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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: The Year I Ate Everything

Spanish hot chocolate with churros from Chocolateria San Gines, Madrid, Spain

It's not until you look back on a year's worth of posts, that you realise exactly how well you've eaten. 2014 was a pretty massive year for Grab Your Fork. It was the year I celebrated ten years of blogging - crazy, I know! - and where I experienced the most intense three weeks of travel that took in Dubai, Melbourne and Hong Kong in back-to-back trips. I'm not complaining.

This is my 79th post for the year - not a bad feat squeezed in between full-time work (oh yes, the day job that actually pays my mortgage) and 2am bed-times. I won't even bother to count the number of photos posted this year. I'm really good at taking lots of photos (ask anyone who I eat or travel with) but terrible at culling them. Every article I read tells me to write shorter posts with less photos but I can't do it. I'm old skool. And I'm all about value for money :)

Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Burj Khalifa

Visiting Dubai was pretty mind-blowing. It's not until you see the Burj Khalifa next to the rest of the city skyline that you realise exactly how tall this 163-storey building stands. 

Al Mahara restaurant with seawater aquarium in Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Al Mahara, meaning The Oyster with its seawater aquarium

Our media famil included a meal inside Al Mahara, featuring a 990,000 litre seawater aquarium. The tank wall is apparently 18cm thick to withstand the water pressure. 

Fishmonger posing with fish at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Dubai Fish Market

But there's another side to the glitz and glamour of Dubai. In the old city, you can find rewarding treasures like the fish market, filled with locals who are more than happy to pose for a photo or two.

Fishmonger holding giant prawn at Dubai Fish Market in Deira
Now that's what I call a giant prawn

Freshly baked sangak Persian bread during a Frying Pan Adventures food tour in Dubai
Freshly baked sangak Persian bread

Joining a Frying Pan Adventure food tour led us on a melting pot of deliciousness that included foods from Jordan, Persia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.

Plating Business Class meals during a behind-the-scenes tour of Emirates Flight Catering
Business Class meals at the Emirates Flight Catering facility

We also scored a tour of the Emirates Flight Catering facility, an impressive display of mass logistics. I'd always wondered how airplane food is made. The idea of processing 150,000 meals every day makes me appreciate that fruit salad on my food tray even more. 

Johnny Iuzzini with his afternoon tea at The Langham Hotel for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2014
Pastry chef, Johnny Iuzzini

The day after flying home from Dubai, I was back in the air as a guest of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. It was a packed itinerary but meeting pastry extraordinaire, Johnny Iuzinni, was definitely a highlight.

Making V60 pour over coffee at Proud Mary Coffee in Collingwood, Melbourne
V60 pourovers at Proud Mary

The need to power on was probably why I ended up drinking so much coffee on that four-day trip, culminating in my post on seven of Melbourne's best cafes. No, I didn't get the jitters!

Weighing seafood using an old-fashioned balance scale with weights at the Gage Street market in the Central district, Hong Kong
Seafood for sale at a Hong Kong wet market in Central 

Five days after returning from Melbourne I was back at the airport and flying to Hong Kong. This was such a last minute trip that was booked on my first night in Melbourne, but an offer for a food tour of Hong Kong by ex-pats Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin' was far too good to refuse.

Inside the baked barbecue pork bun at the Michelin-starred Tim Ho Wan, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
Inside the baked barbecue pork bun

I finally got to try the famous baked barbecue pork bun at Tim Ho Wan and we ate a ton of suckling pig and roast goose.

First tea flush at Lin Heung Tea House in Central, Hong Kong
Tea preparation at Lin Heung Tea House

My highlight of that Hong Kong trip, however, was definitely yum cha at the old skool Lin Heung Tea House. It's filled with old people reading newspapers and drinking tea. It's the closest you'll get to yesteryear in Hong Kong. And yes, I still have more posts on Hong Kong to come.

