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Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The food that was

St Honore at Sixpenny in Stanmore

2016. Where did you go? It was a tumultuous year on a global scale but there were still moments of joy and happiness, many of them close to home. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the low points but it's important to note the good times, and acknowledge all the things we take for granted every day.

I'm grateful for family ties, the strong bonds of friendship and the good deeds of strangers. Without getting all sentimental and philosophical, here are my favourite food blog memories of 2016.

Alexander palm heart, native honey and green ants at Restaurant Orana in Adelaide
Alexander palm heart, native honey and green ants at Restaurant Orana 

I loved returning to Sixpenny and still being swept away by the menu, especially by the St Honore tart, dressed individually with shaved black truffle for ultimate decadence.

And then there was the wonderment experienced at my first visit to Restaurant Orana in Adelaide, using a whole raft of indigenous ingredients that was perplexing, playful and pleasurable all at once. I spent just as much time staring at the Alexander palm hearts with green ants as I did eating it.

Cooking chicken and cheese saaj at the Ramadan food festival in Lakemba Sydney
Cooking chicken and cheese saaj at the Ramadan food festival in Lakemba 

I'm so glad, too, that I finally ventured out to Lakemba for the Ramadan food festival. There's such a terrific family atmosphere here, and the range of street food options is amazing (and cheap!).

Bar Normandy at Restaurant Hubert by Dan Pepperell, Sydney
Bar Normandy at Restaurant Hubert

Restaurant Hubert still remains one of my favourite restaurants, despite the difficulty in scoring a table. It's like escaping to another world once you descend down the stairs, and the steak tartare is magnifique.

Crisp potato, brown butter mousse and salted caramel at Bar Brose in Darlinghurst
Crisp potato, brown butter mousse and salted caramel at Bar Brose

Of the new restaurant openings, Bar Brose wins hands down for best dessert. The crisp potato shards with brown butter mousse brings new meaning to toe-curlingly good.

Chef Mike Eggert on the wok station at the new Good Luck Pinbone in Kensington
Chef Mike Eggert on the woks at Good Luck Pinbone

And it was exciting to see the Pinbone crew return with the opening of Good Luck Pinbone in Kensington. The chongqing crispy spatchcock is incredible. And I still think they should have gone with one of their alternative restaurant name options, Imperial Pinbone Palace!

Chef Jovan Curic on the pass at his new Superior Burger joint in Wakeley
Chef Jovan Curic on the pass at Superior Burger 

And Pub Life Kitchen moved west, bringing Superior Burger to lucky Wakeley locals. Few people put as much love and attention into the sourcing and ageing of their beef patties as Jovan.

My SMH Good Food cover story on Sydney's Top 12 Noodle Soups
Sydney's Top 12 Noodle Soups cover story for Good Food, June 2016

In-between blogging and full-time work, I continued freelance food writing with a cover story for Good Food on Sydney's Top 12 Noodle Soups, a slurp-fest to combat the wintry months.

You can read the full article here.

Sydney's Top 50 Cheap Eats for the SMH Good Food Guide 2017 by Helen Yee

Top 50 Cheap Eats for the SMH Good Food Guide 2017

I also continued my work on the review team with the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. This year my Cheap Eats list was expanded from Top 20 Eats to Top 50, offering a greater opportunity to highlight the unsung heroes of suburban eats. The Top 50 Cheap Eats made the cover story for Good Food in June 2016 and was included in the SMH Good Food Guide.

You can read the full list online.

I was also interviewed by Good Food on how to take the perfect food photo for social media.

Interviewed by Lee Tran Lam at Rising Sun Workshop for her The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry podcast
Being interviewed by Lee Tran Lam at Rising Sun Workshop 

And after listening to so many episodes of Lee Tran Lam's The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry podcast, it was surreal to be cast in the hot seat myself, over a meal at Rising Sun Workshop.

You can access the links to the podcast on Lee Tran's blog post.

