Location: Perth CBD – Forrest Chase
This is the third Friday of March and I’m off again to check out the twilight hawker style cuisines at Eat Drink Perth 2011. Unfortunately, I most likely won’t be able to make it next week due to work commitments off site, so I had to make the most of my last visit. I’d had enough for the day and left work at 5pm and thought I’d head down early to avoid the queues as experienced last week, albeit at the later time of 6:15pm. The marquees were set up and were already in full swing with quite a few people already there. I went immediately for paella and got a second serve to take home (thank God for Chinese food containers). For $10, I got a reasonable serve of the paella which was reasonably flavoursome, had a prawn, a large tender mussel and a little chicken leg. The flavours were quite good, not as good as my absolutely favourite meal of all time at Zenith in Acland St, St Kilda in Melbourne, better flavour than Deevine Cafe and at least a paella unlike that served up at Generous Squire. Well this isn’t a restaurant but I’m glad to have tried it out as were plenty other people.
After eating the paella, the place was just filling up with people which is a testament to the success of the event in that it’s drawing lots of people in. Next stop was the satay stand I’ve been walking past each Friday. I queued up and after a short wait, got 3 chicken and 2 beef skewers for $7. The beef was a bit tough and chewy according to my parents who tried them when I got home, but the chicken was tender and very tasty. The sauce was delicious but got quite sweet after eating more and more. A thumbs up from me though, really enjoyable.
I also examined the menu at the Moroccan marquee and settled on the chicken targine served with cous cous and bread. A decent serve once again cost me $9.50. The first bite brought some really nice flavours and a “mmm” from me. After eating more and more, it got quite sweet. I noticed that the meal, similar to a curry, had a lot of sultanas and the meal wasn’t spicy. The cous cous was very light and tasty. I really enjoyed the bread that came with it. It looks quite similar to a slice of bread but looked like a large cake when uncut. The actual bread is made with maize or corn I think as the flavour is very different. The crust is a bit hard like the top of a slightly crunchy cake, but not like a bread. Quite interesting and different. An enjoyable meal but I would prefer less sweetness and more spice without the meal necessarily having to be spicy. I guess that’s Moroccan for you.
After downing all that, I was pretty full but the journey wasn’t over. I queued up at the Colombian marquee and placed my order for 3 beef empanada with Romesco sauce which came to $10. There were a mass of orders being taken, written down on open boxes with each person’s name. I then queued among the waiting patrons for about 20 minutes. We watched intrigued as a team of people got these round balls, placed them between plastic and squashed them with a flat wooden instrument which produced a flat round dough. That was then filled with the requested filling from a choice of 3, folded and carefully sealed, before being put in a hot deep fryer. I find the process interesting but wondered why a large bunch weren’t pre-made as the filling isn’t wet. As orders were placed they could have gone in the deep fryer immediately and served the waiting crowd quite quickly. More could have been made by hand during this time.
[Edit: Matt, who runs the stall was kind enough to contact me and make a few corrections and enlighten me on the wait. I'll quote some of his email to me which perfectly explains the process which makes sense: "Also we do apologise for the wait, but it's a product of the recipe really. The empanada dough has no gluten in it, and as such does not freeze well, and it makes transportation difficult of pre made empanadas. To counter this we make as many as we can at the markets before we start selling, but with such long queues of people, the ones we made in advance get sold really quickly, and we're back to making them from scratch. If there was a way to industrialize the process without losing quality and flavour then we'd look into it, but it seems the popularity of the empanadas has it's own issues."]
Nonetheless, after the wait, I collected my meal and took that home. The empanada was delicious with the meaty beef filling really tasty. The roast capsicum made Romesco sauce which I dipped the enchiladas into was also really tasty.
By the time I left, the place was a buzz with a huge amount of people, street performers holding people’s interest, musicians and the like all in on the act. I’ve enjoyed the event set up and hope more of these cuisines become more readily available via eateries all around Perth. I’ve been fortunate to sample a range of things I’ve generally not tried before and been better for the food experience. There’s one more Friday left so I encourage you to come down and see what you’re missing out on if you haven’t already come by. Friday March 25, 5-8pm in Forrest Chase.
Follow where Marcelita’s Colombian stall is at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marcelitas-Empanadas/159291124122670.
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