One of the many amazing things about Sydney is that it has a number of distinct suburbs around which the people of particular nationalities have settled – the Italians in Haberfield, the Turkish around Auburn, the Lebanese in Punchbowl, the Greeks in Marrickville, the Vietnamese in Cabramatta, the Koreans in Eastwood and Fairfield.
Sydney is a great mix of cuisines and cultures and I love it.
A few weeks ago, I joined my first Gourmet Food Safari, where I discovered some of the most delicious Lebanese food and ingredients, under the guidance of local guide Nancy. Gourmet Food Safaris®, started by TV personality Maeve O’Meara 16 years ago, offers a large range of exciting food experiences around Sydney and Melbourne. The Lebanese Walking Food Safari of Punchbowl was a fantastic opportunity for me to discover some of the most popular shops in an area where I had never ventured before, plunging myself into a different side of Australia, full of exotic aromas, sights and sounds that reminded me of my travels overseas to the Middle-East (Jordan, Turkey) and to North Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia).
Lebanese Gourmet Food Safari of Punchbowl – itinerary
- After meeting our guide and other participants at popular Jasmin Restaurant for a small cup of Lebanese coffee, the tour started with a product demonstration at the Lebanese grocer. There our guide talked us through the staples of Lebanese cuisine, from pomegranate molasses, orange blossom water, rose water, za’atar to chewy haloumi cheese. We samples a few products and guide Nancy gave us tips on how to cook with some of these ingredients.
- The next stop was at the local halal butcher. There you could order freshly prepared kafta (Lebanese style meatballs), shawarma (marinated beef strips) and rosewater and pine nut gourmet sausages, amongt many other cut of beautiful meat!
- We then tasted pizzas like no other, using toppings of za’atar (oregano, sumac and sesame seeds), lahm bajeen (lamb and spices) and many more. A true Lebanese experience.
- One of the highlight for me was the visit of the Lebanese bread bakery – did you know Lebanese flat bread cooks in the oven for 9 seconds only?! Needless to say I was happy to pay a small price of $1.25 to get the freshest flat bread in town back home with me.
- Later on, my sweet tooth was satisfied with an indulgent visit to a chocolate and nut shop, where hand-made chocolate and sugar almonds were calling my name! Yes, I had to buy some!
- Lunch at Jasmin Restaurant was a highlight. On the menu was falafel, hummus, babaganoush, grilled chicken, tabouleh, pickles, flat bread and much more.
- After having a gigantic lunch, the grande finale was a visit to a palace of delicious sweets that specialises in many types of balawa, shortbread and ashtar filled sweets – it would have been simply impossible to resist to the smell of freshly baked honey and pistachios treats! I indulged on the delicious baked goods and bought some for later.
What I loved about the Lebanese Gourmet Food Safari of Punchbowl
♥ Taste the World without leaving your hometown
♥ Knowledgeable local guide, sharing insights about Lebanese food and culture
♥ Interact with friendly shop-owners, passionate and proud about Lebanese cuisine
♥ Discover a new part of Sydney, where you may have never been before
♥ Small group of participants and friendly atmosphere
♥ A delicious Lebanese lunch banquet at Jasmin Restaurant is included (best falafel I’ve ever had!)
♥ I truly enjoyed the entire experience – a nice change from the more traditional cooking class, yet a fantastic way to discover a new foreign cuisine
Disclaimer: Mademoiselle Slimalicious attended as a guest of Gourmet Food Safaris. All opinions and photos are my own.
Do you like Lebanese food? What’s your favourite Lebanese dish?