Today is a special calendar day in the life of Gourmantic as we celebrate its 5th birthday. Since the website went live on 26 June 2009, it has grown with us while staying true to its prime directive, to share the best of travel, food and drink from all over the world.
Over 5 years, we’ve been privileged to meet many inspirational people, attend amazing events and enjoy the hospitality of many fine establishments in Sydney and abroad. We’ve had opportunities that we would have never dreamed of back in 2009.
Today, in celebration of the 5th anniversary, we’re boarding a time machine for a retrospective on the Top 5 experiences over the 5 years in the fields of travel, restaurants, bars, events, guest contributions and memorable moments.
Top 5 Travel Experiences
When we first launched Gourmantic, we chose to be largely anonymous. The focus was more on travel than local restaurant and bar reviews. We simply shared travel experiences, many with a culinary focus. Here are our favourite top 5 travel articles:
1. Tasting the Mediterranean
In 2010, I entered a global travel writing competition in the Travel & Food category and I won first prize. The piece was called Tasting the Mediterranean, a culinary coming of age story along the shores of the Mediterranean sea in Lebanon.
2. Swimming with Turtles at Bora Bora
The island Bora Bora is simply paradise on earth and the experience of Swimming with Turtles at Bora Bora puts you in a zen-like trance.
3. Dubai Desert Safari
There’s something magical and stomach turning about taking a Dubai Desert Safari then dining under the stars in the heat of the desert.
4. Tahitian Wedding
Our faces remain blurred in the photographs but the magical memories of our Tahitian Wedding in Moorea linger on.
5. Chateau d’Yquem 1899
It happened in Paris but not at a tourist landmark. It’s not every day you have the chance to stand in a shrine to Bordeaux grand crus wines at la Bordeauxtheque in Galeries Lafayette, beside a Chateau d’Yquem 1899.
Top 5 Restaurants
1. Le Jules Verne in Paris
There’s something unforgettable about celebrating a wedding anniversary and dining 125 metres above Paris at Le Jules Verne restaurant with the Eiffel Tower shimmering on the hour right outside your window table.
2. Locanda dell’Isola Comacina, Italy
Stunning water views, tranquility and tradition are what makes the experience at Locanda dell’Isola Comacina unforgettable, and nothing to do with the celebrities that frequent it regularly.
3. Sepia Restaurant, Sydney
Excellence in dining is what Sepia restaurant continues to provide.
4. Afternoon Tea at Burj Al Arab, Dubai
There’s something unforgettable about champagne being poured into a flute at arm’s length, while you nibble on a decadent high tea menu at Burj Al Arab high up above Dubai as the sun quietly sets over the Persian Gulf.
5. Sixpenny, Stanmore
Simply described as an experience we did not want to end, the occasion was a one-off dinner at Sixpenny of Stanmore with Sven Chartier of Saturne restaurant in Paris.
Honourable Mention – Although it took place before Gourmantic was born, the honourable mention goes to La Tour D’Argent in Paris, still the pinnacle of all our dining experiences anywhere in the world.
Top 5 Bar Experiences
We are fortunate in Sydney to have world class bars and bartenders so choosing 5 bars from a 5 year period was no easy choice. As regular frequenters of Sydney’s best bars, this section was the most difficult to write. Instead of favourites, we’ve chosen to reveal the top 5 bar experiences.
1. Eau de Vie Bar, Darlinghurst
Eau de Vie Bar, Sydney’s original speakeasy bar was where it all started. A singular experience sparked an instant passion for writing about bars and cocktails all the way back in 2011.
2. The Baxter Inn, Sydney
It’s no secret that we have a love of the dark spirit and whisky features predominantly in our articles. There is a whisky heaven in Sydney and it’s called The Baxter Inn. Whether it’s our first or nth visit, we leave in awe at the experience the team provides.
3. Bulletin Place, Sydney
The moment was the day the world was supposedly going to end. The bar was Bulletin Place and recently-crowned global World Class winner, Tim Philips made us an amazing cocktail of the menu. The world could have ended then and we would have been happy.
4. Eau de Vie Apothecary
The cocktail-only bar has just recently opened but that first experience at Eau de Vie Apothecary, thanks to Phil Gandevia (Dr Phil) sparkles like the finest champagne.
5. Naughty Penguin, Queenstown
When you stroll down a dingy lane in Queenstown, the last thing you expect is to come across the Naughty Penguin, a small bar with a talented bartender who, in just a short exchange, created one of the most memorable cocktails to a specific flavour profile.
