Festival Village Sydney Festival 2015

Festival Village is a mix of free and ticketed events at Hyde Park and the ultimate playground of the annual Sydney Festival from January 8-25 (except Mondays).

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It is “an oasis of arts, eats, beats and other treats, it’s the perfect pre-show or post-show hang-out.”

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The main entrance is at the Archibald Fountain, so don’t think you could cut through its middle because you’ll walking back..

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To the left, they’ll be an information booth/lounge. There’s literally a sofa to sit and read through the numerous activities taking place around Sydney.

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Make sure you purchase your tickets from the box office to watch some incredible performances at the Aurora

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The Famous Spiegeltent

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Since I’ve come during the day, the umbrellas and sun chairs are the perfect way to relax under the sun.

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Program is available on the website.

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The Lawn Library is back once again with books available for loan- just make sure you return them. Workshops are run throughout the day..

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and there’s a play area for the kids and their parents.

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The novelty of the festival, in my opinion, is the Porteno and Messina collaboration. Check out their menus and other food stalls there:

Porteno

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Messina

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Bite Size Delights

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Bar Pho

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Harvest Trader

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Jaffles and a Milk Bar

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Ok, I actually love the Jafael Nadal jaffle. tennis x jaffle.

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We decided to try Messina’s desserts and the most popular one which everyone seemed to be getting from the lemon meringue pie! The meringue tasted exactly like a pavlova and the lemon custard gelato with lemon curd was amazing!!! Definitely a treat 🙂

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We came back for seconds for the Not Chicken and Waffles and oh my geeed- best naughty dessert ever!! The maple and pecan gelato was deep fried with a sweet batter in a shape of a chicken piece.

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Even when we cut it into pieces, the gelato looked like a chicken’s flesh!!! It was pretty insane and the waffle with caramel tasted a bit like Max Brennar’s.  I would eat it again without a doubt!

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My absolute favourite pick of the festival was the Royale Burger. The milk pattie was solid filled with crunchy balls, the white chocolate ‘cheese’ had a smooth texture with a crunchy bite to it, and the tangy raspberry ‘tomato’ sauce added the right level of acidity to the burger. Oh, and did I mention the brioche bun was to die for?

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All this was enjoyed with the lovely background music from the bandstand.

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It’s lovely seeing so many people here.

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Walking to the opposite end of the village, there was an area for Italian food, the CheeseSmith- omg check out the menu- it is literally like a #cheeseheaven

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The bars are on this end of the park too.

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Kirin has taken advantage of the night atmosphere.

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What a brilliant way to chill with some tunes off the back of a truck.

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What I’ve noticed about this year’s festival is that it’s pretty small. Do you remember last year’s post on the Sacrilege or Stone Henge? That was a brilliant hit and this year, there’s a something.. looks like a giant staircase.

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Overall I think it’s a great place to chill during the day but is reasonably smaller and less vibrant compared to the years before. Well at least there was no line at Messina, for once!

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

Event (Festival Village Sydney Festival): 3/5

Ambience: 3.5/5

Service: 4/5

Value: 3/5

Would I recommend going the Festival Village Sydney Festival? If you’re keen on just being surrounded by people, having a drink or two at the park then this would be the place to go. As I mentioned, it is quite small compared to previous years and the range of food and entertainment is low, but then again, there’s Porteno and Messina!

Highlight: During the day, it’s a perfect place to hang around as there are plenty of chairs for everyone. I went during the day on a Saturday and there were heaps of tables and enough space to buy some food and relax. I would much rather enjoy the outdoors than to sit in an enclosed restaurant with air con anytime!

Suggestion of Improvement: Having the food trucks would be a good hit here and perhaps more interactive ways for people to socialise too. The area itself cold be expanded into a larger area with more room. Why not do a ‘borrow the picnic rug’ option and enjoy the sun setting at 8pm every summer evening?

Official hashtag: #SydFest

Linkhttp://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2015/festival-village

Angela Bee

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

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

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

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

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