Sarah Cooks 2014 Roundup

1/04/2015 10:41:00 AM

Good morning everybody! Well, 2015 is here, and it's time for my annual round up post! 2014 was a pretty good year for me - I turned thirty, we travelled a lot, work kept on keeping on, and of course, there was a LOT of food! I published 93 posts this year, and had heaps of fun here in my corner of the Internet. Just quietly, this year marked ten years of blogging! I totally forgot about my blog birthday because I was overseas... I'll think of some way to appropriately mark the occasion, but in the meantime, let's take a look at the year that was!


I started 2014 by blogging a couple of trips from the end of 2013 - a weekend trip to Hobart, and a weekend in the Mornington Peninsula, staying at the Big Blue Backyard. As I mentioned above, we travelled a lot in 2014, with three (!) overseas trips, and a couple of mini breaks closer to home.

I always love Malaysia, and this time we visited Langkawi (staying at Casa Del Mar), as well as my home town of Penang, where we ate All Of The Things and splashed out on five nights at my favourite hotel, the Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa.


In October, we went to Cambodia! It was one of the best holidays I've ever been on! We spent seven days in Siem Reap, visited a lot of restaurants, saw a whole bunch of temples, visited a local market and took a cooking class! I've still got another two posts to go from the Cambodia trip, about a street food tour we took, and the hotel, so keep an eye out for those!

The gates of Angkor Thom, Cambodia

And just a couple of weeks ago, we were in Bali for a super relaxing week away. (Blogpost to come). The culinary highlight, for me, was the amaaaazing Sunday brunch at the W Retreat and Spa.


In terms of Aussie getaways, we had a weekend at the deeply fabulous Palazzo Versace in the Gold Coast; a quiet weekend away in the Dandenongs, where I first discovered Shannon Bennett's Piggery Cafe; and a weekend in Mildura, where we ate at Stefano's. (The Mildura trip was a very generous birthday gift from my friend An!)

Palazzo Versace

My Thirtieth Birthday

Speaking of birthdays... I turned thirty this year, and was determined to drag out the celebrations as long as I could! I had a girls' night in with popcorn, pizza and chocolate cloud cake; and went to No. 8 by John Lawson, Bistro Thierry, Cecconi's and Lee Ho Fook. I was lucky enough to get food-related gifts as well - dinners at Prix Fixe, Stefano's and Nieuw Amsterdam; and an incredible pampering day at The Lyall Hotel!

Pumpkin donuts at Nieuw Amsterdam


I didn't think I blogged heaps of recipes this year, but when I look back I see I did 30 recipe posts this year, which isn't too shabby at all.

The theme for the savoury recipes I blogged this year seemed to be comfort food, with a bit of a luxurious edge. Almost half my savoury recipes were for pies or tarts... what can I say? I love a good pie! There was a mushroom pizza with spelt dough; a beef and bean pot pie; a chicken, bacon and leek pie, a caramelised onion and roast capsicum tart with fresh cheese and pine nuts, and a stunning sunflower spanakopita!

Sunflower Spanakopita

I did a few pasta recipes too - spiral pasta with red kale, feta and pine nuts; lobster spaghettini; and a springtime favourite: orecchiette with broad beans and lemon ricotta.

Orecchiette with broad beans and lemon ricotta

The remainder of my savoury recipes were good for entertaining - imam baildi; a rocket, Manchego and pear salad with maple-glazed walnuts; bacon-wrapped dates with aioli, chives and pine nuts; and of course I couldn't go a whole year without roasting some crackly pork! This year it was a pork loin.

Roast Pork Loin with Crackling

As for sweet recipes, I did a few health-focused recipes: coconut power pudding; chia seed pudding; coconut flour pancakes and peanut butter chocolate protein balls...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Balls

... and I got into baking with avocados! My dense chocolate avocado brownies were very popular, but just quietly, I liked the avocado chocolate marble pound cake even better.

Avocado chocolate marble pound cake

The rest of my sweet recipes included a mix of my favourite ingredients: oats, chocolate, butter, and peanut butter!

