2018 Parma of the Year awards

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a quality holiday break. 2019 is now upon us but before we can crack into a fresh 12 months of the search for the perfect parma lets first get a bit retrospective and take a look back at the year that was 2018.

2018 was a quality year! We had parmas in cast iron skillets at GG EZ, we discovered the unholy abomination that was the Cheeseburparma at Father’s Office, we launched the first of a couple of video reviews with The Barwon Heads Pub we had a parma on the other side of the flippin’ planet in Galway, Ireland and even got a mention in both the Herald Sun and the Wall Street goddamn Journal!

Looking back on 2018 I’m surprised at how many decent parmas we found. Compared to 2017 (which I have since dubbed “The year of the stinkers”) the bad to good parma ratio definitely leans towards the good end of the spectrum.

As usual we have our two main awards for the year - Parma of the Year and Best New Parma of 2018. But before we get to that lets look at some honorary mentions for parmas that have impressed us last year

Biggest Parma

It was early in 2018 that we discovered the parma at the Workers Club in Fitzroy, and for quite a while it was the hot favourite to take home the Best new parma of 2018 award (like I said, competition this year was fierce).

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Not only was the schnitzel massive, engulfing everything on the plate, the chicken was of the purest quality, the toppings were fantastic and the sides brought it all together. It’s not often a big parma like this ticks so many boxes in other areas, but the parma at the Workers club managed to pull it off. Any other year this parma would have taken home a trophy, so I had to give it an honourable mention here at the very least. Check it out.

Most Creative Parma

In the year that we discovered the aforementioned Cheeseburparma you’d think the competition for most creative parma would be done and dusted, however while the Cheeseburparma was creative, the jury is still well and truly out as to whether it was any good. Enter multiple Golden Chook award winners The Imperial Hotel to introduce the world to the Pizza Parma…

A parma, sliced like a pizza that you can eat with your hands? Sign me up!

Best Home Delivered Parma

We didn’t get to many home delivered parmas this year, mostly because I’m running out of restaurants in my area that actually do parma delivery. Luckily of the two home delivered parmas we tried in 2018, the one from Frank’s Ristorante was pretty damn good!

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Bad boy chips, super thick schnitzel, slathered in toppings. Pretty much the best parma in the Essendon area you can enjoy without putting on pants!

Most Improved Parma

This one is gonna be a tad controversial, I’ll explain why in a moment.

Hardimans Hotel. Once a poorly lit dive bar in Kensington which served us this parma -

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(with a side of mice, that we could see running through the kitchen while we ate our parma), Underwent a truly stunning transformation in 2018, after being completely gutted both the pub and the parma served were totally unrecognisable, serving us this beauty on opening day …

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However. Almost instantly after the review went live I started hearing reports that the parma Hardimans is now serving is no longer the parmesan and prosciutto encrusted glory that you see above. It has been scaled back to a more traditional parma. Not bad, but definitely not as unique and special as the parma we reviewed. Will be doing further investigation on this one in 2019 so stay tuned. Hopefully before we get back for a re-review the Hardimans parma can be restored to what we reviewed, as it was truly something special.

Best Brewery/Parma Combo

To be perfectly honest I’ve just made up this category so I can give The Cheeky Pint in Footscray a mention. As I said competition for the top spot was fierce this year, we had so many good parmas but it wouldn’t feel right not even giving them a nod.

as it definitely deserves to be checked out. The parma was thick, plump and juicy, the wedges were on point, the mustard aioli was a triumph and the beers on tap were delightful (I recommend the tasting paddle)

Best New Parma

Alright! Now for the trophies. For newcomers the Best New Parma is the first of two awards we give out every year. Simply put the Best New Parma award goes to the best parma we ate in 2018. The highest scoring new addition to the list in the last 12 months, and this years winner shone high above all the fantastic parmas I have just listed - Congratulations to Abbotsford’s The Park Hotel.

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We’d tried it before in 2012 and, even though it was good back then, the new and improved Park Hotel parma is next level. Thick, plump chicken breast and lashings of smoked ham bring this flavour sensation to life, accompanied by perfectly seasoned chips and a tantalisingly fresh coleslaw that sides the parma perfectly.

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If you have yet to visit the Park (or their sister pub, The Royston in Richmond) I highly recommend you do. You won’t be disappointed.

