Village Bizarre – The Rocks 2014

A splash of mystery, a dash of magic, a spray of music and an array of markets – every Friday, Village Bizarre showcases a unique combination of entertainment at The Rocks from 6:30pm between 7 November to 19 December 2014.

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“Catch a glimpse of a colossal white rabbit over rooftops, encounter captivating characters around every corner, satisfy your foodie side and meander through night markets of handmade treasures.”

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I must confess that my true intentions to come to a Village Bizarre is to see one of my best friends from school perform. The pop up Kpop performances were amazing but the highlights were the bizarre performances and behind the window live acts which made the night truly bizarre.

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Walking from Circular Quay station, the first touch of bizarreness was seeing the live dancers  bring window displays to life. The Star Wars Queen lookalike is actually a Hindu Goddess.

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The most popular shopfront performer would be Peter Baecker. His hyptonic movements as the Village Bizarre Clubhouse’s official DJ dancer is contagious!

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Superman made an appearance too.. and with a balaclava.

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We officially started the night at the information booth where the personable clowns got us in the mood for a fun night.

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Walking up the strand, there were the usual foodie markets. Nothing too special and nothing too bizarre.

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To get a feel for what kinds of food were there (if you’re not a regular), Hero Sushi’s famous dumplings…

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Roast Pulled Pork Roll with slaw, apple sauce and gravy was $10 and is was amaaaaaaazing! The combination of sauces was unique and the flavours were top notch.

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Skewers and fresh pasta was also on the agenda with other varieties such as hot dogs and kebabs.

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On the other side, Smoke and Mirrors, Part 2 was on display. There’s a line to have a look but it doesn’t take long as everyone just peers through the curtains. I’m glad I don’t live in a haunted house.. it would scare the daylights out of me.

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Turning right, there was The Argyle Oracle. Take a seat for a psychic reading of your (possible) future using palm and taro card readings. There was a long line for this, but I’m not sure if I’m a believer in foreseeing what’s ahead.

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Every year, I tell myself to sign up for one of the activities at the Parlour Bizarre. It’s a place where you will be transformed into a piece of art!! If you ever arrive early, head here first. Sign up before everyone else to avoid disappointment! People who were there included: Barbarer Supreme – choose between a wet shave, scissor cut or clipper cut and enjoy the experience!

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Glitta Supernova – a 20 minute makeover where you’ll be transformed by a team of talented artists into a living artwork! They’ll put stickers, glitter, flowers, laces, and paint onto your face – think Day of the Dead style.

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Photobooth – KABOOM! Be a fun comic character and take a picture and instagram it #villagebizarre

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Mohs Hair and Beauty – An electrik 1980s-inspired hair makeover . My friend and I signed up for this and daym it looked amazing! My friend had these beautiful braids that curled at the back of her head which was accompanied by some fancy curls – it looked like she was ready to be at a wedding! I got a rough curl in my hair and it was up in a rowdy bun – funky!

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After our treatment, we walked into The Gin Mill Social.

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Duh there was Gin and duh there were live performances!

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The Rocks Brewing Company supplied the onlookers with drinks and it was pretty packed with not enough tables or seats. It was quite entertaining but not really during the 10 minutes we spent there.

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Opposite was the entrance to the UTS exhibition. There is no doubt that this was one of the highlights and almost every person I’ve talked to that has been to the Rocks Village Bizarre has said this was a favourite! The colourful strings strung by the audience on what they thought about Sydney was stunning.

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We did a made our way into  an alley where there were Crossover’s Kpop dancers performing in front of the huge white rabbits from this year’s Vivid.

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We also got really lucky as it was just in time for a Full Fathom Five performance at the Discovery Museum. This was perhaps my favourite performance because it kept the audience moving. We were lead into different rooms by the security guard (who would’ve known he was part of the show too!) and characters from different rooms told a tale.

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Moving forward, we stumbled upon a fly..bird?  He was lingering around the official hashtag sign.

