Spatula, Spoon and Saturday

Eating and Cooking all the things in Melbourne

Tesselaar Tulip Festival 2009 (Tulips, Paella and Fairy Floss)

Not strictly food related post per se but these are nice colourful tulips damnit. I wish to write about them. If food, shoes and books are my three favourite things in the world, colourful, interesting flowers sure come fourth.

Tesselaar Tulip Festival happens once a year from mid September to mid October which is the Melburnian tulip season. It’s in Silvan which is up in the Mount Dandenongs area. It’s gorgeous up there this time of the year. Every house seems to be glowing with stacks of flowers.

We went there on the food, wine and jazz weekend (they have a different theme every weekend). There were quite a few food and wine stalls and each person was given tokens for wine tasting (or a free coffee) which we completely missed out on.

We got there and there were miles and miles of cars. I was so flabbergasted because I didn’t remember this many people last time I went (that was 2005). They also had a helicopter at the back taking tourists through. It was so noisy and horrible.

I almost died when we got to the ticket booth because there were lines of people everywhere and I thought I had to queue up after all the people. It turned out though people were just loitering around so there wasn’t long wait for the tickets. I guess it was a particularly packed weekend because weather-wise, it was probably the best weekend so far since the Tulip Festival started this year. What I found strange was they let children under 16 in for free. They would literally have doubled their income had they started charging for kids. Another strange thing was that the price hadn’t changed in 4 years ($16 for adults, $12 for concession).

(fairy floss – $2)

One of the first things I saw was people holding pink cotton candy/fairy floss type thing and I thought I had to have one now. The tulips can come later. Admittedly, it looked better than it tasted. Really, what did I expect? It was just coloured sugar. This kid was seriously eyeing off my fairy floss and I wanted to give it to her because I had had enough and Josh wouldn’t eat it but her dad wouldn’t let her.

What also distracted me was the nearby paella stall. They have two huge paella pans going on and they looked amazing. I now wish I have a paella pan (since I now know how to make killer paella and all). I watched as they emptied one pan and made the next lot the next.

She added some oil to the huge pan, added onions, capsicums and tomatoes. She pretty much did what I did for my paella except the rice to seafood/chorizo was rather different. She also used frozen seafood marinara. Also she used immitation saffron whereas I used the real one.

(seafood and chorizo paella – $10)

As I queued up I realised there was people who were given tickets and those were served first. I saw as he dished out the pan and was quite happy that he was rather generous with the prawns and the servings. But then as I got my serve which was literally down to the last two serves, I had had one lousy prawns and barely any other seafood at all. They had also run out of lemon (which I found to be essential). Story of my life. It wasn’t of course as good as the one I made at home as mine was loaded with quality seafood and other ingredients (and of course made with love hehe). But nevertheless I can now say I had a paella at a fair.

There was also a Turkish pastry shop selling some sort of stuffed pastry. I think they were like boreks but they weren’t called boreks.

I can’t remember what it was called – you could choose between cheese & spinach, spicy potato, spicy lamb (again these all scream borek fillings to me). I didn’t have any though because the line was ‘all the way to Toa Payoh’ to quote a former Singaporean colleague of mine, which just meant somewhere far (frankly I never found out where Toa Payoh is).

Back to more tulips. There were so many people with children running treading on the tulips everywhere. The crowd kinda killed the whole experience for me. I never saw so many tourists concentrated in one place in Melbourne! It seemed like the world had come to see our tulips. Come to think of it, that’s kind of cool.

Nevertheless, the tulips were gorgeous and I’m hoping for less crowd next year. My favourite is the dark purple one. Which colour do you like best?

Tesselaar Tulip Festival, 357 Monbulk Rd, Silvan Victoria (Melways Map 123B5)
16 Sep-16 Oct 2009 (roughly the same period every year)

PS. If you drive up there, you’d likely go through the Belgrave township on Burwood Highway. I recommend a short stop over at the local health shop. They sell the best tasting fresh peanut butter I have ever had. Take your own jars. You’ll thank me for it.