Good Food NSW's 100 Good Things 21-40: Falafel, Filipino cuisine, chocolate

Clams opened over the fire and served in a pool of buttery juices at Osteria Il Coccia at Ettalong Beach.
Clams opened over the fire and served in a pool of buttery juices at Osteria Il Coccia at Ettalong Beach.  Photo: Edwina Pickles

Instead of the Good Food Guide, this year we bring 100 Good Things to the table: a collection of people, places, moments and mementos that best represent 2020.

21. Bold Italian food in regional NSW

Osteria Il Coccia has fire in its belly, built around a big wood grill that imbues everything with the fragrant smoke of ironbark and olive wood. Italian-born chef Nicola Coccia has fire in his belly, too, with a resume to match – he's cooked at the likes of Biota, Ormeggio, Quay, Otto and, most recently, Bistro Officina in Bowral, which he ran with his wife before they upped stumps to Ettalong Beach. Expect a menu executed with finesse, such as clams opened over the fire and served in a pool of buttery juices. TD osteriailcoccia.com.au

22. Caviar bumps and whole crab in Coogee

Well, they don't make 'em like this any more. In These Unprecedented Times, Merivale's luxe lobster and crab pitch may not have seemed like the wisest idea, but Mimi's popularity has only surged since the Coogee Pav restaurant reopened in July. It's all about the late, long lunch, and linen-clad locals fill every table on a Saturday. Seems like everyone submits to the $32 "bump" of caviar and no one is upset to be eating Jordan Toft's food, blending French pomp and Mediterranean verve. (Yes, that's a $120 oscietra tart with scallop mousseline and citrus butter. Yes, it's delicious.) Stick to a game plan and Mimi's can be experienced without the hip pocket hurting too much, but gosh darn if those beach views don't call for another martini. CB merivale.com/venues/mimis

Cheesecake from Fifteen Centimeters.

COVID kilos be damned: Cheesecake from Fifteen Centimeters. Photo: Supplied

23. Fifteen-centimetre cakes. No more, no less

We love a dessert that does what it says on the box. Fifteen Centimeters is a Sydney-based delivery service specialising in cakes half the diameter of a standard school ruler. Great for sharing, but even better for eating by yourself over one weekend or three Schitt's Creek episodes. The business was started by Naoka Kojo (the chef) and Caddie Mao (the marketer) when the friends found themselves out of work after the pandemic hit. Japanese-style Basque cheesecake is Fifteen Centimeters' signature dessert, featuring a caramelised surface giving way to light and creamy deliciousness. COVID kilos be damned. CB 15centimeters.com.au

24.The superfood that may yet save the world

Seaweed has been a Sydney "it" ingredient since the first Good Food Guide in 1984, when a concept known as sushi had the Sydney lunch set ditching salade nicoise for nori. What's exciting now, however, is how restaurants and producers are incorporating seaweed into everyday foods. Try it as a Vegemite substitute at Love, Tilly Devine in Darlinghurst, say, slathered on toast and topped with furikake (seasoning). Or check out PhycoHealth products made by seaweed scientist Pia Winberg on the South Coast and available at Harris Farm and Carriageworks Farmers' Market. There's PhycoHealth seaweed corn chips, pasta, salts, dukkah and even muesli. More protein from seaweed rather than cattle seems like the right idea. CB lovetillydevine.com; phycohealth.com

GOOD FOOD - REVIEW. Leo at Angle Place, Sydney CBD. Macheroncini pasta with lobster. Photographed Tuesday 30th June 2020. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH GOOD FOOD 200630

Macheroncini pasta with lobster at Leo. Photo: James Brickwood

25. The chef collab we never saw coming

In the red corner: Oscillate Wildly's Karl Firla, a man of few words but many beautiful dishes inspired by his time at Marque and Est, who sadly closed his Newtown fine diner in 2019. In the blue corner: LuMi Dining's Federico Zanellato, a man of even fewer words armed with a battery of Japanese ingredients and a head full of Italian cooking. At Restaurant Leo, in Angel Place, CBD, they combine their formidable clout. Next door, Piccoleo serves coffee and truffled croissants. Ding, ding! We're all winners. MR restaurantleo.com.au

Advertisement

26. Stix's Marrickville mush-room

After 21 years in the catering business, Stix opened its Marrickville roller doors in July for breakfast and lunch. Many dishes showcase organic produce from their Hawkesbury farm (also supplying Firedoor and Fred's), such as a thicket of shaved summer vegetables bolstered by romesco and fior di latte. It's hard to find a lower-foodmile brunch in Sydney than the oyster-mushroom toast made with fungi grown in a special room above the cafe. CB stix.com.au

