Night Noodle Markets 2014

An Asian fusion set up in white tents around Hyde Park with a combination of art and modern architecture is something otherwise known as the famous annual Night Noodle Markets, which was on October 10-26 from 5pm.

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“If it’s Good Food Month, it must be time for the Night Noodle Markets! With all the colour, sounds and smells of an Asian hawker market plus the buzz, hype and vibe of a huge outdoor festival, the Night Noodle Markets is back for 2014 with a record 50 food stalls across Hyde Park.”

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Two words: food coma. Enough said. Blogs ends.

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I can’t believe how much the night noodle markets have transformed! My eyes were popping out everywhere I went and I kinda felt like I was a kid again. Most impressively, I cannot believe how beautiful they’ve transformed Hype Park.

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Our journey started from the closest corner to Townhall station. The tents with red flags had the food and the ones in yellow were bars. To our disappointment, the booze was very pricey…probably $8 for a bar? It was not a surprise that there weren’t many lines when you could go for a mid week special at any other pub.

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Starting from the right and walking anticlockwise, we totally did not expect to stumble upon the second biggest line ever- for the ramen burger and rice burger. They went for $13.50 a pop and to be honest, I was sooooo tempted!

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The queues were long, the food smelt so good, it was hard to choose what to eat! The most popular store by far was the Hoy Pinoy. They made smoking got Filipino BBQ and street food and the line was a snake in a maze!

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Look at dem skewers sizzle!

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St Honore Cake Shop sold these tempting pancakes with mango, strawberry, taro, custard or banana for $6. It’s a shame I don’t fancy cream but boy do they look delicious!

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We followed the red laterns and stumbled across teppanyaki noodles, pad thai, curry, laksa, span thai, dumplings, Korean chips on a stick… And the list goes on! The standard pricing was around $12 a dish.

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The atmosphere was incredible! I can’t believe this was Tuesday and it was packed! There were tons of chairs and tables, umbrellas, and some were even on the grass.

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The Temporium really desserts a trophy, if not, an awards for designing the best portable artwork in a park. I loved how the lights made it illuminate and there was even seating inside! I also enjoyed the 3D hexagons with plants. Fancy!

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Coopers Pale Ale had a wall as well..using potted plants as inspiration.

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Using wine barrels as tables will never ever get old!

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Cathay Pacific was running a silent film and had colourful lanterns as decoration. I’m not if many people were paying attention but the movement made the atmosphere more lively.

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Since the weather was pretty chilled, I guess there could been rain potential. What really stood out from this year was that there weren’t many people sitting on the grass. I think they’ve realised that office workers don’t want to damage their expensive clothes (if they’re rich. I don’t mind since most of my clothes are under $10 hehe).

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The Messina line was, as expected, long. At the end of the night we got dessert here and it actually didn’t take too long! From the white stand, it only took 15 minutes? We tried the Street Hawker, which consisted of a very intense and very hard-to-stab lime and chocolate with peanut butter gelato, coconut and caramel jam and fortune cookie clusters topped with a peanut cookie.

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We took it up the Yalumba balcony and had it there.

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I loved the three scoops of ice cream but the brownie was rock hard..we didn’t even finish it. According to my credible sources, the mango one is the best!

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Continuing on into the spring wonderland, we passed wooden tipis. I actually love this. I know it is absolutely useless in terms of productivity but I see the fun of it!

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The red lantern spectacular has returned! Once you get there, it’s selfie-land. #noregrets

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Thatchers hired a DJ to play in their area and might I say, I have always wanted bean bags. My life is now complete.

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Citibank has once again produced their iconic tent of lights.

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I think the most creative area was the lounge with the umbrellas. There was a dude drawing a funky piece of art, which I’m sure he’s been working on since the beginning of the markets, and it’s quite fun to see someone create magic.

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The umbrellas in the ceiling were way cool. I’ve loved the colourful theme that has been consistent in all areas of Hyde Park.

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The Ping pong area looked more like a competition studio than a temporary outdoor area. Look at those looming red light!

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We ended up getting a mixed entree for $10 and Nasi goreng for $8 at China Ria. The curry puffs were crunchy and flavoursome and the chicken skewers were sooo juicy!

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The Nasi goreng was really nice too. I guess because it was vegetarian there was a whole heap of different toppings but nevertheless, it was still flavoursome and delicious! You could add more sauces if you wanted.

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I’m amazed at how many people were there! It seems to get bigger and better so I’ve got high expectations for next year!

Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Event (Night Noodle Markets): 5/5

Ambience: 4.75/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 4.5/5

Would I recommend going to the Night Noodles Markets? Definitely!!!! There is such a variety of food I don’t think anyone would not be able to nothing to eat. Even if you don’t want to have a meal, its great to get into the atmosphere and to walk around Hyde Park. So much is going on and the photos above are only a snapshot.

Highlight: The art installations/pop up bars and atmosphere. I was most impressed at how Hyde Park has been transformed into a night bazaar. Before, it was more about the food but this year, they’ve really thought about the people attending the event and experiencing it as a whole.

Suggestion of improvement: The prices of the drinks were .. not that great for $8. The gin and tonic green goblets were amazing because it wasn’t ordinary and quite quirky but if there’s nothing special then it’s not great. I liked how there were distinct lines for each stall but it would’ve been better if the clusters of stalls were congregated into types of food? Perhaps by region, or type of food.. makes it easier to navigate back to what type of food we wanted!

Link: http://sydney.goodfoodmonth.com/nightnoodlemarkets

End: Sunday 26 October 2014, occurs annually

Official hashtag: #noodlemarkets

Angela Bee

Granny Smith Festival 2014

City of Ryde’s Granny Smith Festival on Saturday 18 October, 2014 from 9am-8pm was more than a fiesta of apples, but a celebration of the community around the area.

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“The annual Granny Smith Festival celebrates the life and legacy of one of our district’s most famous citizens, Maria Ann Smith – aka Granny Smith – who, back in 1868, ‘accidentally’ grew the first batch of little green apples that bear her name and are now grown all over the world. “

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With an estimated 80,000 people who attend each year, the event is supported by local businesses, sporting and service organisations, schools and the wider community – and EVERYONE gets involved – even the staff at Eastwood train station makes a special announcement after every train arrives. The experience starts from the moment you step off that train.

