Wednesday, 30 December 2009

2009 in review

On the 1st of January 2009, I set myself 44 challenges under 11 categories with the aim to complete them throughout the year. Although I crossed off 32 out of 44 back in 2008, in 2009 I didn’t do so well with only 24 out of 44 and a further 2 of the remaining 9 from 2008.

Feel free to find out what these 2009 Food Challenges included. Some of those that I didn’t finish, I’ll carry over into 2010.

The Losers of 2009
2009 was a year of laziness in my kitchen and this meant the big loser was my taste buds and then my blog. I took on a new job that culminated in one of the biggest and busiest periods of my life, and once it was done I moved onto another job that’s kept me flat out for the past few months. This has meant my time in the kitchen has suffered a great deal and dinner has gone from being gourmet experiments to cheese on toast, or simply eating a can of tuna. The lack of time has also meant I haven’t been able to blog as much as I’d hoped, but let’s hope 2010 is a lot less busy.

The Winners of 2009
Rice Paddy HerbWhat a discovery this was! Such an unknown herb to me quickly became something I crave and search for in every fresh market. The fact that I can buy this seemingly unknown, rare herb in Sydney is just great. For more on rice paddy herb, check out this recipe for Bo Tai Chanh.

As a child I detested zucchini and squash. This mushy, flavourless vegetable was served steamed or boiled without accompaniment and I considered it a form of child abuse when my father and stepmother put it on my plate. These days I just love it. Marinated in lemon zest, olive oil and garlic, smothered in fresh herbs and grilled on the barbeque? That’s my idea of heaven. I insisted Jonas make this many times this year and at the last two family BBQs we attended before scooting off to Sweden I must have eaten 20 zucchini. Enough for M.E. to write a joke about it on my Facebook wall!!! Never trust the Irish.

I’d never eaten persimmon until this year and even though they have a slightly mild flavour, they are great in recipes. I made three persimmon dishes: persimmon & bourbon bread, Caramel Chocolate Tart, Dulce de Leche and Caramel Croissant Pudding, were all winners, especially the croissant pudding. Caramel is definitely on my sweet list these days.

Pinot Bianco and Barbera wines
These two Italian grape varieties became my new favourites in 2009. I have known both the red Barbera and white Pinot Bianco wines for quite some time, but it was only this year that I drank so much of both of them. This might have been influenced by Jonas’ job at one of Sydney’s newest Italian wine bars, but who knows?

Many 2009 evenings were spent at Bar Fico in Surry Hills, drinking bottles of Barbera d’Alba with Ms Correct. It’s a wonderful, light red wine with low tannin and high acidity that works perfectly as a winter evening drink but just as well at a summer BBQ. It's got a lot of berry flavours, but most predominantly tastes of black cherries and sometimes vanilla.

Pinot Bianco is a medium to full-bodied, dry white wine with quite high acidity. The flavours are often described as apple, green almond, melon, vanilla and cream. There are supposed to be drunk young, green and crisp.

Favourite recipes of 2009
apple, walnut & blue cheese flaugnarde
brandy milk punch
broccoli & stilton soup
caramel croissant pudding
chinese pork & garlic chive dumplings
crème fraiche parfait
eggplant parmigiana
feta, sumac & herb salad
mastic ice cream
peach & ginger punch
peanut butter pie
persimmon & bourbon bread
pickled smoked sausages
roast pork fillet w cider & pistachios
scallops w lentils, pancetta & sage
smoked rainbow trout
sticky date pudding
tamarind & vermicelli broth

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