Rockpool Blog: Best of 2011
December 22nd, 2011. Posted by Dave
As another year wraps up and we’re all saying ‘I can’t believe this year has gone so quickly’, we thought we would give you a quick recap of the best bits from our blog…
The year kicked off with the opening of our newest restaurant, Bar & Grill Perth at Burswood. Who would have known back then that RB&G Perth would be awarded 17.5/20, 2 Chef’s hats, Restaurant of the Year and Winelist of the Year in the WA Good Food Awards 8 months down the track… well, if you ask Neil he will probably tell you that he thought it was a lock.
Straight off the bat for February was our Floodlight Dinner to raise money for the devastating Queensland floods. A combined effort between Phil and The Four in Hand’s Colin Fassnidge, it was a truly great evening.
Later on in February was the epic Rose Bay Flood Relief Dinner – 5 restaurants set up along the Rose Bay promenade to serve 1000 guests. Over $850,000 was raised for the QLD flood victims – an amazing effort. And really – could you ever ask for a better table than that?
It doesn’t get much better than this – Neil Perry, Heston Blumenthal (The Fat Duck), Thomas Keller (The French Laundry), Andoni Aduriz (Mugaritz), Guillaume Brahimi (Bennelong), Phil Wood (Rockpool) and Catherine Adams (Rockpool) cooking you dinner. Well, maybe if they’re raising money for charity as well… This year’s Ultimate Dinner was the best yet, with over $280,000 raised for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
Armed with our professional photos, we took an in-depth look at the Ultimate Dinner – the Chefs, the action, and most importantly the food…
Whilst we were nose to the grindstone here at Rockpool, Neil was off on his Northern Hemishpere holiday. He kindly sent us photos of all the nice places he was eating at, just to remind us that he was indeed “working” whilst away… Noma, in particular, looked amazing. Probably why they’re rated the best restaurant in the world..
We love nostalgia here at Rockpool. That’s quite lucky, because we’ve got plenty of it! When we came across some old photos, we didn’t hesitate at putting together a little photographic journey into the past.. I still can’t believe that this is the upstairs dining room Rockpool!
Organised by Time Out Sydney Magazine, Burger Wars pitted 6 of Sydney’s best burgers against one another… Pickle, or no pickle? Sesame seed bun, or no sesame seed bun? Whose burger would reign supreme, and which Chef would be crowned the burger master???
On what appeared to be the best summer’s day in London history (what? Blue sky?), Neil spent the afternoon casually wandering the amazing borough markets.. By all accounts, this is one of the best markets in the world. And after seeing this, we believe it.
Neil’s gastronomic tour of London continued with a trip to the iconic River Cafe. This food made us all drool over our keyboards..
Yeah, so no photo for this one, but I guarantee that you will not read a better feedback letter in your lifetime! If only they were all like this…
Butter. It comes from the dairy section at your supermarket, right? Ever wondered how hard it would be to make it yourself? Read on….
Neil popped in to Heston’s newest restaurant in London, where he’s been turning long-forgotten recipes into modern day classics. Love the Meat Fruit c.1500.
Across the Atlantic and on to NY, Buvette is one of the cutest restaurants we’ve seen – and the food looks pretty damn good as well! Neil was given the tip by US Chef magastar Mario Batali, who joined he and Sam for lunch.
When the kids down at Rockpool decided that they would start making their own sourdough in-house, we had to get down there and blog it. Making bread is a true labour of love… If you’ve ever wanted to know the effort that goes into making your own sourdough, take a look right here.
After returning from his
holiday research trip, Neil handed over the rest of his snaps which included his trip to Eataly – 20,000 square feet of Italian gastronomic goodness in the heart of NY. The photos don’t do it justice – the place is huuuge.
As if we weren’t feeling a bit left out of the whole “eating our way around the globe” thing yet, B&G Head Chef and Pastry Chef Khan and Catherine sent us snaps of their Italian holiday. The first edition sees them travelling through the Sorrentine Peninsula, a place of incredible beauty and delicious food…
Part 2 of Khan and Catherine’s journey was up the coast to Naples, and then on to the outskirts of Rome to the Osteria di San Cesario, and the kitchen of the legendary Anna Dente.
