Last weekend Australia's third largest city, Brisbane, brought one of its greatest food festivals, Good Food Month, to a close.
The event lasted 31 days and gave Brisbane the opportunity to show off the best of its city center and regional restaurants, cafes, bars and food producers.
There were cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs, pop-ups, parties, bar hops and more. As you can imagine, it was an amazing undertaking. A foodie would have thought she had died and gone to heaven, or at the very least the best damn purgatory this side of perdition.
However, of all the events, the one that had me most excited was the night noodle markets. Scores upon scores of stalls were set up on the banks of the Brisbane river, nestled comfortably between the Wheel of Brisbane in South Bank and the Victoria Bridge.
The layout was wonderful!
Asian themed stalls stood shoulder to shoulder with each other; their red Chinese style lanterns slowly swaying in a low winter breeze like heavy earnings. They mixed well with modern installs like the jazz lounge setup by Harvey Norman, the modern and showy Tanqueray booth and about a half dozen dumpling and noodle vans.
All of this reclined in the dignified shadow of the Queensland Performing Arts Center, its facade proudly displaying giant posters for the newest Cirque du Soleil show and the upcoming Brisbane engagement of Disney's mega Broadway hit, The Lion King.
The night noodle markets ran from 17th to the 27th of July and was one of the greatest successes of Brisbane's Good Food Month. More than 160,000 people turned up over the ten days. I attended on a busy Saturday evening and... no, wait. Attended sounds way too dignified. I engorged myself on a busy Saturday afternoon (that's better), hitting up at least ten stalls.
There was wonderfully spicy and lemony laksa, ramen combinations that bordered on genius, a spicy kimchi gyoza soup that I cant stop thinking about and tantalizing desserts from every corner of Asia.
But the star of the whole show for me were the dumplings.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say I'm a little biased. I haven't met a Chinese dumpling or gyoza I didn't like, and I probably would give my left pinky toe for a lifetime supply, but trust me, if you didn’t have anything else you wanted to get at least one order of dumplings from at least one of the main stalls serving them.
The offerings ranged from the traditional, like pork and prawn to inspired fillings like pumpkin feta and a wonderful seafood mixture called ocean catch.
I love Brisbane, so as far as I'm concerned anytime is a good time to visit but if you just happen to love food - and let's face it who doesn't - rock up next year this time and I'm sure you won't be left wanting for something to do or something to eat in the capital of Australia's sunshine state.