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The first thing I notice walking to the park next to the library is that even the library wall is painted with kids from multicultural backgrounds with Granny Smith Festivals! For those who don’t know, Eastwood is very Asian? Lots of chinese, korean, vietnamese food and shops. I love how they’ve embraced this!

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Walking in the park, it was like a school carnival! Flying chairs, spinning teacups, bumper cars, showbags.. there was the lot!

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They were mostly 5 coupons each (or $5) so head to the booth to gather your tickets.

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So do we ‘accidentally’ encourage children to gamble already…?

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The best kids toy out there was the dinosaur bubble gun. Honestly, how cool is that? Plus there’s a santa one as well.

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I honestly wished that I was a kid again. Everyone was buzzing around! The Country Cousins Barn was massive with a range of mostly goats and sheep.

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It was $2 a cup to feed them but be aware- they are more mature and could literally jump on your chest to grab it off you! If you’re like me and am scared of animals, this would not be your cup of tea.

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Heading to the furthest end of the oval were food stalls and crafty shops. A Granny Smith Festival is not a granny smith festival without toffee apples!!

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There was henna and caricatures drawn.

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I’m not sure if this is an actual trend but I’m noticing that chips-on-a-stick is like a thing. The fatty crispy goodness is the most popular snack at almost every festival I go to- I guess it’s cheap for a meal? =S

There were tons of stalls including Nepalese momos, Vietnamese rolls, Turkish gozlemes, Korean fishballs and more.

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We settled for the paella with the lot – jealous? It was delicious and made on the spot. It was very heavy on the sauces and it was enough for two people!

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Sitting down infront of the stage, we saw really fun acts from school groups and the community. I actually cannot believe how talented kids can be. Well.. I guess they are hilarious to watch and its just super cute. My favourite were the little kids in tutus.. and they did flips, the splits and all these groovy moves! (I kinda wished I went to dance class when I was a kid).

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Might I say, the crowd were loving it!

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Another thing City of Ryde were doing was a ‘test’ where you had to look up the clues on Facebook and Twitter, action the clue and then you’ll receive a slice of apple pie or apple cupcake. When we arrived, it was answering when the first granny smith apple was grown and thanks to the train station man, I was very close to guessing the right one! The answer was in the leaflet though.

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It was d-e-l-i-ciousss!

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Next to it was a photobooth promoting Grandparent’s Day on Sunday 26 October. It was so much fun dressing up!

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The Salvation Army had a massive amount of space and I’m surprised at how much they brought in! There were heaps of clothes, shoes, hats, accessories and homeware. They also had a coffee/hot chocolate van.

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Walking up on Progress Avenue near IGA and the fresh fruit market, there were so many clothing and jewelry shops it was absolutely amazing. There were some winning bargains including rings, bracelets and necklaces for $5?

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The queue was a bit hectic with the free face painting- I mean, who doesn’t want to look pretty?

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Another trend I’ve noticed were the lucky dips. When I was a kid, I used to love these!!! I must say, I love surprises.

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I also realised that a lot of community centres and churches were present. Macquarie Anglican were extremely popular with their balloon-making.

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OK, the next stall was the best thing ever- there were minecraft toys and accessories! You could get a showbag and there were swords, small creepers, TNTs, necklaces, even SUNGLASSES! This was amazing!

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Apparently these gold metallic tatts are ‘in’ right now.

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As always, The Avenue had plenty of food stalls and the scouts had $4 sausage sizzle which turned into $1.30 sausage sizzles. I loved how all the kids were excited to be squeezing tomato sauce and collecting money!

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The most popular of the lot was the place which did chorizo and garlic prawn rolls. It smelt so good and the line was possibly too long. I know they’re at Chatswood every week so defs popping by there!

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The Arcade area was decorated with colourful flags.

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These lovely ladies are proud of their home made jams and Christmas puddings. Such a lovely thing to do when you’re slightly older!

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Kids did sandpainting! I remember doing this as a child! All you had to do is rip the sticker off and fill it with coloured sand. It was so easy and it required no creativity. Everyone also had perfect pictures.

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Something that I should’ve bought were these cats on benches. They were only selling at $1.50-$2 each and they would’ve been a great accessory to my desk at work!

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I’m actually glad that the stalls I remember from my last Granny Smith Festival are in the same spot. In particular, the soft toys and fun stuff for the kids. I mean, there were even stuffed koalas and kangeroos which would’ve been a great souvenir gift if I was going overseas (if only).

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At the end of The Arcade was a clown amusing the kids with his party tricks! The kids got really engaged and were screaming and shouting in laughter!

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After this, we walked back onto Rowe Street where there were tons more stalls. The possibilities were endless..

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Candle Story offered candle cupcakes and rose soap! All you have to do is drop a petal into your bath tub and you’re set! How romantic..

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City of Ryde’s blackboard “Ryde is my community because..” asked the the community to share their thoughts on why they love Ryde. I wrote ‘transport exchange’ because it was literally where I would catch my bus to school every morning when I was at school. I didn’t even notice someone was watching me and I received a rugby ball as a prize – yay!

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Watch our for the moving tree- it will literally snip off your heads if he wanted!

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Infucious’ jars were fun! I didn’t realise how many different types of tea one person could supply! They even made tea-infused cookies which were delicious!

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At the end of Rowe Street was the iconic ice cream truck. It was a sunny day and we’d finally saw everything!! Took possibly 5 hours.. but we had a lot of fun!

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See you next year for your 30th birthday party, Granny Smith Festival!

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Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Event (Granny Smith Festival): 4.75/5

Ambience: 4.5/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 4.5/5

Would I recommend going to Granny Smith Festival? If you live near Eastwood, I would highly recommend it. One of the things we’ve noticed is that a lot of primary school and high school kids come. For them, it’s a chance to hang out with friends and meet others! If you’re a shopper then this would be for you too! There’s so much going on its amazing!

