Oh I do love Auburn.
It's not a sentiment one often hears in the media, but sitting here, on an aluminium chair at a metal table amidst the hubbub of Auburn Road, I drink in the palpable energy and buzz about the place. The street is filled with passing kids and shoppers, the air is thick with the smell of charcoal and barbecuing meats, and middle-aged men all around me, sit, chat and gesticulate with resignation whilst time slowly passes on by.
We'd spent some time traversing the streets of Auburn: into the local butchers, the fruit and vegetable shop, the Lebanese pastry shop for a tray of ghoraybeh, the pale powdery Lebanese shortbread cookies topped with a single pistachio. It's a refreshing change to shop in family stores, small-time businesses crammed with all manner of goods, specials spruiked on hand-written price cards. It's a working class suburb, no doubt, but there's a determined industriousness to the place on this Saturday afternoon.
Lamb shish kebabs
The best thing I love about Auburn, of course, is the multitude of delicious, cheap and authentic food. Authentic is my favourite word when it come to cuisine, a word I use to describe food that is true to its overseas roots, rather than tricked up, plated up or diluted in flavour in order to appeal to 'Western' palates.
New Star Kebabs Restaurant
The smells emanating from New Star Kebab take me straight back to a little alley in Istanbul. If the smell of charcoal doesn't get your attention, the boys behind the counter cajoling potential customers surely will. On the left is the food all ready to go. Giant slabs of yeeros spin slowly behind a counter filled with pide, pizzas, salads and breads. On the right is the meat station, flat metal skewers packed tightly with marinated meats. The fact the flat skewers resemble swords is no coincidence as it's believed this practice began with medieval Turkish soldiers who made use of their swords to cook meat over fire.
Here the poor soul charged with cooking the skewers over the charcoal barbecue is lost in a haze of smoke, his only protection a flattened pizza box used to fan the smoke every now and again.
Chicken shish kebabs
We order the mixed shish kebab, and while it's cooking we tuck into a scroll of lahmacun, the Turkish mince meat pizza.
Turkish mince meat pizza
The bread is like a cross between very thin Turkish bread and a crispy pizza base. The topping is a flattened mixture of lamb mince, diced tomato, onion, red capsicum and spices. It's simple but flavoursome, the tomato and lamb mince still very moist. And for a modest $4, it's probably one of the healthiest and cheapest meat-themed snacks you can find.
Mixed shish plate $19.00
Your choice of three shish kebabs
served with tomato, red cabbage, onion, roasted hot chillis,
lemon and Turkish bread
Our mixed shish plate arrives nestled beneath a doona of soft and fluffy Turkish bread.
The three of us share the platter, alernating beneath mouthfuls of lamb, spiced lamb mince and chicken, doused with a generous squeeze of lemon. All are tender and juicy, with gloriously caramelised edges that taste of charcoal. They're all rather good but Veruca Salt, Speedy and I all vote the chicken as our favourite.
A rainbow of salads provide vitamins and palate-cleansing relief. The pickled red cabbage is quite salty, but the tomatoes are juicy and the onion not as hot as you'd expect.
Mado ice cream
And in spite of our groaning stomachs, we easily find room for ice cream at Mado Cafe up the road. I'd been craving their stretchy maras dondurma ice cream for months.
Mango ice cream and maras dondurma
Maras dondurma is made with the pounded roots of a wild Turkish orchid, a powder that is also used in salep, one of my favourite thickened milk drinks to have in winter. The orchid root gives the maras dondurma a unique stretchy and chewy quality, giving the unusual sight of mozzarella-like tendrils as you bite into the ice cream. Imagine a milky smooth ice cream that has the texture of softened caramel and you're almost there. It's unique and dangerously addictive.
A bit like the food in Auburn.
Maras dondurma and hazelnut ice cream
Pomegranate ice cream and maras dondurma
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New Star Kebabs
15 Auburn Road, Auburn, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9643 8433
View Larger Map
63 Auburn Road, Auburn, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9643 5299
Related GrabYour Fork posts:
Auburn -- Al Sofra Pizza, Pide and Kebabs
Auburn -- Mado Cafe (Jul06)
Auburn food tour - August 2006
Auburn food tour - July 2006
Auburn shopping - Harkola Food World Wide warehouse
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1/12/2009 01:21:00 am