2013. Who knew that one year could be full of so much deliciousness? In 2013, Grab Your Fork turned nine years old. It was also the year I finally met Reid, the Hawaiian food blogger who inspired my own foray into the blogosphere in April 2004. We met over lunch at Momofuku Seiobo where I sank my teeth into David Chang's famous pork bun, crunched through deep-fried parsons noses and savoured a pork fat caramel donut for dessert. Its a degustation I'm still marvelling over, and a kitchen show I'd never quite seen before, with its quiet and seamless transitioning of dishes.
Clockwise from top left: Mary's, Red Pepper, Willy Mae's and Momofuku Noodle Bar
There was fried chicken of course. Lots of it. We revelled in the pressure-cooked crunch that is Mary's southern-style chicken and went to Strathfield Sports Club for our kind of exercise: digesting Korean fried chicken at Red Pepper.
The search for the world's best fried chicken included a pilgrimage to David Chang's Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City for his two bird feast. However the 2013 fried chicken crown went to Willy Mae's southern fried chicken in New Orleans. That chicken skin was like crack. You couldn't help but shudder with every mouthful.
Clockwise from top left: Katz's Deli, Animal Restaurant, Craftbar and La Barbecue
Yes in late May, Suze, Lex and I set off on a three-week holiday around the United States. We called it the big donut, fried chicken and bbq tour. You say binge. I say research. Heh.
We started in LA where I fell in love with the nose-to-tail quirkiness of Animal Restaurant. We moved onto to Austin where we ate at five different Texan barbecue houses. La Barbecue's smoked bbq brisket was the fattiest hunk of bliss I've ever had the pleasure of feasting on. We hoovered up everything in our way in New Orleans, Chicago and Kansas City but spent the most time in New York City with visits to Katz's Deli (yes! yes! yes) and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio's Craftbar.
Clockwise from top left: The Donut Man in LA, Cafe du Monde beignet in New Orleans, Dominique Ansel's original cronuts in NYC and Gourdough's bacon maple donuts in Austin
Heck yes there were donuts. Sooooooo many donuts. In LA we wept with joy when we realised that The Donut Man was open 24/7. Do you know how good a freshly made donut tastes at 3am?! We covered ourselves in icing sugar from the pillowy soft beignet at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, discovered the joy of crisp bacon and maple syrup donuts from Gourdough's in Austin, and yes we lined up for two hours to try the original cronut by Dominique Ansel in New York.
Helicopter ride from Sydney to the Hunter Valley for a King Island Dairy cheese tasting
I'd never been in a helicopter before so being flown from Sydney to the Hunter Valley for a King Island Dairy cheese tasting was an opportunity I couldn't miss. Sure I felt like I was on a group date with The Bachelor (haha!) but oh boy, Sydney really does look stunning from the air, and there ain't no grander entrance than landing at a vineyard by chopper, that's for sure.
Top: Sea lions and a picnic lunch at Kangaroo Island
Bottom: Scenes from Bulgaria and shopska salad made with sirene white cheese
Another famil enabled me to explore Kangaroo Island - I'm still loving the bottles of extra virgin olive oil I picked up - but the surprise trip of the year had to be the dairy tour of Bulgaria I was invited on by the European Union. I'm totally up on lactobacillus bulgaricus and I definitely plan on shaving white feta on my salads this summer, just like the Bulgarians do.
Clockwise from top left: Colombia Organik, Pasta Emilia, Nomad and In The Annex
In Sydney, there were no shortage of restaurant openings and closings but it's the ones with heart that I love best. I love that there's a tiny cafe selling Colombian talamale and emapanadas just down the road from Railway Square that too few people know about. I love the simplicity and passion behind Pasta Emilia in Surry Hills, who make all their own pastas from scratch.
I love that the folks at Nomad in Surry Hills make their own cheeses and charcuterie, and I love that the chefs at In The Annex in Forest Lodge can spend ten minutes plating winter vegetables in "soil" for a $14 lunch.
From top left: Indian Chopsticks, Kebab Abo Ali and Jambo Jambo
And I love that my monthly column with Time Out Sydney has me scurrying the depths of Sydney to find the restaurants that don't always get a mention in the mainstream papers.
Three of the most intriguing venues I've uncovered this year include Indian Chinese cuisine at Indian Chopsticks in Harris Park; eating Iraqi-style sheep's head from Kebab Abo Ali in Fairfield, and tucking into Ethiopian raw beef with spiced butter and injera bread at Jambo Jambo in Crows Nest.
It's been an amazing year. I hope yours has been as well.
Thank you for reading Grab Your Fork throughout the year and a big thanks especially for those who take the time to comment. They really do make my day :)
Bring on 2014. With more hadoukens too!
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12/30/2013 01:18:00 am