Friday, 20 January 2012

Chinese New Year Celebrations

This Sunday is a particularly important one for the Chinese community: According to the Chinese lunar calendar, it's the New Year on Monday, which means that the eve is traditionally spent with family at what we call Reunion Dinner.

The idea is that everyone including extended family and friends (the more the merrier) come together to celebrate and wish for a prosperous new year. At our gatherings, it's not unusual to find Singaporean pepper crab, Peking duck, and of course, oodles of noodles (these represent longevity, so you should never cut the noodles when you're serving them).

You don't need to be Chinese or have an adopted Chinese family to take part in the festivities. all throughout Sydney's Chinese communities, there will be plenty of firecrackers, food and festivities to go around, so here are some great ideas to join in this weekend:

Chinese New Year Launches: TONIGHT! 

The City of Sydney kicks off celebrations for the Year of the Dragon with a huge party at Belmore Park tonight in the shape of the Chinese New Year Markets.

All the cultural trimmings will be there including the dotting of the eyes, to bring the dragons and lions to life, as well as firecrackers to scare away the bad juju to make way for a fresh start to the new year.

There will be a whole bunch of food stalls representing all part of the Chinese region, including Sichuan food from Chengdu - a special highlight of this year's festivities, so be prepared for the spice. There will be plenty of entertainment happening to, so you can bop away while you munch on street food well into the evening.

The markets will continue throughout the weekend from 4pm - 11pm daily and will incorporate cooking demonstrations to boot.

Where: Belmore Park, across from Eddy Avenue, Central Station, Sydney
Cost: FREE to enter the festival
Check out all the info here.

Chinese Tea Appreciation

If you think Chinese tea is 'just' Chinese tea, you're in for a pleasant awakening. Christina and her dad Raymond's beautiful tea shop in Redfern is just the place to get a crash course on the finer points of Chinese teas, from Pu'erh to Iron Goddess and Oolong, it's a very chilled out way to spend the afternoon, and a few steamed dumplings don't go astray either.

When: 14 - 29 January, 11.30am - 6.30pm
Where: Zensation Tea House 656 Bourke Street Surry Hills
Cost: $45 includes dim sum and sweets to match the tea
To book: 9319 2788

Each session takes about 2.5 hours, bookings essential

Spice Temple does Chinese New Year

For a slightly fancier something to do, Neil Perry's Spice Temple is doing a set banquet for just $110pp.

Each element of the menu represents an aspect of good luck to focus on for the New Year, so you can feel confident that The Year of the Dragon will be a mighty one.

Fortune Cocktail: Aperol, Cointreau, Peach & Cava 
 Cabbage and radish 
 Sichuan pickled cucumber, shiitake and bamboo shoots (wealth) 
 White cut chicken with ginger and spring onion oil (happiness) 
Shanghai sesame noodles (longevity) 
 Northern style lamb and fennel dumplings (family unity) 
 Tea eggs with salted olive and black bean (fertility) 
“The most delicious dish under heaven” (money) 
 Hot, sweet, sour and numbing pork (wishing for a large family) 
Chilli, sugar, black vinegar and Sichuan peppercorn 
 Crispy lucky duck with steamed bread, shallots and hoisin (fidelity) 
 Steamed king abalone mushroom, garlic stems, chives and ginger (prosperity) 
 ‘Beggar’s Purse’

Where: 10 Bligh Street Sydney NSW 2000
To Book: (02) 8078 1888
Check out more here.