Sunday, 18 January 2009

Footscray Welcomes the Ox

Though I could continue to reflect back on the food encountered on a recent trip to Hanoi, there's really no reason to when similar action is currently happening right here in Melbourne! We hopped on the train last Sunday to join Footscray's Lunar New Year festivities on Hopkins Street, held a little earlier this year so as to not coincide with the Australia Day long weekend. The local Vietnamese community was out in force under beautiful blue skies to welcome in the Year of the Ox and to showcase the fantastic array of celebratory food they have to offer.

Happy red and gold lions welcome in good luck and prosperity for the new year, and scare away evil spirits from the previous one.

One of the many stalls selling celebratory treats for families to enjoy streetside or take home for later. Pork floss ideal for adding a final flourish to one's Bahn Mi.

Rows of barbequed sweet corn came complete with handles.

Skewered Bo La Lot (marinated beef-mince rolled into betel leaf 'ciggies') in chargrilling procession and $3.50 per stick. These were smoky and delicious!

Stallholder kept busy frying up cubes of rice cake (Bot Chien) with egg. A fiver got us a medium takeaway container's worth. Tastewise a little bland and definitely needed boosting from the soy sauce with cut birdseye chillies supplied, plus a further layering with garlic chilli paste from the large help-yourself jar.

More deepfried goodness...knows-what ($5). Some version of Banh Khot? Anyone?

Chargrilled glutinous rice encasing a whole sweetly caramelised banana (Chuoi Nep Nuong) was $2.50 a pop. A new encounter for us and quite a delicious chew drizzled with coconut milk.

Sampled another novel sweet treat, light and crispy rice crackers spiced with fennel seeds(?). Two dinner-plate sized crackers sandwiched loads of malted toffee syrup and slivered flesh of fresh coconut ($5). A gooey crunchy oily sticky sweet and savoury party in your mouth! Extra fun to be had watching wisps of toffee float away into hair of unwary passers-by.

Yet more deepfried temptation in the guise of battered banana fritters ($2 each). Even so, alas by this stage we'd reached deepfried and barbequed saturation and did not try them.

But a large cup of freshly squeezed green sugarcane juice ($5) was very welcomed relief, the extreme sweetness cut with a squeeze of citrussy cumquat.

Late afternoon, but hungry hoards continued to descend on Hopkins Street to enjoy the atmosphere, food, free concerts and a rare fabulously clear Melbourne day.

The celebrations were to continue to 10 pm culminating in a fireworks display but the heat and gluttony proved too much, much earlier, for even the superheroes among us. Overtaxed super senses defeated Spidey, another ice-cold sugarcane juice perhaps? Overall impressions from our inaugural visit though, one of the better street festivals around town to see in the Lunar New Year and a terrific opportunity to sample examples of Vietnamese streetfoods without leaving the country. We'll try to make it again next year.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year or Tet is the festival highlight of the year for Melbourne's large Vietnamese community spread around several suburbs and surrounds. Check out more Tet festivities that were held at Richmond's Victoria Street at Off the Spork, through the captivating camera lens of Agnes, fellow Melbourne based blogger and fried food aficionado.


Agnes said...

Oh, I live so close to Footscray, and I didn't even realise it was happening! My Bro and I went to the Victoria Street Lunar New Year festivities today - the food was pretty much the same as you had pictured.

Towser said...

Hey Agnes! Planning to write up Richmond's CNY festivities? I'll crosslink your post here!

Hungry Hamster said...

Hi Towser! Thanks for dropping by my blog! I was quite surprised as I've been a fan of your blog! The banana wrapped with grilled stick rice looks fantastic!! Would love to try that!