Saturday, December 31, 2011

What a year, 2011

This year has been an enormous year, and that's not just in regards to my stomach capacity. There have been more weddings and events than ever, new jobs and seemingly more work, and just a constant flow of activities that are keeping me well away from my bookshelf.

So now it's cheers to a great 2011 and fingers crossed for an even better 2012. Here are some of my standout eats and drinks from the year that was 2011.

Roti pisang in Muar, Malaysia
I got my roti fill when I was in Malaysia in the beginning of the year, ordering it at every chance. The frozen at-home packs unfortunately don't compare to the freshly made in texture nor price. This roti pisang in Penang was breakfast heaven.

Banh cuon in Hanoi, Vietnam
The food highlight in Hanoi, Vietnam was this freshly made banh cuon; straight from the hands of a teenage boy who looked like he'd been making rice noodles for years. I'll cherish the memory of sitting on plastic stools in a laneway, with scooters passing closely behind, eating the freshest banh cuon ever.

Piña colada nitro puff at Zeta Bar, Hilton Sydney, George Street, Sydney
Zeta Bar knows how to party, and head mixologist Grant Collins isn't afraid to experiment with liquid nitrogen - case in point these amazing piña colada nitro puffs at a tiki-themed event where guests were blowing boozey, coconut-y cold air out their noses.

Roasted lamb cutlet crusted with Massaman curry and lime leaf served with
cucumber and mint jelly at LL Wine and Dine, Llankelly Place, Kings Cross
Laneways are starting to take a greater hold on Sydney outings, and LL Wine and Dine impresses with food and drinks offerings. This tender-as lamb cutlet was made spectacular by its curry crumb and explosively-flavoured mint jelly.

Crispy fried Brussels sprouts with lentils and mint at Porteño,
Cleveland Street, Surry Hills
I discovered my love for Brussels sprouts after my first visit to Porteño. Along with the best-ever roast pork - seriously, the best - a side dish of deep fried Brussels sprout, lentils and mint dressed in vin cotto had me swooning. And lucky for us all, the recipe is easier than a Friday or Saturday night wait at the cavernous Surry Hills restaurant.

Spiced dark mousse with honeycomb and strawberry wafers at the Emirates Marquee,
Doncaster Day at Randwick Racecourse
The Spanish-themed Emirates Marquee on Doncaster Day, under cover from the rain, was an excellent day on with more food and celebrities than you could poke a stick at. The chocolate mousse with a chilli kick, honeycomb and dehydrated strawberry wafers was not just a beautiful construction but mind-blowing in flavour too.

Scampi aburi sushi from Kabuki Shoroku, Clarence Street, Sydney
Scampi is amazing at most any level but at Kabuki Shoroku, torched and topped with a line of spicy mayonnaise and tobiko flying fish row, this scampi nigiri was absolutely sensational as was the very traditional setting and service of the restaurant.

Espresso martini at Shirt Bar, Sussex Lane, Sydney
It seems 2011 was the year of the espresso martini and themed bars - and I'm happy both trends rolled around. The coffee cocktail at Shirt Bar is an exemplary version made with FAT Coffee, vanilla vodka and coffee liqueur with a propper steamed milk froth.

Glow On cocktail for Vivid Sydney from Sake Restaurant & Bar, The Rocks, Sydney
Festivals and food go hand in hand and this mulled plum wine and sake cocktail was the perfect partner for a chilly evening out for this year's Vivid Sydney festival. Brown sugar umeshu plum wine, cinnamon syrup, Montenegro liquor warmed and finished off with sake, this was a winter winner at Sake Restaurant & Bar.

Casareccia with roast eggplant, goat’s cheese, portobello mushrooms,
black olives
from Café Sopra, Danks Street, Waterloo
This year casareccia has solidified its place as my favourite pasta variety. From specialty deli purchases to the gorgeous pasta at Cafe Sopra, I can't get enough of the mid-length s-scrolls that always seem perfectly al dente, even at home and especially with eggplant and cheese.

Ravioli of potato, mint and pecorino with burnt butter, sage and black truffle from
Pilu at Freshwater, Moore Road, Freshwater
As for a special occasion pasta dish, I can't go past the stunning potato, mint and pecorino culurzones at the beachside Pilu at Freshwater. The butter and black truffle sauce makes the fresh ravioli something truly luxurious and decadent.

Grilled mackerel with teriyaki sauce at Izakaya Fujiyama, Waterloo Street, Surry Hills
Fabulous drinking food and a good range of sake easily make Izakaya Fujiyama the best izakaya experience in the area (CBD included). This daily special of grilled mackerel is a must-have if it's on the menu - the fish is fresh and firm, and gets all caramelly with teriyaki sauce with amazing grill flavours.

Pan fried olive and parmesan sandwich from Gotham, Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
It was a genius who decided to put olives and cheese together in a sandwich; a pan fried sourdough one at that. Bar food has gone up a few notches at Gotham, where classy interiors and spacious seating arrangements guarantee good time spent with the bar food menu.

