Sunday, 29 January 2012

Viet Fest

Annually, about a week after Vietnamese/Chinese New Year, there's a 3 day (Friday to Sunday) Vietnamese New Year Festival - Tet, formerly situated at Warwick Farm, and currently at Fairfield showgrounds.  It's a great way to be part of the Vietnamese hype for Tet, with authentic Vietnamese cuisines, garden displays, the classic lotto, and of course, the stage entertainment!
Front gate, embellished with the original Vietnamese Flag and the Australian Flag, as well as the traditional Vietnamese red firecrackers.
I go almost every year, because I just love being part of this busy Tet atmosphere, and even though it does get boring (the activities and stalls are almost the same every year, lots of freebies, lots of kids rides and rip-off chance games), I LOVE the food there :) 

First off, my friend and I ate "Bò Lá Lốt" - beef in Betel leaf.  This leaf can't actually be eaten in any other form, besides Vietnamese soup ("canh").  The betel leaf has a very strong savoury taste, and when this dish is done properly, the juices of the beef and leaf should arise every time you take a bite.  This is arguably one of my favourite hand-held Vietnamese dishes :). 
On the traditional Vietnamese BBQ, there's always bound to be this dish, along with seasoned corn on the cob (it's brushed lightly with chopped scallions/shallots in oil (hành mỡ), and "nem nướng", which is the name for Vietnamese grilled pork skewers.
Bò Lá Lốt up close - the betel leaf wraps the generous serving of beef.  Usually, at home, we have smaller servings of beef, so we wrap about 2 to 3 small betel leaves around a small serving of beef, and we don't put it on a skewer.  Another style of presentation of this dish is to have 3 or 4 small Bò Lá Lốt servings placed horizontally onto a skewer.

Vietnamese cuisine is known for many other things, such as "chè", which is a sweet dessert soup, and the traditional "cà phê sữa đá", which is Vietnamese iced coffee.  Luckily, this gelato shop has these flavours and other favourites served in a cone!

There were 7 flavours to choose from: "Sô Cô La" - Coveted Chocolate, "Hạt Sen" - Luscious Lotus, "Chè Ba Màu" - Trippy Trio with Pandan/Coconut/Red Bean, "Trái Xoài" - Melodramatic Mango, "Trái Vải" - Lychee (with some lime and mint), "cà phê sữa đá" - Very Vietnamese Iced Coffee, and "Kem và Sô Cô La" - Creamy Choc Crunch.

I bought my "cà phê sữa đá" gelato!
Yummmm :)
Behind me is the stall "De Colores", and my grandma's part of that stall.  It's a charity stall that sells traditional Vietnamese food, including "bún bò huế" - haha, my family's secret recipe happens to be a bestseller at that stall :)  Unfortunately my friend and I couldn't try anything from De Colores, because there were too many customers and when we came back the 4th time, all the food was sold out :(.  However, if you ever come to this Tet festival, please come and visit this amazing food stall!! :) They sell a lot of hand-held traditional Viet dishes, along with other famous dishes like "hột vịt lộn" (steamed duck egg) and "Bún Thịt Nướng" (Viet rice noodles with BBQ pork and vegetables).

Although this isn't traditional vietnamese, these Malaysian fish balls sure were good!!! And you can't go wrong with a dash of Sriracha Chilli sauce!! :)
Yeah so throughout the 3 or so hours we were there, we walked around the whole place 3 times, and ate a lot of food :) We also had chicken kebabs and Easy-Way style drinks.

Traditional Vietnamese wall hangings with lucky words, and the "hoa anh đào" (cherry blossom) and the "hoa vạn thọ" (marigold flowers)
Hehe, my friend and I while waiting for the Bò Lá Lốt :)
It was the first time my friend went to this Tet festival, and she said she really loved the food there, so that's a thumbs up for me :)
Amidst the stage entertainment were acts from local primary schools, and Vietnamese entertainers, as well as several Vietnamese HSC High Achievers, who get a monetary prize and plaque proudly supported by the Australian Vietnamese Community in NSW for getting an ATAR (percentile) of 99 or more.  So my friend and I are going to try out for that next year :) Hopefully the HSC goes well for us!!

*A small note: Sorry for the blurry picture qualities of some of the photos!!
(Blogpost edited 29/12/12)

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