Terry Durack review at Jimmy's Falafel. The Original Pita. 20th August 2020. Photo: Edwina Pickles / SMH Good Food

The original pita at Jimmy's Falafel. Photo: Edwina Pickles

27. Just falafs

Reacquaint yourself with the noble falafel. Jasmins, an old school favourite, is always buzzing with local families. Also, who knew that falafel would go so well with cocktails? Ezra, in a back street of Kings Cross, sees former Moon Park and Paper Bird chef Ben Sears on the pans. His tahini-capped falafel on a bed of silky avocado puree proves to be an excellent match for a hibiscus negroni. At Merivale's Middle-Eastern diner/takeaway Jimmy's Falafel, on George Street in the city, head chef Simon Zalloua uses a mix of chickpeas and fava beans – soaked, ground, kneaded and spiced. Break one open, and it is bright green, fresh with coriander, parsley and mint. TD jasmins.com.au; ezrarestaurant.com.au; merivale.com/venues/jimmys-falafel

28. Always was, always will be

It's estimated just 2 per cent of Australian First Nations businesses are majority owned by Australian First Nations people. It's a number, however, that's set to change as more businesses become established, and more restaurants support them. Currie Country is a Tweed-based education and resource hub from one of the largest Traditional Custodian families within the Aboriginal Yugambeh-Bundjalung nations. They work with nearby restaurants such as Pipit and Fleet to showcase First Nations produce and bush foods, such as murun (emu) eggs. Pipit currently features a murun yolk confited in grouper fish fat. That's the kind of excellence 2020 should be remembered for. MR curriecountry.com

29. Chef-made pottery

Belles Hot Chicken impresario Morgan McGlone has always had a passion for pottery but COVID gave him more time to hone his craft, selling ferment jars and planters through online wine delivery service DRNKS. Look for McGlone's Ryo's Pottery on the site. MR drnks.com

Small Talk Coffee in Dulwich Hill.The plain cinnamon doughnut.   5th Nov 2020. Photo: Edwina Pickles / SMH

Small Talk's salty-sweet cinnamon doughnut is chewy, yeasted and flavourful. Photo: Edwina Pickles

30. This salty doughnut

Small Talk Coffee & Snacks' motto might be "coffee, bagels and good times" but they're forgetting one crucial thing at this Dulwich Hill cutie: their cinnamon doughnut. It's chewy, it's yeasted, it's flavourful and most importantly, it hits that special high note of being salty and sweet at the same time. Best enjoyed standing up so you can make a real sugary mess. MR @__smalltalkcoffee

31. A beautiful gnocchi board made by a couple of avocado farmers

Sick of not being able to find good quality Australian-made pasta tools, author Elizabeth Hewson set about getting them made by avocado farmers Warwick and Naomi Backhouse. Make all your cavatelli, orecchiette and malloreddus perfectly etched and perfectly beautiful. MR saturdaynightpasta.com.au

32. Australiana tablecloths? You beauty

So the pie was a flop and the Basque cheesecake has a sinkhole the size of Spain. But don't despair, your table looks amazing. Dress it like you mean business with Utopia Goods' handprinted, Australian bush-influenced tablecloths such as their Madras Garden featuring Australian bluebells. MR utopiagoods.com

Ester Sunday roast

Grab your loved ones and head to Chippendale for Ester's Sunday roast. Photo: Supplied

33. Sundays worth getting out of bed for

The Ester Sunday roast might be the best reason to get out of bed at the weekend. Grab your loved ones, head to Chippendale and strap in for roasted marrow on sourdough, wood-fired suckling pig, duck or lamb (depending on what's available that week) and roast hasselback potatoes. MR ester-restaurant.com.au

34. Paste Thai hits Mittagong

In an otherwise unremarkable stretch of downtown Mittagong, discover Michelin-starred chef Bee Satongun's restaurant, Paste. She calls her cooking "80 per cent tradition and 20 per cent creativity". Find an enticing blend of old and new, going beyond the usual green chicken curry, fish cakes and green papaya salad to explore the old, forgotten recipes of private families throughout Thailand. TD pasteaustralia.com