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Love TV was kinda awkward lol. I mean the setting was fabulous and wonderfully displayed.. I guess it’s just the concept.

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I think one of the main reasons why some people came to the Village Bizarre was because of Etzy. Etzy is an online marketplace for with vintage and hand made products. It’s amazing and if you have spare time, it’s definitely worth more than a scroll. You could even get a photo taken at their photobooth!

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We also saw a ghost puppet show at around 8pm. It was interesting! I didn’t really get what the whole concept was really about but there were some good laughs.

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I feel like we saw a lot of things- we went to a few shows, looked at the markets, stared at the shopfront performances and had a good laugh, ate some delicious food, and even got our hair done! It was a packed night and we did really well in terms of getting involved. Fun!

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

Event (Village Bizarre): 4.25/5

Ambience: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 4.5/5

Would I recommend going to The Rocks Village Bizarre this year? You may probably need a good game plan so head to the information booth to sort out your night filled with performances! If you’re a person who is up for a few tales, a couple of drinks, likes art and loves interactivity, then this one would be for you!

Highlight: I feel like there weren’t as many people on its first night compared to previous years. However, I felt like we did sooooooooo many more things compared to last year. Maybe it was just perfect timing but I really loved going to the shows and seeing the performances. I actually can’t believe that we were there from around 5:30 til 10pm? Time went by so quickly!

Suggestion of improvement: The amount of pop up performances was amazing and there were always people crowded in those areas – maybe they should have more next year! Also, probably more seats at the food markets because it was a bit awkward not knowing where to sit- everyone else seemed to be standing.

Linkhttp://www.therocks.com/whats-on/the-rocks-village-bizarre.aspx

Official hashtag: #VillageBizarre

Angela Bee

Sculptures by the Sea 2014

The two and a half hour ride to Sculptures By The Sea is definitely worth the trip and you should be going this weekend as it finishes on Sunday November  9, 2014.

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Sculpture by the Sea returns to the Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach coastal walk. See the spectacular Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk transformed into a 2km long temporary sculpture park featuring over 100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world.”

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Catching a bus to Tamarama beach from Bondi Junction station is the secret tip I would recommend doing. Avoid the human traffic jam and walk peacefully up the beach and soak in the not-as-crowded beach. Yes, I did go on a Saturday at around 11 and yes, there were a lot if people. Either go really early in the morning to watch the sunrise or go late at night to watch the sunset. Below are some of he highlights. You’ll have go to yourselves to see the amazingness!

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Once getting off the bus, you’ll arrive with this amazing view. I must say, Sydney weather at its summer peak is the best.

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Heading towards Bondi, we could look down to have a birds eye view of a massive construction of thread.

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The contrast of the bright colours stood out from the deep blue sky.

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The giant pan is hilarious! You could crawl in and literally become a sunshine egg :) #happytimes #sunburn

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Walking down onto the grassy area, there was a laddered arch with snake like figures.

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Honestly, you cannot not take a bad photo.

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My favourite sculpture was this thing. It probably needs some explaining. The pole is a mirror of the picture beneath it. You might think its a swirl of swish at first sight but it’s actually a clever picture when you look at its reflection.

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I think the most iconic photo I’ve seen on Instagram is this circular object with a piece of granite sticking out. Sorry, I couldn’t help but not know what the meaning of the art it?  I really like how it can frame a picture and at every angle it is a wonderful pose.

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In terms of the artwork that is most easily understood, this musical instrument could be a band in itself! Loving the bright red there!

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The sculpture that confused me the most was this cage of mirrors. What is it made from? Where does the selection of the mirrors come from? It’s an interesting piece and I quite like it (except all the people/kids who were peeping through and ruining the picture perfect moments).

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Ok, let’s have a little break and glance over to the sea! #stunningsydney

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I think these beautiful glass sculptures reminded me of some exotic country, even exotic Christmas trees for those who have white Christmases.

