Throwing themselves into the swing of things, recently newish Melbournians Steph and Danni organised a dinner at Enlightened Cuisine to celebrate the New Moon Festival. Sadly Danni was sent leaving on a jet plane, thereby missing the mock meat madness.
Having slavered over the 'lamb' curry last World Vegan Day, I was keen to sample more (and from now on I'll just drop the ' 's. You know I don't mean the real and nasty stuff, although I do actually feel a little uncomfortable writing meaty names which is interesting). The table of 9 decided to order from two of the banquets, very reasonably priced at $32 per person for 8 dishes.
So how to review 16 plates shared amongst 8 people, with Jo chipping in too?
By exercising our God-given right to vote and my geek-given ability to count on my fingers.
So here, voted by your judges (me, Buzz, Craig, Bec, Jo, Cindy, Michael, Sarah-Jane and Steph), are the winners of Banquets B1 and B2. Due to some confusion as to when the dishes arrived on the table, and which was announced as belonging to which, not each face-off consists of a B1 vs B2. Rearranging them would have sullied the total votes, but at the end I have tallied total votes for each Banquet to declare a Banquet Emperor. I also recommend you check out Steph's post and especially her fantastic pictures, which have me seriously considering the purchase of a fancy up-towards-the-ceiling flash attachment and even dragging my SLR around instead of just whipping out my little, damaged-because-I-dropped-it-lens-first-into-miso-soup-at-Peko-Peko point'n'shoot.
So to the count. Australia Votes!
In the fried entree section, no photographs were taken, but the spring roll (B1) trounced the curry puff (B2) 7 votes to 2.
In the souping, Shark Fin Soup (B1) played nicely with Sweet Corn and Crab (B2), 4 and 4 votes respectively.
Moving to mains, the Kung Po Prawn (B1), which squiggled in a way I imagine real prawn guts might, lost mightily to the fried Sweet and Sour Pork (B1), which was served with the very authentic tomato and pineapple chunks, 2 votes to 7.
In the Battle of the Tofus, the warm, rich and spicy Ma Pu Tofu (B1) lost to the overwhelming 5 Spice Tofu (B2), small artery-cloggers of pure cripsy fatty dollops, 2 votes to 7.
Next into the arena, the Sweet and Sour Prawns (B2), little fried prawnies in batter, were crushed by the immensity of the Kung Po Chicken in Nest (B2), which was cashews and chicken in a little basket of French Fries, 2 votes to 7. Yes they were fries. And yes, I forgot to take a picture of the prawnies because the 45 minute wait between entree and main had frayed my nerves a little and I was ready to jump on the table, perform the Stompy Troll Dance, gather all the plates in my Troll Apron, and run away into the night.
Each Banquet came with a serve of Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables and Fried Rice, which we didn't vote on even though I was really liking the power of wielding the pen.
Finally, the Lychee Longan (B1) took on the Banana Fritter (B2). Michael declared his interests as a fully paid up member of the I Hate Nanis Club, of which Emily and he are Founding Co-Chairs and Chief Cheerleaders, and absented himself from voting because of his perverse aversion, and votes came out even at 4 each.
I am fully aware of the image that the picture above presents. Not only do I love crass, cheap humour, but it was the only picture that worked out and I love crass, cheap humour.
Geeking it up, we then voted for Best Entree (Shark Fin Soup tying with Spring Rolls at 4 votes each, with Jo not voting); Best Main in a two stage process (5 Spice Tofu finally scoring a massive 8 votes against Jo's Beef and Black Bean Sauce, a late entry); and again, a dead heat for dessert.
So to tally the Banquets (trumpets, drum roll, the envelope please): Banquet B1 scored a total of 27 points, and Banquet B2 scored 26.
But, as Red Pen Bitch, I have the veto! Banquet B2 also contained the two most popular dishes of the night, the 5 Spice Tofu (Overall Champion) and the Nest, and I therefore declare by the power vested in me by the State of Victoria and the Power of Greyskull, that Banquet B2 is the OVERLORD and WINNER.
Finally, calming me down from my voting bossiness, thoughtful Steph had brought us all Moon Cakes and told us the story behind the festival. Moon Cakes are ornate and decorative, and inside the sweet wrapping they are filled with sugary squidgy red bean. They were sweet in more ways than one.