Juanita Bayen at Bar Pinotxo tapas bar, La Boqueria, Barcelona
Bar Pinotxo

I did manage to completely clear my Spain backlog though. I started with my guide to eating in Barcelona;

Percebes goose barnacles with and without shell from O Paladar seafood restaurant, A Coruna, Galicia, Spain
Percebes with and without its shell

took you to A Coruna in Galicia where I tried percebes, or goosefoot barnacles for the first time;

Pulpo Gallego Galician octopus in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Octopus in Santiaga de Compostela

journeyed to Santiago de Compostela where I ate so much seafood including the most tender boiled octopus ever; 

Spanish hot chocolate with churros from Chocolateria San Gines, Madrid, Spain
Chocolate con churros at Chocolateria San Ginés

and ate my body weight in iberico jamon and churros in Madrid.

Orange wine from Pheasant's Tears, Georgia at the Rootstock Sydney 2014 Wine Festival
Pheasant's Tears 2011 Khisi orange wine produced in Kakheti, Georgia

There was so much to do locally this year too. We spent all day at the second ever Rootstock festival celebrating artisan products, sustainability and community.

Simon Cancio, head baker and co-creator of Brickfields at the Sunday Marketplace, Rootstock Sydney 2014
Simon Cancio, head baker and co-creator of Brickfields

We spent about ten hours there, starting with lunch and orange wines and finishing with a roving dinner from a new slew of pop-up stalls. 

Picking saffron milkcap pine mushrooms in Belanglo State Forest
Picking pine mushrooms

Indoor 25m heated pool at Solar Springs Health Retreat, Bundanoon
Indoor heated 25m swimming pool at Solar Springs, Bundanoon.

I ended up at a health retreat.

Jonah's at Whale Beach, Sydney
View from the balcony of Jonah's, Whale Beach

And I had the surreal experience of being chauffeured to Jonah's Whale Beach in a Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead, one of only 14 in Australia.

Astroboy and Princess Peach table numbers at 8bit, Footscray
Astroboy and Princess Peach at 8Bit Burgers

There was the bingefest we embarked on during a whirlwind weekend in Melbourne with fellow crazies. We're still reminiscing about the fried chicken and waffles from Belle's Hot Chicken and the Double Dragon burger from 8Bit.

Picnic table lunch at the Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic 2014 #sydfbxmas2014
Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic 2014

And suddenly it was the end of the year again, with 74 food bloggers attending our annual Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Picnic.

Chocolate crackle with parfait at Pinbone, Woollahra
Chocolate crackles with parfait at Pinbone, Woollahra

The Sydney restaurant scene has had a tough year which makes me want to cherish the diamonds even more. Pinbone has churned out so many tasty snacks, including the kiddie-treat-meets-adult-delight, chocolate crackles with parfait

Burnt butter and popcorn fairy floss at Cafe Paci, Darlinghurst
Popcorn fairyfloss at Cafe Paci, Darlinghurst

Cafe Paci's degustation journey was wild and wonderful, especially the chocolate-coated pork crackling.

Prawn jang soy fermented prawn at Kim Restaurant, Potts Point
Prawn jang at Kim Restaurant, Potts Point

I am so in love with the prawn jang at Kim Restaurant...

Wasabi sauce and spring onions on Korean fried chicken at The Sparrow's Mill, Sydney
Wasabi spring onion chicken at Sparrow's Mill

and the fried chicken at Sparrow's Mill - the spring onion and the snow cheese.

Head chef and co-owner Mitch Orr at ACME, Rushcutters Bay
Mitch Orr at ACME

ACME was one of my favourite new restaurant openings. The pigs head macaroni is crazy tasty.

Beef short rib at LP's Quality Meats, Chippendale
Beef short rib at LP's Quality Meats, Chippendale

The beef short rib at LP's Quality Meats was so good, I almost wept.

Skewers on the charcoal grill at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst
Yakitori at Chaco Bar, Darlinghurst

And the yakitori at Chaco Bar made me feel like I was right back in Japan.

The Swiney Chook fried chicken burger with pork crackling at Pub Life Kitchen Burger Experiment, Ultimo
Burger Experiment: The Swiney Chook at Pub Life Kitchen in Ultimo

It hasn't all been expensive food. I'm looking forward to more Wednesday Burger Experiments at Pub Life Kitchen although I don't think anything can beat his last one: foie gras with freshly shaved French winter truffle.

