It's 'Life This Week' time again and Denyse's prompt this week is 'Anniversaries'. You would be correct in questioning what The Night Noodle Markets have to do with anniversaries. Denyse, I'm being creative with this week's prompt. Is it okay if I write about an annual tradition instead?
Thank you, knew you'd understand....
October is Good Food Month in Sydney. Not that the food isn't great here for the other eleven months of the year but come October, the days are crammed with events to celebrate the very important role food plays in Sydney's cultural identity. Restaurants hold special promotions, regions of New South Wales promote their fare with special events and tours and then there's everyone's favourite, The Night Noodle Markets at Hyde Park.
The market runs most nights of the month of October with special early opening times on the weekends. Over the years, it's grown in size, standard and sophistication. Dinner at the markets has become a tradition for me each year and it's been interesting to reflect on how my life and its criteria for a good night out have changed over time.
In years gone by, the markets were best enjoyed after dark. Dinner was a several course affair punctuated by drinks in between and a fair bit of lining up in between. After dinner, there would either be somewhere to go to next or else a leisurely commute home with the prospect of a lie in the next morning. The perfect start to a cruisy weekend.
Fast forward to 2016 and a night at the market is more like a 'late afternoon at the market to beat the crowd and possibly to get home in good moods in time for bath and bedtime'. Half the fun literally is in the journey. Preschooler SSG opted to wear his favourite orange lei on the bus to Hyde Park to set the mood.
One of the good things about hitting the markets before dark is the chance to see the other things that are going on in the city this month. Our first stop was the beautifully constructed flower beds of St Mary's Cathedral. Each pattern was inspired by details of the cathedral's architecture.
At Hyde Park, we got a chance to say hello to the stars of the Taronga Zoo animal parade as they rested in the shade before their 8pm call time.
The parade was held in honour of it being 100 years since the zoo moved from Moore Park to its current location in Mosman.
The ten animals depicted in the light sculptures were chosen as they represent the ten species the zoo will commit further resources to in coming years.
The sculptures looked simply stunning in their shady daylight 'dressing room'. I'm guessing the actual parade itself at night would've been something to spectacular to witness or be a part of.
Did you see the parade? How was it?
It's safe to say that 4.30pm is family time at the markets. There were prams and the sounds of excited children all over market precinct. It was nice to see how much effort went into making the event inclusive for as many different kinds of patrons as possible. There were VIP areas for those that wished to have their noodles with a glass of wine and semi formal seating, there were clearly sign posted first aid and toilet areas, there were guides and security everywhere.
The Minions were special guests on the night we went. There was a meet and greet session which overwhelmed Preschooler SSG but he soon warmed up to seeing his beloved Minions in the flesh when the disco lights started flashing and the official Minions concert began. Under the watchful eyes of the bouncers, Preschooler SSG managed to get to the front of the mosh pit and danced away in the nose bleed section for the duration.
Then it was time for dinner. I basically bought our meal from the two closest stalls to the concert for convenience and also because Harajuku Gyoza was home to the fabled Octodog.
The Octodog ($9) is a trio of sausage segments battered and decorated to look like octopi. How could you resist the novelty factor and the fact that they come served on a skewer? Another hit was the loaded chicken karaage - topped with special cheese, bacon and spring onion.
For old times sake, I completed our order at Mamak.
Didn't order any roti but it was fun to watch the theatre of making them as I waited for my order. The gentleman to the right in the photo above is a character. Every so often, he would yell motivational phrases both to his staff about things like the quality of the bananas used in the roti and also occasionally to us punters. Definite touch of authenticity to the night market experience.
Bringing our own picnic rug (and preschooler friendly chopsticks) turned out to be an excellent idea.
Sitting under the trees and fairy lights with a good Mee Goreng and Nasi Lemak on a perfect spring evening. love your work, City of Sydney!
In years gone by, there would have been a beverage or two and dessert but this year, it was coconut juice to cover both bases.
I know eating at the markets is expensive and I know that the queuing can be frustrating when you're being constantly tempted with wafts of things being fried and roasted all around you but there's something that draws me back to The Night Noodle Market each year. It could be the sight of people coming together and having fun as they share the food of some of the cultures that make up this amazing city, it could be the fact that I've now introduced a member of a new generation to its joys or it could be that dinner at the market signifies the official start of the good times of summer to me.