Saturday, 18 February 2012

Battle of the Food Festivals: Epcot vs. Canberra

Epcot's Food and Wine Festival vs Canberra's Multi-Cultural Festival

Do you want informative or colourful?

Which festival has the best variety? The most authentic dishes? The most amazing flavours?

Who's cuisine will reign supreme?

I need to acknowledge that Epcot F&W lasts for six weeks and the Multi-Cultural Festival goes for only 3 days. So it is like comparing the long slow cricket test match against the wham bam speed and colour of a Twenty20 match

So this time difference leads to some fundamental and obvious differences in how each festival is run. Let's have a look. There's a lot to cover. This may take a while. I'll have to stop at bedtime.

The Stalls

Both festivals were a mixture of special events and little specialised stalls that covered the nations of the world.

Disney had around 35 stalls. They are a cute, pastiche interpretation of the country they represent.

Canberra's festival had maybe 300 stalls. Marquees - not cute, not pastiche - but I bet plastic tents and hand painted signage is the standard in your average African village.

Best use of local wildlife in generic stew

Epcot Irish Lobster and Scallop pie (potato mash topping removed - it's Ireland - of course there was potato - quite a lot really!) vs Canberran Generic African Goat Stew with stewed spinach.

The lobster pie was like a creamy casserole with a mash potato top. Big chunks of meaty seafood - a mild seafoody flavour. No pastry - served straight in the bowl. Quite enjoyable and stick to your ribs stuff.

The goat curry was very generic. Mild curry style flavour, with chunks of meat, potato and pumpkin in gravy. The curry flavour dominated and the meat was just chewy lumpy bits. The spinach was a bit creamy and quite nice - not over pulverised.

Little Nibbly Things

Epcot China stall 'potstickers' vs Canberra's Sri Lanka stall's wadai patties.

The potstickers are what Australians call gyoza. And they were the same as any chinese takeaway - porky dumplings with a sprinkling of soy-vinegar sauce.

When The Ken Man bought the wadai, the Sri Lankan lady said "they're so good you'll come back for more" And he did! These are fried lentil, chickpea and potato patties with a good deal of spice and heat. Despite their appearance they were quite moist and had a spicy nutty flavour.

Grilled on a Stick

Epcot Singapore stall prawn cake on sugarcane vs Canberran Bangladeshi chicken.

The prawn cake was wonderful! fresh, prawny, with ginger, shallots, garlic, chilli, lightly fried on the grill plate which created slightly caramelised crispy bits. I was at the stall on opening and got mine fresh off the grill. There was no rubbery-ness in the prawns! Served on pan fried noodles this was deliciousness on a plate.

Besides gneric curry, generic grilling chicken on a stick was one of the standards at the Canberra festival. This Bangladeshi chicken was really nice! Fresh & tender. They had avoided cooking it for too long and drying it out. It had been marinated in yoghurt but was very light and was not overly seasoned. Well done for a BBQ hot plate.

Cheesy Goodness

I think it has been established on this blog that I am rather partial to nice bit of cheese - I can have it straight up like the Epcot Cheese stall's cheese platter or cooked in Turkish Gozleme.

The cheese platter contained (L to R) Sweet Grass Diary Thomasville Tomme - it was tangy, bitey, smooth, delicious.  The dutch Wyngaard Kaas Chevre Affine was a lovely goats cheese - mild & firm - went down easily.  Lincet's Delice de Bourgogne was very creamy, smooth and was nicely aged - not to young or old - like a good quality brie.

And my cheese came with a view across World Showcase Lagoon

Back in Canberra, I had turkish gozleme - a very fine, thin, yeasty dough filled with spinach and fetta and grilled on the hot plate. With lemon juice squeezed all over, there was a reason why this stall had one of the longest queues.

This was the gozleme view

Gozleme + Massage - what more could you want?
 Traditional Meals

Epcot China stall served up Black pepper shrimp with sichuan noodles whilst Canberra served up Indian dosai with vegetable curry and coconut curry.

