Monday, April 29, 2013

#FairfieldFeast food tour, Fairfield

Miss Piggy was chosen as one of 6 food bloggers to attend the #Fairfiield Feast food tour hosted by Thang Ngo of Noodlies and Fairfield City Council.

Fairfield, in Sydney’s South West, must be one of the most culturally diverse suburbs in Sydney.  Two our of every three residents speak a language other than English at home (Klingon not included) and Fairfield has the largest Iraqi population outside of Iraq. With 133 nationalities amongst its 190,000 residents it's the very definition of multiculturalism. And where there is multiculturalism there is amazing food to be found.



Fairfiled is just a 20 minute drive from Parramatta yet the invitation to the #FairfieldFeast tour for food bloggers is my first visit to the suburb. We don't get to sample 133 different cuisines on this Saturday - our tour takes us to 8 different local businesses where we get to experience the flavours of no less than 7 different countries...all in the space of about 5 hours.

Paula Continental Cakes

Our first stop is Paula Continental Cakes which has been operating in Fairfield for around 30 years. Paula's is a Chilean bakery specialising in traditional desserts - a majority of which feature Dulce De Leche, a delectable sweet thick caramel.



As is often the way the bakery was established as the Chilean owners were missing some of the food from their homeland. Paula has proven to be a hit with not only Sydney’s Chilean community but other sweet tooth's who travel from far and wide to get their sugar fix.  They also do savoury goods such as empanades - so there's something for everyone.


The cakes at Paula’s are amazing and it's rare that I start my day with sweets, but I could certainly get used to it. For our “breakfast” we were able to sample a huge range of Chilean desserts – including churros with dulce de leche, torta de tres leches, torta de milhoja chilento an, alfajor de maizena.


Find them at Shop 2/9 Barbara Street, Fairfield or phone them on (02) 9726 2369.

La Paula Continental Cakes on Urbanspoon

Afghan and Arab Bakery

Next up we stop at the Afghan and Arab Bakery. If you’re a fan of Food Safari on SBS you may have seen this place on a recent episode about Afghani food.



Each day head baker Habib and his team churn out 4,000 – yes FOUR THOUSAND – loaves of soft, fluffy Persian, Afghan, Turkish and Iraqi flatbreads. Considering the heat that the traditional clay oven creates it’s an amazing feat...and all the while Habib has a smile on his face. As well as tasty savoury breads the bakery also produces a really wonderful sweet bread that has ground cardamom + fennel seeds – it has an amazing flavour.


Find them at 2/13 Nelson Street, Fairfield, phone them on 9728 1832 or visit the website.

Afghan & Arab Bakery on Urbanspoon

Mykababayan (Sans Rival Food Service)

I have been wanting to try Filipino food for the l-o-n-g-e-s-t time and I was thrilled to learn that we’d be visiting a Filo eatery on our Fairfield travels. The feast that we had at this restaurant (whose name is either Mykababayan or Sans Rival Food Service – even the owner was not sure) was enormous. 



The tiny kitchen of this part grocery store, part restaurant, churns out traditional home-style Filo cooking that proves popular with the local Filo community who also come here to buy popular Filo items. 



I was thrilled to finally try one of the Philippines most popular dishes, Adobo Chicken. Adobo is a popular way of marinading and cooking meat (most often chicken or pork I believe) in a mix of vinegar and soy. It’s so moist and flavoursome – I can see why it’s their unofficial national dish.

 
Another favourite of mine was the jackfruit + seafood cooked in coconut milk (that’s it in the top row of this photo – second from the right).  It's like nothing I’ve ever had before  - sweet, yet salty from the seafood and the jackfruit itself has quite a firm bite to it, sort of like bamboo shoot.  The spicy little pork sausages also go down a treat. Our Filo feast then finishes with some amazingly sweet desserts – I’ve heard it said that Filipino people love sweet sweet desserts and I’d agree with this. The sweets were SWEET!



Find them at 13/52 - 68 The Crescent, Fairfield or phone them on 9727 3146.

Al Jamil Market

We make an quick pit stop at the Al Jamil Market – an Iraqi/Afghani grocery store whose owner, Jamil (an Iraqi refugee who moved to Sydney and set up shop 17 years ago) has got to be one of THE friendliest guys I’ve ever met. Each curious glance towards the amazing produce and delicacies in his store was met with a cheerful offer to have a try. So much so that Jamil was stuffing lollies and pumpkin seeds into my bad as I left the shop – reverse shoplifting?




