of". (Yes, it's Milo flavoured.)
If you're after a luxury lamington experience, visit Sokyo at The Star for one of their green tea lamingtons ($17). On the menu for the first time this year, the treats are served with white chocolate and coconut sorbet and will be available during dinner service from January 23-26.
Traditionalists who prefer their lamingtons with choc icing, sponge and jam should visit The Book Kitchen at Surry Hills. Flour and Stone at Woolloomooloo also do a solid choc and sponge lamo, baking the sponge in panna cotta before using berry compote instead of jam.
Don't have time to make pavlova this year? The locals love Helen's Pavlova Palace at Yagoona, while a pricier pav is on offer at Rockpool Bar & Grill (its devotees attest that the $21 is definitely worth it).
LusciousKiki, 16 Sydenham Road, Brookvale, 0417 499 0220417 499 022 (Fridays and Saturdays only)
Sokyo Restaurant, Level G, The Darling, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, (02) 9657 9161(02) 9657 9161
The Book Kitchen, 255 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, (02) 9211 0665(02) 9211 0665
Flour and Stone, 53 Riley Street, Woolloomooloo, (02) 8068 8818(02) 8068 8818
Helen's Pavlova Palace, 564 Hume Highway, Yagoona, (02) 9708 3885(02) 9708 3885
Rockpool Bar & Grill, 66 Hunter Street, Sydney, (02) 8078 1900(02) 8078 1900