Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
In Melbourne, we love our ethnic festivals. The Chinese New Year festivities held throughout Melbourne are well-known, as are those held in Fed Square such as the Melbourne Japanese Summer Festival, the Korean Festival and the Diwali Festival.
But one I have not come across before, perhaps because it is not in such a central location, is the annual Goulash Festival & Book Fair in Wantirna.
In this festival, teams battle it out for the title of the best Gulyás (Goulash soup). Cooking is done outside in cooking pots over fires. As a visitor, you get to go around and sample each team's dish and vote for your favourite. The team with the most votes wins.
The use of outside pots is very much in keeping with the origins of the dish as this thick, hearty dish was very popular with herdsmen in Hungary. They made it in cast-iron kettles hung over open fires out in the fields. When you think about it, they had all the ingredients on hand. The word herdsman is gulyás in Hungarian, so that is how the dish got its name.
Goulash is made from beef cooked with onions, tomatoes, green pepper and lots of paprika. Sometimes potato and noodles (csipetke in Hungarian) are added. If cooked properly, goulash has a nice and evenly thick consistency, almost like a sauce. You'll be able to get some more tips about what makes a good goulash at this event.
The festival will also offer lots of other traditional Hungarian foods for you to sample. In fact, each person who orders a free ticket to the event (you do this through Eventbrite) is given a free langos (traditional fried bread) on arrival. I have never tried one, but from the photos, they look huge and mouthwatering.
And after eating and drinking and soaking up Hungarian culture, you can go home with one of the books from the book fair and curl up on the couch after a day of indulgence.
Tickets for this event are free and available through Eventbrite. Click here.
The Hungarian Community Centre
The event is held at the Hungarian Community Centre, located on 5.5 acres of parklands in the City of Knox. The development which began in 1980 also holds an attractive ecumenical church and the Korona Csárda restaurant (see below.)
Korona Csárda restaurant
The Korona Csárda restaurant would be worth organising as an outing for another time. This is normally open on Saturdays 6-11pm Sunday 12-3pm and is a chance to immerse yourself in traditional Hungarian cuisine buffet style. The menu changes weekly, but normally includes Hungarian goulash, stuffed cabbage, chicken paprikás with egg dumpling (nokedli), various schnitzels, pork roasts, hearty tokány (chicken or pork "ragout") as well as some Hungarian desserts, such as floating islands (madár tej which is fluffy egg white meringue clouds floating in vanilla custard) and lacy crépes. For a video of the restaurant, click here.. With all the dancing, it looks like loads of fun.
There is a great review of the restaurant if you click here.