I love the big open bins of seeds, nuts and grains that greets you as you walk into the store; and the vat of green olives is almost too much to resist. The shelves are lined with produce from across the world including China, Croatia, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq...you name it he probably has it! This store is really a multicultural wonderland.


Find them at 25 The Crescent, Fairfield or phone them on 9745 9980.

Al Dhiaffah Al Iraqi Restaurant

For our second lunch we pay a visit to Al Dhiaffah Al Iraqi Restaurant – just a few doors up from the Al Jamil Market. The restaurant walls are adorned with pictures of Iraqi scenery and people and it adds an interesting visual touch to the space.


Within minutes our table is groaning with a wonderful Iraqi feast. The Iraqi diet is quiet meat heavy given their arid landscape is not the best for growing vegetables – but the vegetarian in our group seems to find herself a hearty feast amongst the meat. Behold chicken + lamb kebabs, lamb kibbeh, lamb shanks with noodles, pickled carrots and something mysterious we think is a cucumber of sorts, soups, salads, stew, luscious thick hummus and Iraqi bread still warm from the oven.


Find them at 13 The Crescent, Fairfield, phone them on 9755 0870 or visit the website.

Al-Dhiaffah Al-Iraqi on Urbanspoon

Frank's Lebanese Restaurant

Rubbing our bellies we slowly waddle down the road to Frank’s Lebanese Restaurant where we are greeted by a mound of garlic tuom (dip) bigger than our bulging stomachs.

If you’re a fan of Lebanese chicken then it’s impossible not to compare this place to Granville’s El Jannah.  I’m happy to report El Jannah fans won’t be disappointed with what Frank has to offer – which is firstly a proper restaurant with comfortable tables and chairs and a HUGE menu filled with more than just Lebanese chicken and toum. This place is the real deal offering everything Lebanese you can think of.


The Lebanese chicken is smoky, tender and moist with a great crispy skin - it's really very very good. The garlic tuom has just enough punch in it to make sure you won’t be canoodling with any strangers on the way home - I like that it has a good garlic flavour but it's not overwhelming.  The vine leaves, crispy fluffy falafel and fried cauliflower are all 100% vegetarian friendly.



We also get to sample a full array of dips from a great nutty, zesty hommos (Frank tells us the mark of any restaurant is the quality of its hommos - bad hommos = bad restaurant {FYI, Frank's is epic hommos}), a smoky baba gannouj that is up there with the best I’ve had, a house made labne (which is WAY better than my attempts at making this at home) and Chanclish – a hardened fermented cheese that is grated and served with diced tomatoes and parsley. I was really excited to try chanclish – it’s something I’ve never seen served elsewhere, and in fact before this #FairfieldFeast I’d never even heard of it.


Visit them at 6 Smart Street, Fairfield or phone them on 9724 3000. 

Frank's Lebanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Green Peppercorn

Our final stop on our #FairfieldFeast tour is Green Peppercorn, which has recently been awarded best new restaurant in the SMH under $30 food guide.  That said I give it two thumbs up which is really all you need to know.  Oh, and that owner Tona Inthavong recently spent time working at his brothers popular Canley Heights Laotian restaurant, Holy Basil -- so you know the food is going to be GOOD!


Our lunch at Green Peppercorn starts off with a cooking demonstration from Tona and his sister/head chef Sarah.  In case you're wondering YES this is a lot of food to have consumed in one day -- even for a greedy food blogger like me so I'm glad of a bit of respite to let my 27 lunches digest. Sarah shows us how to whip up sticky rice and one of my favourite south-east Asian dishes, green papaya salad. We learn that Loation food is less sweet than its close cousin Thai food and that there's more of a sourness to Lao dishes and you'll find much less coconut milk based meals.  Lao cuisine also tends to focus less on fresh seafood than Thai - makes sense given they are a landlocked country.


We then sit down to our final feast of the day - and I have to say it looks good. The table is filled with plates heaving with fresh salads with zesty dips + dressings.  Everything is light and fresh and I feel really quite healthy tucking into this Loation banquet.  I especially loved the Nem Khao - a crunchy rice salad with cured pork, shallots, chilli, kaffir lime leaves and peanuts that you scoop into fresh iceberg lettuce leaves with mint



The Laos sausages and beef jerky are both made by Tona's father with noone in the kitchen being allowed near these precious family dishes. The beef jerky harks back to the family's time in a refugee camp before coming to Australia - it was a way for the family to have meat on hand when rations were limited.  So many of the places we visited today have a story like this.



