I found out about Fiesta Malaysia 2012 the way I usually find out about events these days: on my Twitterfeed. While our household still gets the paper delivered every day, I never read it anymore. My mum does, and so does my partner. My kids like cutting it up and using it for projects, or mucking around with strips to make papier-mache animals.

I’ve acquired some bower-bird habits since becoming so dependent on Twitter. One of them is noting things for the different feeds I maintain (current count: 4), which is what I used to skim my email for. Usually, this noting doesn’t mean I intend to act on events/gigs myself. My weeks are usually fully subscribed with work, kiddie time, family time, writing, and occasional other things.

Lygon St bombing (Photo by Tseen)

Something that did catch my eye, though, was the Fiesta Malaysia the other weekend (23-25 March).

My partner and I used to be great food/culture festival people, then we had kids. But it’s not as if the kids kept us from going anywhere; we just ended up going to different events: local school fetes, shopping for an endless parade of shoes, library-runs, zoo trips…

Anyway, we thought this might be fun, and my mother would definitely want to go along, if only to declare that her char kway teow was better.

We made it to Fiesta Malaysia on its last day – Sunday – and arrived just as it started at about 11am. We’d parked at the Melbourne Museum and had a glorious stroll to Lygon Street, encountering some great yarn-bombing on the way (pictured left).

That day also happened to be the Melbourne City Romp and spotting marauding crazy-hatted / costumed teams can sure whet one’s appetite for roti.

Mamee Towers (Photo by Tseen)

When we rocked up, dragging the kids past the bouncy castle, a stylised martial arts demonstration was just starting near the twin Petronas towers made of Mamee noodles (one of the most visible sponsors; towers pictured right).

The event, held at Argyle Square, was organised by MASCA Victoria (Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia – Vic chapter) and you can visit their website here. The set-up was pristine and well-spaced.

Overall, we had a fun time, but there were major problems with the logistics of the food.

The entertainment included the noodle-eating contest (for which the grand prize was pretty damn fine: a holiday in Malaysia), various cultural dances, and the comedian Phoon Chi Ho.

I can’t say I saw much of it, though, because we were perpetually waiting for food. My sister, who met us there at about 1pm, was in the roti line long enough to consume two other meals that she managed to get while one of us kept her place in the queue.

I won’t go on about it too much (because there was the wait for the food, and the subsequent disappointment of the food), but if a Malaysian festival can’t come up with the goods food-wise, there’s a real issue.

Also, aside from the line of food-stalls and the stage, there wasn’t much else in the other stalls that we were interested in (they had stalls devoted to Malaysian travel and a local real estate firm…there might’ve been others but I don’t remember them at all).

Some things I would’ve liked to see:

  • Faster, better food – maybe with more stalls that had immediacy in the food they’d be serving people (e.g. rojak, small paper cones of ikan bilis, rendang/rice [pre-prepared]).
  • Wider variety of stalls (which means the event wouldn’t be as dependent on the food…?).

Something I would’ve loved to see:

  • A Lat exhibition!
Brunetti's mint chocolate (Photo by Tseen)

In the end, feeling a bit robbed of a satisfying feed, we strolled to Brunetti’s for afternoon tea.

After fighting to find our way to a table, we browsed over ricotta pastries, chocolate and pine-nut biscuits, and my sister found the most fantastic creme de menthe chocolate (pictured left).

The kids were in a saccharine Nirvana, and the hardest thing was making a choice. Or maybe it was listening to the children at the table behind us go into a doozy of a meltdown in an enclosed and echoey space…

Even while packed and frenzied on a Sunday afternoon, Brunetti’s food + coffee did not disappoint.