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The Past & The Present – the heart of food Turns One.

Birthday Cake

the heart of food is now a little over a year old, having first started on February of 2009. The birth of this blog is in some part thanks to Helen, from the prolific Sydney food blog Grab Your Fork. She was the one that inspired me to start this whole blogging thing, as she has with a number of other Sydney food bloggers.

Over this past year, there have been quite a number of amazing food experiences. One of the things that stands out in my mind are the birthday celebrations of various food bloggers.

Please join me for a review of the food experiences regarding birthdays and birthday-related posts over the past year, including some new material and images.

Before I continue, apologies in advance if I’ve overlooked anyone’s birthday that I was a part of over the past year.

The first series of posts on the heart of food were about presents and a birthday, or rather a birthday I had to miss due to a last minute work related matter.

The birthday boy, whom I’ll refer to as “That Guy”, is of Filipino origin. The food to be showcased on his birthday was authentic, homemade food from the Philippines made with loving care by his mother. It saddened me to no end that I not only had to cancel, after previously agreeing to go, due to work (on a Saturday no less!), but also had to miss out on such a good food opportunity, especially considering Filipino restaurant food just doesn’t rate from what I’ve been told.

Despite these circumstances, he was kind enough to offer me some of the party left overs the following day. I returned his generosity by getting him a hamper of various gourmet goods from a few of my favourite vendors.

Not long afterwards, Richard from Here Comes the Food had kindly invited me out to a birthday dinner to have all you can eat mussels at Bungalow 8. It was an intimate affair with only four of us in total.

The experience was somewhat surreal. I guess it’s kind of like that moment when you first make friends at preschool or in kindergarten. There’s a sense of child-like joy when you meet with someone that likes what you’re interested in, and just “gets you”, for lack of a better term. In some ways it’s also a sense of belonging. That you’re among like minded individuals, and not just some weird, misunderstood outcast. From a food blogging perspective, that was my moment.

To this day I don’t know why Richard invited me. However, I am thankful that he did, as a lot of interesting experiences have been had since that time.

For instance, a masquerade themed birthday party of around 30 food bloggers, crammed into a private dining room at Wagaya that is supposed to only cater for 25. Who else other than the ever popular Suze of chocolatesuze, whom I like to jokingly refer to as the poster child of Sydney food bloggers (though not entirely untrue), could organise a gathering of this size? It was a gathering of her food blogging friends, acquaintances and other food bloggers that she has yet to meet in person.

At the time it was rather surreal to see a roomful of food bloggers pause from their current activity or conversation in order to take photos of food that had just arrived. A storm of people gather around plates of food. The rolling thunder of conversation goes quiet as photographers focus; the beeps, clicks and whirrs of digital cameras taking over the growing din of silence. On occasion a flash fires; a blinding bolt of lightning that briefly illuminates the room. The eye of the storm soon approaches, as one by one food bloggers sit back and wait patiently for others to finish with their photos. A calm settles in as the beeps, clicks, whirrs and flashes become fewer, less frequent. As the last of the photos are taken, the rest of the storm front rolls in as hungry food bloggers rain down upon a plain of food.

The dinner is a large gathering of friends and strangers alike, all with the common purpose to not only celebrate a birthday or share a meal, but also partake in the appreciation of food beyond that of mere sustenance. It is one that has only since been eclipsed by the Sydney food blogger’s Christmas picnic in Hyde park. Another successful gathering organised, in part, by the poster child of Sydney food bloggers.

Karen of Citrus and Candy gathers a small, intimate  group of some of her closest food blogging friends to celebrate her birthday at the Belgian Bier Cafe. The hearty fare of Belgian beers, meatballs and mussels, finished with some wonderful sweet desserts of chocolate and waffles, makes for a fantastic meal.

It ceases to amaze me how quickly friendships can be born and forged over the common appreciation of food. People, that under different circumstances would likely amount to little more than casual acquaintances, become close friends, mentors, advisors and confidants.

It isn’t just with food bloggers that birthday celebrations have been shared. Adriano Zumbo’s Macaron Day was not only a celebration of 60 different flavours of macarons, but also an opportunity for the food blogging community as well as the general public to celebrate his birthday.

As much as he may be the maestro of the macaron, he is a rather humble, approachable and softly spoken individual in person. One without the pretension or arrogance that quite often comes with those with a high degree of skill or, dare I say, genius. It was personally satisfying to be able to wish him a happy birthday, as well as to discuss a range of topics including his favourite macarons from the collection.

