Friday, December 27, 2013

A fond farewell to 2013

Another year, another 12 months of great food-ing and boozing around town. While sadly, there was no overseas trip this year, 2013 has been a period of steady progress, major birthdays, my fair share of weddings and events, and a general feeling of calmness before what I expect to be a hectic 2014.

No doubt there will be changes next year - some, not really that big a deal; others, massive and life-changing. There will also be some changes to Food, Booze and Shoes following its half-decade milestone earlier this month, so keep an eye out.

But before I get ahead of myself, here are my food, booze and events highlights from 2013.


Bocata de buey – air baguette, Rost Biff wagyu, Tocino de Cielo, pickled and black garlic from MoVida Sydney, Surry Hills
This was finally the year of MoVida for me. My first and third tastes of Frank Camorra's growing restaurant empire came thanks to their move north from Melbourne to Sydney's Surry Hills.

The fitout, the vibe and the menu at MoVida Sydney are all incredibly spot on, but particularly the memorable air baguette crisp, draped with stunning wagyu beef and topped with garlic - easily one of the best tapas I've ever had the pleasure of encountering.

Deconstructed cassoulet from The Owl House, Darlinghurst
One of my favourite discoveries of the year has been small bar and restaurant, The Owl House. It's been around for a couple of years already but I came across the wonder that is its matching cocktail degustation.

I may have rolled out of there but I certainly remember the very delectable, homely but fancy deconstructed cassoulet of a white bean stew, confit duck, braised pork shoulder and sausage. Matched with one of several cocktails, it's a guaranteed winner of a night out.

Trout jerky from Biota Dining, Bowral
I made the trip south to Bowral earlier this year and stayed at Biota Rooms; a new accommodation offering right next to Biota Dining, which received two hats in this year's Good Food Guide.

Destination dining at its best, Biota's seven course degustation was impressive yet fun, and started with an absolutely banging amuse bouche: air dried, jerky style ocean trout that was dreamily smoky, chewy and salty.

Pan fried fish dumplings from ShanDong Mama, Melbourne
Many a dumpling was consumed this year, as in most years, with a standout being the pan fried, open ended fish dumplings in Melbourne's ShanDong Mama.

A simple eatery in a Chinatown arcade, the north-east Chinese offerings include these home-made dumplings with an airy fish, coriander and ginger filling, wrapped in thin, chewy skins pan fried for hot, crisp bottoms.

Ash grilled duck, Jerusalem artichoke, prunes in Banyuls, potato horns, truffle from The Bridge Room, Sydney
As part of a product launch collaboration, I dined at two-hatted The Bridge Room and left a fan of chef Ross Lusted's restaurant and cooking philosophy.

My favourite was his ash grilled duck dish, cooked then grilled over binchotan white charcoal and served most artistically with a jerusalem artichoke puree, prunes, potato skins and black truffle shavings. So special and utterly mouthwatering.

Roasted oysters from Ester, Chippendale
From someone who didn't eat raw oysters several years to now, a bit of a Sydney rock oyster fiend, I've had some great oyster experiences this year - none more so than the roasted oysters from Chippendale newcomer Ester.

Plump and shell free, these lightly warmed oysters served with diced eschallots and vinaigrette were oyster eating heaven.

Crispy pata from La Mesa, Haymarket
The crunchy pork skin of the crispy pata at La Mesa was part of my introduction to Filipino cuisine and unsurprisingly, I want more. Audibly shattering skin with still juicy pork underneath, there's plenty to like about the meat-centric cuisine of the Philippines.

Salade Niçoise from Cafe Nice, Circular Quay
It's a big call, saying the Niçoise salad at Cafe Nice is one of the best salads ever. But it was definitely one of the freshest, tastiest and most exquisitely filling salads I've ever had featuring hunks of poached tuna and salty anchovies with a refreshing vinaigrette dressing over loads of delicately sliced vegetables.

Chilli fries from Beach Burrito, Newtown
This year chilli fries rose to the ranks of my favourite hangover food. The combination of fried potato, spicy mince, handfuls of (cheap) melted cheese and Tex-Mex style sour cream and guacamole on the side at Newtown's Beach Burrito soothed and fixed at least several seedy mornings-after over the last 12 months.

Spiced school prawns & smoked chilli mayo from Anatoli, Bondi Junction
Whole fried school prawns are definitely a 'thing' in Sydney now and the best I've come across are the spiced ones at modern Greek restaurant, Anatoli, in The Eastern adjoining Westfield Bondi Junction.