There were my oat and coconut choc chip peanut butter cookie bars; Scottish oatcakes; spelt, buckwheat & buttermilk sconesstrawberry oat breakfast crisp...

Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp

... a pear, chocolate and cardamom cake; profiteroles with vanilla-bean crème pâtissière and chocolate espresso saucepeanut butter hot chocolatematcha croissants; Persian love cake; maple pecan pie; the Jimbo Cake; and petits sablés with confiture de lait.

Matcha Croissants


I blogged a few events and invited meals this year - the "Beyond the Bund" dinner at David's Prahran; the launch of Charlie Dumpling; High Tea at Om Nom in the Adelphi Hotel; the Coburg Drive-In Food Truck Festival; Rae's Restaurant at Balgownie Estate; the Piqueos Spring menu launch; Italian Yum Cha at The Grand Dining RoomThe Atlantic; and lunch at LBSS cafe.

Salmon tartare, nori crackers, bonito custard & native lime at Charlie Dumpling


Based on number of visits alone, my favourite new restaurant of 2014 would have to be Prix Fixe - I visited three times, for the Whole Hog menu, the English Midwinter menu, and the Nutcracker's Christmas menu.

"Tickled Pink" at Prix Fixe

I would say, however, that the dining highlight for me this year was the eight-course degustation at Stefano's in Mildura. I hope to visit again now that they've rebranded as Jim McDougall in Stefano's Cellar.

Cheese course at Stefano's, Mildura

Apart from the restaurants I visited as part of my birthday celebrations (No. 8 by John LawsonBistro ThierryCecconi'sLee Ho Fook; and Nieuw Amsterdam), and those that I visited on free invites (PiqueosThe Grand Dining RoomRae's Restaurant at Balgownie EstateDavid's Prahran; and Charlie DumplingThe Atlantic), I also enjoyed Yering StationGaziJimmy Grants; Wunderbar; Port Phillip EstateJacques ReymondRita's CafeteriaTaxi Kitchen; and Fatto Bar & Cantina. (Also visited, but not yet blogged, were two more visits to David's Prahran, Attica, and Town Mouse... soon, hopefully!)


We entertained a little this year - there was the girls' night in we had for my birthdayFather's Day lunchChristmas dinner; our pre-Christmas BBQ; a little afternoon tea where I baked those matcha croissants; and Daisey's birthday where I baked a million cakes!

Jimbo cupcakes, caramel slice, Torta alla Gianduja


I didn't blog a lot of cafes this year, but my favourite new cafe is Piggery Cafe in the Dandenongs, which I've visited three times and blogged twice this year (including their afternoon tea). I also enjoyed LBSS (which was a free invite); and Stefano's Cafe Bakery.

Piggery Cafe


I really indulged a few of my obsessions this year: recipes from Megan J Gordon's fantastic book Whole Grain Mornings; that health-focused fast food chain Thr1ve; and those incredible Short Stop Donuts. I took a bit of a different approach with my Short Stop Donuts post, and I'm actually super proud of it. (And not just because it proved I ate all the flavours over a six-week period!)

Whole-Grain Buttermilk Pancakes from Whole Grain Mornings

And of course, I've kept up my monthly Unblogged Files posts - where I round up all the foodie things I do every month, including breakfasts, travel, events, homecooking, eating out and more! I always think of those as super self-indulgent, but based on conversations I've had with readers over the year, they seem to be some of my most popular posts - hooray! Glad you guys like them!

And that was 2014 in the world of Sarah Cooks! Hope you all are having a great year so far, and here's to another year of happy and fun deliciousness!

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  1. I still can't get over how spectacular your sunflower spanakopita looks - and yes, I just clicked through again to look at the recipe :) Looks like you had an incredible year, Sarah, so befitting for your 30th :D

  2. What a delicious year it has been for you Sarah! I hope 2015 is full of delightful food. One day we will get to visit Cambodia! Your posts sold us on it as a destination!

  3. Congratulations on an amazing year of blogging! I've definitely enjoyed reading all your posts, and ShortStop is on my list to visit in February when I'm next back in Melbourne!



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