Highlight: Everyone getting involved. It’s quite rare that the WHOLE community gets behind a festival. A lot of the shops in Eastwood have Granny Smith Apple decorations, signs, apples.. I can’t believe it! The stallholders and people in the area really make an effort and the attendance is spectacular!

Suggestion of improvement: Although there was a lot of green apples out and about in particular areas, I didn’t really feel it ‘celebrated’ Granny Smith? I think in previous years there were huge apples hanging from The Arcade which I guess got us in the apple spirit. Everything was well set up and I really liked the variety of stalls involved. Shame they all had to shut at around 5pm!! Should’ve stayed for the Bon Jovi Concert at 6 and the fireworks at 8pm.. ohwell! It was so much fun!

Link: http://www.ryde.nsw.gov.au/Community/Special+Events/Granny+Smith+Festival

Official hashtag: #WeLoveGSF

Angela Bee

Kings Cross Festival 2014

Macleay Street Long Table made family- friendly eating in the middle of the road at Kings Cross an unexpected reality as part of the Kings Cross Festival at 10am- 5pm on Sunday October 12, 2014 with the surroundings of Fitzoy Gardens.

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“At this year’s Kings Cross Festival, you’ll find our local restaurants and cafes, all in the one place!”

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What comes to mind on Sunday at Kings Cross? Saturday nights could be a bit rough..maybe the occasional kebab on the way home…but if you wake up with a starving stomach, then this was the place to be. The variety of food was endless and if you were up for some wine tastings, there was the option too!

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Walking from Kings Cross station, I  honestly didn’t expect to see so many people around.

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Surprise surprise! There was a cooking demonstration going on.

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After purchasing wine glasses, 5 tastings for $15, there were a range of stalls to choose from.

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Nubian Estate and their proud owner.

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Batlow Cider Co had a delicious great of cider-duh. Thanks for letting me know that there are 3.5 apples in every bottle! That’s healthy, right? Or perhaps maybe too healthy?

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Alcofree had an assortment of alcohol- free drinks. The packaging makes the difference, aye?

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Artisans Bottega del Vino not only specialised in wine, but bread too!

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I remember going on my lunch breaks around Kings Cross earlier this year and the park was pretty dead except the few office workers who enjoyed the sun when it came out. Now look at how many people there are.

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Very close to the iconic fountain- ball thing was Puntino Trattoria. There were nonnas dressed in white making gnocchi at its best! Look at them go!

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$12 a plate and look at the enthusiastic chef stirring dem pasta! Remember: mixed plate = misto per favor!

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The absolute highlight of the festival were the long tables beneath the luscious green trees.  The fantastic thing about thee long tables are that you can socialise and meet other people from your community. There were also separate tables and a bar in the space.

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The favourite place the Events team at Cancer Council loved to go for lunch was Harajuku Gyoza. It’s reasonably priced and there’s gyozas with peanut butter, banana and Nutella and salted caramel. Sold. There was even a lady dressed up with pink hair! Sold.

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Overall there were a few taste testers here and there but the majority if food was $6 a plate. It’s so good you end up trying everything! Most of it is small little eats like tacos…

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Sweethearts rooftop sold their delightful beef brisket sliders and salads for only $3 each.

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Towards the back side if the festival, there’s some space to play giant chess.

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And to generally chill.

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At this side of the festival, there were stalls aside from food such as knit wear, bank stuff, pet food, games and a book shop.

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Did I mention there was a farm too? It was crowded! There was a $5 entry fee but the animals looked so cute! Check out the fluffy chicken!

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The stalls mentioned above were only a few I stumbled upon. Is could be worse than deciding at the Night Noodle Markets! Here, it’s cheaper and he portions are designed to  be small enough for you to go through courses and courses! Who doesn’t love a long lunch?

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Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Event (Kings Cross Festival): 4.5/5

Ambience: 4.5/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 4.5/5

Would I recommend going to Kings Cross Festival next year? Are you a foodie? Or perhaps a wine lover just generally in the area? The eateries in the Kings Cross area have congregated to deliver the best of the best all at the same time for a celebration of food and fun.

Highlight: I haven’t seen long tables at food festivals before! It’s been mostly chairs and tables, or even funky chairs. Despite the lack of greenery around the area, the organisers have thought this one out! I also love the smaller eats from all the vendors. I love trying everything!

Suggestion of improvement: there were so many stalls I couldn’t believe how much of a community the people around the Kings Cross Area brings! I think everyone was heaps together but perhaps too together and it would’ve been better if there was more space between the tents- particularly around the food areas because it was a good squish!

Link: http://www.kingscrossfestival.com.au/

Occurs: Annually

Official hashtag: #kingscrosscolour

Angela Bee

Brewery Yard Markets – The Living Mall

Brewery Yard Markets launched last Sunday under the blue sky and blazing sun, where shops from The Living Mall and beyond came together to showcase their trendy products.

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“Held adjacent to Chippendale Green every second Sunday from 10am to 4pm, you will be delighted by street art, quirky crafts, jewellery, local designer threads, acoustic music and live entertainment.

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My oh my was it a beautiful day! Couldn’t really ask for better whether, aye? If you haven’t been to The Living Mall, it is a $2 billion urban village in Sydney, designed by the world’s leading architects to the highest standards of sustainable urban living. They’ve bought innovative shopping to Sundays with their newly launched markets and it was fabulous seeing so many people checking it out! So let’s cut to the chase.

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Heading the escalators, past Woolies and out into the open area, I noticed that all the outdoor restaurants had white fenced greenery with sun umbrellas for their customers to enjoy the summer sunshine. #winning

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There were so many stalls! I only expected a couple but it seems like everyone was willing to contribute!

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Say hello to the Museli Man!

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I have a feeling I totally agree with this sign..

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Since I last came to Central Park, there have been a few more cafes/restaurants that have popped up, one being Autolyse. The name itself doesn’t say much but the display of breads just made my mouth water. Did I mention that there were croissants and danishes to sample? Loved the crunch on the pastries- it was French-quality (and Angela approved) and I’ll definitely going there again!

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A good ol Aussie BBQ is an all-time favourite at the markets. You can’t go wrong by having one of the burgers for lunch!

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Work-Shop Gallery had a massive display including someone drawing live. I guess I’ve always liked my so it was fabulous seeing it come to life.

