Monday, 20 January 2014

2013: Year Wrap Up

It has been, to say the least, a crazy year. Matt quit his job to join me working at The Green Edge, and now we run the kitchen (oh gosh how did this happen); Delicious, Regardless continues to go strong; and suddenly it's 2014! After the Beyoncé fiasco (lol who would release an album that close to the end of the year OH WAIT), I thought it would be best to wait until 2013 was well and truly done before doing my End Of Year list and, some two weeks later, I've finally got around to it.

So: what awesome things happened in 2013?

Artisan Soy Food Makers Appeared Out Of Nowhere
Seemingly out of nowhere, and within a matter of months, I became aware of local miso makers Sasakani Kobo and local tempeh makers Totally Tempeh and I had to wonder WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN ALL MY LIFE. None of that pasty pastured "miso" from the supermarket, nor that beige, vaguely sinister tempeh product; this was the real deal.

With the new year, both are continuing to go strong. Totally Tempeh now offers conventional (non-organic, non-GMO) and organic tempeh, with plans to introduce a marinated tempeh. Sasakani Kobo are taking a short break, but will be restarting their Miso Making Classes from March; and if you just can't wait, you can also book in an individual class with Mayumi!

We also learned (behind everyone else in SEQ, apparently!) about Healthy Pulse, incredible, fresh tofu made on the Gold Coast. Their tofus are available at Genki Mart, and are served at Saké.

Read about our experience at Sasakani Kobo's Miso Club, and about our first time trying Totally Tempeh.

Brisbane's Raw Revolution
Despite the very sad end of Raw & Peace's Northey Street Markets stall (I still dream of that caramel cream cake! (and that they'll give up on Bali and RETURN TO ME)), Brisbane's appetite for raw food continues to grow. Orawgi opened up in Wooloongabba in the middle of the year, follow a couple of months later by 48 Degrees in Windsor (opened by none other than my own sister!). We have both been extremely impressed with the food at both of these places, and look forward to seeing what they come up with this year!

Veganism Is Nearly Popular!
It seems that Brisbane's vegans are finally dining out, and restaurants have responded in a pretty incredible way. Urbane started their Vegan Dinners, to much acclaim from veg and omnivores alike (and our sources tell us that Urbane has some very exciting things planned for 2014!), restaurants of all shapes and sizes are feature vegan items / menus or are happy to accommodate people (we had a great meal at Bacchus, who, rather than simply veganising their vegetarian degustation, came up with an entirely new (and quite wonderful) menu; Cabiria surprised and delighted me with their menu (crepes!); Mondo Organics also fed us a wonderful meal, which inspired the Vegan and Vegetarian Society of Queensland to go there for one of their monthly dinner!).

Our meal at Mondo Organics
With the announcement that the people behind Gerard's Bistro are launching a charcuterie-focused bar featuring vegan meats, I'm sure the trend will only continue in 2014.

Read about our first dinner at Urbane, our lunch at Mondo Organics, and my experience at Cabiria. We will eventually get around to writing up the review of Bacchus and posting it!

But The Winner Is... (we're all winners!)
Without a doubt my favourite place to eat in 2013 was Colle Rosso. Their pizza was an absolute revelation when I first tried it, and every time I eat it (the amount of times which I cannot even count), I am reminded that there is still good in this world and gosh it tastes amazing. I was very pleased to join them for the opening of their new location, L'angolo Bistrò at Hamilton, which continues their excellent standard in a more relaxed setting. I'm already looking forward to returning many times in 2014.

Read my slightly over-the-top but completely true love letter to Colle Rosso.

Unfortunately, I was less able to support my cookbook addiction last year, but thankfully we were lucky enough to test some amazing cookbooks. My two picks from last year are undoubtedly Fran Costigan's "Vegan Chocolate" (make the chocolate truffle; seriously. You will never look back because you will be so huge from eating them all because they're so delicious) and Julie Hasson's "Vegan Pizza". We were cooking pizza pretty much every night for about a month and we didn't get sick of it because IT WAS ALL SO DELICIOUS. Dreena Burton also followed up the fantastic "Let Them Eat Vegan" with her "Plant Powered 15" eBook; only 15 recipes but GOSH what recipes! Despite how natural and wholesome they are, I could pretty much live on the Sticky Almond Blondies. And oh my gosh, Macnificent; if you're obsessed with her Mac Oh Geez, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Honourable mentions go to Brian L Patton/The Sexy Vegan's "Happy Hour At Home" (because he makes the sort of food I want to eat all the time forever) and Tamasin Noyes' "Grills Gone Vegan" (because I haven't had a chance to make anything from it apart from THE GREATEST Buffalo sauce I've ever eaten).

2013 was a great year for songs, not so much a great year for albums, but it did serve up some surprises. Beyoncé dropped her new eponymous album completely out of the blue just as everyone had pretty much written off anything else happening in 2013; Boards of Canada released their first album in 8 years; Lorde appeared apparently out of nowhere and jumped straight to the top of the charts and Best Of 2013 lists; Miley Cyrus finally committed Hannah Montana to death by twerking and actually made a pretty decent pop album out of it... and somewhere in the middle of this, I actually did listen to more than pop music. Maybe we should talk about that.