Any feelings of health and virtue I had are totally undone when dessert arrives at our table.  The pandan creme brulee was amazing - so light and fluffy with a great coconut pandan flavour. An absolute winner.  The deep fried ice-cream was really usual coming wrapped in pastry and served with coconut muesli and caramel sauce. I loved it - no matter how much we chatted the ice-cream did not melt and the filo pastry stayed firm and crispy.  The black sesame creme brulee was another winning dessert - creamy but not too rich, and the more traditional black coconut black sticky rice with ice-cream was a great note to finish our #FairfieldFeast on.


Find them at 1 Hamilton Rd, Fairfield (Fairfield Hotel) or phone them on 9724 7842 (reservations only available from Mon to Thurs) or visit the website.

Green Peppercorn on Urbanspoon

I love that in all the places we visited today there is a story of culture and tradition.  And that whilst the Fairfield community is from the four corners of the globe the story is universal.  A family comes to a new country, a new home with new hopes and dreams.  They bring with them some of their food and traditions from the old country and a diverse, melting pot of a suburb like Fairfield is born.  We're very lucky to have places like Fairfield so close to us. Go and explore! You know you want to.

38 comments:

  1. so. much. foooooooooood! That tour sounded amazing and so glad you were able to see what I consider local (even though I haven't even discovered it for myself).

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    1. There was A LOT of food...yet I think I still went home and ate dinner. It's a great suburb - cannot wait to go back.

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  2. I want to go to every single one of these places!

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  3. Wow, I am feeling exhausted and very full just reading this. But, what a great day out. You had me at the Afghan and Arab Bakery...heaven. What a great selection of authentic eating opportunities. I am a little jealous I must admit :)

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    1. You would've LOVED the bakery Jane...I thought of you when I was checking out their oven.

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  4. Love the look of the cakes and bread! Must get myself to Fairfield one day...

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    1. It's well worth a visit. I had no idea there was SO much food and such variety.

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  5. looks like you guys did a pretty good job in covering what fairfield has to offer! cudos to your endless stomach space!

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    1. I think I finally found out that my tummy has a "stop" button.

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  6. All of it looks so good! I am keen to try Green Peppercorn, pandan creme brulee, Im so there!!!

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    1. That brulee was AMAZING! I keep taking "just one last mouthful".

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  7. What a delicious cultural wonderland we have, right on our doorstep! I can't wait to pop on over and check it out.

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  8. great recap of the day and love the review layout. easy to follow for each place visited. well done :-)

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  9. What a great post! It brought back the wonderful memories of the great feasts we had! Love it! :-)

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    1. Wasn't it a great day? So great to meet you and I hope we get to eat together soon!

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  10. I want the pandan creme brulee!! Hehe garlic tuom is so good (I care not for bad breath :P)

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    1. I adored the garlic tuom at Franks...really good stuff!

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  11. I walk past these restaurants a lot and never think anything of it. Food looks so good! I should try them next time! XD

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    1. It's interesting isn't it how we often don't "see" what's right on our doorstep.

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  12. I love the flavours of Fairfield. And isn't Paula's glorious? The tres leche cake is enough to make anyone swoon!

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    1. Paula's is a national treasure. Delish!

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  13. Aah brings back so many good memories... Great recap, was fab to eat & explore Fairfield with you!

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    1. Nice to see you again Suze...it was a great day.

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  14. Fairfield does have an amazing mixture of cultures, doesn't it. I've been to the Iraqi restaurant, but none of the others. Must get back there and try some more.

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    1. It seems like every restaurant is serving a different countries food. It's quite incredible.

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  15. So much food and fun.... I do like Fairfield and my favourite is a Laos restaurant called Lao Village. But I do love Green Peppercorn too.

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    1. Ooooh, another place to try! Thanks Penny.

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  16. I agree about Lao Village - their food is fab and so affordable!

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    1. OK...I'm convinced. I must check it out. Ta.

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  17. An awesome food tour! And a nice review Mel. By the way, the little sweet spicy Filipino sausages are called Longganisa, just incase you were interested to know.

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    1. Thanks Raff! I'm going to make the rice & egg dish you tweeted me about yesterday. YUMBO!

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  18. Wow, look at the variety of food!!! That Green Peppercorn place looks interesting :)

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  19. Go the West!! I want to eat allll of these places. Love arab / leb food.

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  20. The desserts at Green Peppercorn look amaaaazing! I want the fried ice cream and the creme brulees. Great excuse for a trip out west.

    Also I really enjoyed this post. Lots of information on great ethnic food and of course great pics!

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