Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: A tale of two years

The 12 months of 2014 have been some of the craziest yet in my life, and not in that drunken, dazed manner of my early 20s. With new responsibility, the year has had so many distinct twists and turns that it feels like at least two years in one.

Here's some of the high points of the year in food, booze and events, including highlights from contributors Hendy, Janice and Kath & Mark.

House charcuterie at Nomad, Foster Street, Surry Hills
I fell head over heels for Nomad this year, which seems to be a collection of all the things I love in a space I wish I had and done in just a slightly more hipster manner than I can identify with, But with the calling card of the platter of completely house-made charcuterie, Nomad well and truly has my number.

Mac and cheese at Miss Peaches Soul Food Kitchen, Missenden Road, Newtown
My appetite for pasta, and carbs generally, hasn't waned one bit and the American-style mac'n'cheese at Miss Peaches Soul Food Kitchen above Newtown's Malbourough Hotel hits all the right spots. Ridiculously cheesy and rich, garnished with chives and a house chilli sauce on the side, it's pure cheese and carb bliss in a side dish.

Insalata Caprese at Cipro - pizza al taglio, Fountain Street, Alexandria
It's taken me a while to discover the joys of thick-based pizzas at Cipro - pizza al taglio in Alexandria. And it makes me sad that I didn't know about their sensational Caprese salad earlier. Heirloom tomatoes, pickled Spanish onion rings and smashed green olives take the classic insalata Caprese up several levels.

Mussels.... at Three Blue Ducks, Macpherson Street, Bronte
I've really come to like mussels over the last couple of years post realising that they're only rubbery when they're overcooked. The best version I've had yet has to be Bronte's Three Blue Ducks' steamed mussels with coconut sambal, fresh herbs and cherry tomatoes - dish licking good.

Club Limbo at Pinbone, Jersey Road, Woollahra
Kath: Pinbone wins for making the best club sandwich ever. Turkey, confit duck leg, bacon jam, crispy prosciutto, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and chips on the side. More than enough said.

Anchovies and fish pate at Bodega, Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills
A relatively quiet achiever in the quieter but burgeoning western end of Surry Hills, Bodega is the older but seemingly more experimental sibling to the wildly popular Porteño in the same suburb.

Argentinian tapas produces the likes of a creamy fish pate served alongside pickled anchovies, loud music and unmissable rockabilly style.

Fried chicken with chilli powder at Hot Star Large Fried Chicken, Liverpool Street, Sydney
The mere mention of 'Hot Star' gets me salivating. From Taiwan, Sydney's first Hot Star Large Fried Chicken outlet in the city south is what 3am dreams are made of. A half chicken breast, deep fried fresh to order with a sprinkling of house recipe chilli powder, served piping hot in a paper bag - sweet dreams are made of fried chicken.

from the 'A Taste of The Dairy' at Intercontinental Sydney, Phillip Street, Sydney
The 'A Taste Of...' series of dinners at Intercontinental Sydney earlier in the year were excellent opportunities to learn about local producers and enjoy them in a fine dining environment. As part of the 'A Taste of The Dairy' dinner, the baked Reblochon cheese with confit fig was a knee-weakening rendition of a cheese course.

Carbonara from Roscioli Deli and Restaurant, Rome, Italy
Janice: My favourite dish this year had to be the carbonara in Rome. It was so spectacular because it's my quintessential dish of carbs, cheese (pecorino romano) and cured meat (guanciale or pig cheek, in this case). I've taken to never eating it when I'm out any more because nothing beats the ones I had in Rome.

Grilled octopus and white beans at Alpha, Castlereagh Street, Sydney
I'm glad I got to tick Alpha in the CBD south off the list this year, as was Kath. The grilled octopus tentacles were an unexpected standout for me, cooked tenderly and smokily for one of the best occy dishes I've had in ages.

Kath: Alpha was a highlight for bringing a modern twist to traditional Greek food. The highlight of the menu for me was the melt-in-the-mouth pickled octopus with cucumber and sun-dried olives.

Bacon aioli and bread at Bishop Sessa, Crown Street, Surry Hills
Bacon. Aioli. It's all I needed to hear at Bishop Sessa at the quieter end of Surry Hills' Crown Street. Their 'I Dream of Pork' degustation was absolutely dream-worthy with all sorts of porcine goodness ranging from chicarrones to blood sausage.

They had me from the bread course which was served with a smokey bacon fat aioli that was probably a nutritionists' nightmare but dreamy on all other counts.

