Sydney is an early-morning city and my wife Natalie and I get up at 5.30am to the sound of the waves crashing outside our house on Tamarama beach. We leave our three daughters to sleep in and walk for 25 minutes along the beach to Bondi where by 6am the locals are exercising and grabbing the day. We take a yoga class at BodyMindLife with Bondi’s beautiful people. They offer antigravity yoga, which I’ve not tried because it looks terrifying – like being in Cirque du Soleil.
We’ll walk to Earth Food Store to pick up a flat white made with almond milk, as well as tomatoes, cucumber, feta and bread for breakfast. Back home Edie, 16, Ines, 13, and Bunny Beatrice, 11, will be up and I’ll make us all breakfast. We drive down to Bondi for the girls’ lesson at Let’s Go Surfing. I grew up in Melbourne, where there isn’t much surfing, so I surf vicariously through them.
The girls will be starving after being in the water so we’ll walk to the farmers’ market at Bondi Beach Public School for hip street food like pho and tacos, which we eat sitting on the grass. We go home to change and the kids go off to see their friends, while Natalie and I drive to the Sarah Cottier Gallery in Paddington. Sarah champions unashamedly contemporary Australian talent that I’ve been drooling over since I was an art student and recently I’ve actually bought some pieces from her; currently I’m coveting an enormous paper cyanotype of the sea and horizon by Todd McMillan.
It’s mid-afternoon by now and we stop at Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point, which combines the warmth of a family trattoria with the sophistication of a great urban restaurant, as well as a good dose of Italian-Aussie humour. We’ll have custard bomboloni as a treat with coffee and then go to Grandiflora, a tiny matchbox of a shop bursting with flowers that was founded by my friend Saskia Havekes over 20 years ago, around the same time I opened my first restaurant in Sydney. It’s one of the best florists in the world and Saskia still supplies my home.
We go home to change and my wife and I have dinner at Bennelong in Sydney Opera House; the room is the only place in the building where you can dine and admire the view, as the others have been filled in with theatres and the like. We sit at the bar and have some small plates; last time we had smoked chicken and udon salad and fantastic Sydney rock oysters. We then head to the opera – the last one we saw there was Turandot – and if it’s not too late, we’ll stop afterwards at 10 William St for a glass of natural wine.
Sunday is a quieter day, and around 7am I walk to Iggy’s Bread for sesame seed ficelle, Pepe Saya butter and Tasmanian Miellerie honey to have for breakfast on our terrace, soaking up the sun. Then we’ll either go kayaking at Rose Bay or we’ll drive the hour up to Palm Beach; for a big treat a few years ago to show off Sydney to visiting friends, we hired a seaplane from Rose Bay to fly us up there, which was incredible – flying over the water with views of Sydney bay. We’ll have a casual lunch at The Boathouse and sit by the water with a bucket of prawns, some bread and mayonnaise. After a rest at home, we take the girls for pizza at Da Orazio. The owner Maurice Terzini is a restaurant veteran and to my mind one of the best anywhere. Da Orazio is loud and bustling with tanned staff in gleaming white T-shirts and shorts, and we’ll have the Reginella pizza with fior di latte and San Marzano tomato – or porchetta, if I’m having a wheat-free moment. By then it’s 10pm and Bondi is still full of people but we head home. With all that fresh air and exercise I sleep really well – ready for Monday morning, back to work.