Well its December. The month where families gather to spend time with their loved ones, exchange heartfelt gifts, and read about which chicken parmigiana we thought was the best. It has been an interesting year for ParmaDaze, We enjoyed a parma in an American style diner, a parma designed by a MasterChef Champion, a Curry parma in a Japanese restaurant, a few parmas and some other heart-attack inducing grub on a road trip through the Southern United States, sampled every parma we could get our hands on during a week in Byron Bay and went yet another year without recording a new episode of our podcast.
Coleslaw seemed to be the big addition to parmas in 2016, it seemed like every second parma we had was sided with a serve of 'slaw as opposed to the traditional salad. I'm not complaining, a good slaw can really drive a parma home, but it is interesting to note that the trend seems to be swinging that way.
Now, for the Parma of the Year awards we normally give out two trophies, one for best parma overall (the top of the leaderboard) and another for best new parma that we found that year. As we have a new leader in 2016 our Parma of the Year and Best New Parma categories are one and the same, which means we only handed out a single trophy this year ... Only one award? That's no fun! So I've decided to hand out some honorary mentions for parmas of 2016 that have impressed us in other ways...
Ahh the chips. Nobody really cares about the salad, but everyone cares about the chips. But which ones stood out? We had some great examples of potato goodness in 2016 - But the absolute standout in my mind would be the roasted duck fat potatoes from the Empress Hotel
Seeing chip after chip every week its rare that we come across a form of fried potato beside a parma that makes me stop and think "damn, thats unique", and while not technically chips they definitely got our attention. Crisp and crunchy on the outside opening up to fluffy clouds of potato inside. Fantastic flavour that barely needed seasoning – I could have easily downed a full plate of these solo. A very welcome change from the norm and something I'd like to see a lot more of in the future.
Most unexpectedly impressive parma
How we choose a location for our parma reviews every week depends on a lot of factors. Sometimes its a parma we've just heard about that does something unique or interesting, sometimes its a parma we've been recommended by readers, sometimes its a decent looking parma I spied on Instagram, and sometimes your wife is on late shift so you can't be bothered going far from home - You can normally spot these ones, they're the ones at pokies pubs or cafes, usually around Essendon or Moonee Ponds simply because we don't have time to travel far on a Thursday night - Hopes are never very high for these ones, which is why, when we found the parma at Crème, I was stunned.
I had written off the Crème parma as crap before we walked in the door, imagine my surprise when this sizeable and flavoursome bird fell in front of me. This isn't right! Crème is a cafe, not a pub! None the less they turned out an extremely enjoyable parma that I am thrilled to know is nearby when I need it.
Most improved parma
We had quite a few redo's this year, more than any year previous, and in that bunch of revisited pubs I was surprised at how many of them actually managed to pull up their socks and improve their product. Picking a winner for most improved parma is tough as there were so many good ones. In fact, I'm gonna need to call this one a tie, between The Rose Hotel in Fitzroy and Richmond's Royston Hotel.
The Rose Hotel underwent an amazing transformation. Both the parma and the pub itself are virtually unrecognisable. When we originally had it in 2010 it was absolutely horrible with zero redeeming qualities (other than the breadstick, which was a nice addition). In 2016 it was a damn fine bird. Quality chicken breast, tasty toppings, an all round hearty meal.
The Royston wasn't that bad to begin with, but they turned it into something phenomenal. If you throw out the scores for Chips, Salad and Value the Royston's parma is our second highest rated of all time, behind this year's Parma of the Year Winner. Both well deserving of the title of most improved parma.
Best Pub Dog
Who doesn't love a good pub dog? Who wouldn't want to be a pub dog? It isn't even a competition, this year's award goes to Billy at the Palace Hotel
Billy walks around the Palace likes he owns the place, and rightfully so, his face is literally on the walls in the beer garden and on the logo for the pub itself.
Oh, and the parma isn't half bad either.
I could go on, But there's a reason you're reading this post. It's time for the parma of the year...
Parma of the Year
Who would have thought when we walked into our first review of 2016 that we would be walking in to a new #1 parma for ParmaDaze. It's no secret so lets no bury the lead, Parma of the Year for 2016 goes to the outstanding Birmingham Hotel.
Its always controversial when a new leader is crowned, but I stand by it ... The above photo was taken last weekend when we presented the Birmy with their award and the parma is as tasty as it was in January. If you haven't yet you can read our original write-up here. Absolutely outstanding.
The lads at the Birmy were super stoked to receive their award. Always nice to see, quickly taking prime position over the front bar...
Congratulations to the Birmingham. An award well earned.
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 - Especially those who have already signed up to our 2017 Parma Knight's membership program, you guys are the real MVP's (memberships still available here ... Would make an awesome Christmas gift for the parma lover in your family ... Just sayin').
Also big thanks to the review team, When you drunkenly agreed to do a weekly parma with me after a filling meal at Mrs. Parmas I bet you didn't think we'd still be doing it 6 years later. Couldn't do it without you guys. Many thanks (although you need to get off your collective asses and come record another podcast with me).
Have an awesome holiday season, I'll most likely be posting of my exploits on Instagram more than anywhere else so that's probably worth following if you aren't already.
Should be back in action mid-January 2017 ... Catch you then!