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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Best Australian Food Blog Award and Golden Century, Haymarket

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

Opening hours:
Open 7 days 12pm-4am

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Golden Century (Oct 07), (Nov 06), (Oct 05) and (Jul 04)
28 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/27/2010 12:56:00 am


  • At 1/27/2010 2:04 am, Anonymous billy@ATFT said…

    Aahh good times... the crab meat is so sweet, being messy is all part of the fun! :)

    congrats to be in the top100 list!

  • At 1/27/2010 2:11 am, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    Omg how good was that crab?! It was a good night on so many levels - food blogs getting the recognition it deserves, and getting together with like-minded friends. Did you think it would happen 6 years ago? :)

    And congrats on the mention in the Top 100. Thoroughly well deserved!

  • At 1/27/2010 2:59 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Congratulations! (again :P) It's lovely to see such recognition, both in Australia and the international sphere. Gives hope to me as a starting-out blogger, as well as making me feel a little proud for having been a regular reader of your blog waaaay before fame set it :D :D

    P.S. That water chestnut soup sounds a tad bizarre, but as a result it's the dish I'd most love to try!

  • At 1/27/2010 4:43 am, Blogger joey@forkingaroundsydney said…

    Hearty congrats on your new recognition! So good to see Aussie food bloggers (esp. on Oz Day) getting just deserts. :) Love Golden Century even though I haven't been for a while. Always a good late night feed, even though I'm always in bed by 10p.m. LOL

  • At 1/27/2010 5:40 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Interesting to hear things from a more "senior" perspective! It's about time we were recognised and Simon White summed it up perfectly. Aaaah! Golden Century..always a favourite and never disappoints! And congrats for making the culinary list!

  • At 1/27/2010 8:17 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    I am extremely bummed I didn't join you guys, my plans fell through and I was sitting at home with instant noodles :( The crab looks so yummy and E-Fu noodles are the best!

  • At 1/27/2010 8:44 am, Blogger Julia @Mélanger said…

    Well done on the Top 100 list. Some great blogs in there, and yes, a few more to read! :)

  • At 1/27/2010 9:55 am, Blogger arista said…

    What great news for food bloggers. Congratulations on being in the top 100 food bloggers!

  • At 1/27/2010 10:15 am, Anonymous foodwink said…

    Congrats on being one of the world's top 23 bloggers :) Very well deserved.

  • At 1/27/2010 10:16 am, Anonymous Tina said…

    It's too early in the morning to be drooling over crab...

  • At 1/27/2010 11:38 am, Blogger Jetsetting Joyce said…

    Congratulations on your listing, and thanks for sharing - now I've got a few more food blogs to drool over.

    Jetsetting Joyce

  • At 1/27/2010 11:39 am, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    Congratulations on being on the top bloggers list. There are so many wonderful reads out there, and may I say that you've been great at promoting them/us as well :)

  • At 1/27/2010 12:07 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    woohoo congrats on the top 100!

  • At 1/27/2010 12:19 pm, Anonymous The NIinja said…

    That fried rice looked like vomit but tasted lovely.

    Nice work breaking the top 100, we're all waiting for the no1 position now...

  • At 1/27/2010 3:16 pm, Anonymous Adrian @ Food Rehab said…

    Congrats and well deserved. Oh and how could the night not end with some good feeds huh?!

  • At 1/27/2010 5:57 pm, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    it's great relooking at the long list of Sydney blogs. it's definitely growing. i wonder if all the blogs are still going strong. so now i know where you guys ended up. how was it sharing the crab? did you have to fight over the prized claws? :-)

  • At 1/27/2010 8:28 pm, Blogger Kate said…

    All accolades are well deserved Helen! I think it fabulous that food bloggers are going to be publicly recognised. You put in so much effort and provide a great deal of enjoyment. Thankyou!!! Great feast by the way.

  • At 1/27/2010 8:51 pm, Blogger YaYa said…

    Congratulations on making the top 25 IN THE WORLD! May lots more visitors come to enjoy your unique and entertaining take on eating.

  • At 1/27/2010 9:11 pm, Anonymous John@heneedsfood said…

    Big congrats to you! Well done on being in the Top 100

  • At 1/27/2010 9:46 pm, Blogger SaucyMinx said…

    Efu noodle with crab are the best!!

  • At 1/28/2010 2:13 am, Anonymous Jacq said…

    ooh congrats on making it to the top 100! I love crab with the ginger and shallot sauce and it only gets better with the e-fu noodles :)

  • At 1/28/2010 3:35 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    Sweet waterchestnut soup sounds so exciting, so it's disappointing to hear it was gluey. More waterchestnuts and less cornflour and it could be a hit.

