2011 in Review

2011 has been a big year at Chez Gourmet Chick with three months of travelling in Europe and Asia and then landing back in sunny Australia to finish off the year.   This is my year in review post, the written equivalent of having a few drinks and chewing the fat on what the highlights (and lowlights) of the year have been.

Sunset cocktails at Udaipur in India.  

1.  Best meal in London in 2011 
Heston Blumenthal arrived in London with a bang thanks to the opening of Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental this year. The food is intriguing but also damn delicious and more approachable than Blumenthal’s fare at The Fat Duck.  The do not miss dishes were clearly the meat fruit and tipsy cake but it was all outstanding.

2.  Best meal travelling in 2011
I can’t stop thinking about my meal at Inaki Aizpitarte’s amazing Le Dauphin in Paris, just a few doors down from his first restaurant, the acclaimed Chateaubriand.  It’s a “small plates” style restaurant set in a buzzy, modern place with the room decked out from head to toe in white marble and dominated by a central bar which walk in diners can perch at to eat.  Everything we tried was brilliant.  Highlights included the sweet, sharp heritage tomato salad, smoky slices of almost rare wagyu beef,  creamy squid ink risotto and piping hot matcha flavoured madeleines.

Heritage tomato salad at Le Dauphin in Paris

3.  Worst meal in London in 2011
It wasn’t the worst meal I had but it was the most disappointing given the price paid.  I was left very underwhelmed by my meal at Nuno Mendes’ Viajante thanks to some interesting ideas which just did not deliver in terms of taste.  At just under £200 for our meal for two I expected more consistency.

4.  Worst meal travelling in 2011
I had some great food in Dubrovnik, Croatia but my meal at Storia failed to deliver.  Despite Storia’s beautiful setting overlooking the harbour and friendly service, I had to leave most of my seafood risotto uneaten as it had a claggy texture and was over salted.  So disappointing in a country with such amazing seafood.

Mmmm spaghetti carbonara

5.  Recipe of the year
A weekend in Rome left me with a serious carbonara addiction and so I had to concoct the perfect spaghetti carbonara recipe.  I had eaten carbonara before but nothing that tasted like the carbonara in Rome.  It was silky smooth, rich and utterly satisfying.  At home, attempting to replicate the classic dish I discovered the key was to cut out any extra ingredients, cream being the most obvious omission.  The beauty of a good carbonara is its simplicity.

6.  Cookbook of the year
I have total Momofku mania and cannot wait to get myself up to Sydney to check out David Chang’s new restaurant there (or a visit to one of the originals in NYC would be nice).  In the meantime I am making do with the brilliant, sweary and utterly compelling Momfuku cook book.

The easiest and most delicious noodle recipe from the Momofuku cookbook

7.  Total number of posts for 2011
145.  Not bad going given my nomadic existence and at times non existent internet.

8.  Most far flung reader in 2011

Hello to Georgia!  I have heard a lot about your country and would love to make it there one day.

9.  Weirdest search term used to get to Gourmet Chick in 2011

Elegant Hat Chef.  I do love a good hat come Spring Racing carnival but am a bit bewildered by that one.

2012 Wish List
As the time of year for New Year’s resolutions here are a few food and travel related ones for me – a virtual wish list of places to eat.

I’m excited to be back in my home town and there are so many places I want to visit.  Melburnians let me know what you think of this list and if there is anywhere else I should be heading to…

  • Chin Chin, according to Sharking For Chips and Drinks, and any friends I have who have been, it is one of Melbourne’s “hot new openings”; 
  • Vue de Monde, as I went a few years ago but have not been since the restaurant moved to its new digs at the Rialto; 
  • Wombat Cafe in Daylesford, I love the Lake House so am excited about checking out its new cheaper sibling; 
  • Albert Street Food and Wine, Phillipa Sibley’s new restaurant (currently loving her cook book); 
  • Cutler and Co, which Joyce at Mel: Hot or Not, raves about and which I still have not been to; and
  • Golden Dragon Palace, out in Templestowe for my yum cha fix after developing a serious dim sum addiction in Hong Kong.  
Ah Brazil – how I loved you.  And how I love finishing this post with another cocktail picture.