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Made out of recyclable rubbish, this chair is made for the Queen of the Sea! The colourful aspect and the crown you can put on is a genius concept!

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I quite liked this figure. It reminds me of peace and tranquility.

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Some describe is as a pineapple, others as a Christmas Tree, even as a nonna’s knitting needle.

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It’s spikey and it has a hole through it!

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By the time you reach this point, you’re probably half way FYI. Conveniently enough, The Grounds of Alexandria brings you The Grounds By The Sea.

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There was a long line but it was ‘fast food’ style so it wasn’t a too long of a wait.

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I ordered the Latitude 34 Lamb Salad which included Moroccan spiced lamb, couscous, mint, yoghurt and almonds. It was huge and there was a lot of meat in there. I would’ve loved a bit more couscous but the flavours were there.

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The chips were soft inside and soooo light and crunchy. My friend ordered the Bondi to Bronte Beef burger and it was pretty average- nothing to brag about, really. Menu below.

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It’s actually pretty cool having this pop up store and The Grounds is always open to new things!

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As expected, there were a lot of people and not many chairs or tables. Thankfully there was a lot of greenery around and some shady spots. Continuing on, there were lots of funky installations. I wished I had this truck for my roadtrips! #art

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This makes a cage look beautiful.

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Every year there’s also a miniature version of each of the sculptures. I love it because you get to see more of a description of what you’ve seen outside and also have the chance to purchase them! Unfortunately I cannot afford any of this but hey, it doesn’t hurt to have a look.

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These pipes with plants growing out was one that stood out to me. It’s like sustainability mixed into a boring set of pipes.

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The most photogenic one was this cherry made from lipsticks. So creative and can be so easily done!

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Stepping back outside, the sun hit us and we were back to the fun works! This picture is hilarious..

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The bottle tops in this installation made it seem like they were sparkles on a massive diamond. Loved the effect.

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Cute-scary-cute ants popping evilly from the rocks was the best!! I love the facial expressions on their faces. Watch out!

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It’s lovely ending up at Bondi beach and what a great way to relax on the weekend. I must say, my recommendation is definitely to go at the end of the day but whenever you go, it will always be the best. Also, a reminder that this blog post is not everything.. there were a million more things!

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

Event (Sculptures by the Sea): 5/5

Ambience: 4.5/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 5/5

Would I recommend going to Sculptures by the Sea this year? YESSSSSS! I was super impressed by not only the sculptures but by how many people there are. I feel like you like summer, hot weather, art and walking, then this would be good. I’ve ticked all the boxes!

Highlight: Sitting by the grassy area overlooking the beach and being lazy observing all the beautiful sculptures. It’s so relaxing and there are plenty of photo opportunities here. I think I took approximately 100 photos… I have a feeling a lot of people take a lot more!

Suggestion of improvement: Having the numbers and information booths (which you had to pay for?). Anyways, it would’ve been nice to have a description beside each sculpture because I always love to know what insights the artists had in mind! I love perspectives and reading about what other people think.

Link: http://www.sculpturebythesea.com/

Official hashtag: #SculpturesbytheSea

Angela Bee

Parramasala Masala Markets 2014

Parramasala’s Masala markets on Saturday October 18, 2014 was a colourful masala, or “mix”, of the treasures of India.

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“Now in its fifth year, Parramasala is a free, public celebration of the diverse and rich cultures which contribute to Sydney’s rich social fabric – a heady and colourful mix of music, dance, parade, theatre, food, film and heritage.”

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It’s quite exciting that there’s so much construction going on in Parramatta and made it slightly easier to find where the festival was with the marked paths! When we got there, I was amazed at how many people there were waiting at the stalls for food. Luckily here, there was a one-line system and surprisingly, it looked quite orderly!

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Heading to up into the grassy area, the vibrant colours began popping up! I actually miss India and the beautiful scarves, jewellery and souvenirs I used to love to bargain for!

