For those who are aching for an overseas escape, take note of the cultural festivals popping up around town this month where destinations such as Thailand, come to us. Last weekend, the annual Thailand Grand Festival returned to Tumbalong Park at Darling Harbour.

There was a kaladeiscope of colour with Thai handicraft workshops, Thai massage, Thai cooking demonstrations, a Thai wedding and of course, the best bit – Thai food stalls!

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Chat Thai had the ultimate in Thai street food snacks – deep fried fish skin and chicken skin!

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There were trays of luk chup, mung bean sweets that are made in the shape of various vegetables and fruits.

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DooDee Noodle Bar from Bondi Junction also made an appearance – their ‘Doo Dee Variety’ noodles were a fine balance between salty, sour and sweet. Chewy mung bean noodles were topped with pork mince, fish balls, pork tenderloins and the requisite garnishes of fresh herbs and crunchy strips of fried wonton wrappers. We of course added a spoonful of dried chilli flakes for an authentic spicy kick and bought a caramely iced Thai milk tea to counter the heat.

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Summer made a comeback and the humidity was just like in Bangkok, particularly in front of these steamers where fresh rice noodle dumplings were made from scratch.

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All the variations of som tum (papaya salad) were also made to order. I had the salted crab (puu) version that was added and smashed up with shredded green papaya, carrot, cabbage, snake beans, tomatoes, chilli and garlic.

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Other snack foods included fish balls, satay chicken sticks, battered soft shell crab and more.

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Sweets too, were in abundance – grilled corn, jellies, custards, crepes and shaved ice desserts.

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It wouldn’t have been a Thai festival without Pad Thai…

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Or large pots of Thai green curry…

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Or sweet sticky rice with mango, for that matter!

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Thailand Grand Festival is an annual event; it was held on 8 & 9 March this year. For more information, go to www.tgf.net.au

P.S. For a taste of Portugal, Bairro Português Petersham Food & Wine Fair will be on this Sunday, 16 March 2014, 10am – 6pm.

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