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.
61. Bagel belter
In Ripponlea, elegant wedding venue Quat Quatta has opened to the public for the first time in 130 years, creating a Summer House pop-up on its shady verandah and in the sheltered courtyard. An all-Vic wine list partners jaunty snacks like crab-and-prawn toasties.
Around the corner Israeli diner Chik Chak has perfect pitas for toting to nearby Ripponlea Estate – the cauliflower shawarma comes with sumac onions and green chilli relish.
On Carlisle Street, Tulum now stretches from expanded pavement to rear courtyard. Lockdown street food dishes have made their way to the menu as smart snacks: the circular simit bread with caviar is an upscale taste of Istanbul. DV quatquatta.com.au; goldachikchak.com.au; tulumrestaurant.com.au
62. PSA: the bagnum is back, baby
Forget magnums, embrace the "bagnum": cask wines, pre-mixed cocktails and beers that are long-lasting once opened and respectable enough to serve to your friends.
The trend is growing among high-quality, small producers, not least because it's a more economical choice for restaurants with reduced operating hours and for at-home drinkers who may like just a glass without committing to a session. And when it comes to shipping costs and portability, bags beat bottles every time.
Marcus Radny, a former Vue de Monde sommelier, has bagged his first Gonzo Vino vintages, while picnics are littered with Happy Sacks, a rosé from the Adelaide Hills. Giorgio De Maria of Fun Wines, distributes Carussin's eminently drinkable vino rosso, available by the three-litre cask.
63. Duck and covet
Good news! Great Ocean Duck, the luxury bird that eased the drudgery of lockdown, is still available to the public. Christmas may look a little different to many of us, but it needn't look any less delicious, thanks to free-range duck farmers Jodi and Greg Clarke. Their paddock-reared Aylesbury waddlers are available through premium butchers, including Meatsmith, or order straight from their site. DV greatoceanducks.com
Scallop tostadas at Tacos y Liquor. Photo: Chris Hopkins
64. Tacos, tequila and Oklahoma-style burgers in Geelong
This cruel year needed something and that thing was raw scallop tostadas and smoky mezcal from Igni chef restaurateur Aaron Turner. He's opened Tacos Y Liquor near his Hot Chicken Project on Geelong's Little Malop Street, and that's not all. Turner's going for laneway domination, opening a burger bar this month specialising in extra-crisp Oklahoma-style burgers. 87A Little Malop Street, Geelong. GC
'The Spanish' sandwich from Jolly Good Sandwiches. Photo: Chris Hopkins
65. Roll with it
The sambo continues its rise to become the comfort food of the moment, with established chefs taking the humble lunchtime staple to new heights. Gimlet sous chef Raphael Exton-Perry launched the Jolly Good Sandwich pop-up during lockdown, with hundreds queuing for his crunchy baguettes crammed with roast beef or sliced sopressa. The vision is to open a permanent "sandwich wine bar". Until then, keep an eye on Jolly's Instagram for the next instalment. MH instagram.com/jollygood_sandwiches
66. Double shot
After months of planning and COVID setbacks, hospo stalwart Sebastian Reaburn (ex-1806 bar) and microbiologist Dervilla McGowan have opened Anther Distillery for tours and tastings of their gin. Housed in North Geelong's heritage Federal Mills complex, the distillery door will eventually evolve into an after-work bar.
The husband and-wife team also have their hands full with a project growing agave plants – the base ingredient for tequila – in Queensland. Expect those bottles to drop by mid-2021. MH anther.com.au
67. Drink deep of the arts
Matt Bax, bar baron/artist, doesn't meddle in middle grounds. He is the architect of tiny Italian-style Bar Americano but also Grau Projekt in Clifton Hill, Victoria's largest warehouse gallery dedicated to emerging talent, with each show featuring collaborative cocktails between the artist and Bax's bar. Drink it all in from December, with Grau's first show by Melbourne multimedia artist Pimpisa Tinpalit. GC grauprojekt.com
68. Fen rides again
Fans of Kirstyn and Ryan Sessions' restaurant Fen will be pleased to see that the now shuttered restaurant lives on at a series of monthly dinners at Drift House, a boutique hotel and retreat in Port Fairy. Four nights a month, Fen dishes up degustation menus focused on ingredients from Victoria's southwest coast in The Salon at Drift House. Part of a package that includes an overnight stay in one of the suites and breakfast, it's an excellent opportunity to be reminded of exactly how Fen achieved its two-hat rating. MH drifthouse.com.au
Condiments from Co-lab Pantry. Photo: Supplied
69. Phone it in this Christmas
You know what the end of 2020 doesn't need? Christmas anxiety. Then again, you could just phone it in and buy loved ones a regionally specific hamper pulled together by Co-Lab Pantry. Picture the glory of giving someone a Bellarine basket with Smoked Egg Company eggs, Whiskery Gin, Lardass butter and a mess of other goods. Yarra Valley's box gets you caviar, cheese from the Yarra Valley dairy, chocolates, and wines from Zonzo.
Catering wise, new company To-Plate sends out entire Christmas catering hampers sourced from our hardest-hit high-end producers.
70. Al Dente with extra bite
Former Grossi Florentino chef Andrea Vignali launched his pasta business after he was stood down in March. Now his side-hustle sensation, Al Dente, has found a permanent home. Vignali partnered up with his cheffy bestie Davide Bonadiman to make pasta, sauces and other Italian dishes. They took over the kitchen of a closed city pub, employing five other unemployed visa holders as they scaled up. Now they've leased a shop at 161 Nicholson Street, Carlton. The team will continue to sell their pasta via the Cookaborough platform, with plans to turn the premises into a restaurant. DV instagram.com/vignaliandre
71. The pet pivot
Eyeballing it, we can safely assume 97 per cent of Melburnians acquired a dog over lockdown, and smart operators noticed.
