Below are some of the highlights of my year in Food, Booze and Shoes.
Food and Booze
|Steamed brioche and smoked trout roe from Grain, Sydney|
With a bar menu to rival some restaurants about town, Grain raises the bar so even locals join hotel guests for drinks and unexpected bar snacks like smoked trout roe and crème fraîche on house-made steamed brioche buns.
|Pig's tail salad, walnuts, sorrel, currants, pomegranate, farro from The Apollo, Potts Point|
The latter, Potts Point restaurant did an out-of-this-world pig's tail crackling salad that probably wasn't all too healthy but showed a liveliness in modern Greek cuisine that was new to me.
|Orecchiette with lentils, pine nuts and mascapone from Table for 20, Surry Hills|
I've had second and third helpings, brought my own wine and had a ball every time, all the while remembering to leave room for their rich, always-pleasing whole cake dessert offerings - to share, of course.
|Xiao long bao from Mr Wong, Sydney|
Dan Hong and Jowett Yu's golden touch continued with a classic Cantonese menu dotted with additional Sydney favourites, like xiao long bao pork soup buns which are simply divine with a cocktail at Mr Wong's bar.
|Pork pintxo, lima beans, guindillas from bloodwood, Newtown|
The explosive flavours in small share dishes like the pork pintxo means bloodwood is ideal for drinks and snacks, light meals or the all-out meal with a set menu group banquet.
|Spiced popcorn and Bloody Maria from Tio's Cerveceria, Surry Hills|
Tio's Cerveceria is my casual, Surry Hills back street, go-to place for free popcorn and good times fuelled by tequila refrescos like the Bloody Maria which almost feels healthy.
|Pulled veal ravioli, broad beans, cornichons, shiso from Chiswick, Woollahra|
Their seasonally-driven menu is supplemented by an expansive kitchen garden, which I hope is an enduring restaurant trend. The pulled veal ravioli was a stunner at the De Bortoli Windy Peak wines launch.
|Ayam goreng kalasan with nasi uduk and ati goreng from Ayam Goreng 99, Kingsford|
|Maltagliati with osso bucco, gremolata from 10 William Street, Paddington|
The maltagliati sheet pasta with osso buco ragu was a dreamily perfect pasta, ideal with any wine recommendation from the very knowledgeable staff.
|Pan fried pork dumplings from Chinese Noodle Restaurant, Haymarket|
I seem to have a scarily insatiable appetite for dumplings, especially pan-fried ones filled fresh with minced pork and chives, and definitely a combination of chilli oil and vinegar sauce on the side.
|Goat’s cheese lollipop, mandarin glaze, quinoa crunch from Cara & Co, Westfield Sydney|
Its Modern Flemish cuisine aided by innovative techniques was such an eye-opening journey; both curiously fun and tasty, particularly the goat's cheese lollipops in mandarin glaze.
|Fried chicken wings from The Norfolk, Surry Hills|
Fun themes, quirky fitouts, affordable booze and food made for drinking is a winning formula - like Bloody Marys in tin cans and crunchy fried chicken wings.
There were several 'firsts' this year as a result of various cooking classes and demonstrations that I was lucky enough to take part in.
|Snapper with Vernaccia, green olives and parsley from Sydney, Seafood School, Pyrmont|
But with a friendly fishmonger and a Sydney Seafood School class with hatted chef Giovanni Pilu under my belt, roasting a four-kilogram whole snapper doesn't seem as scary anymore.
|Feta cheese made at Zigi's Wine and Cheese Bar, Chippendale|
Creating a number of fresh cheeses from scratch in a few hours was made possible by the effervescent Chef Zigi, quality raw ingredients and solid teamwork in the commercial kitchen in Chippendale.
|Gently poached Southern rock lobster, hand caught Tasmanian squid, |
golden tapioca, lobster velvet from Quay, Circular Quay
Luxe ingredients and modern techniques deliver harmonious dishes that are stunning to look at and even more satisfying to eat - which isn't always the case in fine dining or technique-driven cooking.
There was a trip to Japan this year, highlighted by various food, booze and tourist experiences.
|Fish at Tsukiji Fish Market, Tsukiji, Tokyo, Japan|
|Martini at Tender Bar, Ginza, Tokyo, Japan|
|Pork shoulder, grilled on a stick, Namba, Osaka, Japan|
|David Chang at the Good Food Guide Awards 2013|
It was an unparalleled experience of endless champagne, canapés and chefs all doing the (tight) rounds at Establishment, and plenty of happy smiles in the face of hats, awards and general celebration of the Sydney restaurant industry.
|Dîner en Blanc, Museum of Contemporary Art forecourt, Circular Quay|
It was a memorable sight seeing 1,500 people in head-to-toe white waving white napkins and then sparklers in the air as they dined on gourmet picnics to the bemusement of passing tourists and Sydneysiders.
|Beef empanadas at Marrickville Festival|
This year saw a number of restaurants farewelled, especially a sad number of high profile venues and chefs, including the following:
13b, Anise, Argyle Bazar, Assiette, Azuma Kushiyaki, Becasse and Quarter Twenty One, Berowra Waters Inn, Bird Cow Fish, Bistro Ortolan, Bling Bling Dumpling, Bruno's and Hunky Dory Social Club, District Dining relaunched as Mexico Food and Liquor, Element Bistro, Etch, Firestick Cafe, Gotham, Gourmet Pizza Kitchen, Kable's Restaurant, Lanzafame Trattoria, Mad Cow, Monkey Magic, Pagewood Steakhouse, Piano Room, Rambutan, Summit relaunched as O Bar and Dining, Sushi Choo and The Montpellier Public House.
It has been one heck of a year. Many thanks to all my readers and followers here, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - thank you so much for your support and kind comments throughout 2012.
I hope to see you for more Food, Booze and Shoes in the New Year. Cheers and happy (and safe) drinking tonight to see out the year that was, 2012!