Nduja and goat's cheese with pizza wedges at Bruno's, Oxfoed Street, Darlinghurst
I like most salami; I love most nduja - the spicy salami that's more like a paste of cured pork. These footballs at Bruno's were perhaps the spiciest and the best I've had this year, matched with heat pain-reducing goat's cheese.

Chocolate marquise with caramel and salted hazelnuts at Margan Restaurant,
Milbrodale Road, Broke, Hunter Valley
I had a fabulous time racing around Hunter Valley this year, and it all ended with on a high note at Margan Restaurant in Broke. Dinner in the Barrel Room was an experience to remember and the rich chocolate dessert with roasted, salted hazelnut ended the race spectacularly.

Fried green curried prawn mousseline, drizzled with pickled plum sauce
at Chat Thai, Westfield Sydney
It appears as though CBD-folk are pretty satisfied with the new Westfield Sydney outlet of Chat Thai, if the queues are anything to go by. When you do get a table, be sure to grab a cocktail and the todt mun goong gaeng keaw - prawn wrapped in curried prawn mousse and deep fried with basil leaves.

Takoyaki class at Chef's Armoury, Botany Road, Rosebery
Believe it or not, one of the most fun and useful things I've learnt this year is how to make takoyaki octopus balls at Chef's Armoury. While it takes a while and can be a little tedious, I've already taught three other people how to make takoyaki, and I'm sure there will be more. And the cheese version is almost even better than the octopus one.

Otak otak from Chinta Ria... Mood for Love, Westfield Sydney
I had otak otak fish cake in its place of origin, Muar, Malaysia and I had otak otak at the newest Chinta Ria... Mood for Love. I liked both but I think the latter was better for texture and flavour, especially chilli. A price comparison, however, isn't really fair.

Jow's sweet and sour lamb ribs at Ms. G's, Victoria Street, Potts Point
It took me a while to get to Potts Point hot spot, Ms. G's, and I admit, I was a little skeptical. One bite into the sweet and sour lamb ribs and I'd jumped on the modern Asian, fusion, dude food bandwagon. The food was top notch, decent value and pretension free.

Moreton Bay bug sashimi at Sokyo, The Star, Pyrmont
Sokyo at the re-launched casino, The Star, opened to relatively little fanfare compared to some of its neighbours, other than boasting Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire as regulars for a good part of the year. I can see the mouthwatering Moreton Bay bug sashimi dish becoming a signature dish, with its cheeky Vegemite croutons flying the flag for Australia.

Ocean trout terrine with cornichons from Felix, Ash Street, Sydney
While ivy is no longer a regular hangout for me, I'd love to be a regular at Felix in the downstairs laneway. This French bistro excels in seafood: freshly shucked oysters from the seafood bar, the luxe lobster roll at lunch at the bar or this dill-heavy ocean trout terrine with cornichons to graze with cocktails.

Thank you for all your support and kind comments throughout the year - here's to plenty more Food, Booze and Shoes in 2012. I wish you a very Happy New Year!


Minh said...

Happy new year Tina! I loved your Asia traveling posts, they made me want to rush out on holiday all over again lol

Shanshan said...

Happy New Year!! I am with you with the roti, I have it for breafast or try to squeeze it into my stomach whenever the opportunity arises in Malaysia.. you just can't say no.

chocolatesuze said...

and what a delicious year it was! here's to even more tasty eats in 2012!

Anonymous said...

You just made me realise how many places should be in my to-try list :)
Happy new year! All the best!

joey@FoodiePop said...

Fantastic food highlights! 2011 has been a great year for food. Who would have thought brussel sprouts would make a list though? :-) Happy New Year and happy eating!

Anonymous said...

such a drool worthy post! happy new year and hopefully this year brings a lot more delicious dishes :D

Lucas said...

As a sayer of the Dude, I wish to find this Dude Food Bandwagon.

Dumpling Girl said...

Hope the New Year is as fun and gloriously food filled as the last.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Sounds like you had a big year eating. Porteno made me rediscover the brussel sprout too-I didn't like them before then!

Tina said...

Hi Minh - Aw, thanks. I get a bit of a travel bug when I look back on them too :)

Hi Shanshan - Not particularly healthy but too good to say no.

Hi suze - Cheers to that!

Hi lateraleating - Neverending lists, they are. HNY to you too!

Hi joey - But not just any Brussels sprouts, as we've come to learn ;)

Hi minibites - Let's hope so; HNY!

Hi Lucas - Haha, it gets around town and there are both lovers and haters of the bandwagon.

Hi Dumpling Girl - Don't forget the booze too! ;)

Hi Lorraine - I'm not sure if I ever tried them pre Porteno but a massive fan now :D

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

Happy 2012 Tina! Looks like your 2011 was filled with many great feeds. Here's to 2012 being even bigger and better for you :)

Richard Elliot said...

Loved discovering your blog and getting to meet you this year.

Your flowing and descriptive writing style always draws me in.

Porteno was one of my top two eats of the year (the other being Berowra Waters Inn). Apart from that you've given me a lot of inspiration for 2012!


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