Then it came time to organise & celebrate my own birthday party. Well, birthday parties but I’ll get to that.

When it was time to organise my birthday dinner for a close circle of food blogging friends, I wanted to incorporate a little of the familiar with something that was new to all of us. The familiar ended up being Wagaya, a safe bet when it comes to the quality of the food (not bad), service (fast & attentive) and cost (reasonable, depending on what you order). Wagaya is the sort of dining experience that I prefer; fairly casual & laid back with food that can be easily shared amongst a group of people.

We then moved onto the something new for entertainment and dessert, in the form of Norita Cafe & Board Games. It’s a place where you can enjoy various contemporary & Asian flavoured drinks, desserts and the occasional savoury snack whilst playing a multitude of board games.

The board games are a core part of the experience rather than some tacked-on gimmick, as is demonstrated by the extensive menu of board games they have on offer, separate to that of the food & beverage menu. Though the food & drinks weren’t noteworthy, the fun that was had with the board games was well worth the experience. There were many fits of uncontrollable laughter, as well as a few things that are better left unmentioned. What happens in Norita, stays in Norita :)

Birthdays are a fantastic opportunity to meet with new people and be reacquainted with ones that you may not keep in as close contact with as you may have liked. My second birthday party, a BBQ picnic at Centennial Park, introduced a few new faces, namely Jacq from Penguin Says Feed Me, as well as The Shooter and The Ninja from The Ninja Review.

I could imagine that it would be somewhat intimidating for newcomers entering into an established group of friends or associates, especially when it’s a sizable group.  For instance, it took some time for the The Ninja Review crew to step down from a battle-ready state, take off their disguises and intimidating weaponry, and actually relax and enjoy the company and the food. Well, as much as one could in a blistering 40+ degree heat wave. Once the picnic was over, a subset of the attendees made their way to Sinma Laksa House to counteract the heat wave with Ais Kachang.

On the subject of food at the picnic, a huge thanks must go out to Mei from Brasserie Bread for catering a large portion of the picnic. So large in fact that everyone had a generous parting gift to take home with them, all of it great stuff. From a number of chewy rolls and sour dough loaves (the wholemeal mountain bread makes for excellent toasted sandwiches), wonderful sweet pastries such as various fruit tarts, tea cakes and brownies, as well as THE BEST garlic bread to date I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. The caramelised garlic bread was so highly regarded by the picnic attendees that negotiations were held to determine the lucky few that would be taking a portion home.

The birthday party of Helen from Grab Your Fork was something of a special event for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was a dumpling making party, for lack of a better term. Everyone contributing ingredients and making a large number of handmade gyoza-style dumplings, a fair portion of which were devoured with gusto soon afterwards.

For dessert, Ais Kachang was made from scratch. This began with preparing the various ingredients to form the mise en place. Once this was done, two ice shaving machines buzzed constantly as mountains of ice shavings piled up, ready to be topped by the ingredients and syrups prepared earlier.

To close the evening, chocolatesuze had prepared a fork-shaped cake, a reference to Helen’s blog name. Whilst this was in itself impressive and well received, the true genius of the cake lay within, in the form of a stunning rainbow of colours. Though rainbow coloured cakes are not anything new for chocolatesuze, this implementation of her trademark cake was particularly impressive.

Lastly, we come to a recent birthday dinner, celebrating the birthday of Jacq from Penguin Says Feed Me. She had managed to gather an impressive 17 food bloggers at the Waterfront Grill for all you can eat ribs for $29. The ribs are served along with some tasty but stomach filling steak chips. There is also a web special that is meant to score you a free soft drink with your ribs. It had taken a fair amount of insistence, the attention of the restaurant manager and an iPhone before the free drinks were flowing.

Ellie from Almost Bourdain capped of the dinner with a homemade Momofuku Crack Pie, which she had generously offered as a birthday cake. I can see why it’s called Crack Pie. So addictive… :)

To end this post, I’d like to thank those of you that have followed my blog over the past year, especially the ones that have weathered through the dry spells, and those that take the time to leave comments. It’s very much appreciated!

For the silent readers out there, I encourage you to step out of your shell and show your love, or share your opinion, by leaving a comment. I don’t just mean for my blog, but for any other one that you may be reading as well. We food bloggers, and I presume bloggers in general, thrive on comments.

Also, a special thanks to Helen for inspiring me to begin this food blog in the first place, as well as all the people to date that have made the past year of food, friends & fun a memorable experience.

