Saturday, 1 August 2015

Sydney, the Diamond in the Rough Guide: Alexandria

Hey there! I'm just your friendly neighbourhood Sydneysider! So what have I been doing after coming home after my whirlwind trip to South Korea and Japan? Crying mostly. My stomach in particular is still deep in the mourning period, never again will it feast on such scrumptious food on a day to day basis, never again.

My mum doesn't understand how awestruck I become when I talk about travel, she doesn't understand the desire to visit cities so entirely different from our own and how it shimmers with excitement and unknown territory to charter. She doesn't understand why I look at Sydney with such bored disdain. Now that I've been grounded, I do my best to wear the tourist-tinted glasses, to see the wonder that Sydney exudes. Sorry, nada. But that's why this guide exists! I am going to be showing places that exist beyond the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge and show you the places that we simply swarm. I feel I must add a disclaimer, none of these places are particularly unique exactly but they will bloat your itinerary richly.

Let's begin with Alexandria! Alexandria has been predicted to be the next best hit after Surry Hills and Redfern for the neighbourhood to be. Initially, it began its roots as a suburb populated more by trucks and warehouses, but with the existence of the most unique food havens, it's risen beyond its prison. Shall we begin? To kick start your foray into Alexandria, it is only a mere 3 minute train ride from Central Station. Hop off at Green Square station and you are golden to give yourself a gastronomic experience that this suburb will offer.

Might I suggest a comforting brunch or breakfast one that is akin to something your grandmother or that warm figure of your heart will prepare?

Ricotta Cheesecake with jam $4
Rich, creamy and studded with fruit within. I knowww, this isn't brunch fare! But it's undeniably delicious!

Scones with homemade cream and jam - $7.50
The price of the lasagna wasn't states in the online menu so I can't be too sure 
Perhaps it was because my friend had snagged the final piece that it was served with baking paper hanging on for grim life, still, it didn't make for impressive presentation. 

House Special Pita stuffed with roasted vegetables and a smoky eggplant sauce - $6
I'm not too fond of eating out, I generally eat out for new creative fodder that I can add to my repertoire of modifiable recipes that exist bouncing around in my head, that and I long for the items that fulfil a strict criteria; affordable, healthy and complex enough that I would baulk making it myself at home. In this case, I've always been toying with the idea of making my own bread and this gave me the gentle push I needed. And to barbecue my eggplants, BURNNN, BABY BURNNN. 

With large windows that allow the generous flood of natural light, this would be the perfect environment to read away the long hours, tap away at your laptop to create that award wining story which will knock John Green novels into obscurity or to panic that you're definitely eating more than you're studying. 

In addition, the Grandma's Little Bakery branch at Alexandria also includes a pantry of ingredients that are destined to just take your creations up that little notch. Furthermore, if you really enjoyed the bolognaise sauce, why, you could just saunter over to the freezer and buy a tub to take back to your apartment create a home in a foreign country. 

If you're to come here, I would recommend ordering the Shakshuka which ranges from $15.50-16.50, my friends and I opted out as it was that hour of the day where the stomach simply refuses anything weighty. Upon request, they may be able to modify some menu items to be vegan but remember to enquire first!

Grandma's Little Bakery 
42 O´Riordan Street, Alexandria

And now, we approach the cream of the crop. If you must visit Alexandria, this place irrefutably needs to be the place that is the reason that drives you to leave and visit.

The Grounds of Alexandria. This place is unparalleled, one of its kind probably anywhere in Sydney. So what is it? Just a coffee place right? Wrong. 'Grounds' is very literal. Indeed, it's almost like a tiny civilisation, a landmark that comprises of a coffee roastery, cafe, sustainable garden which is known for its abundance of fresh produce and even a marketplace. Dominating an acre of Alexandria, it boasts a coffee research and education facility, artisan bakery and a garden overridden with vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers - an ultimate picture of life that starkly contrasts with its factory neighbourhood as well as a small animal farm to keep tinier humans occupied. It's existence in its environment is almost an impossibility, yet it thrives. And it does so by allowing the community to act as its lungs. 

