The Vietnamese and Lao communities in Sydney’s South-West region came together to celebrate International Families Day at Casula Powerhouse last weekend. The event opened with the beautiful Lao Lane Xang Prabang Association dancers.
This association is made up of Lao people in Australia who originated from Luang Prabang in Northern Laos, a region known for its Buddhist temples, including Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Mai.
Between acts that included martial artists, Invincible Worldwide, and SweatShop alumni Shirley Le, I took the time to check out the incredible range of exhibitions currently on at the Casula Powerhouse.
In the little Marsden Gallery there’s an exhibition called Practice What You Teach which answers that oft-repeated line used to disparage teachers: those who can, do; those who can't, teach.
I’m sure you’ll agree after looking at works like these beautiful Tongan-inspired neck pieces from Merrylands high school arts teacher, Seinileva Huakua, there’s no lack of talent in creative arts teachers.
In the Hopper Gallery, Contemporary Still Life, which runs until 2 July, you’ll find an updated take on still life. With works running from recycled PET bottle art by Sarah Goffman to Michael Zavros’ clever still life paintings that are beautiful in and of themselves but even more intriguing when you recognise the secondary images – a lobster, a jellyfish and a flamingo - created by their shapes.
It’s hard to miss the eye-catching life-size prints in the Turbine Gallery from the Freetown Flashpack exhibition.
This touring exhibition from the Bega Valley Regional Gallery comes from a fashion blog started by aid worker Jo Dunlop who travelled to Freetown, Sierra Leone in 2011.
It’s incredible to see the extraordinary sense of personal style that has emerged in a place ravaged by civil war.
While you’re up on the first floor, take a peek at the evolving interactive children’s exhibition: Size Matters Least.
Using chalk, children viewing the exhibition are encouraged to complete the pictures by extrapolating from a detail photo. This exhibition runs until June 18.
Viewing all that art worked up quite an appetite, so I was excited to find Trang’s Kitchen food truck parked right outside the Bellbird kitchen. I first discovered this food truck at Park Feast where I drank their amazing Smoothercane ($4) slushies made from freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. Today's version had a hint of kumquat tarting it up.
They were invited onsite for International Families Day to provide thematic modern Vietnamese street food eats.
My dining companion and I were particularly impressed by the Wagyu Nem Burger ($10), combining a wagyu nem nuong (beef patty) with melted cheese, garlic aioli and mixed Vietnamese greens inside a super-soft bun. The wagyu brisket had great char, and I liked the way they half foil wrapped it so it didn’t stew, but it also didn’t drip melted cheese and garlic aioli all over me.
We accompanied our burger with Porkling Fries ($10) – they’re a great version of loaded fries using caramelised pork belly, crackling, chilli and fresh herbs, piling them on top of well-drained shoestring fries.
We also took the opportunity to try a TriBao ($16/3) offering up three bao, each with a different filling. There was porkling (like the fries), braised soy chicken, and my favourite - the pho bao, which wrapped fragrant long fibres of braised beef up inside a soft steamed bun! This food truck makes everything fresh to order, and it shows in the crispness of their salad components.
A flurry of young women arriving in áo dài - tight fitting silk tunics worn over pants – focused my attention back on the stage.
Part of a local Buddhist youth group, the graceful and elegant movements of these young women contrasted sharply against the loud thwack of all their red fans opening simultaneously.
I ended my Casula Powerhouse visit by taking a peek at the Bellbird’s newly planted kitchen garden.
With cute chalkboard style signs pointing out the various plants, it's exciting to wonder about how Chef Federico Rekowski will be using each of them in his upcoming menus.
1 Powerhouse Road, Casula
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