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Coco Cubano’s stall saw the virgin Mojitos and iced Granitas. Read my previous review of Coco Cubano here. For a sunny day like this, ice granitas are the perfect way to cool down.

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I love how Raw Eats aimed to educate passer-byers. They had a sign explaining what it means to eat ‘raw’ and its benefits.

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Speakeasy Co. are hand cut, hand brewed and hand poured hand-made candles.

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Pigeonhole had their quirky jewelry,  fun polaroids, and other fun stuff displayed.

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I love cactus’s. I’m not the best at watering plants and Huddle Co’s potted plants are definitely on my list of things I would love to buy.

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Have you tried Marysol’s Haberno and Ghost chilli sauces? I tried it and it aint for the faint-hearted!

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Remedia’s soaps were a specialty! How pretty are they? Check out the Orange Blossom and Organic Coconut, or perhaps the Black Forrest?

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I was so close to buying one of these Growing Books! Basically its a cactus planted in a book! I would totally put this on my work desk.

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After having a look at all the stalls, I settled at the back and joined the small-ish crowd listening to the tunes. #chillaxing

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Brewery Yard Markets, it was a pleasure visiting you on your first day! For me, these markets add a bit more fun and it’s really nice to go ‘outdoor shopping’. There were a lot of bits and pieces and this would be the place I would go to get presents for friends and even a bit of deco here and there.

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Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Event (Brewery Yard Markets): 4/5

Ambience: 4.5/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Would I recommend going to Brewery Yard Markets? Like the outdoors? Maybe looking for some nice presents to give to a friend? Perhaps you just want a place to chill in the sun… head down to the Brewery Yard Markets and you’ll be delighted to a range of quirky arts and crafts, cool tunes and a diverse range of delicious food!

Highlight: Having a place where you can sit down and have a tan. Often markets are packed and too crowded. There’s no space to move, sit down and enjoy your freshly made lunch. Central Park has a massive open space so after you go around seeing all the stalls, you can sit back, chill, then go around again!

Suggestion of improvement: I loved the variety here and it wasn’t just stalls from The Living Mall but beyond that! It’s actually quite rare that so many shops in one place got involved but what I could suggest is maybe getting the public involved as well. Perhaps the talent from UTS or even USyd students? There are heaps of students around so they can definitely leverage on that.

Link: http://www.centralparksydney.com/shop/brewery-yard-markets

Official hashtag: #breweryyard #bymcomp

Angela Bee

Smooth Festival of Chocolate 2014

Chocolate-lovers paradise became a reality with hundreds of artesian chocolate stalls at the Smooth Festival of Chocolate, held from 10am-5pm on October 4 & 5 at The Rocks.

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”The smooth Festival of Chocolate is a celebration of sweet, indulgent desserts, where Sydney’s best boutique chocolatiers, pastry chefs and ice cream makers will come together to tempt you with their creations.”

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What a gorgeous start to the long weekend! With the sun coming out and a huge variety of chocolate, what more could you have asked for the perfect weekend? On Saturday morning I caught the ferry around the harbour and landed in Circular Quay- where all the fun started. Remember: in Heaven, chocolate has no calories and is served as a main course.

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You could see the line of white tents set up in the grass area and everyone just enjoying the sun. It’s no wonder we came across Gelato Messina first! Their specialty Willie’s Cacao (Venezuelan cacao) and the Milk of Gods (choc fudge and brownie) sound a-mazing!! As expected, the line for it was l-o-n-g.

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Similarly to the Aroma (coffee) Festival a couple of months back, Voodoo displayed their variety of rocky road. It’s quite cheap- $2.50 each!

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Parisi, which sells chocolate covered fruit was also at the festival. Very fitting and so tempting.. I love the gourmet look and chocolate with shredded coconut would be my recommendation.

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The reward to the stall that bought the most culture to our doorsteps was Mayan Xocolat. We were greeted with chilli, cardamom and chocolate covered coffee beans which were an absolute delight! My friend and I waited quite a long time to grab our exotic chilli, cardamom and cinnamon coffee but it was sooo worth it! It was the pre, during and after taste that got us excited!

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The bunting at Alpine Berry Farm got me excited. Strawberries and chocolate go well but I’m just liking the bunting here #simplybutcrafty

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The highlight of our experience at the Chocolate Festival was the Gramophones man!!!! He was in his own little world, playing his beats on a portable wheel. Not only did he have the tunes of the decade, but he had the grooves too! #entertainmentathisbest

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After we did the rounds next to the MCA, we headed up the stairs to George Street. I must admit, I did expect more stalls to be there because there were tons at Aroma, but chocolate is a specialty and there aren’t as many chocolate shops as there are cafes! We walked up to where the food markets are usually and the fun continued!

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Firstly, cinnamon doughnuts with spicy choc sauce? I do sense a bit of chilli theme going on here after the Mayan coffee I bought but it gets even more interesting…

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Bavarian Bier Café served ribs rubbed with chocolate!! #wow! The sweet and savoury saga had continued! We weren’t sure about this and I’m (quite) eager to try this at home but this one is for the boys! #manup

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Heading upstream, we passed this shop with hundreds and thousands!! There was even a freckled chocolate box used as a piñata!

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The Smooth festival of Chocolate could not be complete with your typical waffles, chocolate frappes and crepes! I must admit, the world of French crepes suddenly appeared all at once!

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I don’t think I ate one thing that was savoury for the whole day. There were too many desserts and too many tempting goods. They all looked super gourmet and super pretty.

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The ladies at Mrs Fields was having some fun!! Love it!!! Go for some chocolate cookies with chocolate drizzled on top.. mmmm

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Mr and Mrs Chocolate made an appearance as well! How about a dress with Ferrero Roches attached?

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These honey queen puffs look amazing! Topped with cinnamon, they’re looking crunchy and tasty!

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I love all things funky. The Chocolate Pot sold ‘reeaal dirty hot choc drinking soil’ – not bad when it comes to growing more cocoa beans?

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Serendipity had their own DIY ice cream. I would prefer this to the Magnum store because they had more varieties of ice cream and toppings for $6. (Still pricey but a Magnum is $8).

