Is there a greater adventure than one that revolves around food?
We set off on a Newtown food tour today, a group of food bloggers
led by Newtown local John
. Food lovers are naturally treasure troves of information, and the mutual sharing of knowledge when it comes to a cuisine or a suburb is always rewarding and inspiring. I still remember the first food tour - an Indian spice tour of Strathfield and Homebush
- I did with fellow food bloggers in 2005, and how much fun it was to food shop with someone in-the-know.
Today we are trailing behind John, stopping at various spots around Newtown. Over six hours we will pound the pavement on a gorgeously sunny winter's day, looking, smelling, touching, shopping and most importantly, eating.
Organic broccoli from Kurrawong Organics
We start at Eveleigh Markets, only a ten minute walk from Redfern station and buzzing with a mingling mass of kids, dogs, families and couples. I love the abundance of fresh produce stalls here, and stallholders are always happy to have a chinwag with customers.
Dutch carrots from Kurrawong Organics
Kylie Kwong at her Billy Kwong stall
selling steamed pork wontons, steamed savoury pancakes and Fairtrade organic green teaOx heart tomatoes $14/kg
from Sorbello Family Fresh Produce
Mixed zebra tomatoes $15/kg
from Sorbello Family Fresh ProduceCavalo nero (Tuscan cabbage)
Chocolates from Gumnut Chocolates
Ros from Gumnut Chocolates
notices the swarm of cameras and we tell her, no, we are not from a photography club but food bloggers. She beams as she pronounces "We love food bloggers!" and promptly accommodates our request to lift the glass lid over her chocolates to enable a better photo.
Biscotti from Gumnut Chocolates
Desiree potatoesCime di rapa from Champions Mountain Organics
Cime di rapa
is also known as broccoletti, and is best treated like spinach - sauteed with garlic to appreciate its nutty and bitter flavour. Stallholder, The Pierogi Princess, tells me this is always hugely popular, and customers will often ask when it is next available.
Pork trotters from Eumundi SmokehouseCustomers and bread at Shepherd's BakehouseChocolate-drizzled meringues at BirdCowFish
Strawberry, rose and watermelon cake $6
With ex-Claude's pastry chef Christopher Thé in the kitchen, the cosy confines of Black Star Pastry is packed to the gill with delicious treats. We amble the back streets from Eveleigh Markets and take about ten minutes to reach the main strip of Newtown. We reach Black Star and join the queue that runs out the door, finally emerging with a box of desserts we share between us.
They are all delicate and beautifully presented, but the strawberry, rose and watermelon cake is the group winner, almond dacquioise layered with thin slices of refreshing watermelon and garnished with ruby red strawberries.
Persian fig, quince and orange cake $4
Lemon meringue and basil cream $6
Chocolate caramel tart $5
We continue on to the south end of King Street, the area where I'm happiest in Newtown. Wandering the haphazard collection of restaurants and shops here is far more interesting, I find, than the shiny cafes and modern fit outs on the other side of the train station.
Here you will find Pastizzi Cafe, a buzzy spot filled with locals. As the name suggests, it's all about the pastizzi, super flaky pastries that hold a range of 12 savoury fillings and 3 sweet fillings.
Savoury pastizzi $1.80 each
We order one of every savoury pastizz on offer, a selection that includes fetta and ricotta; meat and curry; empanada; spinach and ricotta; peas; and vegetable curry. My favourite is the fetta and ricotta which has a pleasing sharpness to the cheese.
Apple pastizzi and chocolate + ricotta pastizzi $1.80 each
The sweet pastizzi emerge in the next baking run, warm from the oven and dusted seductively with icing sugar. The apple pastizz is filled with fat chunks of fresh apple, and the chocolate ricotta mixture is crumbly and generously chocolatey.
Chocolate and ricotta pastizzi
You know a pastizz is good when it makes an earth-shattering crunch at first bite, and leaves a trail of crumbs with every mouthful.
Further down the road you will find Fiji Market, an emporium that will enfold you in a thick cloud of heady spices as soon as you step over the threshold. You'll find everything you need for your next curry here, from bags of cardamom pods and pink peppercorns to sacks of lentils and chick pea flour.
Panch phoran Indian five spice mix
Loiter the aisles and take your time to explore everything on offer. There are incense sticks, mukhwaas Indian mouth fresheners, blue poppy seeds, boxes of masala chai powder and hefty blocks of Himalayan rock salt the size of small boulders.
Himalayan rock salt
Coconut grater $20Pappadums
Directly across the road from Fiji Market is Vinayak. It's a more compact Indian grocery store, and some of us are deeply fascinated by the discovery of a giant wok and pot for sale in the back room.
The front of the shop is likely to hold most of your attention though, a plethora of sugary delights supplied by Maya Sweets. There are also golden fried samosas and a refrigerated cabinet of homemade curries.
We exit with a paper bag of burfi, jelebi and laddoo, each of them deliriously sweet and sticky. I always find the coils of bright orange jelebi have a lingering oiliness but John revels in their syrup-soaked decadence. I prefer the burfi, dense fudge-like slices made with milk powder and luxuriously decorated with sheets of edible silver foil.
After a false start with both Europa Grill and Kammadhenu on King Street south - both of which are closing or closed for lunch - we end up at Kammadhenu
on King Street north for lunch. It's a bonanza of string hoppers and dosai and goat curry and more - due to the length of this entry, photos will come in a separate post.
Bitter dark chocolate gelato $3.50
With tongues a-tingling from our lunch of curry, a final stop at Gelatomassi is mandatory. They're famous for their incredibly intense pistachio gelato but there's always a whole gamut of flavours to choose from. Today there is apple crumble, cherry ripple, cinnamon, roasted almond, blood orange, chocolate mud cake and more.
I can't resist the bitter dark chocolate, a glossy concoction that is as black as mud, and gloriously rich with cocoa.
We have heavy bags, sore feet and full bellies. A successful day indeed.
243 Wilson Street, Darlington, Sydney
(near the corner of Codrington Street)
Open every Saturday 8am-1pm
The markets are about a seven-minute walk from Redfern stationRelated Grab Your Fork posts:
Black Star Pastry
227 Australia Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9557 8656
Tues-Sun 7am – 5pm
523 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9519 1063
Open 7 days 7am-11pm
591 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9517 2054
Open 7 days 9.30am-7pm
Vinayak Music, Video and Spices
642A King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9550 6681
Open 7 days 9.30am - 8pm
377A King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9557 2186
Monday to Friday 5pm - late
Saturday and Sunday 11.30am - late
262 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9516 0655
Monday and Tuesday 4.30pm-11.30pm
Wednesday to Sunday 10am - midnight
Ashfield food tour
Auburn food tour 1 and 2
Bankstown food tour
Cabramatta food tour with Luke Nguyen
Chinatown food tour
Strathfield and Homebush spice food tour