Sunday, August 28, 2011

Taiwan Cultural & Traditional Games Festival

I heard about the Taiwan Cultural & Traditional Games Festival, held in Aotea Square last weekend, a day before it took place.  As I would be spending the weekend in Wellington, I saved room for a tour of the food stalls on Friday afternoon.  I can only imagine how lively it would have been in the evening.

The Taiwan Cultural & Traditional Games Festival had food stalls right by the entrance
Many of the stalls were ones I had seen before at the Auckland Night Market in Pakuranga, with slightly higher prices, but hey, it's great to find them in a central location.

I managed to try the pancake ($5), which involved an elaborate performance that quickly drew in the crowds.  First, the lady spooned some batter onto what looked like a crêpe pan, and swirled it around with a little paddle until it formed a large circle.  Then she cracked an egg onto the pancake, spread it around, sprinkled chives and sesame seeds over the top, and flipped the sheet over.  Onto the plain side, she pasted on sauce, put some crispy squares on top, folded the pancake into a neat packet, and cut it into pieces.  Delicious as well as entertaining!

Savoury pancake with egg, chives and sesame, freshly made in front of you within two minutes
The dragon's beard candy ($5 for 5 pieces) was another item which I had seen at the Auckland Night Market before, which I now had for the first time.  It wasn't as sweet as I had expected, and took some skill to eat, as the sugary threads invariably stuck to your lips, so you ended up with white whiskers dangling from your mouth for the amusement of spectators.  If you weren't careful, you sometimes breathed in the finely chopped peanut and coconut filling as well, or else spilled it out onto the floor.

Dragon's beard candy, with chopped peanuts and coconut rolled within fine strands of sugar
Then there were stalls selling sausages made of glutinous rice, and savoury squares made from black rice, both served on a stick, neither of which I can recall having seen elsewhere before.

My most surprising discovery was probably the "chewy corn" ($3).  These cobs were larger than normal sweetcorn from the supermarket, and the purple, cream and yellow kernels were definitely chewy and not very sweet.  It was tasty with butter and seasoning, though I don't think the texture would agree with everybody.

Glutinous corn, optionally served with butter, salt and pepper
All in all, I was delighted by the food at the festival, though the interesting dishes were also accompanied by the usual dumplings, hot and sour soup, and even westernised Chinese takeaway options.  I only wish we had stalls like this in Aotea Square on a more frequent basis.


Poster 1
Poster 2

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