Graze Alfresco Dining,
Sydney’s Royal Easter Show: 17-30 March
Easter in Sydney usually includes a visit to our annual Royal Easter Show, known simply as the Show.
Crowds of city and country folk watch The Grand Parade with pride and awe, as prize-winning cattle and horses do a circular sweep of the showground; and we cheer at the sheep dogs mustering sheep, the equestrian events, and the wood-chopping. It’s a day of excess, and an excuse to buy armfuls of Show bags full of sugar and tat. We sigh at the size of prize-winning pumpkins; peer through the glass at proud prize-winning cakes; and overeat all kinds of food on sticks.
These city-meets-country activities, underlined by the aroma of horse poo, define the soul of this popular Sydney event. It’s an event that draws together a diverse crowd of ages and cultures and everyone is there to have fun.
Pink and blue fairy floss, Dagwood dogs, and Curly Chips spiraling down sticks are street food perennials. New additions include Waffles on Sticks in both sweet and savoury configurations. This year I noticed more ‘American’ style BBQ stands claiming to represent Arizona and Texas, and signs boasting Turkey legs “bigger than the state of Texas”. I’ll leave it to you to test those claims.
As you enter the Showground you’ll notice an Information booth handing out free Daily Telegraph Show Guides. I suggest you download the app version of the guide, as the newspaper guide doesn’t include any Hall numbers, and only a few Street names. It could have been so much more useful.
If you’re hungry as you enter the showground from the Olympic Park railway station, take a right turn after the Information booth and walk across the grass to a large eating area called Graze Alfresco Dining. It offers a good selection of Italian, Asian, Mexican, Thai, and Chinese fast food – all in one place, and you can sit down in an area undercover, out of the sun. The range of burgers, tacos, and other meals all looked fresh and appealing. You can also buy a glass of beer or wine at the counter right next to the dining area.
My choice was Thai food, and I found it good value: Chicken Pad Thai ($13), and Lemon, Ginger, and Mint, Iced Tea ($5). The tea was overly sweet for me, but it was a hot day and I figured I’d burn up those calories fairly quickly walking around. The Chicken Pad Thai was basic, but generous and filling. I wish I had asked for chopsticks though, as trying to manoeuvre those slippery flat noodles with a single plastic fork proved a challenge.
This is food designed to keep you fueled for the many-more-than 10,000 steps you’re likely to walk between exhibits, animal pavilions, the fresh food dome, food and gadget demonstrations, and of course the last stop, the Show bags pavilion.
Dessert? I restrained myself but I did notice the stand selling tempting little glass pots of Lemon Meringue Cheesecake; Cheesecake and Raspberry; and Nutella Tiramisu – all around $10.
Some other food-on-the-go standouts for me were found in the Woolworths branded food dome: de Costi’s plate of six super fresh Sydney Rock Oysters for $10, (there’s also an oyster rack on display), and don’t leave without tasting a scoop of Lemon Myrtle and Macadamia Nut Ice cream from a stand selling Lemon Myrtle products – it’s creamy and has a uniquely delicious flavour.
You can also feast your eyes on the agricultural displays from around Australia – who knew that 2016 was International Year of Pulses (legumes)?
For me, watching farmers chatting with children, and showing them samples of real cotton, real wool, and different seeds and grains was as beautiful as looking at their displays of canning jars filled with meticulously cut vegetables. And it was a rarity to see an iPhone or similar device in anyone’s hands. Boom!
Over in the Arts and Crafts pavilion you’ll find prize-winning cakes of all shapes and sizes, with my eyes drawn to the jars of homemade lemon and passionfruit butters on display.
If you’re a cat lover, be sure check the status of cat-viewing before making the trek past the rows and rows of horse stables to the cat pavilion. The day I went most cat cages were empty. Disappointing, but considering how hot the day was and how hot the pavilion can get inside, I was actually glad they were somewhere else.
For convenience, I recommend you take your own bottled water as I didn’t notice any water bubblers, or vendors selling plain bottled water. Water will keep you hydrated, and help avoid over indulging in sugar-laden sweet drinks.
If it’s a hot day, finding a shady place for us humans to sit down to eat, or even just to take a break is tricky – be sure to take a hat… And that’s that.
RATED: Food to keep you going! FOOD: 4.5/5
VALUE: 5/5 ATMOS: 4/5 VIBE: Value for money and a chance to sit down
Graze Alfresco Dining – located behind the Information booth, and facing the Food Dome
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All images © Awia Markey