Rockdale is worth exploring on foot, a fascinating blend of cultures that sprawls across both sides of the Princes Highway. You'll find Halal butchers next to Asian grocery stores, and restaurants that specialise in Chinese, Thai, Bangladeshi, Greek and Himalayan cuisine. There's a giant used furniture shop on the corner, a supermarket selling Pakistani groceries in bulk, and Lebanese bakeries fragrant with oregano and thyme from za'atar-topped manoosh pizzas.
A significant local Macedonian community means you'll stumble upon plenty of burek too: flaky pastries sold in cafes for breakfast, lunch or a leisurely snack. There are several in the area but I was drawn to Balkan Oven Burek as soon as I saw all the old men in shirts and cardigans sitting out the front. The men here are in no hurry, nursing coffee and cigarettes as they catch up on all the news in a constant stream of Macedonian and Croatian chatter.
Balkan Oven Burek
WHAT IS BALKAN OVEN BUREK?
A bakery cafe serving Macedonian burek and breads.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
There’s always a queue for takeaway, but it’s much more fun to eat in, joining the hordes of locals sitting at the shaded café tables on this cosy pedestrian strip.
Spinach and cheese burek
WHAT SHOULD I ORDER
Burek is the specialty here: flaky baked pies made with multiple layers of paper-thin pastry. The burek are baked all day, tipped out piping hot from their tins and sold as family-sized whole pies ($18) or cut into quarters ($5).
The pastry layers progress from crisp and golden shards to soft waves before hitting a filling of either beef mince, cheese, or cheese and spinach. The cheese is a housemade mixture of Bulgarian and Australian fetta combined with ricotta cheese.
Meat burek with buttermilk
WHAT SHOULD I DRINK
You can jump-start your system with a cup of Macedonian coffee, boiled in a long-handled copper pot directly over flame, but the traditional drink to have with burek is buttermilk, served cold by the glass.
Kifli so sirenje
The crescent-shaped bread rolls on the counter top are kifli so sirenje, a soft yeast roll filled with a crumble of brined cheese that makes a perfect takeaway snack.
For dessert, move onto strudli so jabolko, or apple strudel: squat pastry rolls of cinnamon-spiced apples and sultanas, dusted with icing sugar and served with cream.
Strudli so jabolko apple strudel
Slatki or traditional sweets [clockwise from bottom left]:
Pogacha traditional wedding bread
- Two birds represent the bride and groom
Freshly baked burek
Macedonian coffee is brewed by hand over a gas flame
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This article appears in the March 2011 issue of Time Out Sydney in my monthly Food & Drink column Eat This!
More Time Out Sydney reviews:
ATL Marantha, Kensington (Indonesian fried chicken with edible bones)
Durban Dish, Baulkham Hills (South African bunny chow)
Hijazi's Falafel, Arncliffe (Lebanese breakfast)
Island Dreams Cafe, Lakemba (Christmas Islands cuisine)
La Paula, Fairfield (Chilean empanadas, lomitos and sweets)
Sea Sweet, Parramatta (Lebanese sweet kashta cheese burger)
Sizzling Fillo, Lidcombe (Filipino pork hock crackling)
Tehran, Granville (Persian cuisine)
Tuong Lai, Cabramatta (Vietnamese sugar cane prawns)
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2/25/2011 02:01:00 a.m.