Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sri Lankan and Thai Food Festivals

Dangit, we were so close. We had one post left, and we would have been completely caught up. It would have been a new age- an age of pictures from the same month they were taken. Alas, it was not to be. A new level of laziness kicked in, and we stopped posting, and now we are behind again. Argh.

This is from about six weeks ago, the Thai embassy does a giant cultural festival once a year. We missed it last year, as it happened after we had just gotten here and were still settling in. We heard it was great though, so we definitely made a note to make it next time. That time was now. When the announcement came out, we noticed that the Sri Lanken embassy was also having a cultural festival the day before. So we decided to make it an Asian cultural weekend.

Canberra does a really cool thing with its Embassies, that because its such a small, open city with land to spare, it lets countires build their embassies in whatever fashion they want, usually reflecting their cultural heritage. For instance, the US Embassy looks like Williamsburg, and the Japanese embassy has a giant rock garden in front. Its kind of fun. However, not all countries can afford/want to do that, so a lot just buy existing units- Sri Lanka is one of those countries. The embassy, below, is not the most exciting thing to drive by.

Back behind it was where the magic happened. It was a pretty low-key affair with a few food booths and a couple stands where you could buy a few trinkets and Ceylon Tea. We bought a lot of the tea, it was fantastic. But as anyone knows, you go to these things for the food, and the food alone. Part of the fun for us for going to the Sri Lankan food fair, was that we had no idea what Sri Lankan food was. Presumably, it was similar to Indian. 

This is a hopper. Its a kind of crispy rice and coconut milk paddy cooked in a wok with a fried egg at the bottom. It comes with several sides, a chili paste, a chicken curry, and some kind of onion-y salad. Oh my god, it was amazing- hoppers, where have you been all of my life. Bob, Tina- we've since found a Sri Lankan restaurant that does friday night Hoppers. We're totally taking you there.

We also got a mix plate of finger foods. Also very good. The food was similar to Indian, as we expected, but it has an almost Thai-style influence that makes it just a little bit different . . . and delicious. As you can tell from Laurel's coat, we were still coming out of winter at the time.

The Sri Lankan fair was relatively small, I got the impression it was all friends and families of the Embassy and Sri Lankan community. Very quaint, very nice. The Thai Festival, by comparison, was GIGANTIC. Here's the embassy below- they definitely went for local flair in building it.

They also had corporate sponsorship. I think every Thai restaurant in town (and there are a lot) had a booth selling food, and here's a picture of the guy unloading the palette of Singha beer. Since Singha is clearly the best Asian beer, Greg was pretty happy. Also, Greg will hear no arguments on Singha's superiorty? Sapporro? Please.

Like we said, giant. Stands everywhere, shopping, people everywhere. Delcious Thai food too, although we didn't take any pictures of it. we were too busy eating it. That, and, it was really hard to find a place to stand where you weren't in someone's way.

It also featured thai dancers and musicians.

And a samll exhibit!

All in all, a great weekend. We want to find some schedule for when the Embassies do their respective festivals so we can make this a regular thing. Its a ton of fun, and great eating!