After a crazy year of travel in 2011 which included holidays to Brazil, France, the USA, Spain, Mallorca, Madeira, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, India, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, Ireland, Nepal and Hong Kong,  I am planning some jaunts closer to my (new) home in 2012.  Here’s hoping for…

  • A traditional Australian holiday of time down by the beach at Lorne;
  • A trip to Sydney is certainly in order and long overdue; and
  • More time in Asia with both Japan and Bali on my wish list.   


  1. Sounds like a tasty year. Here’s to a happy 2012 for you and MTV. Looking forward to hearing your foodie adventures down under. x

  2. Cripes, chickee, you have been B U S Y!
    London misses you but wishing you luck with life back in Melbourne.

  3. Would absolutely die to have the opportunity to eat some of Heston’s food! Sounds like you’ve had a wonderful year 🙂 So much travel! Very jelly!

    As for Melbourne, Golden Dragon Palace is still one of my favourite places to have yum cha! And I also loved my meal at Cutler & Co. Don’t forget to hit up the 20 million coffee joints too! 😉

  4. What a year! London’s loss is Melbourne’s gain, and I look forward to your posts in 2012. I particularly like the sound of Golden Dragon Palace for yum cha (no surprise there).

  5. I totally agree about Dinner – it’s no.1 for me in 2011 as well. I’ve had some good meals but nothing really seems to match up to it the Rice & Flesh or the Tipsy Cake for me!

  6. Happy New Year to you…and may all your wishes come true….=) xoxo

  7. You most definitely need to head to Loam! Check out my best of… post tomorrow if you really want a quick summary of what’s good and hot 🙂 Thanks for reading my blog and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of each other (maybe in person too!) in 2012!

  8. Poor Viajante! Give it another try, we’ve heard it’s inconsistent, but on our visit it was one the 2011 highlights.
    Happy New Year

  9. Have not been to Dinner and to Viajante – think should try both in 2012, very intrigued by how little you liked the latter…
    Wish you an amazing 2012 back home

  10. Blonde – Thanks for the good wishes – here’s to a great 2012 for you too.

    Kavey – Ah I miss London as well…

    Ashley – Yes the return to good coffee is very much a highlight of being back in Melbourne.

    Mr Noodles – Maybe you will have to come over for a visit and try it out!

    Amy – Still dreaming about that tipsy cake…

    Kay – You too!

    MsIhua – Funnily enough my parents live in Ocean Grove and so Loam is on my must visit list for sure. Look forward to meeting you!

    Man Woman – Interesting to hear it was a highlight for you and I am glad to hear your experience was so much better. Not sure I would risk that much money giving it another try though sadly. Happy new year to you as well.

    Ute – Would be very interested to hear what you think of both. Have a great 2012.

  11. Happy New Year 2012!

    Nice summary of posts. Oh and Chin Chin in Melbourne is a funny thing, we went to Dandelions first and that was absolutely horror so puts me off going to Chin Chin for a while. But I’m glad I did!

  12. Wonderful year, Cara. Well earned and well deserved. I wish you all of this and more for 2012 🙂 x

  13. Darlink – you must must must go and check out ALBERT STREET FOOD AND WINE. it is in a beautiful building which was an old bank on Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

    great fit-out
    great staff

    but most of all incredible food.

    the Mrs and myself have been every week since it opened.


  14. What a great year you’ve had! All the best for 2012!

  15. Busy busy year! I am green eyed with jealousy (especially over that last cocktail picture…!)

  16. HK Epicurus – Going to Chin Chin today so fingers crossed

    Niamh – Thanks very much you too.

    Lulie – Thanks for the tip, am very keen to get there.

    Hanna – Thanks very much.

    Diana – I must admit it was a good cocktail…

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