Six years ago when we were last in Sydney I found myself in a bookshop and in my hands I held a vast signed copy of David Thompson’s book on Thai Street Food. I bought it and took it back to England although it probably took up a sizeable portion of my luggage allowance. It is a beautiful book full of full page pictures of food being cooked and eaten on the streets of Bangkok and in between the pictures there are detailed descriptions on how to go about cooking the food.
Over the years it has come off the shelf and I have cooked from it but have always been left with the sense that I could be eating a lot better from the street stalls in Thailand or even better from a table in Sailors Thai, the restaurant that David Thompson started off in which sits just under the heavy buttresses of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
We had to give it some time before we got there for lunch as the guesthouse we are staying in lays on a thick breakfast which included three different types of sausage, bacon and beans ans endless rounds of toast – all of which meant that an appetite had to be worked up.
We did this by wandering slowly around the Opera House and into the Botanic Gardens and then through the streets to The Rocks under the Bridge. When we got there the consensus was that we were not hungry yet. Fortunately we were opposite The Museum of Contempory Art, and even better, they had on an exhibition devoted to the works of Grayson Perry. So we bought our tickets and went in and spent an hour amongst his pots and tapestries trying to tease out the subtle line that he was drawing between himself and the world around him.
We were then ready for Sailors Thai Canteen and made our way into the dark room and the long wooden table that ran parallel to the bar and kitchen. We were not disappointed.
I had a plate of stir fried spicy holy basil with minced chicken, others had deep fried trout with coconut cream choo chee curry with lime leaves, spicy deep fried sweet and sour belly of pork, veg pad thai and chicken with noodles.
On the way home Galen and I found a micro brewery filled with men with big beards and tattoos. They were in the process of putting a large poster up on the wall. There was a temptation to stay there drinking beer until they had got the poster up. But that would have meant that we would still be there now which might not have been such a good idea.