Canberra was the winner on this pairing! The black pepper was almost non-existant and the noodles were not particularly spicy - just generic chinese takeaway. Whereas the vege and coconut curries were not greasy, distinct flavours, the spices came through cleanly and the dosai were freshly made. This was gone in a flash!

The Memorial "Billy the Beef Tallow Boy Award for DEEEEP FRRRYYY!"

Disney is more than capable in this field with restaurant offerings such as the Doh-Bar and the Monte Cristo, however at the Epcot festival I didn't see anything that could compete with this Canberra offering:

Take 1 potato, spiral cut, dip in batter & DEEEEP FRRRYYY!!
CHIPS ON A STICK! They'll coat your veins with impenetrable goo!

So festivals have the potential for massive Mr Creasote style gluttony. And I was certainly contemplating breaking out the stretchy pants - although I managed to restrain myself.

and as  I am a sugar addict and so far we have been exploring the savory options I can only offer 2 spoonfuls of sugar.

Come back for Part 2 when I'll cover desserts and drinks and balls.
Bon appetite!

This blog post is part of the DisMarks Disney Blog Carnival! Check out more fantastic Disney websites and articles over at the Carnival.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Karinya House: Advancing the status of our most vulnerable women

This week our Zonta Club returned from our summer holiday break. To open the year we had a great guest: Jacqui Gallagher from Karinya House.

Karinya provides supported accommodation, transitional housing and outreach services to pregnant and parenting women, particularly younger ones, who are in crisis.

So what does that mean in real terms?

Imagine a pregnant teenager - homeless, perhaps the father is gone, perhaps she has problems with her family. Mostly likely she has dropped out of school and at worst may have been involved with drugs or the victim of violence.

Karinya provides a safe place where she can go.

In the past year Karinya hosted 38 women with 37 babies; and provided outreach services to 235. 64% of these women where below the age of 25. Unfortunately 316 young women were not accommodated.

Karinya's clients are truly among the most vulnerable and at risk women in our community. Can you imagine one of these young women without supporters, any possessions, a place to live. Many times she has given birth in hospital and with no where to go, she is referred to Karinya. Young women in such a position rarely have skills in parenting, home life, employment and personal care. Without Karinya's services these young families could face a very uncertain future.

This is where Karinya's outreach services come into play. Their case work support is wide ranging and can include:
  • Birth preparation support
  • Health care advice
  • Budgeting and financial planning advice
  • Public housing applications
  • Support accessing education to finish school studies
  • Referral to other services for medical, antenatal, legal, welfare, and housing organisations
  • Assistance moving and maintaining independent living
  • Practical assistance with household goods, clothing, baby goods and maternity requirements
Club members Penny (centre) and Ceri (right) deliver kitchen starter packs to Karinya
Karinya's clients provide regular and positive feedback on the services. Jacquie shared a card recently recieved that expressed one young woman's appreciation for the support, care and compassion experienced.

 Jacquie shared another story of "Lisa". Lisa was escaping violence, she had a 2 yr old daughter and had a new baby son recently delivered by caesarian. Lisa was living in a car, had no income and was not a permanent Australian resident so she didn't qualify for welfare benefits. Lisa said she had "no voice and no dignity".

Once moving into Karinya her life instantly changed for the better. Beyond the safe environment, Karinya helped Lisa get a scholarship to a Toddler Parenting course, achieve her drivers license, gain permanent residency and access welfare benefits and now is planning to access independent housing.

"I couldn't imagine Karinya could do what they did. They brought back my dignity as a woman and a mother."

Karinya have a hope for the future. They are currently negotiating with the government to access a tract of land and are developing a plan for a cluster housing project to provide more refuge housing so women and their families can transition into a safe and independent lifestyle.

The Zonta Club of Canberra Breakfast is proud to be among many who have continued support for Karinya House over many years. Our club is supplying kitchen starter packs, ready to go maternity bags, a spring cleaning working bee, financial donations, 2nd hand baby goods and furniture, linen and towels.

Karinya is providing a vital service to so many of the young women of Canberra and helping them move forward and become valuable participants of our community.

How about your club? What are your service projects that support vulnerable young women in your community?

All photos sourced from Karinya House Annual Report 2009/10