Crunchy without too many sharp prawn head bits, the spice was just right on the fresh little crustaceans which were served with a chilli mayonnaise - possibly also Sydney's new favourite condiment.

Banoffee tart from Cafe Sopra, Alexandria
I've been a long time fan of the Cafe Sopra restaurants around town but it was only this year at the new Alexandria outpost that I tried their banoffee tart, which is firmly fixed on the Cafe Sopra dessert menu.

It's a glorious construction of biscuit base, gooey caramel, whipped cream and thin slices of fresh banana. With a bit of everything in each mouthful, it's an orgasmic tart with a perfect balance of sweetness and textures.

Booze and events

Plan-ting cocktail from The Lobo Plantation, Sydney
It was another great year for small bars, especially in the Sydney CBD. My favourite of the new lot, and CBD bars generally now, is The Lobo Plantation with its atmospheric, themed underground space and broad-ranging rum offerings.

With complimentary plaintain chips and an excellent bar menu, I love perching at the bar while working through the cocktail list and watching the fun, friendly bartenders doing their thing.

Dita von Teese for Cointreau at The Victoria Room, Darlinghurst
It's not every year you meet the world's most famous burlesque star. Dita von Teese was behind the bar at The Victoria Room earlier this year, mixing Cointreau drinks and cocktails in her role as global brand ambassador for the liqueur.

Opera on Sydney Harbour's Carmen, Sydney Harbour
(Photo by James Morgan, courtesy of Opera Australia)
I still get chills thinking back to this year's Opera on Sydney Harbour. The passionate love story of Carmen played out in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House is spectacle enough, but complemented with a wide-ranging array of Spanish-themed food options by Fresh Catering made it a night at the opera like no other.

Mike McEnearney of Kitchen by Mike at Taste of Sydney, Centennial Park
I think I say it every year, but Taste of Sydney just keeps getting bigger and better. Having attended at least once every year since the restaurant festival commenced, it's with a sense of pride that I get to attend, eat and drink from some of Sydney's finest restaurants in the (mostly) glorious Centennial Park outdoors.

This year we said farewell to:
Albion Street Kitchen (which turned into the wildly-popular Chur Burger), Alio, Aseana Food VillageCara & Co, Claude's, Concrete BlondeDanks Street Depot, Duke Bistro, Guerilla Bar and Restaurant, North Bondi Italian Food, the monorail, Restaurant Atelier, Roxanne, Selah, Spiedo, The Alibi, The Falconer, and soon, Guillaume at Bennelong.

On the other hand, there have been plenty of new openings that have made 2013 an exciting year in Sydney food and drinking.

I know I'll look back on 2013 fondly in years to come. Thank you to all my readers and followers for all your support and kind comments throughout the year here, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Here's to another great year - 
I'm looking forward to sharing exciting news, and amazing Food, Booze and Shoes with you in 2014.


gaby @ lateraleating said...

All the best in the new year, Tina!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Hope you had a lovely Christmas, Tina. Happy New Year!

Sherrie Huang said...

Wishing you a fantastic upcoming 2014!

Jacq said...

All the best for 2014 Tina!

chocolatesuze said...

what a delicious year! happy new year, may 2014 be equally as awesome! (changes hmmm?)

Richard Elliot said...

Happy New Year Tina!

I shocked that you have resisted the Cafe Sopra banoffee pie until now, but pleased you have finally discovered it.

Best of luck for 2014.

Alana said...

I was thinking "that bartender looks an awful lot like Dita... WAAAT!". Looks like such a great year of eats! And great photo of Mike!!

Shanshan Lam said...

Happy New Year Tina! can't wait to see what awesome food 2014 brings!

Tina said...

Thanks Gaby - Happy New Year to you and yours too!

Thanks Helen - let's hope 2014 holds lots more fried chicken and good times!

Hi Sherrie - Happy New Year!

Hi Jacq - Thanks! Hope it's a great year for you too (Japan! Yay!)

Hi suze - Happy New Year! Change... it's inevitable... :)

Hi Richard - Hope you're having a great one over there! I think there will be plenty more banoffee tart this year :)

Hi Alana - Haha, great look, isn't it? Happy New Year!

Hi Shan - Happy New Year! Awesome food and everything, let's hope!


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