Do Dee lava tom yum spicy noodle level 3 at Do Dee Paidang, Haymarket Chinatown Sydney
De Dee Lava tom yum soup for Do Dee Paidang

But my favourite cheap eat right now is Do Dee Paidang. The tom yum noodle soup is amazing.

Lychee jasmine pink ombre cake
Pink ombre cake with lychee jasmine cream

And I made a cake! Who knew ombre petal icing would be such a test of patience!

Thank you for sharing the year with me. It's been a blast. Here's to everyone basking in an even better year with unparalleled deliciousness. Happy New Year and bring on 2015!
41 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/30/2014 05:50:00 pm


  • At 12/30/2014 6:51 pm, Anonymous Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said…

    I hope you keep posting as many photos as you have been. I love them and I really like that cake too. How beautiful.

    Happy New Year!

  • At 12/30/2014 6:57 pm, Anonymous Nagi@RecipeTin Eats said…

    You make me jealous :) I wish I had the energy you do to eat out that much!! Please keep eating in 2015....I love the finds you share, it's how I discover new places!

  • At 12/30/2014 9:51 pm, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    What an year full of awesome eats! Happy new year Helen!

  • At 12/30/2014 10:54 pm, Blogger Annie said…

    all the best in 2015! here's to many more foodie adventures!

  • At 12/30/2014 11:20 pm, Anonymous MrsPigflyin said…

    That's lots of eating and writing, keep it up! Wish you a delicious 2015, to good health and strong appetite!!

  • At 12/30/2014 11:23 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

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

  • At 12/31/2014 1:44 am, Blogger YaYa said…

    Best wishes for a new year of more eating and posting!

  • At 12/31/2014 2:15 am, Anonymous Michael @ I'm Still Hungry said…

    While it had its ups and downs, 2014 has been a great year for food. I'm still in Singapore eating my heart out - so it never ends! Here's to another year of great eating Helen!

  • At 12/31/2014 7:50 am, Blogger vegeTARAian said…

    Congrats on ten years, Helen! What a big year you've had. Here's to many more!

  • At 12/31/2014 9:50 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your passion inspires me. A post into my Inbox sends me off on a journey! And I mean that literally, I have explored more of Sydney because of you than I have in the 30 years I have been here. Thank you and see you in 2015.

  • At 12/31/2014 10:24 am, Blogger Maddie Loves Food said…

    What a collection of beautiful photos and memories from this year. Your international culinary journeys have me drooling with envy; hope the new year brings even more memorable and delicious eats!

  • At 12/31/2014 10:51 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    happy new year Helen! here is to more eating, can't wait to see what is planned for 2015! woohoo

  • At 12/31/2014 11:49 am, Anonymous missklicious said…

    what a fantastic year!! great job on the cake - it looks amazing! Happy new year, Helen!! (and to more delicious eats to come in 2015!)

  • At 12/31/2014 1:03 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Have a great 2015, Helen! And here's to more tasty eats - cheers =D

  • At 12/31/2014 1:29 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    Happy new year Helen! Looking forward to reading the rest of your HK posts!

  • At 12/31/2014 2:35 pm, Anonymous Francesca said…

    Happy New Year Hungry Helen- I just love your posts- keep them coming. F xx

  • At 12/31/2014 3:39 pm, Blogger Mani said…

    Wow, it looks like you had such an exciting year in food! Happy new year to you too Helen :)

  • At 1/01/2015 1:03 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    What an amazing round up of so much good food. Best wishes to you and your family for 2015!

  • At 1/01/2015 8:55 am, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    That's not 'a cake' that's a great cake. So pretty! I'm glad 2014 was a good year for you and fabulous you were able to fit in all that travel while juggling a full-time job. Congrats also on 10 years of blogging - great achievement! Happy New Year xx

  • At 1/01/2015 10:49 am, Anonymous Cindy (a foodie's joy) said…

    You've had an amazing year Helen! Here's to 2015 and may you continue to have many more food adventures that bring lots of highlights for you! Cheers Helen! :)

  • At 1/01/2015 1:50 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    What a brilliant year you've had! I've so enjoyed reading your blog this year (well, every year, but this year especially!!).