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The most interesting stall was Knafeh, Jerusalem street food. Basically you could see the whole production process from their giant van. FYI, Knafeh is cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup, topped with crushed pistachios.

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LoveDemApples is smart enough to provide us with a healthy alternative. Remmber: An apple (covered with chocolate) a day keeps the doctor away!

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I kind of expected more music to be at the festival but there were onto three stages. There wasn’t much happening at one of them and the one below was probably the most chilled. I love the seating with the haystacks.

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I was told that one of the places I must go to was at the Tafe. ChocolArts makes fresh chocolate and there’s a demonstration of how they make the chocolate. There’s an art to making chocolate, but there’s an even more refined art when it comes to designing with chocolate. Have a look at the designs below.

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Conclusion: a balanced diet is chocolate in both hands

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P.S. Obligatory Circular Quay photo #tourist #ArtamdAbout

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Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Event (Smooth festival of Chocolate): 4/5

Ambience: 4/5

Service: 3.5/5

Value: 4/5

Would I recommend going to the Smooth Festival of Chocolate? Love chocolate? Need a break from work? Take some time off and grab head to the festival! There’s a bit of food porn here but if it will get you through the day, then I don’t see an excuse not to come!

Highlight: All the chocolate! What I loved about this festival was that it was just the same old chocolate you would get from our  usual supermarkets. The people there were small businesses, each with unique takes of chocolate. Where else could you get chilli, cardamom and cinnamon coffee beans? How about the ginger, coconut and chocolate blocks?

Suggestion of improvement: We absolutely loved all the chocolate stalls and it was a bit random having the occasional savoury eateries? I guess it’ll be a good balance if there is (and could we ever have) too much chocolate but what I’m saying is that it doesn’t really make too much sense if a jazz singer sings at a rock n roll concert. I must say, the Gramophone man was the best!

Link: http://www.smoothfestivalofchocolate.com.au/

Angela Bee

Free Trial Magazine – GrabIt App

The first issue of GrabIT is free to download on iPads- it’s not your normal app, but an interactive magazine with video reviews, moving images and swipe through functions about iPad games which will blow your mind.

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“Grab It Magazine is a triple-A, digital video games publication created to the standards met by its founder, Chris Stead, presented natively in the digital format, using the medium’s strengths to deepen the reader experience and their connection to the games. Grab It Magazine is in itself an entertaining experience, but it also provides opinion, information and a direct channel to point-of-sale on all of the games showcased in each issue.”

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A good friend recommended this app to me and to be honest, I’m not really into gaming (although Runescape, Gunbound and MapleStory bring good memories of childhood back) but I must say, there are so many gaming apps out there so how do you know which ones to play? I was actually going to give myself an hour to go through and write this review, I did not expect to be pinned to the app and reading it for over an hour! I’ll have to explain why.

Go to your iTunes Store and download the app via this link.

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I’m going to leave the introduction a surprise. It’s loud, it’s big and it took me by surprise!!!! ;0

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Flick over a couple of pages and there are a neat set if instructions just before you begin the experience. I really liked how this was all an educating experience and not just on one page but is minimalised by the end of the magazine.

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By this time, you would’ve probably discovered why the name of the magazine is called “GrabIt’ because you literally can grab images, videos and texts. Compared to a physical magazine, you can scroll down and down and down (and down and down…).

There are several features such as ‘select song’, ‘tap for gallery’, ‘tap to read the review’. It’s amazing how technology can revolutionise the most simple tasks.. and probably the reason why I’m working/loving the tech industry.

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My favourite function would probably be “tap the pic to activate the security camera, then drag”. Or even an image that is actually a video! It’s kinda like being on Harry Potter and discovering more than what you initially see. I can’t wait to see when 3D magazines come out!  Soon it’ll be moving pictures – what we’ve all dreamt about! #methetechfreak

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In terms of the content, I really like the analytical and educational approach. It’s simple and a user like me would understand. That being said, I am currently a non-gamer (except the games I told you guys about before and the occasional app I play- NOT Candy Crush). At the bottom, there is a ‘verdict’ section where it pretty much gives you a quick summary.

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A special feature, ‘tap to grab this game’ is extremely useful because it immediately brings you to the AppStore to purchase the game if you’re interested. You won’t be left wondering how much the game you’re reading costs because at the top of the article, it will state the game’s developer, genre, price guide and IAPs.

Maybe I’m into this whole crowdfunding thing, maybe I’m not, but this magazine uses the platform really well by publishing a selected few games that you could help ‘kick start’. Games include rebuilding Deadsville from a zompocalypse, stacking as many hats as you can on a gentleman, helping a ninja monkey by giving wedgies to renegade seafood, helping The Drifter to find a cure for a disease, and solving your way through your afterlife to uncover your past as a deceased ghost.

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As you probably notice, it’s an independent publication and is socially driven so if you have an iPad, share it with your community and download the next episodes!

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GrabIT is a good place to start, discover and learn about interactive magazines so grab-it and read-it! It’s only $1.99 for each issue/episode but if you would like to read another GrabIt episode/issue for free, send me a message saying why ( in 140 characters or less) and I’ll pass you the (secret) codes to the first 5 readers.

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Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Product (GrabIt App): 4.5/5

Presentation: 4.5/5

Usability: 4/5

Value: 4.5/5

Would I recommend trialing the Grab It game discovery app? If you’re like me and waste time downloading the most useless gaming apps and not end up playing them anyway, then this is a great place to start. Being a girl, this actually appeals to me because I find it fascinating playing through the functions but the games suggested are more for the boys.

Highlight: I think I’ve said this multiple times, but the interactivity of it. The user experience side of the app was extremely well done. It took me a while to figure out that I had to tap towards the outside so I could skip the pages and go back to the home page, or if I wanted to read another article. You can also zoom out and tap the scroll like it’s a movie to skip and go to other pages and bookmark pages as well! It’s all easy to read and well formatted.

Suggestion of improvement: I love how there are ‘top iPad games’ and all these recommendations but it would be better if they were put into categories because I guess most people have a particular ‘type’ of game they prefer. It’s great that there is The Hive community and a screen dedicated to it in the middle of the magazine but I thought it was the end! I guess encouraging people to be part of the community can be done on every page! Remember to join their social networks, everyone! Also, the app only works on landscape..

