I don’t know what it is about being here in Sydney but I have really had an urge to get out and explore everything this city has to offer. I want to be at every festival, try every café and restaurant from the quirky to the five-star. I want to know the city like a local. It’s something that I never felt in Florence. I was explaining the difference to one of my housemates earlier today, I don’t know what it is, if it was a lag on my behalf or a fault of Florence but the whole social focus was just different. For a place where there is such a major focus on food, I found it strange that there was less media floating around about where to find the best of everything. Maybe it was just a language barrier.
Regardless, the other day while I was working away behind the hotel bar, the glossy cover of The (Sydney) Magazine caught my attention. At first because it was yet another awesome source of journalism about this equally awesome city but then because I saw the words on the cover.
The Crave International Food Festival.
What could be better? One of my biggest pet peeves in Florence was the lack of international food. Okay, I know that it is some of the best food in the world (I know, okay!!) but the thing is that I like variety. I like spice. And while I’ve given up some of that fabulous, melt-in-your-mouth pasta and the stuff that warms your bones on the worst of winter days, I’ve gained equal amounts of asian spices and Aussie fusion food in return. It’s a trade-off and it’s one that thankfully I don’t completely have to choose between due to the strong family ties that will constantly keep pulling my boyfriend back to his homeland.
Reading that the Crave Food Festival lasted the entire month of October meant that I might actually have a day off to participate, seeing that most of the events were available only by purchasing tickets meant that I had to be very choosy. With so many of the world’s fantastic chefs, food events in Sydney are not cheap. Thankfully with the night noodle markets, you only have to pay for what you eat!
I did a bit of research before going and read in this article by the Sydney Morning Herald that Longrain Thai was a popular spot to get yellow curry. I have to say that the article was a bit misleading because after waiting in the line as it snaked for fifteen minutes in and out of the scattered plastic dining tables, I arrived at the stall to see that there were only three dishes on offer, and yellow curry was not one of them. Given the popularity of wagu beef in all cuisine in Sydney these days, the decision was easy and both Lorenzo and I opted to try out the wagu beef and rice noodle soup. I added a pat of chili paste on top and was thankful for the extra kick. The sweet sauce blended well with the spicy chili and it reminded me of one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes, Pho! At AUD15 a bowl, I’m not sure I’d say it was worth it on it’s own, but for the atmosphere of the glowing lanterns and happy Sydneysiders chatting away over wine and noodles, the food was a welcome addition.
As an appetizer (that’s entree for you Aussie’s out there) we headed first to the opposite end of Hyde Park, nearest Museum Station and I spotted the East Ocean Restaurant. My housemates had visited the Haymarket eatery just weeks earlier and said it was lovely so I chose that as our Yum Cha stop. We grabbed the Mix Dim Sum box with a side dish of chicken-something. The exact name escapes me but it was a mix of marinated chicken with mushroom in a lettuce cup. Each of the offerings were tasty, although some of the textures in the dim sum was a bit unsettling. Lorenzo says that’s because I waited too long as I was much too busy tweeting photos of the food instead of eating. Sometimes significant others just don’t understand the busy, in-the-moment work of journalists! 😉
I’d like to give it another go, the softly lit park was definitely a fantastic atmosphere against the bright lights of the big city. Next time I’d love to stand in line (no matter how long) and give the famous Malaysian Mamak a try. Maybe I’ll do a bit more research and find out what else might be worth the wait. Accompany it all with a bottle of Brown Brothers red and I think it would make for a lovely, picnic-style date in the park!
The Night Noodle Market runs weekdays from 10-14 of October and 17-21 of October from 5pm in Hyde Park, Sydney.