The view from the sandy shores of Whales Beach and the culinary delights of Jonah’s restaurant are two of the purest joys in life. They’re a source of renewed faith in the world, particularly when life feels overwhelming and news outlets are mired in troubling domestic and global politics. The waters are a quiet haven nestled in New South Wales, and its serene beauty provides a fresh, meditative perspective on the trans-formative powers of nature and her bounty of feasts.
Although my first visit to Australia was filled with mesmerizing water and aerial views, from my Sydney Harbour Bridge climb to cruising across local waterways, I think most about this small parcel of land and its riches. I can still close my eyes and see the expansive blue waters, the rocky clifftops, and the houses dotting the verdant hills. Better yet, I can still savor the culinary flavors of creative dishes whose artistry helped me to escape the depressing tastes of PESTs – my acronym for stressors that include political, economic, social and technological pushes – in my mouth.
Looking at the culinary photos from my lunch at Jonah’s, it’s easy to see why their menu is so appealing. The restaurant uses fresh local produce, making Jonah’s one of Australia’s most award-winning restaurants. It has a history that dates back over 85 years and its contemporary Australian menus (from a la carte offerings to seasonal tasting menus) are all designed by chef Logan Campbell. Additional information is available at Jonah’s website.
Below are three photos, illustrating our first course – an appetizer mix seared carpaccio of alpaca loin, yellow beetroot, parmesan cheese, and plantain with a sprinkling of blackberries. This was followed by two different salads – one a combination of fresh grapefruit slices with simple mixed greens and fennel, and the other a delicious fig and buffalo mozzarella cheese combo with roasted pear and almonds.
Our main entrees and dessert were naturally the highlights: one pan-seared North Atlantic scallops dinner with light greens and a cauliflower puree, topped with pine nuts; the other, perfectly prepared sea bass with a beet puree and vegetables, outlined in a savory root sauce. The two lower photos of dessert were just sweet enough. The hot apple & cinnamon crumb pie with Manuka honey and a compliment of lavender ice cream and chocolate mousse ganache did not disappoint.
No fine dining experience is complete without an exceptional wine cellar. While I didn’t document any of the delicious wine pairings with each course, the restaurant’s cellar holds more than 1,600 bottles of domestic and international wines so the sommelier had lots of choice. The meal was sumptuous and visually artful. I’m sure the many celebrities who frequent the restaurant or stay for this quiet luxury weekend getaway come back for the dining experience and the scenic views. You can see Whale Beach and 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean from the walk-out patio overlooking the bay or from one of only 11 relaxing guest rooms.
Thankfully, my travel to Jonah’s included per-arranged transportation. The intoxicating wine made for a sleepy return to my hotel back in Sydney.
Traveling to this northern beach was almost as exciting as the dining experience. The journey 30 miles north of Sydney provided an incredible view of Australia’s beautiful landscape.
My husband and I booked a Sydney Seaplane package that included a small shuttle boat from our hotel in the Sydney harbor to Rose Bay, where we boarded a small prop plane. The water was calm but the roar of the engine was loud enough to cut through the silencing headphones. Flying conditions were ideal with clear skies and few clouds, that seemed to dissipate as we traveled over the water.
Sitting in the front seat next to the pilot was a dream come true, as I imagined what it must have been like for Amelia Earhart, the first female to fly solo over the Atlantic ocean. I was content to keep land in sight and to enjoy the Aussie greenery that looked greener than Ireland’s Ring of Kerry. Our flight lasted about 30 minutes before we landed on the expansive Pittwater waterways and a Jonah’s courtesy vehicle ferried us to the island pier.
When it was time to return to Sydney, I knew I would cherish this unique experience forever. Food has a way of bringing people together and helping us to appreciate cultures all over the world. It has become a unique driver in the travel industry, as people explore their love of nature’s bounty. In a globalized world, this shared love of food is forging new friendships. Hospitality is at our doorstep, whether it’s a seaplane away or welcoming us into the garden of our own backyard. Happiness is a state of mind. When we relish the simple joys of food, nature and travel, we welcome joyful living.