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{ 31 comments… add one }
  • chocolatesuze March 11, 2010, 1:24 am

    om nom nom so many tasty eats! happy blog bday dude! and here’s to many more tasty eats in the future!

  • billy@ A Table For Two March 11, 2010, 1:37 am

    ahh good times… jebuz that reminds me my blog is almost 2yo!!! time flies when u have too much fun… or food….

  • Helen (Grab Your Fork) March 11, 2010, 1:54 am

    So many birthdays. So much foodage! Thanks awfully for the very touching shout-out. It just goes to show you should never underestimate who is reading your blog and the effect it has on them – who knows how many other people you’ve inspired along the way too!

    Happy 1st Blog Birthday. May there be many more ahead!

  • Karen March 11, 2010, 2:11 am

    Congrats Simon and Happy Blogversary! Hehe and fyi, I forgot mine. :(

    I think this time marks a lot of anniversaries in terms of meeting ppl for the first time and what a ride it has been! I love that the group of us have transcended being just mere fellow bloggers to become actual friends. And thank gawd for the picnic otherwise we never would’ve met Jacq, Ninja and (eventually) Mei. :P

    Birthdays make me overly sentimental so I’ll end it here and say congrats again! I think the birthdays this year are just gonna get better :D

  • penny aka jeroxie March 11, 2010, 7:38 am

    Happy bloggy birthday and shall catch up in MELB!!!

  • Betty @ The Hungry Girl March 11, 2010, 8:58 am

    Happy blog birthday Simon!
    It was never my intention when I started my blog to meet people or make friends. So the fact that we’ve all met and have become friends, rather than just ‘weird internet people friends’ is pretty awesome :) Here’s to more foodie adventures this year!

  • Simon Food Favourites March 11, 2010, 9:11 am

    happy blog birthday! that’s a lovely recap of the year gone by. you’ve achieved so much in so little time. congratulations!!! :-)

  • Ellie March 11, 2010, 9:22 am

    So many parties, good food and great time. Happy 1st anniversary, looking for many more posts from you! P/S Glad you liked the crack pie!

  • betty March 11, 2010, 9:25 am

    happy 1st blog birthday, :O)

  • Rose March 11, 2010, 9:43 am

    Happy blog birthday! Here’s to many more years to come :)

  • Belle@OohLook March 11, 2010, 10:01 am

    Congratulations on surviving your 1st year of blogging. Hope there are many more good meals and posts to come.

  • Peter March 11, 2010, 10:07 am

    ♫ Happy Birthday to you ♫

  • Phuoc'n Delicious March 11, 2010, 12:35 pm

    Hi Simon!

    Congrats on reaching the 1 year mark! One year seems do far away for me but I’m sure there will loads of yummy food to come. Lovely post, you tied it well with all the blogger’s birthday. What a fun way to meet new people with the same interest.

  • Jacq March 11, 2010, 4:00 pm

    Happy blogiversary Simon! Now I know why your post took so long to write but it was a great recap of everyone’s birthdays so far. Thanks so much for inviting me to your birthday picnic otherwise I would never have met you guys and what a shame that would have been. I never thought I would forge friendships through blogging but it just goes to show how food can bring people together :) Looking forward to another year of posts!

  • Karen (missklicious) March 11, 2010, 6:47 pm

    Happy blog anniversary! Great recap!

  • Mark @ Cafe Campana March 11, 2010, 10:59 pm

    What a great time. Sounds like everybody had a great time. Looks like you had a great year blogging. Best of luck for many more.

  • Moya March 11, 2010, 11:40 pm

    Happy Blogday! I do believe it was your excursions to some of my favourite providores that led me to reading your blog – many delicious returns to come!

  • Katherine March 13, 2010, 8:59 am

    Happy Blog Birthday. I hope you have many many more Blog birthdays to come. As Helen has inspired you to start this blog, you have inspired other people to learn more about photography. I am one of them. Thanks for all your advice Simon. It helped a lot…

  • Simon March 13, 2010, 10:40 am

    Hi chocolatesuze! Thanks dude! Hopefully there will be many more to come :)

    Hi billy! Two years, huh? Nice work! It’s amazing the see amount of stuff that has happened over the past year, and I don’t just mean the stuff I’ve blogged about either!

    Hi Helen! You’re most welcome. It’s amazing how influences of one person have had ripple effects onto others.

    Hi Karen! Thanks! You could still celebrate, could you not?

    It seems that since last year, thinks have accelerated at an exponential pace! I’m amazed that the Sydney food blogging community are generally so open, friendly and social. As much as there were some downsides to the picnic, meeting with new people and catching up with other was not one of them.

