Keep Calm and Curry On

Get your diary and cross out whatever you thought you were doing this weekend and write ‘CURRY FESTIVAL’ all in caps.
 
The World Curry Festival will kick off this Friday 8th from 5:00PM with free entry. There will be curries (obviously) from around the world, curried beer and spiced cider, entertainment and of course you will have to check out what unusual ice cream flavours Frugii has concocted for this event.
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VenueWorld Curry Festival
Address: City Walk, Civic
Dates and times
8th July 5:00PM – 8:00PM
9th July 11:00AM – 8:00PM
10th July 11:00AM – 6:00PM
 
In the case of bad weather the event may be postponed, please click attending on the Facebook event for all the latest event updates.
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Fun filled weekend- Pasko sa Canberra 

Pasko sa Canberra must be the best kept secret amongst the Filopino community. It is an event proudly hosted by the Filopino community of the ACT in cooperation with the Philippine embassy, to allow people to experience Philippine Christmas in Canberra. This was the first year I’ve heard about it and I grabbed a friend to come with me even though we did not know what really to expect.

There was lechon (roasted suckling pig), halo halo and banana cue as far as the eye could see. My friend and I were wondering where this festival had been all our lives! The first stop had to be for lechon and some rice ($13.00?). I found the closest stall and ordered a ‘large box’, after being left behind and ignored for a bit after paying, I finally got some suckling pig with a little bit of rice; the meat was rather fatty with lots of bones but I still liked it. What we enjoyed the most was the small dabble of sauce from the braised pork dish, maybe I should have ordered that with rice instead. Next year we’ll have a better understanding of what to get.Sriracha chicken wings with rice ($8.00) from Kusina. We really should have stopped eating rice with everything but we couldn’t help ourselves. These chicken wings were more sweet that chilli hot and we really enjoyed this.Adobo and longanisa with yes… More rice ($15.00?). We were done snacking, if I was going to eat anything from a Filopino festival, it would have to be adobo and I finally found it in the far back corner of the festival. If you didn’t bite down on a peppercorn, it has a lovely salty garlicky sauce with succulent chicken pieces. I really want to do make this before the end of the year. My friend chose the longanisa sausage which reminded me of a sweeter version of Chinese sausage. Both were really tasty and I’m glad that we found such unique dishes that were so tasty amongst so many choices.Marinated pork shoulder skewer our sweet BBQ sauce of banana ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar and other secret stuff cooked over coals on our custom BBQ ($4.00) plus garlic rice ($1.00) and paw paw salad ($1.00) from Gee and Jem. We only ate the top third of the skewer as the rest of the meat was too fatty and chewy, which was a shame because the parts that we could eat were awesome! Yes, when I saw the option of garlic rice I couldn’t say no, it had a fabulous aroma and a beautiful crunchy texture.

I leave my friend alone for 5 minutes and she comes back with a banana cue and some sort of dough stick covered in sugar. We didn’t really like the banana cue (I thought it needed condensed milk, but I think everything could do with a little condensed milk) and the dough stick reminded me of a sweet version of Chinese youtiao.

Classic sans rival ($10.00) from Lolo and Lola. I was really disappointed that they had sold out of the mango sans rival (actually they had almost sold out of everything) but I happily bought the classic version which is layers of buttercream, meringue and chopped cashews. I cannot wait for their shipping container to be opened at Westside pop up village!
My friend and I had lots of fun and we are super keen to return to future events. I really enjoy Filopino food but I feel I need to take someone who knows more about it than I do otherwise I’ll keep eating just adobo and rice.

Fun filled weekend – The Big Smoque AAA BBQ festival

The Big Smoque AAA BBQ festival seemed like one of the most controversial Canberra events of the year. Even if you didn’t go, you would have heard by now the overwhelming bad reviews that drowned out the people who enjoyed themselves.

I didn’t experience a lot of the negativity that these people were angry about as I went to the earlier session but I think a lot of the anger stemmed from a multitude of things ranging from: 1) high expectations of the event because it was ticketed (i.e. “what does $12 get me?”) 2) the wait times for ordering and pickup 3) the limited amount of stalls that were selling food 4) prices 5) running out of food 6) and I also heard some complaints about the food.FNL-BBQ-logoI wonder how many times a year they bring out this giant cowboy boot.There wasn’t much clarity with how this event was going to run, I didn’t know if they were going to kick me out right on 3pm but they informed me I couldn’t leave the premises after 3pm without buying another time session to come back in, fair enough. I knew that there were going to be 12 competitors vying for ‘Grand Champion’ of the AAA BBQ festival but I didn’t know if they were going to be able to sell food while competing. It turns out that all the competitors were busy perfecting their BBQ before being judged by a panel and as a ticket holder I could only buy food from what looked like commercial vendors. I was a little saddened when I realised there were only 8 food stalls, 3 drinks stands and 1 selling hot sauce, but I only needed one good food stand to satisfy me.

