The Bankstown Bites Festival is always a calendar highlight.
This year the Festival was set-up further down South Terrace, enabling better traffic flow and crowd management. "Fast Ed" Ed Halmagyi was the feature chef this year and stalls sold a range of foods from Korean to Peruvian, and German to Lebanese.
Traditional Korean drumming
My favourite aspect of the festival is, of course, the Discovery Food Tours. Manned by council volunteers, these are organised into different themes, a tasty showcase of the diversity of Bankstown, an area that is home to over 130 different nationalities speaking more than 60 different languages.
Whilst in the past the tours have been free, a nominal fee of $2 was levied this year. This didn't stop huge queues of people lining up to register on the day (half the spots were allocated online, the other half were opened up to registrations an hour before tour departure).
I ended up on three tours:
Purple Tour - Grocery Explorer - India, Philippines and Africa
Orange Tour A - Treats from the Middle East
Pink Tour B - Sweet Treats (Vietnamese).
Purple Tour - Grocery Explorer (India, Philippines and Africa)
Purple Tour Stop #1: Lotus Spices and Video
I've been in this shop several times before, but it's amazing what you spot when you're eagerly documenting your travels with a camera. Catering to customers who are from India, Fiji and the Pacific Islands, there's a huge range of foodstuffs on offer and I was particularly taken with much of the packaging, so different to the bland sameness you see on our grocery shelves.
Parle-G Gluco Biscuits
Talofa tuna flakes that taste like Wahoo - tricky marketing!
Jungle Oats - loved this pack design
Amul Kool in Kesar flavour - a milk drink flavoured with saffron
Thali divided dinner tray
Talofa soy sauce - I didn't even know that New Zealand made soy sauce!
Fiji's 100% pure ghee
Indian snacks to sample
Gulab jamun, Indian snacks and milk pudding samples
Steamed cassava to sample
For many tour participants, this was their first time trying steamed cassava. There's not much flavour, tasting much like a fibrous sweet potato.
Purple Tour Stop #2: R&R Mini Mart
The cosy little R&R Mini Mart held a huge amount of stock. We sampled squares of the store owner's homemade cassava cake, cooked with sugar and condensed milk and baked to an almost butterscotch sweetness at the edges. "It's my specialty!" she said with obvious pride in her voice. It was so good I bought a tray to take home.
Homemade cassava cake $4.75
Contains glutinous rice, coconut milk, sugar and food colouring
Made with lye water, flour, sugar, water and food colouring, this isn't as sweet as it looks.
I'm always intrigued by Filipino cuisine which has such an intricate mix of Spanish, Latin American, Chinese and American influences.
Young tamarind leaves bottled in jars
Curly Tops milk chocolate cups
Dried agar agar sheets
Brittle Pilinuts $4.70
I was first introduced to pili nuts by Mrs Ed. Pili nuts are native to the Philippines and have a mild taste much like almonds although more crumbly in texture, almost biscuit-like. These are covered in a toffee brittle, and are terribly addictive!
Dilis crispy fried anchovies
Frozen baby milkfish
Champ-O-Rado chocolate rice porridge mix
Just like a chocolate milkshake only mushy?
Coco Jam with jackfruit
I bought a jar of this and whilst it tastes like liquid coconut candy, it doesn't have as strong a jackfruit flavour as I expected.
Barquiron with cashew nuts
A traditional Filippino sweet, these are like little wafer rolls filled with a crumbly mixture of cashew nuts, buttermilk and sugar. They taste a bit like sweetened milk powder.
Saba squid tins
UFC banana sauce - apparently this tastes similar tomato sauce
Antonio Pueu Rollos $4.65
This packet contains 8 tablets of cacao, sugar and skim milk. The entire roll is dissolved in hot water and mixed with evaporated milk or cream to create Spanish hot chocolate, or so the packet promises. I nabbed a roll immediately, and am looking forward to a decadent night featuring Spanish hot chocolate soon.
Purple Tour stop #3: Sierra Food Market
There's no way you would bump into this African grocery store, almost hidden down an arcade on Restwell Street. The shop is small and unassuming with not a great deal of stock, but owner Francis is ultra friendly and there are some unusual items here.
Banku mix - to make fermented cassava and maize dumplings
Hausa koko - millet porridge
Fresh chillies - super hot
Tinned aubergines - I love that these are called garden eggs!
Dried African hot chilli powder from Nigeria
Bitter leaf powder from Sierra Leone $6.00
DVD movie selection
Huge 3kg tins of granulated beef booster
Homemade dishes for sampling
A little bit of everything
We enjoyed a taste of homemade African cuisine, a mixture of curries on rice with steamed cassava and taro. The green stew was made from bitter leaves and tasted like a more complex version of spinach. We also relished the quiet heat of chilli underlying the dishes.
Orange Tour A - Treats from the Middle East
Orange Tour stop #1: Bankstown Lebanese Grocery and Mixed Business
The tour here was the most organised, our lovely host welcoming us with a little speech and taking us on a quick walk-through every aisle with brief explanations on the stock on offer.