Parma of the Year

While the Best New Parma goes to the best parma we had of 2018, Parma of the Year goes to the best parma we've had since ParmaDaze.com started in 2010 - and as none of the parmas we had in 2018 have topped the 2016 and 2017 winner a third trophy was delivered to Melbourne’s parma kings… The Birmingham Hotel in Fitzroy.

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Still fantastic after all these years, and consistently packing in the punters on their Tuesday & Wednesday $13 parma nights, not only is it the best parma in town its also the best parma night in town.

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A well deserved hat trick to The Birmy.

And with that another year is over! Massive thanks to all the readers for the support throughout the year, your comments, suggestions and abusive emails are what keep me going.

Another big thanks to the review team, When you drunkenly agreed to do a weekly parma with me after a filling meal and too many pints at Mrs. Parmas I bet you didn't think we'd still be doing it 8 goddamn years later. Couldn't do it without you all. Many, many thanks.

I hope you enjoyed our retrospective on 2018! I hope I didn’t miss any. Naughtons and The Last Jar were pretty great too.

New reviews kicking off next week. Stay tuned for a heap more fun in 2019!

Chicken Scratch - 'The Parmo'

It has been a bit of a break between scratches, as far as I can tell we haven’t done one since September 2015, with the only other two being in May of the same year.

Anyway, for the newcomers, a Chicken Scratch post is a spot for stuff that isn’t a parma review. Might be a news article or a debate or a special event … basically a soapbox for me to rant about something chicken parma related for a few hundred words. If that sounds interesting then read on, if not I’ll catch you next week! (We’re going to a new Brewery down in the Docklands, I reckon it should be pretty decent).

While the Parma Vs Parmi debate rages on in our fair country, with the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews even weighing in on the topic, a new challenger has entered the scene.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce The Parmo.

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Born and bred in Northern England (and sometimes referred to as the ‘Teeside Parmesan’ according to the Wikipedia page).

The Parmo has gained quite a cult following on the other side of the planet. Much like the Parma in Melbourne, in Northern England the Parmo has review sites, food trucks, plenty of media attention and even Geordie Shore’s Vicky Pattison tucked into one on a reality dating show.

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So what is a parmo and how does it differ from our beloved parma?

They’re very similar. Both start things off with a chicken schnitzel and cheese, however instead of a rich, tomatoey napoli sauce as we would use on a parma, the parmo swaps that out for béchamel sauce (aka white sauce), the stuff they put in lasagne that isn’t bolognaise.

According to the wiki, as with parmas, some novelty parmos have started appearing here and there, and are starting to blur the line between parmo and parma, for example…

  • Parmo hotshot - chicken or pork topped with cheese, pepperoni, peppers, garlic butter and chilli

  • Parmo Kiev - chicken only topped with cheese, garlic butter, and mushrooms

  • Parmo Italia - chicken or pork topped with cheese, garlic butter and ham, with a further topping of mozzarella cheese

  • Meat feast parmo - chicken or pork topped with pepperoni, chicken and ham

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“But ParmaDaze” I hear you say “Northern England is so far away, I’ve never seen a parmo here in Australia!”

Well dear reader, it turns out that the parmo invasion has already begun with Queensland the first to fall, as the “Pig & Whistle” chain of English pubs have had a parmo quietly on their menu since 2004.

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“In 2004, ex-pat Trevor Harrington was a regular at our Pig ‘N’ Whistle Riverside venue” Eloise Pierce, of Pig ‘N’ Whistle owners The Mantle Group, explained to Teeside Live.

“The manager at the time Arj - now our CEO - was close with Trevor and Trevor shared his recipe. After a lot of to and fro-ing to perfect the recipe, it eventually became a permanent fixture on the menu at Riverside - and it has never come off.”

Between the seven Pig n’ Whistle’s in Queensland they claim to sell over 2000 parmos a month. Right under our noses this whole time!

Now I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try a Parmo. While in London earlier this year I tried to track one down without any luck and I’ve yet to find anywhere in Melbourne with a parmo on the menu (if you find one, let me know).

What are your thoughts? Comment below if you think a parmo would be worth a crack, if you know of anywhere in Melbourne that we can try one, or if they should be stricken from the face of the earth.

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So remember, the next time you’re having a debate with your mate from Geelong over Parma or Parmi, the Parmo is quietly gaining popularity on the other side of the world. Teeside Live have even gone as far to claim that a “Parmo war is coming” between us and them.

Which side are you on?