If there’s one thing that Southern and Western Sydney can boast over the city is the greenery, land and agriculture. The air is cleaner out here and the pace of life is more slower which I think is a great thing. Despite being outside of the immediate metropolitan Sydney area, most of us actually aren’t that close to the source of our food. We still shop at supermarkets for our meats and produce as well as buying our clothing at stores without understanding the processes that these products undergo before they reach us.
I remember driving home one day to see a billboard for the annual food festival to be held in my local parklands which was very interesting to me as it was so close to home. In all honesty I didn’t think the event would be very large at all, in fact I was thinking just a few stalls and a few people roaming around in the sadly spacious area. To my surprise as we arrived at the parklands entrance and car park we soon realised it was going to be pretty packed.
It was a hot day and we were prepared with iced water, hats and sunscreen but apparently that wasn’t enough to stop us from feeling like we were melting from the inside-out in the 30 something degree heat. I think this was the first time I saw non-Asian ladies using umbrellas to block the sun as well which is a pretty big deal haha. The secret is out you guys, umbrellas are damn useful.
This was the wonderfully designed program on for the day which showed all the times for the nutrition workshops, cooking shows, kids pizza making workshops and more. I like how the blue colour perfectly matched the clear blue sky that day with almost no clouds in the sky.
The first thing we spotted walking in was this cute little maze made for the kids although I really think it should have been stacked just a bale or two higher because even toddlers can see over its walls! Hardly a challenging maze at all.
Inside the festival there were a lot of stalls with eco-friendly designs and fresh produce as well as petting pens with lambs. As the theme of the festival was “Grow Make Eat” many stalls were focused on the growing part of products as there were incubators with chick hatchlings and a cute little alpaca wool farming and weaving stall. Although these alpacas are shorn and not as fluffy as they naturally are, I’m sure they greatly appreciated the fact that weren’t fluffy in the hot weather.
The food festival was very well organised and provided a lot of live entertainment with local acts as well as cute seating set up with bales of hay to look like couches. The event organisers hired were spot on for this place.
Throughout the duration of food festival there were people in costumes walking around who we felt terribly sorry for as their sweat beaded off their face over their painted faces in the scorching heat. These walking garden hedges weren’t the only characters to see, there was also two seagulls. Yes, seagulls in the middle of western Sydney.
As it was a food festival you can’t leave out the food element of this whole event, in fact it would be very hard to exclude it with all the options available on the day. My other half and I have this great policy where we have to look at all, if not, most of the options before deciding on something to eat. On our strategic loop of the food stalls we came across a cute hot dog stand called “Hot Diggity Dog” offering gourmet hot dogs that you made by yourself to your own liking. Unfortunately we were hungry and it seemed paying $8 only to do the work yourself wasn’t up our alley because the math didn’t add up. Don’t get me wrong, the hot dogs did look great. It just wasn’t worth it for us.
Despite our great plan to check out all the options, the heat got to us and we just wanted to grab something and eat it in the shade. As we were borderline desperate we ended up getting some nachos at this cute froyo mobile but it soon became apparent that we probably wouldn’t have gotten it if we had been patient enough to look and wait for the other food.
It was okay, nothing too special at all.
Sidenote: Everything was pricier at the festival than I anticipated though not as much as at the Noodle Night Markets that just finished.
After we had finished off our plate of nachos in the glorious shade we had to venture out into the sun yet again to find out next meal. It was essentially like man vs. wild vs. food in the outback for us sheltered and comfortable folk.
We were walking behind a man who just so happened to ask the Paella man next to us if the food was ready yet as it was sitting on the gas with a foil cover on it still – we were in luck because it was ready.
We ordered a plate and even shamelessly asked for extra prawns as the lady who took over the serving duty was giving smaller portions than the one the man first served just to get our moneys worth haha.
Seafood Paella ($10)
This dish was still steaming when we crawled under the shaded area to eat. On a hot day, any extra heat seems exponentially unbearable and on top of that we asked for a side of chilli with it as well. Bad mistake because the chilli sauce was nice and tomatoey however the spice kick KILLED our precious water supply we brought from home. Talk about rationing out your resources.
You thought we were done eating huh? Guess again. My other half has a deep affiliation and affection towards wood fire cooked foods and the fact that it was a wood fire pizza only increased his cravings for it. To satisfy those cravings, we ordered a Hawaiian pizza.
The pizza itself wasn’t very large, maybe about 35cm in diameter but was very generously sprinkled with toppings. Apparently it was very surprising how much cheese the pizza maker managed to chuck on it as well and when I bit into it only to pull out strings and strings of cheese, I saw what he meant.
Woodfire Hawaiian Pizza ($15)
The crust and bottom of the pizza was perfectly crispy and the amount of toppings suited the thickness of the crust very well. I marvelled over the fact that he managed to get the bottom of the pizza so crunchy only to the halfway point until the toppings softened the top half. According to my own personal wood fire food connoisseur, it was the second best woodfire pizza he’s ever eaten only to the wood fire pizza of another fixed shop. So technically this pizza was his best on-to-go one. WOODFIRE PIZZA! NUMBER ONE!
As we were leaving I also grabbed some seedlings offered to the public to take home by Austral Seedlings. I think the sentiments of this gesture were particularly great as it creates an initiative for the public to grow their own product in their backyards which was the very purpose of the food festival. To be self-sustaining with our food supply and understand where it all came from. To grow, to make and to eat.
I have confidence in my gardening skills now after resurrecting my gerbera flowers with my patience and dedication. I hope I can keep these three guys (mustard, silverbeet and dill seedlings) alive too!
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