Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog

Saturday, 17 December 2011

My Favourite 25 Eats of 2011

It went from a top 10 list till I realised I couldn't contain all my favourite eats within 10 dishes so it changed to a top 15 and now to a top 25. Unusually indecisive of me. They're slightly more biased towards the Surry Hills cause that's where you'll find me during uni lunch breaks. There's a treasure trove of good food down there, from hole in the wall cafes, fine diners, bistros, produce markets, you name it, anything foodie and it's there. I only started blogging mid October this year so forgive me if pictures are a little lacking. A kind thank you to all those who contributed to these pictures, Meimei, S, M, L, H, J and A and all those who put up with my crazy shenanigans, it's been a wonderful year.

1 Pumpkin Custard - Bentley, Darlinghurst
At Bentley, you should always be prepared for something wacky. That's exactly what you get but the more down to earth dishes are still winners. The pumpkin wasn't quite the custard you're expecting, more like a puree and melds beautifully with the cheese, crackle and the little trail of assorted nuts, a very earthy, textural and a delicious entree. Nice one.

2 Taiwanese Beef Noodle - Raramen, Box Hill
I can not begin any top eat list without some form of beef noodle. It is impossible. I'm asian. And this year for me I've been converted into Taiwanese beef noodle. As much of a requirement it is for my somewhat confusing Vietnamese full-bloodedness to allow Pho to reign this year, I would, with difficultly, spend my last 10 dollars on this glorious bowl of beef noodle. But boy would it be a good bowl. Fall-apart, tender and fatty hunks of beef brisket sit in a wonderfully aromatic simmered broth with one of the best hand pulled noodles (ramen) you'll ever find. Plus the place has a FREE self serve red bean soup in a bain marie and 2 flavoured FREE slushie dispenser making this a must for those on a budget. Pretty coooool.

3 Gaytime Goes Nuts - Universal, Paddington

One of the yummiest desserts I've had this year. You can't be a dessert freak and not have tried one of Christine Manfield's masterpieces there. Caramel parfait, honeycombe ice cream and chocolate and hazelnut ice cream are housed in a brittle honeycomb wafer cylinder. Truly spectacular.

4 Rum Soaked Banana Tart with Peanut Brittle- Plan B, CBD
It saddens me to think I won't have my hole in the wall cafe to go to anymore during uni after the entire Becasse business relocated to Pitt st mall. And with it went Plan B. But the memories will stay. Okay so you used to get a brilliant wagyu burger for $10 as opposed to the $18 one they serve at Charlie Co, but I would always go to Plan B for their Tart. A short crusted base houses a beautiful custard hiding a little surprise of rum infused banana finished off with a sweet and salty peanut brittle. Heaven in sweet form.

5 Marron On a Rock - Vue de Monde, Melbourne CBD

It's hard to say but I think this dish could quite possibly be up there in terms of my favourite dish of all time. It definitely made me discover what my favourite meat was- marron. A sweet tail of marron is perfectly shelled, cooked in butter and parsley with a brown butter emulsion and a mini sandwich of mudcrab mixture between two crisps all served on top of a giant black pebble. That's right. A pebble. So simple yet remarkably amazing.

6 Garlic Sauce and Tabbouli- El Jannah, Parramatta
When in need for a cheap eat, this place always hits the spot. The garlic sauce there is the stuff of dreams, and cut it through with an acidic spike of tabbouli salad. I would put the charcoal chicken on there, but it always just seems to be a little dry.

7 Lamb Kebab - Ali Baba, Liverpool
Alright I know this might not seemingly be anything gourmet. I don't care. There's always room for fast food. So good it makes me forget about the 2 hour tennis session I had earlier.

8 Fish Fingers - Bodega Tapas Bar, Surry Hills
One of the usuals that I always have there. Sitting on top of the bar stools while your watching them prepare it is even better. Seeing the whole fish expertly taken apart and all. Perfect amount of raw onion and mojama (dry fish floss) cover freshly sliced kingfish sashimi and a wonderfully acidic cuttlefish ceviche sit on top of a smoky, garlicy and charred slightly charcoaley sourdough. I know what you're thinking, raw onion, I know, I know. But trust me, it really works. It's such a clever dish. One of the best bites I've had ever.

9 Mum's Wok tossed Mudcrab- Home
Honestly, crab anywhere is good, but nothing beats homemade, freshly bought live mud crab. I love it and favourite eats are always subjective. You get in there with your hands and all, pulling apart meat drenched in aromatic ginger and spring onion sauce. And it doesn't get any better when your mum makes it. Happy days.

10 A Trip to Tokyo - Quay, Circular Quay
A near perfectly executed dish, it reminds me of the trip to Tokyo I never went on. Sad.

11 Lemon Sugarlips - Adriano Zumbo, Balmain
What do bacon and schezuan pepper and popcorn and fish and chip and hamburger and toothpaste and tabacco all have in common? You may think i'm fishing for possible Berty Bott's every flavour beans combinations but no. They're all macaron flavours by the wacky Zumbo of course! Take your pick but me? I like to stay grounded on this earth. Give me this- their deep-fried bread with a coating of cinnamon sugar and a lusciously thick lemon creme patissiere inside from the pastry genius and i'm happy. Need I say more?

12 Crispy Chicken with Dry Egg Noodle- Tan Viet, Cabramatta
Every Vietnamese restaurant has their own crispy chicken but these are my favourite. You get a super moist chicken maryland cut up with shards of gloriously crisp skin and a side of egg noodles drenched in their secret sauce. So good, most of cabramatta would agree with me, you'll rarely find this place without some sort of line forming outside.

