Last weekend I headed over to Campsie to join in the festivities for the Campsie Food Festival hosted by Canterbury Council. Campsie is a melting pot of cultural backgrounds that include amongst others Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Indian. I was there quiet early and watched alot of the stalls setting up and it was a good chance to see some of the food stalls on offer without the crowds around them. Here we have a selected few.
lots of food stalls
The stalls this year include Chinese dumplings, Dutch pancakes, German hut dogs, Himalayan dim sim, Indonesian cakes, Korean chips on a stick, Malaysian crabayaki balls, Nepalese momo soup, Portuguese chicken, Russian crepes, Spanish paella, Taiwanese soft shell prawns, Thai noodles, Turkish gozleme. My mouth is watering.
fruit and vegetable carving
I stopped by to chat to the boys at The Really Stuffed Olive Co. I'm a sucker for balsamic vinegars and I was intrigued by their Wasabi balsamic. It's a white balsamic with flecks of wasabi through it. The wasabi flavour is punchy but refreshing and didn't clear the nostrils like wasabi can do! I immediately purchase a bottle.
The also do a range of wine salts and dukkah
What is a festival without the gozleme ladies. They are out in full force today chopping the spinach and kneading the dough. It's going to be a busy day for them.
gozleme ladies hard at work
I'm starting to get peckish and I really wanted takoyaki balls from Colotako but they weren't anywhere near ready. So I choose a plate of BBQ dumplings from Yan's Asian Stall. Hot and crispy yes they were, but the dough is thick and 'doughy' and I'm disappointed (saying that I always seem to be disappointed with BBQ dumplings anywhere - I think I sway towards steamed and soup dumplings more)
Okay I had to try the 'I Ate a Bug' stall. I'm not adverse to a bug or two. In fact I have eaten my fair share of crickets in South East Asia. I actually love the crispy, crunchy texture and when fried with garlic, chilli and a bit of salty goodness they are a great beer snack. So I was up for a sample.
I went with the cricket sample pack, which contained 5 plain roasted crickets.
Ate a bug
They are tiny and yes they are crunchy, but they had no flavour and I was sort of 'meh'.
I stopped by for a selection of 'wheel cakes'. I get one of each - chocolate, custard and green tea. These were hot off the griddle pan, however they were still floury in the middle and not cooked all the way through. The fillings were tasty and I really liked the green tea one.
Finally, Colotako is open and I join the line for my octopus balls. On offer today are octopus, prawn and crab legs. The production line is pumping with about 14 grills operating. They know how to make their balls! The waiting line gets a bit out of control. It's going to be busy for them today and I'm seventh in line and there are at least another 20 or so people waiting already and another 10 or so people deep waiting just to order.
making the balls
Piping hot, gooey innards and a piece of rubbery octopus inside each ball. There is plenty of mayo and bonito flakes and it's exactly as I was expecting. Takoyaki balls, hot and fresh.
As I had arrived so early to the festival I was also lucky number one to sign up for the Taste Food tours being offered today. For $5 they take you on a mini food tour of Campsie - fitting in 6 stops in an hour. If anybody is unfamiliar with Taste Food Tours they are run through the Benevolent Society and a portion of the proceeds goes to charity. The guides are knowledgeable and very passionate about food and the cultures of the areas you are visiting. I have previously done a South American Food Tour with them and can highly recommend it. For $5 today was a perfect example of what to expect on a full taste tour. Luckily today, Tina is my guide, who I had last time.
First stop is at Simo's a Lebanese bakery that does fresh Manoosh. I dive into the Zaatar manoosh which is my favourite topping for manoosh.
We visit a Korean grocery store, which I have never noticed before. It's tucked away in a back street and doesn't get any foot traffic.
Fridge full of kimchi love.
We sample khakdugi which is similar to kimchi (preserved/pickled cabbage) but the main ingredient is daikon (or white radish). It's pugent flavour is surprisingly fresh and punchy and the chucks of radish are crisp and it has a good kick of chilli.
We also sample a tray of tteok - which is a glutinous rice dumpling filled with a red bean paste. I get the last one on the tray (hence the lonely single tteok photo). There are literally hundreds of varieties of tteok that Koreans munch on and can range from simple everyday ones like this or more elaborate filled ones with nuts and fruits to celebrate weddings and birthdays.
We stop by a Korean butcher to watch them cut the beef into Korean cuts. There is wagyu slices and kalbi cuts - ready to be BBQ. There is pre-marinted beef for kalbi and other goodies like duck and a few pork products.
Another grocery store stop for some pandan cake and sour plum tasting and a quick browse. I always get 'lost' in an Asian grocery store. I want to purchase everything and learn how to use the product. I could literally spend an hour in here wandering the aisles.
pandan and chocolate cake
Our last food tasting spot is at a BBQ restaurant. The window is full of BBQ duck, steamed and soy braised chicken, duck tongues and tripe. I'm drooling and in awe of the amount of product.
Inside the restaurant smells heavenly of that sweet sticky BBQ sauce. We taste some of the steamed chicken which is served with my favourite ginger and shallot oil sauce. The chicken is juicy and tender and delicious. However its the BBQ pork (or Char siu) that blows me away. It's tender and smokey and just the right amount of rendered fat that makes me going back for another slice (even though I am now full at this point).
Our last stop on the tour is at a kitchenware store selling pots and pans and crockery and Asian gadgets needs to make your Asian delights. Again this is another store that I could spend time in...alas my purse is empty and will need to wait for another day.
There are cooking demonstrations in ANZAC Mall throughout the day and the stalls are pumping by lunchtime with festival revellers.
The festival was fun and what I saw was only a little insight as to what Campsie has to offer. I think I'll be back here for lunch very soon.