This weekend I went on a two hour walking tour run by Auburn Council to visit some of Auburn’s hidden food gems. As a local, I felt a little weird about going on a tour in my own neighbourhood. But from the moment we reached our first destination, I was learning so much about the cultural traditions behind the food and the stories of the business owners making and selling it. It really gave me a new sense of respect for Auburn's diverse and authentic food culture. 

Our first blink-and-you-miss-it destination was to the Best Falafel in Auburn. I have driven past it plenty of times but not once noticed it. The shop is small and definitely nothing fancy, but once you taste the falafel that top chefs from Dubai travel to Australia to taste, nothing else matters. Owner and falafel maker, Jamal, has been creating the delicious vegetarian treats for 53 years. He uses only the best quality spices for his mixture, which he also sells to customers and businesses. Jamal's son said, even when using the same mixture, no one can make the falafels as good as his father.

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The next stop on the trip was Australia’s first Afghan Bakery. The bread is made fresh daily in the traditional Afghan way and supplies many stores in the local region. I bought home a bag of two huge pieces for just $2.30. I used it for garlic bread that night and then grilled cheese the following morning for an easy Sunday morning breakfast. We then popped into the Turkish bakery next door where we got to sample some of the beautiful pides.

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After that, we walked to the Sahar Super Market where we got to try some of the delicious nuts and sun dried fruits that the store freshly stocks and sells. We also got to try a refreshing pomegranate drink before we walked to our next destination, the Alkhaleej Restaurant. At the restaurant, we shared tasting plates of flavoured rice, tender lamb shank, grilled chicken and the best kafta I’ve ever had when eating out.

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To top off a fabulous tasting day, we went to Farouk El Bahsa & Sons Pastries for dessert. Here, we shared a tasting plate of Lebanese baklava, semolina sweets and cakes. The sweets are freshly made on site and supply to many stores in the area. I bought some delicious treats to bring back home to share with my family, however, a couple of them seemed to disappear before they even made it to the table (oops).

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Our guides, Rosie and Benay were very knowledgeable about Auburn, food and the cultural connections. Having never visited any of the places that we were taken to on the tour, I learnt so much about what is in my own backyard. I can’t wait to revisit every place to try some more delicious food made by some wonderful, hardworking Auburn locals. The places we visited can be found on Auburn Road and Beatrice Street in Auburn. The food tour cost $40 and included tastings, a canvas bag, copy of the Auburn recipe book as well as heaps of interesting stories. Keep an eye on the Cultural Tours section of the Auburn Council website for upcoming tours and revisit our Suburban Spotlight on Auburn post for more information on Auburn's food spots. Both locals and visitors to Auburn can get a lot out of these tours. 

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