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Seems like this was a special tree!

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What I really liked about this festival was that there wasn’t an explosion of typical souvenirs making it too repetitive. Maggie’s collection was one of the few stalls with the traditional props. #throwback

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There isn’t an Indian festival without chai! We used to get this was like 3-5 rupees in a shot cup. Chai literally means tea in Hindi, so for me, when I came back, it was weird ordering a chai latte. Latte means milk in Italian so your literally saying tea milk? Milk tea? #randomthoughts

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The majority of the crowd were standing near centre stage to watch the dancers show off their energetic moves. What I loved about the location was that the stage was at the bottom of a slight hill so no matter where you stood, you had a good chance of seeing what was on the stage!

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The guys on stage were extremely talented and showing off their talents. I wouldn’t say that this was typical Bollywood dancing…but it was still fun to watch :) They even had the audience come up and show off their groovy moves (me not included).

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Some other stalls included Cappadocia Dream House with their exotic range if materials and pottery.

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If I had a house I would decorate it with antiques from around the world!

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Of course there were the traditional dresses..

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Although there were some colourfully lit up shirts matched with necklaces by Wendy McLean.

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The patterns here are gorgeous. Would make really nice bed quilts or even curtains!

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And the line for henna was as long as I expected.

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If only I had these necklace racks! Makes everything more organised and displayed nicely.

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So time to go in the food arena. There was one massive line of tents and the queues were well populated – even at 9pm! Below are the guys at Honest making butter chicken on a huge hot plate!

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Check out the this typical Indian menu. The ones on the left are ‘chaat’ which are small eats/snacks. The ones on the right are main meals. At the bottom, the ‘lassi’ is a yoghurt type drink. I kinda fell in love with drinking it lol.

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Loving the prep here! Daym everything smelt so good. #currylovers

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I remember having curry for breakfast in India and it wasn’t the most ideal…but I eventually got used to it! Doesn’t hurt for some curry dessert, right?

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We bought a mango lassi…which was quite average and dahi puri. I had to show my parents how to eat it and it was quite hilarious because you literally take one whole shell and shove it in your mouth. It’s basically a hollow shell and they shove veg in there. They top it off with yoghurt and sweet sauce with a sprinkle of that packed crispy stuff. It’s amazing and definitely a favourite.

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If I could describe it, it would be a ‘sweet’ version of our typical curry. It isn’t spicy, but a crunchy sensation and a lingering sweet aftertaste. Yes, this was our dessert for the night.

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Oh oh! These packed goodies are similar to your typical chips and crackers! Obviously a bit spicy but they were the addictive snacks I took on my long train trips. They’re like a spicy version of muesli..

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Watch dem butter chicken go on the BBQ. #charcoalsmell #yumo

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There were fireworks at 8 but we saw them from a distance coming into Paramatta from the car. It was a neat bunch of markets here and a great reminder of the fun things I used to do when I was backpacking in India #goodtimes

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

Event (Parramasala Masala Markets): 3.5/5

Ambience: 3.5/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 4/5

Would I recommend going to the Parramasala night markets? I was scrolling through the program for this year and it was pages and pages. If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, a sucker for markets and a lover of anything colourful then this is an event for you.

Highlight: I must say, the stage performance was quite enjoyable! I’m not really too exposed to the Indian community so seeing that there was a stall that was, let’s say, ‘Indian Vinnes’, where used traditional clothes are donated and sold was an eye opener. SikhToGive  aims to organise and run charitable events to assist underprivileged and disadvantaged women in Sydney.

Suggestion of improvement: Having arrived quite late, I must say I didn’t have the ‘whole’ experience. Having said this, it was a really fun walk around the park and to sample a few bits here and there. What I would’ve loved to see was more decorations to set the atmosphere. Having realised that the Bollywood dance party was at Harris Park, it could’ve been more ideal to have them together so we didn’t need to drive to one place to the other!