Link: http://georiot.co/GrabItIssue0

Current Episode (7):  http://geni.us/GIs01e07

Grab IT: http://www.grabitmagazine.com/about-us.php

Angela Bee

Cabramatta Moon Festival 2014

A total immersion into Vietnamese culture was experienced at Cabramatta’s Moon Festival, which was held conveniently on the same day as Father’s Day this year on Sunday 7 September 2014.

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“The Cabramatta Moon Festival is recognised as one of Sydney’s premier and largest Asian celebrations. People from all parts of Sydney and different cultural backgrounds take part to celebrate the ancient Moon Festival tradition.

 It’s a festival for family and friends to enjoy and celebrate good health and fortune.”
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Cabramatta for me is a lifetime away.. and the fact that my family and I drove all the way there is a testament to how lively and fantastic this festival was. In fact, I felt like I was transported back to Vietnam!! – why do I not live closer?  If you don’t have a car, don’t fret because the train station is literally next to the scene.

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When we arrived, there was a little sectioned out space where dancers showed off their cool moves. There was a bit of cheering here and there and it was a good attempt by the youngsters.

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What I noticed when I got to Cabramatta was that it was very family-oriented. The animals made an appearance..

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There were a lot of rides .. every. where. Normally there would be a tiny little section, but this time it was spread out to a few areas. This was a giant carnival I wished I had when I was a kid!

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My favourite stall was the umbrella-painting. The kids there were very cute and got to paint their umbrellas and even put some sparkles on top! I loved how vibrant they were and the stands made them shine.

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Other than the rides and activities for kids, there were of course there were a billion shops selling cheap/delicious stuff. I won’t be sure about the quality, but if you were looking for quilts and food, Cabramatta would offer your needs at a discount. From shoes

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To cosmetics

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To toys

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There were just stalls and stalls and stalls and stalls… and it was the typical ‘there are too many people so I’m going to stomp on you’ vibe.

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There was also a stage for the youngsters to speak.. oh and I forgot to mention the radio station that was pumping Gangnam style on loud speaker? I thought it was Korean? Sorry..

Just like the typical Chinatown, there was the grand gate.

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It was kind of hard getting a good photo with all the people around the place, but I reckon I did well only needing the top half. Very traditional with a ginormous lantern.

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Walking inside, there were more lanterns and tents! It was so crazy and this was not even lunch or dinner time!! I was there at around 3-5pm?!

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Anyways, I had the liberty of trying a funky drink (which my mum had never ever seen and I was shocked.. but then again, I have been to Vietnam before) and it was soooooooooooooooooo delicious! Mixed jelly with ice. Get onto it. It’s just a mixture of jelly goodness, with ice and coconut milk. It’s insanely healthy (not) and insanely the best drink during the summer.

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I must say, The Walking Advertisement always attracts some free stuff of some sort and at Cabramatta’s Moon Festival, it was these tasty snacks! I would say they are the ‘chips’ of Vietnam but come in a variety of flavours- sweet and savoury.

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While we’re on the topic of food, the smell of pho was irresistible. Only $7 for a massive bowl of noodle which could’ve easily fed 2 people.. there’s definitely a bargain here. I would just like to say again, why don’t I live around Cabra??!!

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I eventually gave up and bought some takeaway food. The excuse was that it was for tomorrow’s lunch (but really I just wanted to eat it straight away as ‘afternoon tea’).

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Side note- there was an insane amount of ATMs and possibly the most I’ve seen in any suburb. There were no queues so kudos.

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As we closed off the loop, we ended up at a stage with little kids performing in a large tent. It was absolutely packed but quite entertaining.

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Well, I’m definitely coming next year ! Mai mốt gặp lại (See you soon!)

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Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Event (Cabramatta Moon Festival): 4.75/5

Ambience: 4/5

Service: 4.5/5

Value: 4.75/5

Would I recommend going to Cabramatta Moon Festival? IF you love a bit of Vietnamese culture, or even experiencing another culture at your doorstep, then Cabramatta would’ve been my ‘highly commended’ place to be. I honestly cannot stress how many people were there- apparently there were approximately 90,000 in 2013! Vietnam itself is a busy place, and Cabramatta is a busy place.

Highlight: Going to all the markets was a highlight. No, stepping on everyone’s feet was a highlight. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never been to Cabramatta so I didn’t know what to expect. I got excited at the $7 pho bowls because they smelt amazing! It also reminded me of the times I felt tempted to buy cheap clothes then figured out they weren’t top quality.. #goodtimes #memories.

Suggestion of improvement: A problem with most festivals is that there is no linear/circular route but Cabra’s Moon Festival was pretty amazing at that. We went in a full circle and I feel we experienced everything.. maybe except for any performances! Wished we saw some cultural dancing but I guess it depends what time you arrive, right?

Linkhttp://www.fairfieldcity.nsw.gov.au/default.asp?iDocID=10312&iNavCatId=3313&iSubCatId=3313

Angela Bee

Free Connoisseur Ice Cream – Blank Space Gallery

Free samples of the new Empire Collection of Connoisseur’s ice cream was available from Thursday September 17- Sunday September 21, 2014 at Blank Space Gallery, Surry Hills.

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“We create CONNOISSEUR for the curious and adventureous. The new Empire Collection showcases four unique flavour combinations, inspired by four historical characters who each had a connection to the very origins of ice cream. With flavours inspired by the personalities of some of the world’s most charismatic leaders combined with stunning packaging designed by Steve Cross, the story of ice cream comes to life.”

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!! When this first appeared, I was no doubt going straight to Blank Space Gallery. The fact that the name is Blank Space Gallery really tells you a lot about the space- right?

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Heading up on Albion Street from Central station, I knew that this hill we were climbing up would be the calories I would put back on when I get to Connoisseur’s exhibition. I don’t think I’ve heard of the gallery before but it doesn’t hurt checking new places out because who knows- maybe it’ll come in useful later on!