I was excited to see so many tents until I realised less than half of them were selling food to ticket holders *sad face*We were given a wristbands and a bib and we were ready to eat.I grabbed my friend and we headed somewhere for ‘snacks’ straight away before we looked at all the stalls properly. First stop: Smoque stall, it was surprisingly the only stall selling chicken wings. Buffalo wings with blue cheese aioli (3 pieces for $5.00) and pountine ($10.00), not very ‘American BBQ’ but we were happy to try something new. I’ve always liked Smoque’s chicken wings and my friend who has never had them before also enjoyed them. I’m not the biggest fan of blue cheese but the sauce was a nice balance. The poutine was new to us both and we thought it was odd that there was no cutlery available to eat this, it isn’t a first date food but I liked how their left the potato skins on. It was messy to eat but pretty tasty for those who enjoy their chips drowned in gravy. After whetting our appetite and being able to think more clearly without becoming hangry, we decided a platter was the next thing we would purchase. My friend chose the $30.00 share platter from the Smoking Gun BBQ and we were disappointed to see the tiny portions with the most expensive menu item on site. It had bad potato salad, a bland slaw with some brisket, a sausage and a tiny helping of pulled pork but at least it had a tasty sweet pickle. After eating so much meat the crunchy slaw became a welcome palette cleanser and despite the small size the brisket and pulled pork was very moist and tasty. I still don’t understand what made this small portioned box so expensive.The heat was getting unbearable even though we had found a lovely spot under and umbrella so the next stop had to be a refreshing juice from Krave. Small juices were $5, my friend chose strawberry lemonade and I had pineapple lemonade, it was exactly what I needed and I couldn’t scull mine quick enough.We decided to eat one last thing before we headed to another food festival and I chose the Argentinian porky bites from Parrilla Argenchino, signs didn’t indicate how much they were but they ended up being $14.50 for a small portion. There was a line when we were first looking around but this time there was no one and we were served our food pretty much straight away. I liked how there were bones, fat and BBQed crispy edges, we had chosen a chimichurri sauce but it didn’t need anything because it was delicious on its own while it was hot. Definitely the favourite of the event for us.

No lines meant ordering straight away and being served straight away. You can judge from this photo how much pork was in one serve.I think the one thing I was disappointed with above all else was the lack of BBQed ribs, Rangers Texas BBQ might have had them but before 3pm they had sold out of everything with only pulled pork available after 6pm. Do not give me a rib bib if there are no ribs to eat people!

An overview of all the food vendors at the event, they had a mix of Argentinian, Vietnamese, Greek and Indian as well as those who specialise in American BBQ.There are many things they could learn from their inaugural event although I understand that it was their first year so I wasn’t too unhappy with the event overall but if I had come later with long wait times and more vendors running out of food, I would probably be singing a different tune. It did get expensive fast when between the both of us eating, drinking and buying some sauces we spent around $100.00!

 

Queanbeyan Carnivale – Multicultural Festival

 

I had to stop and clarify with a friend when she started to describe what sounded like a smaller Multicultural festival just across the border. Could it be? A festival in Queanbeyan that involves food which may have happening for years that I have never heard about?

The Queanbeyan Carnivale is on this Sunday and I am getting excited! One of my friends is performing and I’m hoping to make it out there to support her with a meat skewer in hand.

This is what I saw from the Visit Queanbeyan website but I’ve highlighted in bold what I actually read.

Queanbeyan’s Multicultural Spectacular

Queanbeyan celebrates it’s cultural diversity annually by holding the Multicultural Festival at Queanbeyan Park.  The festival features a stunning line-up of performances every year on the centre stage and sports plenty of great activities for the family, as well as dozens of food stalls.  The Carnivale theme was chosen to reflect on the energetic dance and music performances that abound from many different multicultural groups and the events lend the entire event a vibrant theme from the performances down to the food options which range from BBQs to sweet cakes to Asian delicacies.