13 Pacific Oysters- De Costi Seafoods, Pyrmont
You sit down beach side (okay that's not exactly fish market, but you can always dream) with a dozen of these, a little lemon and pepper on the side and you're on your way to happiness.

14 Homestyle Biodynamic fried eggs - Billy Kwong, Surry Hills
Alrite I know what your thinking, just fried eggs. And honestly to me, biodynamic eggs taste all the same, it just makes me feel heathier and better about animal rights. But there is something incredibly mind-numbing about the super crisp bottom and slightly underdone top, dressed with house made XO that has me maddeningly scrambling to perfect the scrambling recipe. To no avail.

15 Mushrooms in Garlic- Bodega tapas bar, Surry Hills
I think it's starting to be evident i'm a bit biased towards this place but I just love it. Brilliant, honest food with no pretense. Pan fried assorment of different mushrooms teamed up with nutty, soft garlic cloves result in a fabulous dish and a deeply flavoured oil that you can just mop up with the Sonoma bread they give you.
One of the best eats you can possibly have at a good price. And yes, that's a kitchen at the picture backdrop, an open kitchen for you to sit and watch them prepare your food. It doesn't get any better than that.

16 Macarons - Lindt, Darling Harbour
I've been to a few places for macarons. Adriano's used to be my favourite, but the flavours started getting a little too wacky, sizes started to shrink, prices started to increase, so long story short, it's just not as good as a couple of years back. Lindt's are just so consistently good, perfect feet, crispy shell, chewy inside, creamy fillings and it doesn't seem to have hit the GFC so far. My favourites are vanilla bean and salted butter caramel.

17 Crispy Chicken - Mother chu's Taiwanese Gourmet, Chinatown
Crispy chicken winner was a tough toss up between this one and the one at Din Tai Fung. Whereas this one may not be as crispy or juicy as the one at Din Tai Fung, undeniably there is an unbeatable appeal of pan fried spring onions, garlic and chilli that Din Tai Fung doesn't have making this a real winner and favourite.

18 Chocolate Forest- Sepia, CBD
A really tough toss up between their specialty of seasonal weiss barr and chocolate forests, my friend and me are still in debate over which one is better, but my natural predilection to heavier things makes me like this one more. It is a sight to behold, I really felt like I was exploring a forest with my tastes, with the dark chocolate twigs, soil, moss, sugar crystalised fronds, different types of chocolate rocks, jellies and a chocolate mousse undersoil makes it a very delicious adventure indeed.

19 BTS (Better than Sex)- House, Surry Hills
From the bamboo shoot salad there, to my favourite calamari salad with enough chilli to render you unconscious, this place is really good but there's one dessert that will have me coming back and back again. A thick buttery slab of brioche toast, creamy panda ice cream with an oh so sweet palm sugar sauce. A stairway to obesity and happiness at the same time.

20 Truffle Butter- Tetsuya's, CBD
Odd having just butter on my top 25 list, I always look forward to bread and butter every time I'm eating out, but this butter has me thinking about it on a constant basis which is a bit weird admittedly. Airy whipped butter, the distinctive ricotta and Parmesan flavour mixed through, with a teesy bit of truffle to add a touch of luxury, I remain adamant this is the best butter you'll have. I went through 3 tubs by myself the last time I went there. Be warned, this stuff is addictive. 10 K run, here I come.

21 Fried spiced calamari with aioli- Bodega, Surry Hills
Bodega again. A serving of their calamari is always a must when coming here, perfectly cooked, crispy, served with a home- made, thick, generous serving of home-made aioli. But what really lifts this dish beyond all other fried calamari is simple; an extra spike of paprika to finish it off. It arrives at your table but you can already smell it metres away, the paprika exudes an intoxicating perfume and it gives the dish such a jaw dropping Mediterranean flavour. Little does go a long way.

22 Wagyu Burger- Rockpool Bar and Grill, CBD
This is how all burgers should be made. A thick, coarse grind, grade 9+ wagyu patty is cooked medium with zuni pickle, Gruyere, house made tomato sauce slapped together with toasted brioche. It's the sort of burger that you just close your eyes to, all the flavours melting together in one bite and nothing else matters but the burger in front of you. This is no-nonsense food, my kind of food.

23 Mandarin Dessert- Quay, Circular Quay

I'll let the picture speak for itself.

24 Braised Wagyu Shin with Potato Puree- Foveaux, Surry Hills
When you boil it down, it's essentially just beef, jus and mash. It seems like the surefire lazy way of a restaurant pulling out something delicious, simple yet unimaginative. I couldn't careless. The wagyu's robust and hearty in flavour, incredible well marbled and just melting. Best slow cooked protein i've had this year. Screw the intellectual component, at prices like these, I just want really good food. 

25 Polenta A La Tabla- Porteno, Surry Hills
Forget the possible heart attack that might result after finishing this, or wanting mash instead, or some diet you're not going to adhere to half a year later. All that matters is that if you somehow have this placed in front of you, you'd better devour it quick, cause if not... I will. Polenta is the new mash, and better. It's slightly runnier and lends itself to being infused to cheeses better. Give it a spritz of good oil and a bit of herbage and what results is an awesome side dish.


Readers, this space is for you. What is your favourite eat this year? Drop a comment, I'd love to hear.

Oh, my trousers just split, I'm so excited
Jamie Oliver


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No, we aren't the most amazing gastronomes or chefs. Heck, half our team doesn't even know how to cook... well. However, what we really love is eating. And lots of it. We enjoy that occasional freebie, filling up that craving for a midnight snack and finding a 20 in our pockets that we thought we never had, and using that as an excuse to go out eating. As we battle the ongoing war on uni student poverty, we'll bring you the most swoon worthy recounts of our latest foodie adventures.

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