The final installment of Khan and Catherine’s journey, where it’s all about pizza and gelato. If that’s not heaven then I don’t want to go!
Remember I told you we love nostalgia? When we found an old menu in the attic at Rockpool it brought a tear to our eyes, and not just from all the dust we also uncovered in the process. Stacked with Rockpool classics, the prices are practically bargain basement for a 3 hat restaurant nowadays..
Ah, yes, Team Rockpool’s finest hour – well, actually only a couple of us managed to crack the hour mark, but we all tried our hardest and in the process raised a whopping $206,262.00 for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Apart from raising money for our favourite cause, it was a pretty fun day after we got to the finish line. Bring on 2012!
So when Neil and Phil decided to go all out and serve more truffles that we’ve ever seen to just 15 lucky diners, we pulled out our iPhones and got snapping. With the pro photos ‘being developed’, we gave you a little tease… who was that masked chef?
With pro photos in hand, we could really delve into what was without a doubt the most extravagant dinner we’ve ever seen. 1.5kg of Tasmanian truffles for just 15 lucky diners… the smell in the kitchen was intoxicating!
You’re probably think that chef’s are obsessed with truffles, right? Correct! Whilst some of us were punishing ourselves by running to Bondi (all in the name of charity), some lucky staff from B&G Sydney took a trip to the Southern Highlands for a spot of truffle hunting..
The first of the Spice Temple Melbourne Regional dinners was the Hunan dinner – and it was a great success. Rather than the usual spectrum of cuisines at ST, Neil focused in on the Hunan Provence – think spicy hot, home-style cuisine without the Sichuan numbing.
Spicy T’s second regional dinner was the Imperial Dinner – dishes from between 221 BC and 1911 AD. With colourful names such as ‘Playful Dragon and Phoenix’, ‘The Most Delicious Dish under Heaven’ and ‘First Ranking Official Pork’, the question we had was would these dishes stand the test of time?
We took a look at one of our favourite shops of all time – Victor Churchill, where meat is taken to a whole new level. Vegetarians be warned – clicking through may turn you back into an omnivore..
Another stop on Neil’s culinary tour was at per se, one of the worlds greatest restaurants. These guys are at the pointy end of fine dining, and the food looks incredible.
The final post about Neil’s 2011 trip was from Next, the new restaurant by Grant Achatz of Alinea fame. What these guys to is pretty unique – they choose a theme (at the time Neil visited it was ‘Paris 1906′, an homage to Auguste Escoffier), cook the same menu for 3 months (they refer to it as a ‘season’), and then go back to the drawing board and come up with a brand new theme. We loved their Next Opening video… oh, and you buy a ticket as if you were going to the theatre – so if you don’t turn up, you miss out and pay in full…
Rockpool swung its doors open for lunch for the first time in almost 3 years with a $75 3-course menu inspired by the food of Chez Panisse. Prawns, suckling pig, cherries.. can’t go wrong!
Part 1 of Neil’s Hong Kong blog was all about yum cha and Chinese barbecue – two of our favourite subjects. Throw in a five star hotel and we’re hooked!
All this plus recipes galore, Qantas stories, awards, Neil barbecuing a Kiwi in the name of national pride, photo shoots, more travel stories, random videos, a new book, a few give-aways, a master class or two… it’s been a big year for the Rockpool blog! Looking forward to 2012, bigger and better, and we’ve got some veeery big news to break just around the corner.. Stay tuned!!
Tags: Borough Market, Bread, Burger Wars, Butter, Buvette, Cafe 1989, Chicago, City 2 Surf, Copenhagen, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Eataly, Feedback, Fiskebaren, Floodlight Dinner, Hong Kong, Italy, London, Naples, Neil Perry, New York, Next, Noma, per se, River Cafe, Rockpool, Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne, Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth, Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney, Rome, Rose Bay Flood Relief Dinner, Spice Temple, Spice Temple Melbourne, Ted Se, The Ultimate Dinner, Truffles, Victor Churchill