Pork cutlet bun at Chefs Gallery Wynyard, Metcentre, Margaret Street, Sydney
Undoubtedly one of the naughtiest things I've eaten this year are the Macanese pork buns at Chefs Gallery Wynyard. Featuring a deep fried pork cutlet and spicy mayonnaise on a deep fried man tou style bun, the fried-on-fried burger oozed with fatty deliciousness.


Long lunch for Melbourne Food and Wine Festival at Red Spice Road, Melbourne
I made it to Melbourne for their annual food and wine festival this year, joining in on the long lunch action at Red Spice Road. With numerous courses of shared dishes, heaps of seafood and wine flowing, it was a most pleasant lunch experience in one of Melbourne's iconic laneways.

Strawberry caipirinha from Flavours of Brazil dinner at Bridge Street Garage, Bridge Street, Sydney
Hendy: The emotional roller coaster that was the World Cup was hosted in Brazil this time round. We all shared moments of tears, laughter and joy at the Flavours of Brazil dinner at Bridge Street Garage, including this lovely and colourful Caipirinha. Unlike at the soccer, this was a winner from Brazil.

Atura Blacktown, Cricketer's Arms Road, Blacktown
A famil to Blacktown this year was quite an event for this inner city/inner west dwelling girl. Atura Blacktown is a relatively new boutique style hotel in the area next door to one of Sydney's only drive in cinemas. The hotel is modern, quirky and very well equipped for the Wet'n'Wild guest, business travellers and western suburbs tourists alike.

Chauffeur pick-up for Tanqueray Bar Hop for Good Food Month 2014, Sydney
Definitely the most fun event of the year was the Tanqueray Bar Hop as part of Good Food Month. One night, two girls, one chauffeur and four bars serving Tanqueray gin cocktail specials. I still keep a hopeful eye out for a chauffeur outside my work to pick me up and take me to a bar for cocktails.

Table of 10 dinner at OzHarvest HQ, Maddox Street, Alexandria
One of the more heart-warming events of the year was OzHarvest's 10 year celebration dinner at their new warehouse headquarters in Alexandria. With a combination of rescued and donated food, OzHarvest's chefs whipped up an amazingly homely, comforting and thoroughly scrumptious dinner, shared with great wines and even better company.

Carrots with organic yoghurt, black olive crumb from Sustainable Table dinner, Studio Neon, Raglan Street, Waterloo
Hendy: Also for Good Food Month Sustainable Table, an  innovative not-for-profit organisation from Melbourne, launched a clever campaign to raise awareness of food wastage. The food that was presented at the campaign dinner not only demonstrated the elegance of simplicity but also reminded us that good food and good produce can also look a tad imperfect.

Dîner en Blanc Sydney 2014, McKay Field, Centennial Park
The sea of sophisticated white that is Dîner en Blanc returned to Sydney bigger than ever. About 4,000 guests participated in the great white picnic in the secret location of Centennial Park this year and thanks to Seppelt Wines, we were wined and dined in total style - in full whites, of course.

Goodbye 2014!

As the year comes to an end, I'd like to send a huge thanks to my team of contributors - Hendy, Janice, Kath & Mark - for their inspired food-eating and photographing efforts this year. It's been loads of fun, sharing the passion for food and booze (perhaps less so the shoes?).

Thanks also to all the readers and followers over the past year, and the five years before it. It's been a year of change, some stress and new responsibilities - and always plenty of food, booze and shoes - thanks for joining me and the team along the way. See you around in 2015!


Napoli Restaurant Alert said...

Great wrap up - a few things to add to my to do list in 2015!

chocolatesuze said...

2014 eats were delicious but here's to an even tastier 2015!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Happy New Year, guys! Looking forward to more tasty posts!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

Happy New Year! I'm sure your 2015 is going to be absolutely awesome :D

Choc Chip Uru

Vivian - vxdollface said...

What a brilliant year you've had! Happy New Year love x chin chin!

Amanda @ Gourmanda said...

Happy New Year, and congrats on a great 2014!

Tina said...

Hi Napoli Restaurant Alert - Thanks and happy new year!

Hi suze - Definitely! See you soon!

Hi Helen - Happy new year to you too!

Hi Choc Chip Uru - Hope yours is awesome too.

Hi Viv - Cheers to 2015!

Hi Amanda - Happy new year to you; hope it's a great one!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

A very Happy New Year Tina! I must give those buns a go-they sound delicious. And wasn't DeB fun! :D Here's to a great 2015!

Camryn Farmer said...

It's really tempting me so much!
Delicious foods!
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