Food bloggers. Always ready to dig in.
It's hard to believe that Grab Your Fork will be approaching its sixth anniversary in April 2010. The growth of food blogs since 2004 has been phenomenal - in 2009 alone, 56 new Sydney-based food blogs published their first post. I remember when I first started, I would say that I had a 'food website' because, back then, few people knew what a 'food blog' was, or why I felt compelled to photograph and publish every meal.
An unbridled commitment to share, to comment and to espouse the joys of food are the main reasons why many of us blog. Media interest, social media influence and the power of Google rankings have also been factors in the gradual streamlining of food blogs into the public consciousness.
The most exciting step to date? The creation of a new category, Best Australian Food Blog, for the biennial Australian Food Media Awards. The awards, run by the Australian Association of Food Professionals (formerly Food Media Club Australia), are "the industry's highest accolades, honouring outstanding communicators whose work can be credited for increasing the Australian public’s awareness and love of fine food."
As AAFP president, Stewart White, said at the category launch last week, most food bloggers (myself included) have full-time jobs that are unrelated to media or food. Blogs are genuine works of passion pursued after work hours, written by people who have no deadlines, who have no editorial policy, who have free will to write when and if they please. And yet we continue to do so with bewildering intensity, because we are driven by a sense of community, of an eagerness to share, and an unabated love and appreciation of food.
This latest development, the critical recognition of food blogs, is inspiring to say the least. It would not have been possible without Stewart's open support of food blogs in pushing for this new category, as well as Australian Pork for coming on board as the category sponsor. More details on the self-nomination process for this award - open to food blogs around Australia - will be available soon.
The category award launch was held at La Mint in Darlinghurst last Thursday, and attended by some 48 food bloggers. Despite the canapes, there was a post-event meal of course. We car-pooled our way back to the city, nine of us clustered around a huge table at Golden Century for a late 9.00pm dinner.
Mud crab with ginger and shallots $102
with e-fu noodles $8
We start with mud crab, the unlucky victim plucked fresh from the tank and presented to us live for inspection before its final dispatch to the kitchen. The crab is sweet and juicy, cooked in my favourite sauce of ginger and shallots, both of which seem to enhance the natural sweetness o the crab.
It's a messy dish but I must confess that it's the noodles I love most, slippery soft e-fu noodles that are coated with a thick sauce flavoured by the juice from the crab.
Fried rice Fujuan style $23.00
Fujiuan fried rice looks like a dish of saucy seafood at first, although a dig with the spoon reveals a bed of fried rice beneath.
This is a comfort food dish, a combination of tender fish fillets, carrots, straw mushrooms and shallots swaddled in a thick gelatinous gravy over golden omelette studded fried rice.
Crispy skin chicken with ginger and shallot $17.80
Crispy skin chicken is always a winner, the skin brittle and burnished to a dark toffee brown. The chicken is tender, and a light sauce of soy and a generous tumble of ginger and shallots provide a refreshing finish.
Chinese broccoli with garlic $15.80
Our vegetable component is provided by Chinese broccoli, the vibrant green stalks are crunchy, the leaves soft and tender. The gai lan Chinese brocoli is served with a healthy amount of garlic, although it's not overpowering nor 'hot', but more of a subdued sweetness.
Salt and pepper squid $20.00
Is it possible to resist an order of salt and pepper squid? The squid, a tangle of tentacles and bodies, comes with only the lightest coat of batter, giving less of a crunch but allowing the tenderness of the squid to come through.
Complimentary sweet water chestnut soup
We'd missed out on the complimentary soup at the start of our meal (too late an arrival we are told) but receive a complimentary dessert soup instead. The sweet water chestnut soup looks like a chicken and sweetcorn soup with its floating tendrils of egg, but it tastes nothing like it. The consistency, one person says, is somewhat like Clag glue. A heavy hand with cornflour makes this soup almost gelatinous in texture, flavourless but for a generosity of sugar. I find this soup strangely addictive though, and have a second bowl, primarily for the occasional encounters with the crunchy slivers of water chestnut.
Complimentary walnut biscuits
with fried dough balls and fresh watermelon
A plate of Chinese pastries is much more of a hit with the table - fried dough balls coated with sesame seeds and crisp lard-based biscuits topped with walnuts. Thin slices of sweet watermelon are a welcome palate cleanser.
Sweet water chestnut soup
We spend much of the evening laughing and chatting, patiently pausing for photos and then resuming our eating and banter once again. This is what food blogs are all about - good food and great friends. Long may they prosper.
PS. Speaking of food blogs, Grab Your Fork has been included in the Top 100 Culinary Blogs list by the US-based online Guide to Culinary Schools. The excerpt on Grab Your Fork can be found at #23 under the sub-cateogry Ethnic/International Food Blogs. It's actually quite an interesting and comprehensive international listing - check it out and you might find a few more food blogs to add to your daily reads.
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Golden Century Seafood Restaurant
393 Sussex St, Haymarket Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9212 3901
Open 7 days 12pm-4am
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Golden Century (Oct 07), (Nov 06), (Oct 05) and (Jul 04)
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1/27/2010 12:56:00 a.m.