Monday, 26 May 2014

Richmond Night Market

Okay, life has been getting very much in the way of blogging recently. Last week Matthew and I attended two graduation parties (for our friend Sheila from the UBC MA program, and for cousin Carolyn finishing B. Forestry and *sob* moving to Edmonton). And the weekend before that I smashed out my final thesis chapter and submitted it to my supervisors!!

But last weekend was so awesome that I can't let it go by undocumented. It was the Victoria Day long weekend. We kicked off Friday evening by having Martina and Stu over to our apartment for fondue. When I was in Melbourne, our friend Jess gave me an awesome fondue set, so ever since we got back I have been scheming to incorporate this meal into the week somewhere. We called Martina and Stu, who, it turns out, actually have three fondue sets of their own; if you knew them you would not be surprised... they are very skilled with and passionate about food.

In a moment of true forethought, we decided to visit our local fromagerie, because we wanted fancy cheese and we didn't want to pay corner-store-inflated prices for it. The cheesemongers actually grated it all for us! This meant that when Martina and Stu came over approximately 10 minutes after we got in the door on Friday evening, we could just chill with a glass of wine, instead of straining a muscle grating a kilo of cheese for the next hour. (Actually we only had 800 grams of cheese. "Only" haha!)

After dipping all our vegetables in the wine-cheese combo, and polishing off a couple of bottles of wine, we decided that the night was young, and that we should Go Next Level, and do a chocolate fondue. So Matthew and Stu walked down to the corner store for a couple of blocks of chocolate while Martina and I hulled strawberries on the home front. That's right, friends. We had both cheese and chocolate fondues in the same evening. I think this was on my life list of things to do without me even realising it, because how else can I explain this immense sense of achievement I feel for having pulled off this home culinary experience?

So that was Friday. Saturday morning we woke up with nary a food nor wine hangover (BLOODY MIRACLE), and I got busy with my thesis. Matthew did Warhammer crafts all day, so it was quiet and industrious in our house. We had a mini-break for burgers, chips and doughnuts in the middle of the afternoon (I think we will just call the weekend a health write-off), but apart from that it was cold hard work from morn to eve.

At about 6-ish we called it a day, and walked in the sunshine to the Canada Line Skytrain on Cambie. Our final destination: The Richmond Night Market!! We have been in Vancouver for three summers (nearly four!) and we have never made it to the Night Market. Perhaps this is because Matthew works in Richmond, so he doesn't feel like hanging there all night as well? Or because we felt there was enough cheap Asian food within walking distance from our house? At any rate, we have been missing out. This place is pretty fun. It's crowded, but in a Vancouver way (that is, not very). There was a very long line to get in, several hundred metres, but it moved pretty fast and we were inside in about 15 minutes. And the evening was nice: not too warm, but still sunny.

We forced ourselves to walk around all the stalls before we had dinner. Everyone goes to the market for the food, because the stall and game areas are eerily empty, and the food area is chaotic, smokey, loud, and basically a human crush.

Sadly, we were still a little full from lunch. However we got some takoyaki (friend octopus balls), some chilli-barbequed lotus root (the man did not consult us on the chilli, so in fact these were so hot we could not finish the box), a steam pork bun (Matthew) and some chow mein (me), and of course a large bubble tea (coconut and honeydew flavours, respectively) to wash it all down with. Writing this all down now makes me blanch a bit, but at the time it seemed like a good idea.

Finally, we headed for the main food attraction: the Dragon Beard Candy. This is a Richmond Night Market specialty. We had never even heard of this confection before! It's spun (stretched, really) sugar packages of crushed peanuts. The candies look for all the worlds like insect cocoons. We watched, totally mesmerised, as the confectioner puled the sugar into what finallly resembled fairy floss. There was an incredibly neat production line of sugar-pulling, tearing into little white fluffy blankets, warpping of peanuts in blankets, and boxing them all up... Mesmerising.

It was getting dark, and we had been there for a couple of hours, so we took our box Dragon Beard Candy and walked back to the skytrain with our bubble teas. We stopped in at the Rover Rock Casino and tried to play two toonies, but the said they don't take coins (in their 1c machines? Um, ok), so we marched on.

There are actually two night markets in Richmond; the other is called the Summer Night Market, and is reportedly smaller. I hope to get to the other one as well this summer. We have developed quite the taste for bubble tea. Just yesterday we discovered the shangri-la of bubble tea shops practically in our own back yard: Oak and Kind Ed! Although we are limiting ourselves to one per week, even that is proving excessive. At any rate, there is clearly more of Richmond that we still need to explore.

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