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From Larissa ~ Last night we went to the Night Noodle Market in beautiful Hyde Park in downtown Sydney. This is an annual event that runs for ten nights during the Crave Sydney International Food Festival. Over forty food stalls dish out all varieties of Asian goodies (noodles and beyond) under trees strung with red paper Chinese lanterns that cast a warm glow over the affair. Dining options included Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Japanese and probably some other cuisines that have eluded my knowledge of geography. One that stood out was the wonderfully named “Thais R Us.”
There were many choices—from sushi to Singapore noodles to salt n’ pepper calamari. We opted for Indonesian; Michael ordered Mie Goreng, stir-fried egg noodles with chicken, shrimp and veggies. I went for a Satay combo—grilled beef and chicken on a stick smothered in a dark brown peanut sauce and sprinkled with toasted coconut. I’ll admit that it didn’t look as appetizing as Michael’s noodle dish. In fact it didn’t really look appetizing at all, I won’t repeat what Michael said it looked like, but it tasted great.
Attempts to go back and try some other stalls were thwarted by the swelling crowds. The Sydney Morning Herald estimates that 125,000 people visit the Night Noodle Market over its 10-day run. It’s one of the most popular events in the month-long food fest, probably because it’s easily accessible and relatively inexpensive. Other events include cooking classes, lectures and specialty menus at various restaurants. Food choices at the Night Noodle Market are mostly between $3 and $15, which makes it a relative bargain in this expensive city, and a hit with all ages.
The atmosphere was a cross between a big-city happy hour and a Sunday family picnic. A DJ spun tunes, adding to the festive mood. Two Chinese musicians dressed in native garb gamely strummed out traditional songs in one corner, attracting the more sedate in the crowd. Families spread out blankets, broke out the juice boxes and let the kids run around on the grass. Clusters of teenage girls still in their school uniforms joked around using chopsticks as hair ornaments.
Eventually we found a stall with a break in the action, so we zoomed in to see what we could scoop up. Our efforts were rewarded doubly—the food was probably the bargain of the whole fair, and it was dessert! For $2.50 we tried a warm, freshly baked sweet roll by a Malaysian chain called PappaRoti. A coffee-flavored cream is swirled over the top of the dough before it is placed in the oven. The cream bakes into the light and fluffy dough that also had a hint of a buttery filling. We decided to live large and get a sweetened condensed milk sauce to dip it in for an extra $2.50. Yum.
Prior to coming to Sydney we had been told that Australians are quite sociable. We have found that to be true—everyone has been easygoing, friendly and relaxed, like they are on a permanent vacation. Strolling around Hyde Park in Sydney, on a warm clear October evening amid tantalizing aromas, delicious food, good music and friendly people it’s easy to be in a good mood. Sydney is a mellow, and tasty, place to be.
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