Pictured: Crispy Bicol Xpress (spicy fried pork belly in coconut curry), Humba na Manok (braised soy chicken), Cebu Lechon (charcoal roast pork) and Longanisa Rice Fried Rice from Sydney Cebu Lechon in Enmore, Sydney on Thursday, June 25, 2020. Photo by Cole Bennetts Thu, 25. June 2020 1:39 PMSYDNEY CUBU LENCHON_GOODFOOD COLE BENNETTS-9670.jpgPictured: Crispy Bicol Xpress (spicy fried pork belly in coconut curry), Humba na Manok (braised soy chicken), Cebu Lechon (charcoal roast pork) and Longanisa Rice Fried Rice from Sydney Cebu Lechon in Enmore, Sydney on Thursday, June 25, 2020. Photo by Cole Bennetts

Clockwise from left: Cebu lechon (charcoal roast pork), longanisa fried rice, crisp bicol xpress (spicy fried pork belly in coconut curry), and humba na manok (braised soy chicken) from Sydney Cebu Lechon in Enmore. Photo: Cole Bennetts

35. Filipino food makes noise across Sydney

Try a cuisine with a rich and varied history that's starting to gain traction in Australia. Mama Lor in Rooty Hill is an old bakery-now restaurant specialising in food from the island of Cebu. Discover sisig (here, chopped-and-fried pig's ear and jowl, mixed with capsicum and onion) served sizzling at the table, drizzled with mayonnaise and topped with a raw egg yolk. Just add cold beer. Sydney Cebu Lechon in Newtown offers life-changing suckling pig. True to its name, the brightly coloured restaurant specialises in perfectly tender, crisp-skinned, char-grilled Cebu-style pork. This is one for the carnivores. MR mamalor.com; sydneycebulechon.com.au

36. The sexiest potato since the Dutch Cream

Potato farmer Gary Kadwell is behind these gems – Andean Sunrise potatoes are creamy, yellow, highly nutritious, densely flavoured, and chefs across NSW are in love with them. You can also order direct from Kadwell's website. MR thegourmetpotatokadwell.com.au

Ryan Broomfield's Blackmore fullblood wagyu with roast garlic and onion puree, black pepper, cinnamon and Bovril gravy for Vic's Meats.

Ryan Broomfield's Blackmore fullblood wagyu pie with roast garlic and onion puree, black pepper, cinnamon and Bovril gravy. Photo: Supplied

37. The majesty of a pie

Vic's Meat's pie collaborations with chefs such as Matt Moran and Mike McEnearney have been deeply rewarding over the past eight months, but our favourite is this England-channelling creation from butter-pastry king Ryan Broomfield. Blackmore fullblood wagyu with roast garlic and onion puree, black pepper, cinnamon and Bovril gravy, oh boy. CB vicsmeat.com.au

Sandoitchi Cafe in Darlinghurst. The strawberry sando . 27th August 2020. Photo: Edwina Pickles / SMH Good Food

A strawberry sando at Sandoitchi Cafe. Photo: Edwina Pickles

38. All our emotions, between two slices of bread

What could be more emblematic of the year that was than the noble sandwich? It's the great equaliser, reflective of the sweet moments, as they serve it at Japanese sandwich bar Sandoitchi in Darlinghurst: whipped cream encasing yuzu-soaked strawberries on puffy fingers of soft white bread. Meanwhile at nearby Mrs Palmers, it's a recognition of the tougher days, as they serve it on sourdough: The Cure boasts three types of cured meat, onion, chutney, horseradish, lettuce, cheese, pickles, chipotle mayo, fried shallots … everything but a pillow to take a nap on when you're done. And it's also a reminder that businesses are still opening. Anyone who remembers Marcella Nelson-Aebi's Darlinghurst sandwich nook Kings Lane Sandwiches will be glad to hear her new sandwich bar, Calabria, has opened on Abercrombie Lane. MR sandoitchi.com.au; mrspalmersandwich.com; @calabria_panineria

39. Chocolate for your soul

Loco Love sells sugar-free dark chocolate, some flavoured with medicinal Japanese mushrooms and sunflowers. You're very welcome. MR locolove.com

Fabbrica pasta store

Produce from Fabbrica pasta store. Photo: Supplied

40. Ciao, Ragazzi!

The Ragazzi team (Matt Swieboda, Nate Hatwell, Scott McComas-Williams) and Fino Fine Foods' Cameron Birt present Fabbrica, an ode to carbs of all shapes and sizes. At the King Street, CBD, shop find takeaway dry pasta and sauces (hello, duck ragu and rye casarecce), fluffy focaccia and all the fixings for a delicious Italian meal at home (The oils! The cheeses! The meats! Even the right flours to make pasta from scratch if you're in the mood to DIY!). Plus panini and wine for those keen to linger. MR ciaofabbrica.com

Words: Callan Boys, Terry Durack, Myffy Rigby