Cookbookmaniac
  • Restaurant Reviews
    Lunar New Year – Tet Vietnamese Festival
    Vietnamese Lunar New Year falls on the same day as Chinese New Year. It was (and still is) my favourite time of the year as a young child. My sisters and I would eagerly wait for the auspicious red packets to be handed to us from our parents and our older relatives. They were considered lucky money and were given to young children and the elderly. We would always compete with each other on who got the most money and red envelopes by the end of the day. It was a lot of fun teasing the least successful recipient. What were we to do with all this money? Personally, I couldn't wait to spend it all on food, rides and games at the Tet Festival! The carnival was once held at a park in Cabramatta, during the suburbs troubled times. It was occasionally overrun by gangsters and I recall on one visit all the rides were shut off because the troublesome teens were dangerously interfering with the rides and swinging off the rafters. The festival eventually outgrew the park and moved to larger grounds at Warwick Farm. Cabramatta has since been ridden of these dirty scoundrels and is now a thriving, family-oriented, Vietnamese metropolis in Australia. Thus, the festival has seen fewer dramatic incidents ever since. Its been 9 years since my last visit. I have been begging Pizzaboy to come along with me in the last few years, so that I could show him my favourite past time. However,…
  • Asian Recipes
    Fortune Cookies – Happy Chinese New Year!!
    Gung Hei Fat Choi!! Happy Chinese New Year!! I absolutely love this time of year. It's my version of Christmas. The streets are decorated with red and gold signs, lanterns and flowers. They are also full of people lining up to watch the parade of lion dancing, firecrackers, and talented musicians smashing away on huge drums and gongs. Everyone is so happy and giving, wishing you good fortune for the new year to come. Isn't it wonderful! My huge family always gathers together for a feast and silent prayer. Don't get me wrong, I am not religious but I feel a quiet grace when I thank my ancestors and the deities that be, for the good fortune that I have presently and for the many that I will receive in the future. It is humbling and I feel very grateful. I decided to make fortune cookies for my Chinese New Year theme blog post. Like a diligent little elf, I made sure I did my research before I started. Double-checking that I had the right recipe and information. It was to my utter devastation that I found out, Fortune Cookies are not traditionally Chinese. They were concocted by some Asian cook in an American kitchen. It felt like someone has just told me Santa Claus doesn't exist. So I threw the idea away and started looking for something else. But when the time came to make something, the Fortune Cookie idea wouldn't leave me. So, what if it isn't traditional?…
  • Asian Restaurant Reviews
    Monte Carlo Reception – Celebrating 30 Years in Australia
    I was only 10 days old when my parents escaped war-torn Vietnam in 1979. They, along with half of our hometown, Camau (located on the southern tip of South Vietnam), jumped on boats and made the brave and dangerous journey towards freedom. After Ho Chi Minh took power and the threat of communism was fast becoming a way of life, my parents (and many others) were sent to re-education camps because they were of Chinese-descent. Almost everything that was worth building a future with was taken away from them, for fear of a revolt. My parents had to sell their precious belongings to a black market to feed their 5 daughters. Brave, but full of fear, they boarded strung-together boats to look for safer shores, leaving behind memories of atrocities that were never spoken of ever again. I am not quite sure how long the journey took, but we made it the border of Australia, only to be turned away and sent to a refugee camp in Indonesia. We were there for nine months. The moment we received our rushed visa to Australia we were on a plane to beautiful Sydney. One year later, we became proud citizens of Australia. My father is quite a jovial, social man. He is opposite to my quiet and shy mother. He and his friends had been organising a fund-raising function to celebrate the 30 Years in Australia. They invited their former neighbours (from Camau, Vietnam) within Sydney and from all around the world.…