This year has been many things to many people, but here at Region Media we used the time to refocus on food and wine – and didn’t our readers love it!
With renowned food columnist and travel editor Michelle Rowe at the helm, we took you to cosy bars, upmarket restaurants, corner bakeries and street stalls.
We introduced you to makers, to bakers, to growers and gourmets, and packaged up some of the very best places to wine and dine.
Here are 12 of the food and wine stories you loved in 2020 – and rest assured, there will be many more to come in 2021.
COVID-19 delivered a massive hit to the hospitality industry, but Leeroy and Sophia from popular watering hole Caribou Kingston created their own little bit of positivity.
They set up the whole front of the shop like a big takeaway, Canadian pub-style. They offered take-home Caesar cocktails, famous Canadian clamato juice cocktails, and even Cryovacked their own special vodka/Caesar mix.
Canberra in winter can be chilly, but Michelle Rowe reckons there’s an upside to the cold. What else to do but cosy up in a hotel bar?
Here she delivered our picks of the best of the bunch – and we reckon they rock in summer, too.
In 2020, Canberra continued to set the pace for fine food. Sage Dining Rooms was named Australia’s best fine-dining restaurant.
Sage pipped at the post the likes of Shannon Bennett’s lauded Vue De Monde in Melbourne, and NSW Blue Mountains favourite Silk’s Brasserie.
Kingston’s buzzing East Hotel, home to Joe’s Bar and the popular Agostinis Italian restaurant, took out 23rd spot among Australia’s top 25 hotels.
As part of our Five Minutes With… series, we caught up with Mini Gaundar, the driving force behind enduring local favourite Rama’s Fijian Indian Restaurant in Pearce.
Robii Khalil is a marvel in the kitchen, Hamish Walker is a magician with smoked meats and coffee, and Phillip Sacksady is a customer service whiz. Together, they’ve just ticked over their five-year anniversary as owners of popular local venue, the Meating Room – a buzzing cafe, grill and bar that has become a valued part of the Weston Creek community. Sophia Brady introduced us to the gang.
Oscar’s Bakery Cafe adapted to the COVID-19 curveball with a new Bake at Home menu featuring a decadent range of meals and snacks. Lasagne with house-made pasta, spinach and ricotta cannelloni, gozleme, vegan potato borek and a selection of pastries and croissants were among 32 items on the menu. Michelle Taylor gave us the good oil.
Have you been to Kukula’s? The city restaurant specialises in tender, fragrant Portuguese-style flame-grilled chicken meals, but that’s not all that’s on the menu. With burgers, wraps and pockets, fresh salads, garlic bread, scrumptious sweet potato fries and paella also on offer, it’s not surprising there are franchise outlets in the works.
How is an empanada different from a meat pie? Standing in front of La Empanada’s glass counter in Gungahlin and looking at the rows of half-moon pastries, you can’t help but wonder.
We asked owners André and Andrea for an explanation.
The legacy of Queanbeyan’s legendary Central Cafe – and its even more legendary mixed grill – lives on with the opening of Bean Central cafe. The Central Cafe closed its doors in 2018, but Matt Morrissey revived the Monaro Street site and tipped his hat to its former glory.
As social distancing hit businesses and confined many of us to our homes, one clever enterprise geared up and took its business to its customers.
Farrah’s Liquor Collective launched a new online store, making its vast stock of wine, beer and spirits available for home delivery.
Local bakery UNDER has earned a reputation as a Southside Farmers Market favourite, but this year it opened its doors at a brick-and-mortar store in Mawson.
And it was in good company in the suburb, joining the ranks of well established Italian Continental Bakery, which has been pumping out some of Canberra’s best cannoli for more than three decades, and Al Manoosh.
Like many Canberrans, chef Frankie Bodel lost her job because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but baking sourdough bread proved to be the perfect starter.
As the pandemic took hold, Frankie said she found baking to be a very calming process.
“The simplicity of only a few ingredients can create something so incredibly nurturing,” she told Region Media. “The smell in the house is like a big warm hug – something you can’t get from just anyone nowadays.”