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Going on a Friday night, I expected it to be packed with people but surprisingly, there was a security guard and two girls serving ice cream when I arrived. No other customers? Well, it worked in my favour because I got to try a little scoop of each flavour- twice! #winning FYI the prelim AFL finals were on so maybe that was why..

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It was pretty neat when I arrived. The fridge was filled to the brim with Connoisseur ice cream tubs. I LOVE the new design. It’s sharp, slick and arty. Melbourne artist Steve Cross is the person behind these designs and also the four unique installations at the gallery. Watching his video here, I learnt that he started off painting murals, then graffiti, street art.. he is definitely #cuttingedge

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What I found interesting is that percentages of the packaging needed to be 80% of one colour and 20% of the other colour. The composition of the characters and compositions of the placement of colours is very specific. Imagine your artwork in every shopping mall! I loved how he mentioned that he sometimes goes to the fridge and wipes the frost off the ice cream tubs so that you can see the design #commitment

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Looking around the gallery, it is actually a pretty small space. The general vibe of the room was.. quite exotic, particularly the emperors. Let’s go through the emperors and kings and their flavours:

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1. Emperor Nero (wickedly robust coffee flavoured ice cream scattered with chocolate coated hazelnuts and lashings of hazelnut liqueur sauce)

“As an ‘ice cream’ originator, Nero ordered snow to be brought back from the highest mountains which he would mix with exotic fruit and sweet syrups.” This was devilishly chocolately and for those who are needing that coffee/sugar fix.

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2. Emperor Jing Zong ( red bean flavoured ice cream, mouth watering coconut pieces and a swirl of sweet, red bean syrup)

“The energetic leader would host extravagant parties at the Imperial Palace, which was dripping in jewels and bursting with the scent of fresh peonies. On hot nights, dessert was a unique creation of ice, buffalo milk and ‘dragons brains’.” I’m not too sure if there was a strong flavour of red bean but the coconut pieces are the secret ingredient to this delightful ice cream!

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3. King Louis XIV (French Vanilla flavoured ice cream, laced with choc flakes and a splash of Armagnac liqueur)

“During his reign, he drastically changed France from its savage mediaeval ways to more refined, exquisite and opulent living – evident from the Palace of Versailles and the extensions he made to the Louvre.” What a classy man and a classy dessert! I’m not a fan of vanilla usually but the chocolate flakes did it this time round!

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4. King Cyrus of Persia (pistachio flavoured ice cream, pistachio nuts and swirls of syrup made from cinnamon, honey and dates)

“Pioneers of ‘ice cream’ within the Persian Empire created a desert made of rosewater and vermicelli that was a cross between sorbet and rice pudding called a faludeh. It helped them cool off and relax after a hard day in the punishing Iranian heat.” With this, I really loved the nuttyness of the pistachio flavour and I have a feeling this could’ve been my favourite!

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The designs around the room were gorgeous and I would’ve come here again if I had the chance! There was no line and sampling this in an art gallery helps the art community!

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Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Event (Connoisseur free ice cream): 4/5

Ambience: 3.5/5

Service: 3.5/5

Value: 4.5/5

Would I recommend going to Connoissuer’s free ice cream giveaway at Blank Space Gallery? Is that even a question? Even for those who don’t normally like ice cream (such as myself), I would definitely come back again. You won’t be walking a couple of blocks to Gelato Messina after this!

Highlight: I really liked how Connoisseur has combined this new Empire Collection with history and art – both things I’m highly interested in. Its actually quite funny because Connoisseur isn’t the cheapest ice cream brand out there and the fact that they’ve created unique flavours and aligning them with emperors and kings is quite interesting. I liked the decorations and paintings around the area – was there a chance of buying it? It was also very apparent that there was an official hashtag (and so many places don’t do this!!) and competition.

Suggestion of improvement: The artwork was really nice, but I would’ve liked it more if there was more explanation behind the emperors/kings with their respective flavours. Maybe if you had to go answer a question about the emperor/king whose ice cream flavour you wanted.., something more interactive maybe. Anyways, I’m glad I got to try them all!

Ends: Sunday September 21, 2014

Link: http://www.connoisseuricecream.com.au/#!/article/free-ice-cream

Official hashtags: #Connoisseur #EmpireCollection

Angela Bee

Vogue Fashion Night Out 2014

The most crowded Thursday late-night-shopping night of the year is by far the annual Vogue Fashion Night Out, held from 5-10pm  at Pitt Street Westfield to Martin Place on September 4, 2014.

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”A global Vogue initiative, this one-night-only shopping extravaganza is Sydney’s largest retail event, attracting more shoppers than the Boxing Day sales!”

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To be frank, I’m not too sure about the “more shoppers than Boxing Day sales” part is accurate, but it is indeed one of Sydney’s biggest shopping evenings. But how did this year’s night out compare to previous years? Let me walk you through it.

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The weather was really nice at 5pm (although I didn’t get there until 6:30pmish) and then it started to sprinkle a little.. so the first half of the evening was nice. I made my way from Wynyard, briefly stopping at Martin Place.

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There were a few things going on: a British double decker where you could enjoy some drinks and nibbles, a lovely flower display where you could take Polaroids, a tent to try on foundation, and a series of food trucks with plenty of space around to have a sit and chat.

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I must admit the lines were shorter than expected, but as always, lines are always never ending. What I really like about Martin Place was that it was less crowded and cluttered, everything there was beautifully displayed. The food trucks looked a little out of place but there was plenty of room for people to eat.

Walking on Pitt Street towards Westfield, there was obviously a bigger crowd. The big bright light bulbs on either end of Pitt Street welcomed everyone and were probably the Instagram landmark of the night.

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Ok, I just want to give a heads up that I am no superwoman and did not go into every single store to check out the sales. Below is just a select few shops I came across that were worthy of mention.

- H&M made a classy appearance with their exclusive store. I can’t wait til next month when it comes to Macquarie Centre!! #northwestpride

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- Sportsgirl lived up to its expectations, with drinks, photobooth, nail art station and music! It’s pretty much the same every year so you’ll know where to get the party started!

