Saturday, January 7, 2012
With everyone hitting memory lane at the moment, I thought I'd follow the same, well-worn path and revisit some favourite food experiences of 2011.
The year has unlatched many great surprises, from the Three-Milk Cake at El Capo – the Ryan Gosling of desserts, because it somehow becomes even more good-looking everytime you see it – to the delicious spiced rhubarb with soda at Duke Bistro (maybe my favourite drink of the year?).
My favourite meal of 2011 was at Momofuku Seiobo in Pyrmont (you can read my overdetailed, epic recap of the dinner here), while the place I could not stop revisiting was 121BC in Surry Hills, an excellent wine bar that actually ends up giving dark alleys a good name. The food there is gorgeous and so well-priced; and the staff so good-humoured that you don't mind the wait when it's inevitably busy or crowded. I wanted to propose marriage to the Eggplant, Provolone and Romesco Sauce sandwich at Sonoma's newest cafe in Alexandria. Similar expressions of lifelong commitment did cross my mind also for the choc-sponge with passionfruit mousse, praline and meringue at Bourke Street Bakery's new diner, Wilbur's Place.
The Bridge Room was an elegant addition to Sydney's restaurant scene. Its Strawberry Marshmallow Meringue with strawberry paper, yogurt and ripple invites joyful destruction with a spoon. This place is also proof that you needn't freak out if there's nothing you can eat on the menu – there are excellent vegetarian options if you just ask (and none of them a tired mushroom risotto).
I enjoyed the revamped Oscillate Wildly (which my friend Tom endorses as being better than Quay – at a fraction of the price) and Claude's (where the Tuesday series of "Mighty Bouche" dinners proved to be a lot of fun).
Hinky Dinks proved time travel was possible via barstool (and via the right old-school cocktail). And by the standards of any era, this '50s-charged bar is also a great place to be.
We also went long-distance dining, driving 220kms in one evening just to get to Biota Dining in Bowral, where each dish crackled and popped with flavour.
I went further than that to see UK jellymongers Bompas & Parr put on a sugar-laced and gelatin-set event with Burch & Purchese at Melbourne's Food and Wine Festival. The wobble of the architectural jellies and all-you-can-eat confectionery wonderland made the trip worth it.
And for some other 2011 highlights, here's a rundown of what was impressing me earlier this year.