2013's Bests
M.I.A. - "Y.A.L.A."
I couldn't pick between this and "MATANGI", but I think I could put this on repeat and listen to it forever. Recovering from the rather mixed bag of /\/\/\Y/\ (MAYA), and one album delay after another, M.I.A. put out an album that, while perhaps not as consistently good as her two first albums, contains some of the best tracks of 2013. Let's hope she doesn't threaten to quit music again, because she may just be more important to pop music than we thought.

Woodkid - "Run Boy Run"
Who knew that the director of Lana Del Rey's "Blue Jeans" and "Born To Die" would make an album next? Even more, who suspected it would actually be really good? I probably played this album non-stop for about a month, but it was this song that got me into it, and it's this song that I will continue to return to: smiling and crying, it's what I do best.

Tricky - False Idols
One wouldn't be wrong for imagining Tricky's career as a series of diminishing returns, but at some point in the mid-00s, he seemed to turn things around and, since 2008's Knowle West Boy things have been looking up for the Tricky Kid. False Idols signifies an artist finally happy to stop fighting the "trip hop" label he has been trying to escape since his first album. The result is his best album since 1998's Angels With Dirty Faces. Pick tracks: "Valentine", "Tribal Drums", "Does It", "Passion Of The Christ".

Moderat - "Last Time"
Is it unfortunately that the best track on Moderat's (long delayed, but well worth the wait) second album was relegated to a deluxe edition bonus track. Thankfully, it is getting a well-deserved single release. Unfortunately, they won't be coming to Australia on their upcoming tour. Boo.

Lorde - "Tennis Court" / "400 Lux"
As much as I enjoyed "Royals" when it first came out, I would've been very happy if Pure Heroine had simply been these two tracks on repeat. Perhaps she should stop Single White Female-ing Lana Del Rey, perhaps she still has a lot of growth in music to go, but these two tracks show she is well on her way. Here's to an even better sophomore release.

Kanye West - Yeezus
I really hate to echo every other Best Of 2013 list, and I also really wish Kanye West were less good at what he does because, to be honest, he seems like a bit of a prick BUT UNFORTUNATELY he's really good at it, and seems to only be getting better at it. Thankfully free of the obscenely long featured artists lists that (in my opinion) plagued My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus is minimal and streamlined, from the (lack of) artwork to the precise production on all 10 tracks. Despite covering a range of genres and themes, it all feels like one cohesive work (though I wouldn't be sad if "Bound 2" were taken off...), and "New Slaves" is pretty much the reason rap exists, and it's good to be reminded of that. Pick tracks: "Black Skinhead", "I Am A God", "New Slaves", "Blood On The Leaves".

HK119 - "Snowblind"
I was ridiculously excited for HK119's new album, and discovering Christoffer Berg (the producer of Fever Ray) produced it pretty much put me over the edge. While the album is enjoyable as a whole, "Snowblind", the first single off the album, is certainly the standout.

Janelle Monáe - "Givin Em What They Love"
As much as I wasn't enamoured with the the rest of The Electric Lady, this track kills it, in every way possible. Monáe's soulful voice over Prince's (I'm sorry but there's no other word) undeniably funky guitar... You don't know what you should do, but you know it would be right.

Agnes Obel - Aventine
I loved "Riverside" from Obel's debut Philharmonics, but the rest of the album never clicked with me, so it took me a while to listen to her second album. When I finally did, I could not stop listening. From the first track, you are drawn into a world of beautiful pathos, Obel's haunting voice just out of your reaching, pulling you in further and further... In a year of mostly disappointing albums, the planets aligned perfectly for Obel. Don't let the sparse arrangements and delicate piano fool you: this is an album that quietly demands your full attention, and when it lets you go, you will be back for more. Pick Tracks: "Fuel To Fire", "Smoke & Mirrors"

Adalita - All Day Venus
Someone give her a damn ARIA already. For everything. Adalita (along with Nick Cave) may be Australia's last hope for rock music, and this album certainly cements that. Forgoing the softer sound (but not the sentimentality) of her debut solo album, All Day Venus finally gets Adalita back to rock, where she belongs. It took me a few months to get into this album, but once I was in, I couldn't stop listening. She's performing at Laneway on January 31, so if you're going, make sure you see her. Pick Tracks: "Annihilate Baby", "All Day Venus", "He Wrote", "Heavy Cut". (sample is available here)

Honourable Mentions
A$AP Rocky - "Long Live A$AP". I don't want to say he's the Kanye of trap, because Kanye is the Kanye of everything but... he's the Kanye of trap.

Annie - "Invisible". Steering clear of the bubblegum pop of the rest of the A&R EP, this dark track gives me hope for Annie's much delayed third album.

Beyoncé - "Haunted". I don't think Beyoncé has ever had a great album, but she's had some great songs, and this is one of them. (Preview here)

Britney Spears - "Perfume". Among the best pop songs of 2013, it's a relief to hear Britney sing without that sex kitten purr that so often mars her songs.

Charli XCX - "Grins". A moment of pure ecstasy in an otherwise uneven album.

Sleigh Bells - "Bitter Rivals". What I've missed from Sleigh Bells; it's a shame about the rest of the album.

And finally, I am ashamed to admit that I only just found out about this, but quite possibly the greatest thing from 2013 is "Cinderoncé", Cinderella told using Beyoncé songs.

And with that, I wish you all a very Happy (and extremely belated) New Year! Thank you for your support; all the best for 2014!

- James


  1. I'm glad I could share one of those Colle Rosso meals with you in 2013! My resolution for 2014 is to get my hands on some of that fresh tempeh on a future Brisbane trip.

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