Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Ekka - Pricey Or Priceless?

It appears that only one family from our 'real life' friends are going to the Ekka this year.

The rest are citing the expense and/or the risk of flu, whooping cough, and all the other Dreaded Lurgies doing the rounds this year.

Even though we've been sick, the kids are still begging to go, and I would love to take them.

However, my social media peeps have been keeping me informed, and to be honest, they don't make it sound too enticing.

Here are a few examples:

@simonband: absolute chaos as police martial shoulder to shoulder crowds set to riot at the smaller show bag pavilion #ekka #notajoke

@o_Natalie_o: Biggest waste of time, the Internet scam van. Next to the car dealers. Felt like they were recruiting us...#Ekka

@jendudley Word is spreading around the #ekka about the substandard strawberry ice creams. One person queueing.

@DebRyan66 The showbag pavillion at #Ekka yesterday had bouncers, crowd control for those who want to pay $25 for $5 of plastic. #mayhem

@Graham_Friend  Back from the #Ekka. Dropped 350 in 4 hours. How cheap is that!!

And then there were more positive tweets like:

@simonband i just watched a sheep do a poo #ekka


@simonband i'm watching lambs being born #ekka

@kliplet Asked 7y son how was it? - "Best day of the week" #ekka

@bern_morley: Bertie Beetled out #Ekka

So it seems there are pros and cons.

As for costs, apparently a single, heart-attack-inducing Dagwood Dog/Pluto pup will set you back $5! Can you believe that? Fair suck of the (battered) sav ...

Sounds like the $2 Coon cheese toasties at the Woolworths Fresh Food Pavillion are the Ekka's best bargain treat.

And for foodies, there's a $7 Ekka pie which is supposed to be amazing. ($10 if you want mushy peas, potato and gravy).

Or from Let's Do Yum Cha, the $2.50 dumplings and yum  cha (or 5 for $10) sound like another bargain.

I was thrilled to read there is still a CWA (Country Woman's Association) stand offering their famous Devonshire teas and ham sandwiches. They are always a favourite for Ekka visitors in need of nourishment, tea, and a genuine country smile.

The opinions of the new-look strawberry sundae are mixed, with most dissing them in favour of the traditional ice-creams. (See, you should never mess with tradition?)

Advice on good value goodies from my twitter peeps?

o_Natalie_o The Theiss mining stand at the far end of the #Ekka had little bag for gold coin. Mini mining hat, coloured pencils in case with sharpener, ruler, chocolate. Jellybeans.

#Ekka Government Qld building giving away free fruit...bananas, apples orange 1 per person. Bananas are like gold! (Unsure who this one came from, sorry).

And this: @earleyedition Ekka! Miss2 is seeing the real life animals & animal sounds for the first time!!

Now, I don't think you can put a price on that do you?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Ekka Time!

It's cold, and we're all home sick, which in Brisbane can only mean one thing: It's Ekka Time.

For those playing at home outside of Australia, The Ekka is an iconic Brisbane event which has been held since 1876.

It's when 'the country comes to the city'. Over 10 days, visitors will roam the showgrounds clocking the country's best animals, cooking, fine arts, produce, and more.

The word 'Ekka' is Queensland slang for Exhibition, but over the years it's built into a massive carnival as well.

There's sideshow alley, packed full of stomach-churning rides and high-pressure carnies tempting visitors to part with their hard-earned cash for what they think will be a huge fluffy toy, but will instead probably be a piece of shiny, plastic crap.

And then there's the food. While in recent years, there's been an increase in cooking shows and quality eateries; plus wine, coffee, nut, olive oil and wine tasting; there are iconic Ekka foods which should only be enjoyed once a year.

These include Dagwood Dogs or Pluto Pups, depending on where you buy them. They are battered frankfurts on sticks, generally dipped in tomato sauce. About 185,000 will be consumed this year. And of course, strawberry sundaes, an intriguing mix of ice-cream and strawberries served in a cone. Some 145,000 of those are expected to be eaten this year.

There are more than 10,0000 animals on display, 11,200 competition classes, and 20,000 competitions.

For some city peeps, the Ekka is the first time they get to see cows being milked, baby animals born, or wood being chopped. Not to mention the fireworks displays!

At Chez MIA, the jury is out as to whether we'll attend. For the kids, many of the attractions are the sideshow rides and showbags, all of which tend to add up very quickly. Add in ticket prices, food and drink, and a day at the Ekka, while always fun, turns into an expensive day out.

Needless to say, Mr 10 and Miss 8 have launched a relentless campaign to talk me into taking them, spruiking the fact that there's a lot to be seen that doesn't cost extra.

Point taken.

But there's also the sickness fear. Throw in the fact that we're already sick - tonsillitis, sinus and asthma - and that some 400,000 people will move through the gates to the Ekka this year, and I'm thinking it's a germy prescription for yet more days off school and visits to the GP.

So we'll see.

Some families decide to have a night or two at a swanky hotel, or take the kids to an all-inclusive theme park instead of going to the Ekka, citing the cost.

Regardless, the Ekka should be experienced by kids (big and small) at least once in their lives.

Readers, what would you do?

Showbags. Image courtesy of The Ekka Media Centre.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Japanese Curry

Every family has staple, no-fail meals that everyone enjoys.

In our house, one of our favourite family dinners is Japanese Curry.

One of the ingredients is cooked crumbed chicken or veal schnitzel. (Sorry veggies. I pick out the meat myself, but my kids are carnivores.  To balance it out, we only buy organic meat which we hope has lived and died humanely. And we don't eat it a lot).

I then veggie the life out of the curry. I chop up onion, carrots, zucchini, and pumpkin,  and throw them into the mix. The pumpkin cooks up so soft it becomes part of the sauce, so the kids don't even know they are eating it. The only time they ever complained, was when I tried to hide silverbeet in the curry. Don't do that. It doesn't work. It may even end in tears. Literally.

You can throw in potato too, if you're not counting carbs, and my kids like their Japanese Curry with boiled rice.

Simple, easy, and pretty nutritious.

When we were out shopping recently, we saw this:

How much nicer an option is that than the usual fast food/food court options?

Miss 8 was craving a good Japanese curry, but Mr 10 had insisted he'd 'gone off it'.

So I let her grab a portion, and what a generous serve it was. It smelled delightful, and she allowed me a taste.

Oh my God, it was even better than mine. Or their Dad's. (And that is High Praise Indeed).

Watching his sister enjoy the feast, Mr 10 couldn't help himself, and had to order some too.

"It's spicier than home-made, but it gives it that extra kick," said the Mini-Masterchef. "And they don't put heaps of veggies in like you do."

They gobbled up the lot, in double-quick time. (Yes, I know. I was hoping for leftovers too).

That night, dinner was soup (for all of us); with toast and fruit and dessert for the still hungry. I couldn't have made the Japanese Curry for that price, so I not only got a night off cooking, but the kids had a yummy meal as well.

Readers, do you have a favourite family meal?

We bought our curry from Sushi D'Lite at Mt Gravatt Shopping Centre.