Each year the park comes alive with all community groups working together to produce and offer the best in dance, food, and song to attendees. The result is quite diverse as Queanbeyan is home to many people including those from India, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Greece, Italy, the UK, and more, with each group offering their own song and dance performances.

The Queanbeyan City Council supports the festival along with the Queanbeyan Multilingual Centre, and everyone is encouraged to head out to take part in the festivities.”

Has anyone actually been to this? Please let me know what to expect.

Venue: Queanbeyan Carnivale – Multicultural Festival

Event date: Sunday 22nd February 2015

Address: Queanbeyan Park Lowe Street, Queanbeyan 2620 NSW

Opening times: 10am-4pm

Phone: 02 6285 6170

Website: www.qcc.nsw.gov.au

2014 Field guide to the Multicultural Festival

Due to an overload of festivities to attend today, I skipped my ritual of only attending a full day on Saturday at the Multicultural festival and went and had a sneak peak/taste test last night.

In past years, Friday night is usually only a big concert with Australian headliners and food really only happening on Saturday (Sunday is usually only filled with half the food stall holders). This is why Saturday is usually my primary day but now more food vendors have been opening up early for Friday night business.

Multicultural festival rules~ I have a few rules that I adhere to during the festival for convenience and comfortability which you might find handy.

  • Wear an across the body bag (or small one). Canberra might look dead for most of the year but this is the one weekend Civic will be packed to the brim and there will be a lot of snug situations. Plus it is easier to eat and drink with two hands.
  • Pack wetwipes and tissues. If you’re smart, you will share a lot of your different types of bread and finger food from around the world with friends and they will only give you one napkin.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I saw girls with 6 inch heels last night who tripped over many things. A lot of rubbish and cans end up on the ground, cable covers are running between every stall and even my friend gave up wearing her heels ten minutes in from a blister.
  • Look but don’t touch. If it is your first time at the festival, you may be tempted to eat the first thing that interests you. I like to scope out the whole place before I will buy any food, I remember what interests me, find my old favourites and see what is new.
  • Your stomach is valuable real estate. I don’t usually commit myself to a whole plate of curry or a whole sausage hot dog because I don’t want to get full from one country, I want to experience as much as possible.

Last year Turkish Gozleme stalls were plentiful, the year before that was Thai (so many satay skewers), this year I have noticed more Peruvian food (not that they are even close to being the dominate food) but there is a good mix of different cultures this year.

Ginger, lemon and mint iced tea ($5.00). It is hot this year is it was easy to start off with a drink. It isn’t common to find something that is non alcoholic and not a commercial soft drink so when we saw these iced teas at SpanThai we jumped straight on it. Don’t line up in the long line where people are waiting to order food, go straight to where you see girls with the iced tea (usually no line). This stall intrigued me as I looked over there were two massive paella pans, one filled with paella and the other with pad Thai. I guess if you had a craving for both Spanish and Thai food you can now find them in one convenient location.

20140208-081928.jpgHimalayan momos (6 for $10.00)– there is usually more than one stall selling these and in previous years I have found that some vendors have a ‘too thick of a dumpling wrapper’ to actually enjoy these and I just end up eating the filling. Last night I only saw one Himalayan vendor from the Tibetan society and they had very good momos. We got a mix of veg and meat dumplings but everyone agreed the meat ones were better.20140208-082036.jpgLoukoumathes homemade traditional Greek sweets dipped in honey topped with walnuts and sprinkled with cinnamon ($5.00). These are a festival must until I find a nice Greek family to adopt me. This year they have three package sizes ($5, $10 and $15), small is still big enough to share among a whole group of friends. I don’t know if it was just the small one I ate but it was more hollow and crunchy this year rather than a more honey soaked spongy texture. 20140208-082010.jpgThai chicken wings (3 for $5.00)– I know they aren’t anything special but I just can’t go past a chicken wing and these ones were served very hot and tasty. This stall also had an interesting looking shredded beef with sticky rice that I might try today.20140208-082047.jpgGrilled octopus – the same Thai vendor was selling grilled octopus and it was rather good, it had nice BBQed flavours without being overcooked and chewy.20140208-082057.jpgScotch egg a boiled egg, wrapped in sausage meat and then deep fried ($6.00). I had never seen this stall before and it never dawned on me that we have never had British food in recent years at the festival before either. Not being exactly sure what a scotch egg is, I go and inquire and as weird as it sounded I still bought one for experience sake and I figured if there is 5+ people eating, this thing it will all go. It wasn’t the prettiest looking thing and probably looked worse when we added a curry sauce on top. This was a boiled egg, covered in sausage meat and then deep fried, I couldn’t really taste much of the over cooked egg and it was predominately sausage that you could taste. Between all of us it still didn’t get finished but now I can at least dsay I’ve had a scotch egg.