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- Review took a unique approach in interpreting what life-size poster looks like. Two women dressed in really cute dresses shared high tea with shoppers! #nailedit

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- I forget which clothes shop this was in Westfield but they had the most gorgeous orange and yellow arrangement of flowers with jars and jars of candy! It was definitely my favourite!

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- Sambag had a fancy ice cream cart and let me tell you there was a reaaaaallly long line for it! I guess the scoopers were quite slow and paced it out but it would’ve helped if the line was inside the store so customers could have a look at their products?

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- Swarovski had the best dressed man and women. Let me call them golden mermaids handing out chocolate.. heaven in a nutshell!

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.. whoops, lets segment to a bit of stuff happening on the stage…

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- Vogue did an amazing job with the bright pink globes that look like Christmas decorations. I must admit, I actually kinda love it but the line was horrendously too long for a photo opportunity! It was starting to sprinkle too..

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- Mimco was being a bit fun with these gaming machines!

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Very unexpectingly popular but I can see the novelty in them. I also got a bar of chocolate wondering around the store! #winning

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- Secrets Shhh is a jewelry shop and the lovely harp mesmerised us inside. How beautiful. I’m wondering how they got it in the store! #sillyme

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Looking around this year, I must say that there weren’t as many people as previous years. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the timing, but nevertheless I always have a brilliant time coming here and checking out all the sales. It’s sales bonanza but I still wouldn’t say it would’ve been busier than a Boxing Day sale…

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Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Event (VFNO14): 4/5

Ambience: 3.5/5

Service: 3.5/5

Value: 3.5/5

Would I recommend going to Vogue Fashion Night Out? Love to shop? Love a sale? This is the event for you! Shopping is not just about looking for clothes, it’s about the whole experience- from the time you step into the store, to the moment you leave.

Highlight: I liked how some of the stores thought outside of the box. I remember last year I was absolutely sick of cake cake cake, lollies, lollies, chocolate, chocolate, sugar, sugar. Sometimes simple is best and even doing nail art is fun. I must say, savory/real food does help. I also liked how stores like H&M studio was designed so that it could still run if it was raining. Vogue was the same as well!

Suggestion of improvement: Sometimes its great getting lost and stumbling upon treasures you would never normally find! What I would’ve liked more is probably signs directing us to where shops are, or even a program telling us what time and where fashion shows were. It’s always a question and everyone wants to get involved!

Official hashtag: #VFNO

Link: http://www.vogue.com.au/fno

Angela Bee

 

The Gallery Edition – Idea Bombing Sydney

Bring creative and innovative design concepts for Sydney’s future was Idea Bombing Sydney’s ‘The Gallery Edition’ at Object Gallery on July 23 and August 22, 2014.

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“Idea Bombing gives us the opportunity to stop, listen and think. Part meetup, part popup bar, talk series and community brainstorm, it’s a new way to engage, surface creative ideas and promote ways of turning those ideas into reality”.

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Ok, I have to admit that the only reason I came to these sessions was because I liked the name: ‘idea bombing’. It is what a few of my close friends and I do when we have our nerdy sessions/catch ups. #geeksftw #actuallynotreally

Going up the stairs, the steps were chalked with inspiration.

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Object Gallery isn’t too big, but it had enough space for a few installations such as these potted plants.

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Amongst the middle was also a table with paper where you could write your ideas to share. Once you had written it down, pin it up on the canvas wall!

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Someone had drawn a funky version of the streets of Sydney on a canvas. It was amazing to see how much it had been filled up with hanging paper from its first days towards the end.

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There were also blackboards where you could scribble your thoughts. Cake Wines was a sponsor of this event and asked for a gold coin donation from every wine glass. Smart move and I would’ve done the exact same if I had a gallery event!

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Heading upstairs, there was artwork thanks to Art Pharmacy. “Art Pharmacy is an online gallery that hosts regular pop-up exhibitions around Sydney. Our aim is to make affordable art accessible to everyone, while supporting local Australian artists”.

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It was a great little space and I definitely support Australian emerging artists.

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At around 6:30pm, we squeezed into the main space of the gallery. The first session had nice room filled with people, but the second session it was jam packed. I’m not going to estimate numbers (I’m bad at estimating!) but the floor was pretty much covered with people sitting and standing. You could tell that people had been telling others, and more and more people are hopping on the band wagon!

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Part 1 talk series included:

Kym Lenoble, ARTBAR Coordinator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia
Diana Palmer, Director, Palmer Art Projects
Juliet Rosser, Director, Platform 72
Alex Light, Head of Content, Vice Australia

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The main points I got out of it was that were:

- When doing something creative, be ready to take risks and argue a lot

- With events, consider the event AND social/online app experience

- Artwork is a living entity- its a living voice and engages the artist and the audience

- Can being online ever replace physically being somewhere?

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Part 2 talk series included:

Tim Carr, Lighting Designer, Arup
Liane Rossler, artist, designer, curator, creative advisor and ambassador for issues relating to design and the environment
Christopher Skyner, Director, Authority Clothing and
Jonathan Knapp, Director, Urban Design, SJB Architects

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The main points I got out of that were:

- Turn a problem into a solution

- Architectural lighting adds to the #environmental impact and #city #architecture #energyconsumption

- “Design is everywhere”

- Don’t hesitate but go for it

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Again, I was honestly immensely surprised at how bit it got at the second session. Well done @IdeaBombingSyd/John.

Rating Review: (1-5, with 5 being exceptional)

Product (The Object Gallery and talks): 4/5

Ambience: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Would I recommend going to Idea Bombing Sydney? If you are creative with ideas and want to contribute to the growth of Sydney in a design aspect, this is definitely a great place where you can connect and learn.

Highlight: For me, it was very inspiring to see so many people come and hearing how the speakers have used their fun/bizarre ideas to come to what they are today.

Suggestion of improvement: The topics were a bit general and I’m not sure if it was industry-specific in some cases. It would’ve been better if there was a specific topic. It may be design with events, or design with architecture, or design with urban planning.. I mean it was really good to hear from a broader perspective, but it would’ve been better if they asked us what interests we had and gather into smaller groups to discuss further ideas.

Official hashtag: #ideabombingsyd

Link: http://www.ideabombingsydney.com/

Angela Bee