|New Zealand does not lack sheep. Even in lantern form. Sometimes even people think they're farm animals.|
|Under the sea *do do do do*|
|Uhh.. There's a dragon in my fountain..|
|Malaysian Stall lady constructing my deep fried tofu. Unfortunately I was too hungry at the time to remember to take a photo of their sign.|
|Deep fried tofu covered in a plum sauce, blanched bean sprouts, shredded carrot, and peanut crumble|
Even with her expertise, I wanted to start at the beginning and walk all the way to the end (and maybe back again but there wasn't enough time). The first thing that caught my eye was this middle aged lady eating a bowl of deep fried tofu. I'm a total sucker for these and simply had to retrace her steps back to a little Malaysian stall where a little Malaysian (I think?) lady was hurriedly making bowls of delicious tofu salad behind a mountain of deep fried tofu. To tell the truth, I would have been satisfied if I was given the tofu by themselves but the plum sauce really gave it that extra kick. The bean sprouts and carrot added a different texture while the peanuts gave it a whole new depth of flavour -I could have bowls and bowls of this, but more stalls await me!
|King of Sausages!|
A real guilty pleasure of mine is secretly eating Chinese sausages, or Lap Chong, in my room. These babies are not like your ordinary sausages -they are at least 70% fat which is why, I suppose, they are so delicious. I call them a guilty pleasure because, when I was much younger, I could never stop at one. Yes, I was one of those chubby kids. Years later, my parents only purchase them on rare occasions such as Chinese New Year a few weeks ago. I have to confess -I snuck one or two into my room when my mother wasn't around which cost me a helping of her delicious Kai Yun Fried Rice.
|Trying to look nonchalant as he squirts sausage fat onto his shirt..|
|..But I saw|
|Fluffy BBQ Pork Bun from The Sausage King|
|樂素食 -Happy Vegetarian Food (excuse my translation)|
|Deep fried custard filled bun from "Happy Vegetarian Food"|
And up it went. It is unusual when Jason gets more excited about food than me, but on rare occasions (like when desserts are involved) he is the first there. So there I was casually taking photos of some people making Japanese pancakes when I noticed Jason wildly gesturing behind me and imagine my surprise when I see deep fried buns as big as my head! "We must get some" he says and immediately heads for the line.
|Monthien -Thai Stall|
|Fish cake skewer and steamed money bags|
Upon our arrival, Francesca would not shut up about fish cakes and money bags from a certain Thai stall so it was only natural that we pay them a visit. Sadly, they were out of deep fried money bags and we weren't patient enough to wait the 10 minutes for a new batch. Yet another regret. Instead of the crunchy savoury treats we had looked forward to, we were met with a great filling wrapped in dry pastry that had been cooked too long. The fish cakes were another matter -hot and juicy, they were soft and packed full of flavour. I find that I prefer these to your average battered fish cakes as they allow for more of the fresh taste of the fish, spices, and herbs to come through.
|Mini Siu Mai from HKESA Stall -I can never help myself from these delicious morsels|
One of the great things about events in Auckland is that anyone can take part, whether it be as a guest or even part of the event itself. When I say anyone, I mean anyone -even student clubs from the surrounding universities! It was pretty hard to ignore the giant HKESA banner (Hong Kong Engineering Students' Association) and even harder to ignore the delicious smell of Siu Mai slowly wafting my way. I was told that there was a 1 minute waiting time for them and, being the patient person I am, I cheered along with them as they came out of the steamer. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when I saw these sad little things but, when I actually tasted one, I was blown away. The pastry is a much thinner version of it's regular sized counterpart so your taste buds are able to focus on its flavoursome pork filling.
|Small children dragon waving|
While exploring, we were mildly aware of being politely shoved to make way for some loud banging noises. Being quite small, I was able to push to the front of the kerfuffle just in time to see some dragon waving! Excellent.
|IS2 Snow Ice|
|Francesca and I with our "Shakespeare in Love" Snow Ice|
With our tummies satisfied and our entertainment needs fulfilled, we headed towards iS2 to make our dessert tummies happy. I was introduced to the miracle of Snow Ice when I first joined the University of Auckland Dessert Club as a fresh faced first year and have fallen in love. Snow Ice is kind of like a creamy, milky, icy, thingy.. Agh, it's just yummy ok?
I admit it. I'm still not entirely sure what it is. Even they can't tell me! "It’s a bit hard to describe what exactly IS Snow Ice since there is nothing currently similar to it in New Zealand. It’s not ice cream, not sorbet, not gelato and not your ordinary shaved ice." See? You'll just have to head over to iS2 in Atrium on Elliot and try it for yourselves.
|Lantern Riddles (they would traditionally be on lanterns)|
|6 stamps for 6 correct riddle answers|
|The Grand Prize -Tang Yuan!|
Once we had received our 6 stamps, we were off to the Tang Yuan stall to collect our prize. These Tang Yuan were quite different to the ones I made a few days ago mainly because they are unfilled. To add flavour to these glutinous rice balls, they are cooked in some Chinese rice wine (not to be confused with Chinese cooking wine) and then sweetened. I cannot think of a more fitting prize.
By this time, hours had passed and we still hadn't gone to all the food stalls but the sun had set and it was getting pretty dark. Perfect for admiring lanterns.
The lantern festival is held over 3 days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in Albert Park each year and never fails to attract thousands of people. Check it out here and mark it on your calendar for next year so you don't miss out on yummy food and pretty lights!
Don't be worried if you think you've missed out on delicious snow ice though. iS2 can be found on level 1, Atrium on Elliot in Auckland's CBD.
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