As she pointed out, do use shrimp with the heads still on, as the creamy insides of the heads are quite a treat. I remember how, when I was a kid, I saw my mother dig into those heads with relish, and after I first tried one out of curiosity, I was hooked. In my opinion, the best way to get at the head is to bite at the back of the head where it joins the body; there, the shell is the weakest. Then you pry the head apart slightly to suck the insides, which are typically dark red and creamy. To finish it off, pry the head completely apart, lick the inside of the shell and the inside of the feelers, and discard.
Saturday was the last and longest day for the Lieutenant-Governor's Winter Festival. There were thirteen pavilions showcasing various cultures from around the world, and pretty much all of them had the trinity of food, drink and entertainment. With the mild weather it was no surprise that many of those pavilions had quite some line-ups, naturally with the pavilions offering alcoholic beverages having longer line-ups than others. I went to a few of the pavilions with a friend of mine from my Ultimate team along with his parents; his wife, also on our team, unfortunately couldn't join us as she was volunteering at one of the pavilions. With this being such a big event, it's no surprise that one will meet other friends and colleagues at the pavilions.
|Dinner Plate from the Brazilian Pavilion, along with an extra sweet nibble: Feijoada with farofa, Arroz, Vinaigrete, with the extra item being a Brigadeiro. To the left at top is a Brazilian soft drink, guarana.|
|Dancers performing a dance called "maculele" at the Brazilian Pavilion.|
To quench my thirst, I opted for a can of Brazilian soda called guarana, which also contains the extract of the namesake plant, itself high in caffeine content. The flavouring of the guarana soft drink was close to some forms of cream soda, though I'm quite sure the former drink would provide a better energy boost than the latter! Both the dancing and the food were quite enjoyable.
|The Ukrainian Pavilion's Dinner Plate: Cabbage rolls, perogies (with a side of sour cream) and sausage. Also shown are an optional side of dill pickle, and rye bread which accompanies the cabbage and beet soup borscht.|
Of course, the perogies have become the food symbol for the Ukrainian Pavilion, and I've heard passers-by day and night raving about those potato-and-cheese dumplings. I also ordered a dinner plate here, which included perogies, cabbage rolls and sausage, along with borscht, a cabbage and beet soup. The cabbage rolls had a tomato based sauce and were stuffed with rice and ground meat. When I was last there two years ago the pavilion ran out of cabbage rolls early. Ever since then they've made sure that didn't happen again, which included buying and freezing over 800 pounds of cabbage over the summer when cabbage is in season and therefore cheaper. Brandon may be a small city, but 800 pounds of cabbage just to make enough cabbage rolls for three nights and a day can begin giving one an idea of the magnitude of this popular winter event. Once again, food and dancing were enjoyable, with one of my favourite dancing moments being the youngest dancers performing their number. The looks of semi-confusion on their faces just added to the adorable factor, and they looked so small and cute in their colourful costumes!
|The making of maple taffy.|
|My friend enjoying some maple taffy.|
When my friend's wife was ready to visit some pavilions, we proceeded first to the Scottish Pavilion. Being still full from the Brazilian and Ukrainian Pavilions, I'd forgone any food offered at the Scottish Pavilion, but I got myself a bottle of a Scottish soft drink, Irn Bru. Don't be fooled by the orange colour, it was not orange flavoured, but it nonetheless it provided a refreshing quench to my thirst as I continued my journey through the pavilions across the city.
|A pair performing the national Philippine dance, the tinikling.|
|One of two Philippine combo plates: Adobong Manok (chicken stew), Pancit (Bihon?) (fried rice noodles with chicken and vegetables), and Kanin (steamed rice).|
|A pair of macapuno (young coconut) tarts.|
As for food, by this time I felt I had enough room in my stomach to try some Philippine cuisine, so I opted for one of the combo plates which had steamed rice, Abodong Manok (chicken stew) and Pancit (a rice noodle dish). Though the description at the pavilion wasn't detailed, from my quick online research I suspect the version made was Pancit Bihon, which would've included soy sauce, lime juice and possibly fish sauce along with the sliced chicken and vegetables that were clearly evident. The stew tasted like it may have also been soy sauce based.
To end it all I got my hands on some macapuno (young coconut tarts). The base filling is similar to the Chinese egg tart being egg-based and custard-like in texture, but the filling is topped with shreds of young coconut. I prefer young coconut over the typical old coconuts found at Western supermarkets due to the softer texture of the flesh (the younger it is the more gelatinous) and the higher quantity of juice within the younger coconuts.
In the end, we enjoyed our time exploring some of the Winter Festival pavilions, though had time been on our side we would've liked to have explored all thirteen of them. Hats off to the organizers and especially the hundreds of volunteers who made this annual event possible for the eighth year in a row!