Cute little figurines that are iconically Brittish.20140208-082207.jpgA cross section before the sauce.20140208-082222.jpg Topped with a nice curry sauce but it didn’t really help with what was underneath.20140208-082233.jpgDuring a greedy moment when we had just bought the scotch egg and everyone was trying some, I noticed a couple happily indulging in some oily looking bread (that stuff is so good) so I had to go ask what it was. It was from the Serbian White Eagles FC stall and it was a Burek with cheese ($8.00) which tasted like a flaky pastry (close to filo pastry) cooked with a lot of fetta cheese in the layers. Of course I had to get one, at the stall they mention to each other that is the last few, I couldn’t tell if they were making more. It was hard to share at first with the pastry being very hot and it was part flaky part soggy but I’m glad I got one.20140208-082251.jpgDutch pancakes ($10.00 a plate). Yes they still have long lines but we didn’t have to wait long. Still very good and maple syrup and ice cream is still the best topping.20140208-082443.jpgWaffle on a stick ($5.00 with another $2.00 for the melted chocolate). This was pure gimicky but the waffle batter smelt nice enough for me to get one. While waiting for our order, the stall lights went out but not their power so they were making waffles in the dark. It was mediocre, a bit dry and probably not worth the money.20140208-082504.jpgChip on a stick ($5.00). I guess it was inevitable that someone got one especially since there were two stalls at either end of the festival this year.20140208-082300.jpgFreshly squeezed OJ ($5.00 a cup). It comes from a big orange with an annoying voice recording blasting from the side. It wasn’t in the least bit particularly sweet but I was thirsty, didn’t want soft drink and the iced tea place was too far. I wouldn’t bother getting one though. 20140208-082451.jpgQuesadillas with beef mince I had a nibble of someone’s and I rather enjoyed it. I might even get some more today.20140208-082435.jpgPortuguese pork belly ($8.00?). Needless to say that we tossed the bun aside as it was too thick and didn’t add anything to the meal. The pork belly was crispy, thin and with a good amount of fat but I didn’t think it was anything special or worth trying again.20140208-081946.jpg20140208-081956.jpgPupusas and something delicious from the Colombian stall. This is what kind of descriptions you get when confused friends come back with a plate ‘I’m not quite sure’ type of descriptions. I enjoyed the ‘other thing’ that was a half moon shape more than the pupusa. It had a corn meal type of shell with a delicious meat filling that went really well with the nondescript condiments. The pupusa is a flat bread with a thin layer of beans (maybe also meat?) inside.20140208-082022.jpgMr. Papa Peruvian street food. I was told this is what to get from a friend (thanks Dan!). Of course I was going to come back for the fried potato croquette looking thing (papa $10.00) that I enjoyed so much last year but this year they also had a pork sandwich with sweet potato (chanchito $12.00). Both were very good and worth lining up for. This does break my ‘no huge sandwich from one place’ rule but we cut them in quarters so it wasn’t too bad. The pork was moist, nice bits of fat and crispy on the shredded outer edges, my three favourite textures of pork Mmmmm. This might be my favourite stall again second year running!20140208-082321.jpg

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20140208-082405.jpgPersian ice cream rosewater and saffron. I nice creamy texture with a strong rosewater taste. A nice change to the typical flavours.20140208-102132.jpg

I am keen to see the other stalls that hadn’t set up last night and find if there are any Sicilian desserts this year, has anyone see them?

P.S. I will also be getting my beloved Hungarian deep fried bread today.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Okay maybe not Christmas in the traditional sense, but to me the Multicultural festival (also known to others as ‘beer and meat on a stick day’) is the most wonderful time of the year.

I’ve been counting down the days til the 8th February (it goes from the 7th – 9th but I like to go on the Saturday). It will be a 35 degree Summer’s day so bring a hat, a fan, lots of coins and some comfy walking shoes. See you there! ^___________^ Happy munching!
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