    All the best for 2015, I'm looking forward to following your food and travel adventures! :)

    xox Sarah

  • At 1/01/2015 7:06 pm, Anonymous Napoli Restaurant Alert said…

    Epic wrap up! It has indeed been a good year.

  • At 1/01/2015 7:39 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    Cheers to all the lovely stories you posted last year! Looking forward to more this year :)

    Happy New Year! Thank you for being part of our Blogging Friends!!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  • At 1/02/2015 10:59 am, Blogger MAB vs Food said…

    Happy new year Helen! I look forward to reading your delicious blog posts in 2015!

  • At 1/02/2015 7:03 pm, Anonymous Felicia @ Next Stop: Food said…

    Absolutely love this post!!! Didn't realize you went to so many different countries in 2014 and kudos to you for posting 79 post :) Cheers to an even better 2015 with even more delicious eats.

  • At 1/02/2015 9:05 pm, Anonymous JJ - 84thand3rd said…

    Another amazing year - and you even baked! ;D Best wishes for a scrumptious and fun-filled (meat-filled?) 2015!

  • At 1/03/2015 2:26 am, Blogger Cassie | Journey From Within said…

    Happy new year helen!!!
    Wow, despite having read your year with you, reading this post really makes one see that you had a pretty good year ;)
    here's to a greater and better year! :)

  • At 1/03/2015 9:51 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    So many amazing photos Helen! 79 posts, what a great achievement.

    The Al Mahara is definitely on my bucket list!

    & still absolutely frothing over than pink ombre cake - what a masterpiece!!

  • At 1/04/2015 3:02 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hope you have a even better 2015!! seriously can't imagine how you can top 2014

  • At 1/04/2015 3:44 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Looking back over this delcious year, it has been an amazing trip for the tastebuds with you! Looking forward to seeing what tasty morsels 2015 brings :)

  • At 1/04/2015 4:29 pm, Anonymous Lee Tran Lam said…

    Whoa, what a year – you blitzed the world and also many restaurant tables. Thanks for enduring those 2am bedtimes (I know what they're like, especially when you have to go to work the next day) to bring us an epic cross-section of blog posts in 2014. Hope your 2015 is as delicious and rewarding!

  • At 1/04/2015 4:34 pm, Anonymous Berny @ I Only Eat Desserts said…

    Belated happy new year! Your 2014 year looks epic - so much delicious food :) Wishing you an even more delicious year ahead in 2015.

  • At 1/04/2015 8:59 pm, Blogger Keren @passionatelykeren said…

    Happy New Year Helen!! I have a feeling that 2015 is going to be bigger and better.. Cheers to another delicious year xx

  • At 1/05/2015 12:05 pm, Anonymous Martine @ Chompchomp said…

    What a feasting year indeed! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful moments. Hope you had a fabulous Christmas and wishing you all the best for a brilliant New Year!

  • At 1/05/2015 2:13 pm, Anonymous Padaek said…

    Congratulations and happy new year Helen! Thanks for the food inspirations and awesome late night readings. Standing ovation from here. I have a feeling that 2015 will be an amazing food year for all. Best wishes! :)

  • At 1/06/2015 7:13 am, Blogger Passionate Mae said…

    Cheers Helen, to yet another great year! Happy new year too :)

  • At 1/06/2015 10:41 am, Blogger Vivian - vxdollface said…

    Happy New Year hun x what a fricken amazing year you've had, can't wait to see what this year will bring :) btw I like old school so keep up the long posts & pictures ^^

  • At 1/06/2015 7:49 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! what an awesome year and can't wait to see and hear all about 2015! no doubt there will be lots of food involved!

  • At 1/06/2015 8:30 pm, Blogger irene said…

    You 2014 is such an epic year! Looking forward for more fabulous eats and photos, Helen! :)

  • At 1/06/2015 8:47 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    Thank you for sharing your amazing year of food and travel with us Helen!

  • At 1/09/2015 8:41 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    Happy 10th anniversary! You are very special and truly the doyenne of Australian food blogging. Thank you for sharing your food adventures and we look forward to more awesomeness from you.

    Have a great 2015!


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