Beyond Melbourne's classic dog pubs like South Melbourne's Palace Hotel, the Commons at Ormond Collective has gone all-out with a puppy parking station and a dedicated dog menu. Woof. GC thepalacehotel.com.au; ormondcollective.net.au/ the-commons
A selection of plates at Longrain. Photo: Tim Grey
72. New lease on life
Scott Pickett already has five restaurants – how about two more? The extremely busy restaurateur behind Estelle and Matilda has taken over CBD Thai stalwart Longrain from industry veterans John and Lisa van Haandel, retaining head chef Arte Assavakavinvong and longtime manager Natasha Firman plus all the loved elements from the original.
Pickett also picked up the keys to Shannon Bennett's fish lab Iki Jime, in Little Collins Street, which he is reopening before Christmas as modern French bistro Chancery Lane. Expect souffles, duck for two and tarte tatin. MH pickettandco.au
73. Babka breakout
It's been a big year for the Jewish braided coffee cake. While it originated a few hundred years ago in Poland, babka became a New York staple after being name-checked on Seinfeld in the '90s, and got a modern update in Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook Jerusalem in 2012.
Then, in the grips of Melbourne's April lockdown, former Miznon chef Avi Azoulay (aka Babka Boi, pictured) broke Instagram with demand for his take on the layered, bread-like treat. Azoulay's lavish version is loaded with chocolate and hazelnuts and attracted a weeks-long waiting list, which he is still working his way through, baking 20 babs at a time. Order via Azoulay's Instagram. MH instagram.com/babka_boi
74. Lick and mix
Forget your boring neapolitan: iced treats are taking on an Asian twist. Delivery service Kariton Sorbetes offers a Filipino spin with flavours including glutinous rice with fish-sauce salted caramel, and calamansi lime juice and gin.
Tonka chef Adam D'Sylva is on the cusp of opening his take on the neighbourhood ice-creamery, Boca Gelato, in a former Ivanhoe bookshop, churning chai and coconut and "confetti" (almond gelato topped with sugared almonds) flavours, which celebrate his Indian-Italian heritage. MH karitonsorbetes.com; bocagelato.com.au
75. The chef we love to love
Danielle Alvarez, the Good Food recipe writer and head chef of Paddington fine diner Fred's, might have had a modest start peeling eggs for Thomas Keller at the French Laundry (Yountville), but her years cooking at Chez Panisse (Berkeley) for Alice Waters really stood her in good stead for her first cookbook, Always Add Lemon (Hardie Grant).
And yes, Fred's regulars, that chardonnay vinaigrette recipe is included. A mix of shallots, vinegar, honey, olive oil, tossed with some nice soft lettuce leaves = summer suppers for the win. We can't get enough. MR booktopia.com.au
76. A room with a view
Lunch cooked by a Good Food Guide "best regional restaurant" chef while admiring a 5.5-metre sculpture by one of the world's most talked-about artists, KAWS? Fire up Google Maps and point the car south.
Pt Leo Estate, on the Mornington Peninsula, commissioned the artist's bronze statue, Share, which has joined the 134-hectare sculpture park in time for the reopening of Phil Wood's fine diner.
The two-hatted Laura will reopen in mid-December with a new look and a new a la carte menu for weeknight dining to complement the degustation menu. Expect an emphasis on finishing dishes at the table while you gaze out to Western Port bay. As if we needed any more reasons to love the Mornington Peninsula. AB ptleoestate.com.au
77. Mornington ride
Martin and Karen Spedding spent two red-tape-filled years rebuilding their Mornington Peninsula cellar door and fine-dining restaurant, Ten Minutes by Tractor, after a fire in 2017. And just two weeks after fully reopening, they were closed again by the pandemic.
But the silver lining is that there are now even more ways to enjoy a visit: drinks and snacks on the new shade-covered terrace beside the cellar door, or a seat at the outdoor bar, which not only serves a mean cocktail but also takes special care of designated drivers. RG tenminutesbytractor.com.au
78. Eat the problem
Forget everything you think you know about venison. Sambar deer meat – wild caught and killed with one shot by professional hunters in threatened natural landscapes – is less gamey and more tender than other venison. And it tastes even better when fewer feral deer are a win for the environment. Sustainability changemaker Tara Medina launched Discovered Wildfoods with the mission of sparking a conscious carnivore revolution. You can buy the venison directly online or try it on the menu at South Melbourne restaurant Lume. DV discoveredfoods.com; restaurantlume.com.au
79. Dry every dish with a piece of Brunswick East
Show your love of postcode 3057 with this tea towel homage to Lygon Street and a selection of its treasures (hey there, Monsieur Truffe!), printed in Melbourne and designed by Melbourne-born, Berlin-based artist Molly Rose Dyson. MR theboroughs.co
80. A sweet side-hustle
Audrey Allard came to Victoria to sharpen her culinary mettle, starting off as part of Phil Wood's opening team at Pt Leo Estate, and then moving to Lune Croissanterie. In a very 2020 move, her lockdown side-hustle, Holy Sugar, has quickly evolved into her main gig.
The pitch is simple: $45 buys you a box of Allard's pastries and cakes delivered each Saturday. The rewards are many and varied, from doughnuts glazed with chocolate to the rare pleasure of her limoncello and grapefruit Wagon Wheel. PN instagram.com/holysugar__
Words: Ardyn Bernoth, Gemima Cody, Roslyn Grundy, Michael Harry, Pat Nourse, Myffy Rigby, Dani Valent