    Hi penny! Thanks and we should! Sometime in May :)

    Hi Betty! I don’t believe anyone who starts a blog does it to meet people but it’s a great side effect of what we do, don’t you think? :)

    Hi Simon Food Favourites! Thanks man :)

    Hi Ellie! Thanks, and how could I NOT like your crack pie! Oh so good…! :)

    Hi betty! Thanks :)

    Hi Rose! Thanks! I hope that there are many more to come :)

    Hi Belle! Thanks, and believe me, I hope so too! :)

    Hi Peter! Aww, thanks man :)

    Hi Phuoc’n Delicious! Thanks! It may seem like it’s very far away but when you look back on it a year on, you’ll likely wonder where all the time went. That is, until you look over your extensive collection of posts and photos. I’ve been surprised with the number of food related things I’ve been involved with.

    Hi Jacq! Thanks! I really should be thanking you for going out on a limb to come to the party. Not everyone would have (or did). I’m sure that we collectively would have met with you eventually.

    I hope at some stage, you’ll do the same thing and invite people you haven’t met to one of the meetups you’ve organised. Spread the love :)

    Hi Karen! Thanks :)

    Hi Mark! Thanks, and it was a great time indeed! :)

    Hi Moya! Well, thank you for reading my blog, for those reasons! I hope that there are many more reasons in future to keep you coming back :)

    Hi Katherine! Thanks! It’s satisfying to know that I’ve been an inspiration of sorts, especially in the area of photography. Another blog with more emphasis on taking good quality photos can never hurt :)

  • Sarah Vino March 13, 2010, 12:51 pm

    Hey great blog! Happy aniiversaire!!! :)

  • Kitchen Butterfly March 13, 2010, 7:12 pm

    Happy birthday. I’m so glad, like many others that your memories of the last year as a food blogger have been ‘blessed’. I smile at the ‘when food arrives, everyone goes quiet and hungry people, rather than eat….take photos’. Congratulations again

  • foodwink March 13, 2010, 7:12 pm

    Happy 1st birthday to your blog. Looking forward to many more years of great posts and pictures from you.

  • The Ninja March 14, 2010, 3:18 pm

    You make the Shooter and I look good.

    I mean that in a nice way.

    Happy…um, birthday? Pass it on to your IP address…

  • Y March 14, 2010, 7:25 pm

    Love this post. Happy Birthday to the Heart of Food! :)

  • Amy @ cookbookmaniac March 15, 2010, 9:45 pm

    Happy 1st B’Day! I raise my glass, here’s to many more. The one thing that shouldn’t have surprised me but ultimately did, is how friendly the food blogging community is. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging. It fills up my little beating heart and I am so happy to have this as a hobby.

  • Ling March 16, 2010, 12:33 am

    i’m a newbie to yr food blog but i like what i see so far. happy bday and keep up the good work!

  • Lisa March 17, 2010, 5:36 pm

    Happy first Blogiversary to a true culinary artiste! :)

  • Leona March 20, 2010, 7:13 pm

    SIMoOoOoNn!!!!!! HAPPY BLOGINVERSARY!!!!!
    Its been great eating with you and your smiley face in the past year. (god cant believe its been almost a year since i first met u and the other bloggers).

    Look forward to many eating events withchu and that chunky-ass camera of yours.

    ^_^

  • Trissa March 21, 2010, 10:10 pm

    Happy Anniversary to you and your blog! I do enjoy the honesty of your posts and looking forward to more in the future!

  • yuki March 29, 2010, 4:11 pm

    Happy B’day!!!
    :D

  • Simon March 30, 2010, 12:52 am

    Hi Sarah Vino! Thanks!

    Hi Kitchen Butterfly! I’m glad I’ve been so blessed as well :)

    Hi foodwink! Thanks :)

    Hi The Ninja! Your outfits make themselves look good :P

    Hi Y! Thanks. Much appreciated! :)

    Hi Amy! The thing that surprises me, and does not cease to do so even to this day, is not so much that they are friendly but to the degree that they are.

    As costly and time consuming a hobby as this may be, I wouldn’t have it any other way :)

    Hi Ling! Thanks for the comment! Hope to see more of you around :)

    Hi Lisa! Culinary artiste? Surely you jest… :)

    Hi Leona! It’s been an absolute pleasure. Hope there are many more to come :)

    Hi Trissa! Thanks Trissa! I’ll do by best to “keep it real” :)

    Hi yuki! Thanks!

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