Garema place in Canberra comes alive with diversity at the start of February each year when the Multicultural Festival is in town. It's my favourite festival of the year because it's free and you get to experience so many cultures over the three days. The cultural performances are fantastic, but for me, the food is what I'm there for!
So you've noticed that there's a Gozleme stand every few steps and that there's a line for almost EVERY stall. What's worth lining up for? Well, for starters, I try and avoid the places that have a restaurant in Canberra. Festival food prices aren't cheap and I'd rather try foods I can't easily access any other time.
To help you make a more informed decision at the festival, here's what my friends and I have been sampling!
The most eye-catching stall for me was the Mauritian stall "Dodolicious" outside Nespresso. I just loved the look of the menu and wanted to buy everything!
We started by getting the puff pastry filled with chicken, topped with Mauritian salsa. It was piping hot and delicious. The pastry was flaky and the chicken mince filling was generous and had a lovely and familiar flavour (which I couldn't figure out).
I really wanted to get the other items, but the puff pastry was so filling, I needed to move on and try other stalls! I did come by again and they had samples of the pork sausage. It was probably the best tasting pork sausage I've ever had. So I would definitely be getting the pork sausage roll if I went back to the festival (and they hadn't sold out).
The momo (dumpling filled with meat or vegetables) is one of Nepal's most popular dishes. They can be eaten as an entree or as a main. It's supposed to be eaten with tomato pickle (golbheda ko Achar) but it wasn't available, so we got tomato sauce instead. I loved these dumplings. The dumpling skin tasted wonderfully chewy, while the filling tasted sort of like butter chicken! Find these near King O'Malleys.
Poutine is a Canadian dish made with french fries, cheese curds and topped with gravy. We got the Pork Poutine $19, which I felt was a bit steep but the maple-injected smoked pork was pretty amazing. As you can see, Macgyver Boyfriend had eyes only for the poutine. It's a large dish and a meal on it's own. So I would recommend sharing this one. We shared it between 4 of us!
Maybe the Multicultural Festival should be renamed "meat on a stick" festival. I've eaten quite a few in my time, and I always come back to the massive Greek stand (in front of Devlin's pharmacy). It is the juiciest and most flavoursome meat on a stick you can get on the festival.
Among my friends, there was an epic hunt for the langos. There was some speculation that they weren't available this year, but we found them in front of Subway (on West Row). The langos is deceptive in its deliciousness. It looks rather plain, but the langos is full of flavour. The deep fried bread is slightly crispy but the main texture is soft chewiness. It tastes kind of like a savoury and chewy doughnut. The cheese and sour cream on top is a perfect match for the langos and I wished there was a bit more topping to go around. This is a festival must-have!
I couldn't wait to find out what the Taiwanese stall was selling this year! I was pretty excited they were selling very authentic items like the sweet potato chips with plum powder and wintermelon tea! Apart from the free water, I think the wintermelon tea was probably the cheapest drink at the festival! They were also selling deep fried chicken (breast) with salt and pepper ($8), salt and pepper squid ball ($2 or $5 for 3), Taiwan Beer, mango juice, lemon ice tea.
The Multicultural Festival is about drinks as much as it is about food. I found that when I couldn't fit anymore food in, I could usually sip on a drink quite easily.
I'm not a big beer drinker, but I tried the "Blazing Saddles", the National Multicultural Festival 20th Anniversary Beer and I liked it! It's made with 20 different chillis from all over the world - and I could feel the burn as the beer went down my throat!
Other things I didn't get to try but wanted to:
- Lamb gyros and octopus from the Canberra Olympic Greek Taverna stand
- Japanese noodles and okonomiyaki
- The Pineapple gelato sundae (in front of Nespresso)
The trick is to buy food that's better eaten right there. But when you can't fit in anymore food and drink, it's time to take it away for later! While I tend to think $15 for a small takeaway container of paella is quite expensive, there was a generous amount of protein and the flavour of the paella was amazing.
What were your favourite foods from the festival this year? Let me know in the comments below!