The tiny farm where the animals are cooed over are actually the least surprising thing. 

The first hint into the wonder that is the Grounds of Alexandria. 

So much life flourishes. And not just from the flora. Is this a cafe? Even restaurant would be pushing it. The entire place is alive, with laughter, of joy, of greenery. Almost a utopia, you could forget where you were. 

The rainbow roses caught your eye didn't they? Had someone had asked me to the formal waving a bouquet of them in my face, it would've been incredibly hard to turn them down. Situated at the Grounds Florals, a florist that dares challenges the rainbow in terms of colour.  

Juuustttt in case you get lost. Trust me, it's a bombardment on the senses and all too easy to become overwhelmed. 

You've heard of teacup pigs right? WELL HOW ABOUT A SUCCULENT TEACUP? At least the guarantee is that they're a lot more low maintenance!

As if the lush green isn't enough, more must be added!

An old phone box re-purposed as an ATM. Brilliance. This right here, seems to be the underlining concept that surrounds Alexandria. Break free of your original confines, use that as nourishment for the future. 


A woman posing for my camera haha. Ninja attempts failed. As you can see, it's almost as if you're dining within a garden that novels wax lyrical about. The kind of garden fit for Queens and Kings, for royalty almost. I can't shake the vivid image of this being the courtyard of the Red Queen's castle and in just a second, she'll be barking at you to pick up a flamingo and play croquet with her!

You see those shiny lemons? The ones that look like miniature suns? Yeah, that's where the lemonade comes from. Oh. My. God.

DONUTSS! I almost feel like I'm back in Seoul where everywhere I turn is an excuse to eat. You walk 1 metre, shovelling the food that was once in your hand only to find yourself standing before another one. And angrily you mutter as you hand over the money and wipe the smear of sugar dusting your lips. Nutella, jam or cinnamon? Or? Or? All, thanks. 

The Garden Bar. Of course there's a bar! Why wouldn't there be a bar? With lazy palm trees to complete the image to boot. 

And along this way you will come across...

The Grounds of Alexandria
Building 7A, 2 Huntley St,Alexandria

If you're ever on the hunt for that one bizarre ingredient that they use on Masterchef or that wtf obscure ingredients that Chefs use that are likened to the tears of a unicorn where one drop will cause a gastronomic enlightenment, give Salt Meats Cheese a shot! You will never see such a dazzling display of cheese, anywhere.  Alright, real talk. I used to watch the Youtube channel clothesenounters and she once showcased this Himalayan salt lamp. So I did what any greedy person did, hopped straight onto Amazon then skipped past most regular emotions and straight into one that produced tears like a waterfall. Well fear not, this is the day, that you will own one! Enjoy the release of negative ions and feel the exhaustion just melt off you. Trust the placebo. Whilst you're here, explore the range of cured meat, sample olives .. the store is your oyster!

The place where I feel most home, the baking section. Complete with an entire shelf dedicated to teas. 

Pasta in every shape unimaginable. 

Oh this is where I found liquid smoke! .. At $7 a bottle which I'm unsure if pricey or not but hey, that cuts down the hunt just a tad doesn't it? They also hold cooking classes as well, pasta, mozzarella.. anything that makes Italy come here to Sydney!

Salt Meats Cheese
41 Bourke Road, Alexandria

So after you finish looking around (or buying half the store) Salt Meats Cheese, on your way back to Green Square Station, you will encounter Perry Park. Now, I'm not suggesting that you buy a pizza there, the chocolate bits that were supposed to be saved for baking cupcakes to have an impromptu picnic and just laze about in the warming sun. No! I would never! Never, totally suggest that you totally must do it. 

Because we all find DANGER ridden, crumbling and graffiti dominated buildings so alluring. 