Fresh vegetables on display
Corn oil - has a very high smoking point which makes it ideal for deep-frying
Kingdom country cheese - on the shelf in jars
Cotton candy in flavours of green apple, strawberry and orange
- loved the cheerful packaging
Lebanese bread chute from the ceiling
The shop makes Lebanese bread upstairs and everyone was impressed with the time-saving chute installed. Whever more Lebanese bread is required, they simply press a buzzer downstairs and voila, replenishment stock is pushed down the chute and directly onto the shelf.
Homemade Lebanese fare for sampling
We feasted on freshly made Lebanese bread with dips of toum, baba ghanoush and hoummos as well as lamb sambouseks, kibbeh and homemade tabouli.
Kibbeh - burghul croquette stuffed with lamb mince and pine nuts
Orange Tour stop #2: Bankstown Lebanese Halal Butchery
We only had to head next dor for the second stop, a family-run butchery that stocks halal meat.
Our host at the butchery
Kafte (kofte) mince
Butcher at work
Samples of Lebanese sausages and kofte
Orange Tour stop #3: Chehade El Basha & Sons Sweets
Desserts - my favourite!
Pre-packed gift baskets of pastries
Ashta - a clotted cream made from skimming boiled milk
Pink Tour - Sweet Treats
Pink Tour stop #1: Jenkins Cake Shop
Tired yet? Hey, at least you're sitting down!
We commenced our final tour, deliberately scheduled as a sweet one. Last year I did the Lebanese sweets tour. This year I ended up on the new variation which focussed on Vietnamese style sweets and drinks.
Jenkins cake display
Cake samples at Jenkins cake shop
Pink Tour stop #2: Nhu Y Juice Bar
Making our fresh juice blend for sampling
Watermelon and mixed fruits juice
I don't often order fresh juices so I'm surprised by the refreshment of watermelon blended with pineapple, honeydew, rockmelon, carrot and oranges.
Pink Tour stop #3: Cafe Nho
We finish for the day at Cafe Nho which actually translates as "coffee to remember". Still quite new to the area (the cafe opened on February 14 of this year) it is already hugely popular with locals.
Tropical fruit smoothies
We sampled a range of their cold drinks and desserts - I found the jackfruit shake tasted a bit metallic, and the mung bean drink was mild albeit a tad starchy.
Avocado and durian shakes and ice kacang
Already a fan of avocado shakes, the addition of durian added an extra dimension, one that many found a bit too pungent I expect, given the leftovers!
Ruby water chestnuts
Ruby water chestnuts were a surprise addition in the ice kacang. Cubes of water chestnut are coated in coloured tapioca flour and then simmered, giving a slighty chewy exterior that gives way to the crunch of water chestnut.
In amongst the tours we found time to explore the stalls in the festival, the shops in the area, and make a quick visit to my favourite spice shop too.
Kids activity stall - decorating biscuits with ready-made frosting and sweets
Cakes decorated by local youths in the
Bankstown Multicultural Youth Service Cake Off Challenge
Purple sugar cane
Valley View Continental Groceries & Spices
Packed pulses, grains and flours
Instant Bechamel sauce
Loose lemon verbena tea
Dried hibiscus flowers
It's the spice section I love best. The freshly ground spices are piled into eye-catching pyramids, a sunset of colours that tantalise the eyes, their heady aroma wafting throughout the room.
You'll find fenugreek seeds, falafel spice, sumac, cassia bark, smoked paprika and mastic. Most spices are priced at $16 per kilogram, a huge discount on supermarket prices and probably much fresher too.
Plain curry powder
Congratulations - you've made it through 96 photos. And no, this isn't the longest post on Grab Your Fork so far, that would be the 108 photos and 3 videos on the 2009 Good Food & Wine Show!
This year's Bankstown Bites Festival was held on Saturday July 25, 2009.
Purple Tour - Grocery Explorer
8-9 The Appian Way, Bankstown
Tel: +61 (02) 9791 6400
R&R Mini Mart
11/137 Bankstown City Plaza, Bankstown
Tel: +61 (02) 9790 1467
Sierra Food Market
5/12 Restwell Street, Bankstown
Tel: +61 (02) 9708 6898
Orange Tour A - Treats for the Middle East
Bankstown Lebanese Grocery and Mixed Business
287 Chapel Road South, Bankstown
Tel: +61 (02) 9708 3976
Bankstown Lebanese Halal Butchery
289 Chapel Road South, Bankstown
Tel: +61 (02) 9790 1054
Chehade El Basha & Sons Sweets
288 Chapel Road South, Bankstown
Tel: +61 (02) 9796 4818
Pink Tour B - Sweet Treats
Jenkins Cake Shop
1/335 Chapel Road South, Bankstown
Tel: +61 (02) 9796 8659
Nhu Y Juice Bar
44a Bankstown City Plaza, Bankstown
64 Bankstown City Plaza
Tel: +61 (02) 9709 6820
Also check out
Valley View Continental Groceries
Shop 40, The Appian Way, Bankstown
Tel: 61 (02) 9790 0465
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Bankstown Bites Food Festival 2008
Bankstown Bites Food Festival 2005
Bankstown - El Bahsa Sweets
Greenacre - Sabbagh Patissery
Yagoona - Nhu Quynh (fresh tofu and soy milk)
Yagoona - Rodriguez Brothers (chorizo, jamon and smallgoods)
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7/28/2009 12:26:00 am