  • At 1/28/2010 4:13 pm, Blogger AY said…

    Wow, congrats on making it onto that Top100 list! #23 is very impressive, go Helen! :D

  • At 1/28/2010 9:35 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Congrats on making another 'top' list, and an overseas one as well! =D

  • At 1/29/2010 3:17 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Billy - Messy food is always fun! Love crab but hmm the noodles are even better! And thanks :)

    Hi Karen - lol. I never really envisaged how large and close the Sydney food blogging community would become, but I'm also very inspired and mindful of the extent of the food blogging scene in the US as well. And thanks, looking forward to seeing more Aussie food blogs getting recognition overseas too.

    Hi Hannah - Thanks so much, especially for being such a long-time reader. They're not essential to a blog, but they do make it a lot easier to maintain the enthusiasm!

    The water chestnut was quite odd but yes, I'm like you, always intrigued by the unusual!

    Hi Joey - In bed by 10pm? I don't think I've done that since primary school. lol. But I'm a night owl - early mornings do not agree with me at all! And thanks, am sure the local food blogging scene is set for bigger and brighter things ahead.

    Hi Peter G - Who you calling old? lol. I thought Stewart's speech was so in sync with why food bloggers do what we do. So great to have such a vocal proponent out there. And thanks :)

    Hi Stephcookie - Such a shame you couldn't make it. The night was so much fun - much tastier than instant noodles anyway!

    Hi Julia - Thanks so much, and yes, always staggering to see how much quality content is out there. Very inspiring!

    Hi Arista - Thank you and I agree, a great step forward for Australian food bloggers.

    Hi foodwink - The list is a little deceptive as I'm not #23 ranking, just listed at that place. lol. But thank you - it's humbling to be among such stellar company.

    Hi Tina - On the other hand, it's always a good time to be eating crab?

    Hi Jetsetting Joyce - Thank you. Hope you've found plenty more reading material!

    Hi Belle - Thanks and awww, I don't do much, but I do like to support our Aussie food blogs where I can. I think the beauty of our community is how supportive we can be of and toward each other :)

    Hi Chocolatesuze - Thanks dude :)

    Hi The Ninja - Well I wouldn't have described it that way, but I never argue with someone holding a shruiken. And the list isn't in order but lol, thanks anyway!

    Hi Adrian - Whenever you get food bloggers together, there is always a post-event feed! Thanks for your kind wishes too.

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - Most of the blogs are still active - I try to keep an eye on them all, although with increasing difficulty! No fighting over the claws - although I can't even remember who ended up with them. First in, best dressed, I think!

    Hi Kate - Thank you so much. That's very generous of you to say and much appreciated. It's a monumental leap for food bloggers so hopefully the sky's the limit from here :)

    Hi YaYa - It's not a numbered list per se, but I'm happy to be placed in that position anyway. lol. No huge increase in traffic but it's always great to have your efforts noted :)

    Hi John - Thank you, it's an impressive list so I'm most humbled.

    Hi SaucyMinx - Aren't they ever!

    Hi Jacq - Our family usually orders a double serve of e-fu noodles because everyone fights over them. lol. And thank you :)

    Hi Arwen - I think less cornflour would have helped, but an interesting soup nevertheless. Besides I'm never one to look a gifthorse in the mouth!

    Hi AY - The list isn't ordered by a ranking per se, but still, I won't complain about the page positioning. lol. Thanks :)

    Hi Mademoiselle Delicieuse - Thank you and yes, always a surprise to be included on overseas listings. Great to see so many other Aussie food blogs on there too!

  • At 1/29/2010 6:37 am, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    Congrats on 6 years of food blogging and making the list. Your blog has always been a reference for places to eat for me and all my work mates. Keep up the fab work. Hopefully we will finally meet each other soon. :)

  • At 1/29/2010 3:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Congratulations on the mention in the top 100! Totally agreed with what you said, "This is what food blogs are all about - good food and great friends." Love the mud crabs and I had a ball. It was a good night :)

  • At 2/02/2010 1:54 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi A Cupcake or Two - Thanks so much. Great to hear that the site has been so useful to you and I'm glad you've come on board with your own food blog too. We will definitely have to meet up soon!

    Hi Ellie - Thank you. It was a fab night indeed, and yes, the sense of community is integral to the appeal of food blogs both for the bloggers and the readers. Your site has done incredibly well in such a short time - I expect to see your site up there in an international listing soon!


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