Snapper with roe emulsion and fermented cucumber at Lumi Dining in Pyrmont
Snapper with roe emulsion, fermented cucumber and caviar at Lumi Dining 

My birthday has always fallen during the exam period at school but now that those days are over, it's so great to celebrate just before the craziness of the holiday season. I had my birthday lunch at Lumi Dining and really blown away by how innovative the menu is, whilst still upholding a great sense of respect for each individual ingredient.

Chef's Menu banquet at Stanbuli in Enmore
Chef's Menu banquet at Stanbuli 

Celebrations continued with the Chef's Menu at Stanbuli in Enmore. If your idea of heaven is a table-covering banquet of dishes presented in multiple courses, bookmark this now.

Christmas dinner snacks of foie gras profiteroles with oysters, prawn crackers and steak tartare with Stomachs Eleven
Christmas dinner snacks of foie gras profiteroles with oysters, prawn crackers and steak tartare with Stomachs Eleven

And as always, the year finished off with our annual Stomachs Eleven Christmas dinner, a night of good food, drink and much merriment.

As the year draws to a close, I really do wish you all a very Happy New Year. Thanks so much for all your comments and likes on the blog, Facebook and Instagram!

May your year ahead be filled with tasty eats, happiness and lots of laughter.
10 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/31/2016 04:31:00 pm


  • At 12/31/2016 5:37 pm, Blogger K said…

    Such a delicious 2016 wrap up!
    Wishing you a wonderful New Year Helen, may it be full of new food discoveries and forking good times. ;)

  • At 1/01/2017 10:03 am, Anonymous Amanda said…

    Well that's not a bad roundup to read first thing in the first morning of a brand new year. Keep up sharing the great feeds, Helen - we love 'em!

  • At 1/01/2017 6:54 pm, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Happy New Year Helen! I agree with Hubert, it was a dining experience to remember. I need to get my butt to Sixpenny asap! Haha

  • At 1/03/2017 6:32 am, Blogger Sarah said…

    Happy new year! You've certainly had a most delicious year! I've really enjoyed following your blog this year and look forward to lots more delicious moments!

    xox Sarah

  • At 1/03/2017 10:43 am, Anonymous Bianca@forfoodssake said…

    Happy New Year Helen! Pretty impressive 2016 for you, I'm sure 2017 will be just as successful. I adore Hubert, definitely one of the best openings of last year!

  • At 1/03/2017 12:33 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    Happy New Year Helen! Here's to a delicious 2017!

  • At 1/03/2017 9:11 pm, Anonymous Lee Tran Lam said…

    Helen!! I've been meaning to post for the last few days to say:
    a) what an awesome recap; I'm not surprised that your year had many eating highlights, but it was great to relive them all here!
    b) thank YOU for all your incredible support, it was so great to feature you on the podcast at last! I'd been hoping to interview you since I started four years ago, but had to pace myself ('cos it takes me so long to edit!) and bide my time. I knew that the publication of your amazing Top 50 Cheap Eats story was an excellent opportunity to finally make it happen. That article is the story that keeps on giving (as anyone in Sydney can attest to), just like your blog is the blog that keeps on giving!
    c) HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I have no doubt that your 2017 will be built up of many fantastic food memories and I will savour all the chances I get to read them here. I know how much monumental work goes into Grab Your Fork, so I am always grateful that you endure the 2am bedtimes to make it possible for all of us readers in Sydney (and beyond) to enjoy the best of the city's dining.
    Also, d) LuMi and Stanbuli - what excellent birthday-worthy choices! So glad they lived up to the milestone you were celebrating!

  • At 1/04/2017 12:39 am, Anonymous John | heneedsfood said…

    I agree with Lee Tran Lam, your blog just keeps on giving and is one that many people always look to and look up to.
    Great annual round-up, Helen, and here's to another 12 months of stuffing our faces!

  • At 1/04/2017 4:00 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Thanks Helen for this year's foody tips and knowledge whether on or off your grabyourfork blog. Always interesting and inspirational! And sometimes cheer, shared indulgence :)

  • At 1/06/2017 12:31 pm, Blogger Vivian - vxdollface said…

    What a great round up of all the wonderful eats 2016 had to offer! Who knew ants would be on the menu haha. Here's to many more eats & adventures to come!


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