Well it is nearly 2 months since the trip came to an and as usual it feels almost as if we didn’t go away at all.
On our return, I had some pretty lofty goals of writing regularly and while in the past two weeks I have had zero photoshoots to edit and keep me busy, no writing or any other innovation has actually occurred, unless mapping out my week in the US when I am back there for my high school reunion counts for anything.
My day job has started back up and I have a feeling in my bones that this will be my most rewarding year there yet. It has kicked off to a positive start and I just love that I do not have to take my work home with me. In between planning for upcoming photo shoots, and family/ church life, I am trying to make time to appreciate and explore the beautiful capital city we live in.
A big fortnight of festivals and fun events has heralded autumn here in Canberra. Enlighten Festival encompasses 3 main drawcards: the Enlighten Illuminations, the scrum-diddly-umptious Night Noodle Markets, and the ethereal early-morning magic of the Canberra Balloon Spectacular.
My dear friend Erna and I decided to do the Night Noodle Markets on its second day, a weekend day making it crazy for not one but two reasons. To counter this, we decided to meet up when it opened at 4 pm, guaranteeing us a table in the shade.
The evening before, I began pondering how I was going to last 4 whole hours before the Illuminations kicked off at 8. 4 entire hours of human interaction is a very long time for an introvert. I am known for being an ‘hour and a half’ person with my friends. That is how long I usually last before exiting an event.
This isn’t on purpose. The introversion shows up in a very physical way for me; if it I am in a large group context. When someone’s faces begins to blur and I can no longer keep track of what they are saying, because trying to get their face back in focus is draining all my concentration- it is time for me to leave.
So, 4 whole hours!!! What a testament to the sweet Erna that the 4 hours passed so quickly!
Once we got in past security, we grabbed our table in the shade. There needs to be a strategy to keep a hard – won table; so we took turns getting food to share.
Erna’s choice of Roasted Duck Stir Fried with Hokkien Noodle in XO Sauce from Wok Master @Randwick was spot on. The noodles they had the perfect amount of chilli for me, whereas Erna didn’t realize the dish even contained chilli- that’s how much of a chilli-boss she is!
Next it was my turn to get us some food. I chose two burgers from Chinese Burger Funky Tots. I had google- imaged them and from the photos I thought the burgers were actually bao. I LOVE bao! Little fresh bites with juicy meat, sauces and fresh herbs. I eagerly ordered the cumin- spiced lamb and the salt and pepper eggplant.
Waaaahhh! Not bao! They were much larger than bao (which was a plus as we were hungry) but the burger buns were unusual; not in a good way. The lamb was tasty but the texture was weird (like eating a tuna sandwich)
and with the eggplant burger, I liked the texture but not the flavor.
If I could have my time again, I would have gone to one of the places that actually had the word ‘bao’ in its name, or I would have gotten a bowl of the intriguing Flying Noodles from Twistto and Flying Noodles. People were walking around with these bowls that had the chopsticks levitating and holding some of the noodles above the plate. Magic on a plate!
To be honest, because it was such a hot day for autumn, all I could really think about was Messina gelato. I tasted them at a food event (was it last year’s Multicultural festival?) and delighted in the different textures and flavour combinations in the gelato I tried.
Messina gelatos are cleverly themed and after seeing the menu, I was excited to eat any of the 4 options on offer, so I let Erna choose for the both of us. She came back with a Thrilla from Manilla and the Philopieno.
I liked the clever presentation of the Thrilla- it looked like a sliced banana. Unfortunately, I was not thrilled by the taste. There was not enough of the delicious gelato ( the whites fruit part of the banana) the custard wasn’t stand-out and the filo pastry ( the banana skin) had not been deep fried at all that I could tell. The Philopieno on the other hand. Wowza! That fried pastry crust was so snappy And the crust had been infused some peach flavor in it, I think. I didn’t enjoy the texture of the peach jellies, but the graham cracker crumb was fabulous and the mango salsa and tangy mango Chantilly cut through that rich, sweet, impossibly smooth condensed milk gelato. I bet you guys are thinking that anything sweetened- condensed-milk flavored would be too sweet (well, I guess you found that to be the case l, Erna- but I am notching that down to the fact that your taste buds have been killed off from chilli- abuse ) but no! It was perfect in every way! After a bit of a stroll past the Illuminations locations we would be visiting later,
(the Rose Gardens near Old Parliament House)
we found a sweet quiet nook in OPH to chat in until the sunset.
(looking back to the Night Noodle Markets from OPH)
Erna, your face didn’t even begin to get blurry! It was a wonderful 4 hours I spent in your company!
So many people thronged the locations as the Illuminations shows began. We made our way around, enjoying the light show and the vibe.
(Illuminations on the National Gallery of Australia)
(loads of available selfie points have been cleverly placed around the area)
(Erna, is this the National Portrait Gallery? I forget!)
(a hands- on art installation/plaything/selfie spot)
As I walked towards my car after saying goodbye, a little thought popped into my mind. I turned around and practically galloped back in the noodle markets and joined the massive Messina line- suddenly ravenous for the gelato that I had instinctively wanted from seeing the menu. The ‘Allo ‘Allo!
It blew my mind. The dulche de leche gelato was divine and it melted a little into the caramel shaved ice layer. This layer had me flummoxed. Sometimes I was crunching on shaved ice and then there were crackly snaps of salty caramel mixed in with the ice. It was a beguiling taste sensation that I could eat every day and such a generous serving. Filling yet refreshing. I totally recommend this one.
What a wonderful first visit to Enlighten for 2019. Have you been yet?