Bread & Circus! And incidentally, you will be walking through a popular cafe called Campos to get here. This is one of those rarer places in Sydney that isn't so obscure that serves a healthy banquet. Unfortunately, it closes at 3pm so come early!

Although you'd probably become healthier merely through osmosis here. In a rush? Grab a sandwich box! You don't need to eat vegan to be healthy! And yes, there are vegan options. The decor is almost Vintage meets Green Grocer meets Tropical Beach. Yes, that mix is entirely possible!

Bread & Circus 
21 Fountain Street, Alexandria

Alright, hold onto your horses people as right next door is a dessert bar. And not just any dessert bar, a vegan one. Woah. Indulgence just became a hell of a lot less sinful. Cakes, individual chocolate! Gluten free. Dairy free. Egg Free. Cane sugar free. Raw. Organic. Forget restriction, dive right in! 

Pana Chocolate 
21 Fountain Street, Alexandria 

Alright, now you're probably exhausted. All that food, the stimulation! Just let me collapse onto a couch, please. Alright, let's hurry back to Green Square Station. 

Oops. No you won't. Here you can find fine art, collectibles, antiques (and the not quite antiques hah!).. the warehouse is filled to the proverbial brim of treasures and everything is up for grabs at an auction that takes place every Saturday! And upstairs there's a Mitchel Road Antique and Design Centre where there's furniture, fashion, art, toys ah! everything! to discover! Ariel better be relieved that her fins are already tinged green to save her from the reveal of her envy! With a cafe that's open on weekends, Alexandria is persistent to be unlocked. 

Lights, camera, auction!

There's even miniature rooms that are organised to look like a grandmother's attic!

Are you drooling? I totally am not.. 

Exquisite, isn't it?

The Monopoly Pokemon set was what clued me to not be fooled, just because it's here doesn't mean it carries a rich history to be classified as an antique! Constant vigilance!

What happens when a game is missing that one imperative tile? Collect them all. You have no idea how long it took to spell out my name. Well sorry that J isn't very common!

Honey, I found the Hand of Glory! But shit, it was $22! And this is exactly why I shouldn't be left alone in a place like this. I'd probably gnaw my own arm off and tear you apart for the wallet you've withheld from me. 

Vintage Australian Playboys! For science.. 

I'm sure this is what the corridor to heaven looks like. Lined on both sides with stuff that makes your hands go grabby. 

Alright this antique cash register is $25 000, even if I had  the money, it would be the last thing I would be frivolously buying. 

The grand piano on the otherhand is a clear investment and nothing you say can prevent me from reliving my worst childhood memories.

Mitchell Road Antique and Design Centre
17 Bourke Road, Alexandria 

And that was a brief glimpse into the rising and riveting Alexandria. It has come so far from being merely just the manufacturing grounds for popular brands around Australia. Now, it's quickly gaining traction one that uses its own strengths, the magic of a reinvented warehouse to conquer the tightly packed thrill of Surry Hills. 

Curious for more places that are more obscure around Sydney? Check in constantly!




  1. That cheesecake looks amazing! I love all your photos Jeannie! I absolutely love Sydney and wish it was closer to the US so that I could go back more!

  2. your photos are amazing :)

  3. Loved this one

  4. Amazing! You create so interesting posts and make very beautiful photos! Like your blog! Keep doing it!
    I’ll be happy to see you in my blog!)

    Diana Cloudlet

  5. Such amazing photographs - they're beautiful! You've captured everything so nicely :-)

    Jeffrey Chung

  6. OMG all that fooood! I want some haha! Alexandria looks like such a lovely place, I will put it on my list of places to visit! I have the same problem with people when I talk about travel, there's so many amazing places in the world why would you want to stay in the same place? I'm super jealous that you've been to South Korea and Japan! Along with NYC they're at the top of the list of places I want to see! Keep the travel posts coming! :)
    Eco and minimalist fashion and beauty blog