Link: http://www.parramasala.com/event/festival-program-2014/

Official hashtag: #Parramasala @Parramasala_

Angela Bee

Wednesdays at The Cuban Place

You can never go wrong with having a $1 burrito in one hand and a glass of $12 classic mojito in the other- only available at The Cuban Place every Wednesday!

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“Since The Cuban Place opened in Sydney, on the 26th of April 2011, it has developed a reputation as a destination restaurant and bar for live music, great food and the best mojitos in Australia. We have taken inspiration from the vibrant heydays in Cuba’s1950′s and have put a little slice of Havana in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.”

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Situated next to the QVB on the same street as Abbeys Bookshop is The Cuban Place: a quirky and fun bar and restaurant with a quite a hipster vibe.

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Walking inside and up the stairs, you’ll notice that the walls are plastered with messages from all over the world- I miss travelling and read random messages!

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There are two sections: the restaurant and the bar. When we approached the friendly staff, they offered us to sit at a table at the restaurant and voluntarily told us that there were $1 burritos on the menu if you order at the bar! Talk about supportive and caring staff! #winning

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Dim lights, framed pictures, sofa pods and the casual paintings on the wall sets a comfy ambience. I absolutely love it!

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Next to the toilets is el salle de miembros = hall for members..and one of the staff members politely told us that it has a rude meaning too..whoops!

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The bar section is gorgeous! It’s like a whole array of lights came together and had a disco party. The writing on the glass and walls really set a scene.

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The arrangement of photos in clusters was pretty cool. I’m not sure what the typical ‘Cuban’ vibe is but to me, this made it quite vintage and trendy. I think it’s quite similar at Coco Cubano?

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Sitting down, we ordered an original mojito $12 and a mai tai $18. The classic mojito was yes, a classic although I would’ve liked a bit more mint muddled in the cocktail. The mai tai was soooooo tasty with its hint of orange liqueur. The service was fast!

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The burritos came a bit later. Ummm… so this counts as two burritos! I must say I was expecting a whole burrito but you know what? It’s only $1 -so whatevs. There was only one choice so if you’re vegetarian and have any dietary requirements, it’s a bit unfortunately in this case.

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Nevertheless, the burrito was very carb-y with a massive deal of rice, beans, cheese and chicken. It wasn’t ah-amazing but it was still satisfying for its price. My favourite was the crispy tortilla that wrapped it all together. It was toasted and crunchy!

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To be honest, I would’ve expected more people to be here on a Wednesday night. There were the regular office workers but compared to The Soda Factory, which offers $1 hotdogs on Tuesdays, this place was not busy at all! We arrived there at 6:30 and there were at least half a dozen tables available. There was music and I loved how we could enjoy the atmosphere.

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So if you’re looking for a nice cocktail bar with cheap as chips food, head to a The Cuban Place- you won’t be disappointed!

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

Event (Wednesdays at The Cuban Place): 4.5/5

Ambience: 4.5/5

Service: 4.75/5

Value: 4/5

Would I recommend going to The Cuban Place? If you’re up for a cocktail for a mid week drink, this is the place to go. My original mojito was $12 but you could add a Cuban touch to it for $15 or more.

Highlight: Totally didn’t expect the waiters come I and accommodate us. I was thinking that perhaps they’ll just serve us the burritos but they exceeded our expectations. Water In our glasses were filled, they gave us menus, served us, answered our questions…restaurant service quality. The other favourite was the display of the whole bar. The lights worked really well and I loved the deco around us!

Suggestion of improvement: Thumbs up for the $1 burrito that was served. Crispy outside and very filling insides. Having a bit more vege could’ve been better instead of the jam-packed rice and beans. It would be even better if there were a couple of options, but I’m still not complaining!

Occurs: every Wednesday from 5pm. This deal is not displayed on their website but on Facebook only.

Linkhttp://www.thecubanplace.com.au/

Angela Bee

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