Top 5 Events
After the early anonymous days, event began to feature predominantly on Gourmantic and we’ve been privy to some incredible experiences that are once again, difficult to narrow down to just 5.
1. Diner en Blanc 2013 at Bondi Beach
We were fortunate to be invited to both Diner en Blanc events in Sydney in 2012 and again in 2013. The sea of white in 2013 at Diner en Blanc Bondi Beach was an unforgettable sight and the beach party atmosphere was so elegant and so Sydney.
2. Glenmorangie Secret Society
An invitation to take part in the Glenmorangie Secret Society dinner was a real honour. The experience and the whiskies remain unforgettable.
3. Dita Von Teese and Cointreau
It’s not every day you have the opportunity to attend an intimate soiree with Dita Von Teese for Cointreau and the elegant lady lets you put your arm around her tiny waist for a photograph.
4. GQ Men of the Year 2013
We were honoured to be invited twice in two years to Chivas GQ Men of the Year. They were many special moments and inspirational people we met in 2013. A certain jaw may have dropped to the floor when Offspring’s Matthew Le Nevez smiled and rock legend Jimmy Barnes planted one on the cheek.
5. Hendricks Theatre of Curiosities
Hendricks gin is known for injecting a dose of quirkiness into the brand and the Hendricks Gin Theatre of Curiosities event with circus acts and sword swallowing was simply out of this world.
Top 5 Guest Articles
Over the 5 years, we’ve been fortunate to have guest writers share their personal experiences on Gourmantic. All our guest writers are personally known to us and in late 2013, we welcomed Ed Sullivan to the team.
1. The AB by Andy H
You’d have to be a local to know what the AB from Adelaide is all about and Andy’s guest article on this food has gained cult status.
2. Mr CBD 2014 by Ed Sullivan
Need we explain? Just check out the article on Mr CBD 2014 and the hotness he captured as it happened on stage.
3. Where to Eat in Paris: Restaurant and Bistro Guide by Mr Gourmantic/Kevin Burke
Mr G’s debut article was Where to Eat in Paris: Restaurant and Bistro Guide, based on his extensive travels to Paris.
4. Top 10 Experiences in Alaska by Craig S
What are the Top 10 Experiences in Alaska? Craig shared the best with us with spectacular photographs.
5. Get FUIC’d in South Australia by Dudley Fuxton
Again you’d have to be from Adelaide to Get FUIC’d in South Australia but we’ve seen it popping up around Sydney of late.
Top 5 Memorable Moments
Like good whisky, choosing the top 5 memorable moments needed time. A lot has happened in 5 years and there have been many jaw-dropping moments, “omg omg omg” uttered and happy dances around the office. Here they are, the top 5 listed in order.
1. Bartender Magazine Top 100 Most Influential
When Australian Bartender Magazine listed the Top 100 Most Influential in Australia, I scrolled down the list to see who to congratulate from our industry friends. The last thing I expected was to see my name listed among them.
2. Industry Judging
I had the honour of judging the Australasian Whisky Awards in 2013 and several Cocktail Competition including Laird’s Applejack, Mix It to Fix It, Mezcal Amores, Australian Bartenders Guild Cocktail Championship for 2013 and 2014, and a leg of the Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge 2013.
3. NY Times
By chance, I discovered that the prestigious NY Times had linked to my interview with Toby Smith of Toby’s Estate. There were happy dances around the office. This was soon followed by another article NY Times travel article on Paris.
It’s a great honour to be invited to vote for prestigious industry awards such as ALIA 2013, and World Best 50 Bars in 2013 and 2014.
5. Winning Grantourismo Travel Writing Competition
During those early anonymous beginning, under the pseudonym of “Ms Gourmantic”, winning the Grantourismo global travel writing competition meant a lot on a personal level. While it was a celebration for my passion for writing – it’s been in the blood, from a very young age – it was also a personal thank you to the amazing man who gave me the gift of writing and is no longer with us.
And there you have it, the 5 year retrospective on the best in travel, restaurants, bars, events, guest articles and special moments. On this special day, we would like to thank each one of you for your readership, your support and encouragement over the years.
Tonight, the Gourmantic team will be celebrating with a Progressive Food and Drink Tour around Sydney. Follow us @gourmantic as we will posting live updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #gourmantic5yo.