Food, Food, Flavourful Food – Melbourne’s Flavourhood Food walking tour
I am so full I could burst. We have just waddled out of our last food stop on a walking food tour of Sydney Road & Lygon Street in Brunswick with Rafaella from Flavourhood Tours. What a great way to spend a sunny afternoon in Melbourne.
We started our tour on Sydney Road. Rafaella introduced herself and explained that we will be experiencing some amazing tastes, smells and cuisines as we walk the streets of bustling Brunswick.
Rafaella is warm, friendly and passionate about food and very knowledgeable about this area so we knew we were in for a treat.
Our first stop was the sweet-smelling deliciousness of Balha’s Pastry on Sydney Road. They specialise in Lebanese pastries, from the sticky sweet nut baklava to an assortment of biscuits, cakes & coffee. We were offered a variety of different sweets to try and although it was hard to choose, I think my favourite was the cashew baklava.
Continuing on with the sweet theme, our next stop was Ratio Cocoa Roasters on Sydney Road. Using the art of bean to bar traditional chocolate making techniques, they create handcrafted individually flavoured chocolates. Taking us through the whole process of creating chocolate, from how they source their beans, what they look for in sustainable cocoa plantations overseas and the different types of beans available. They make their dark chocolate from just cocoa nibs and raw sugar, while milk chocolate has milk powder and cocoa butter added. Apparently, the commercial chocolates we buy have lots of other things added and are not as pure. At the end of the tour, we had a tasting plate of the different types of chocolate they produce. Some were so smooth, they just melted in your mouth.
Coffee goes well with chocolate, so we walked around the corner to Code Black Coffee House. The black on black décor and the aromatic smell of coffee as we walked in the door was welcoming. Here we had an assortment of different tasting plates, from salads to desserts. They cater very well for vegans and vegetarians. They even made us a coffee cocktail to go with the food.
After our Sydney Road experiences, we hopped into a minivan and drove the short way to Lygon Street. Rafaella led us down Sunshine Lane where we saw some incredible street art. Who knew Brunswick had some of the best street art in Melbourne? We do now.
Our first stop on Lygon Street was Alisha’s Café Collective. Here we met the owner, Hasna and her lovely mother. They are Indian Muslims and have created this amazing place that feels more like a community centre than a café. Hasna is very funny and makes you feel like you are part of her family. Her mother showed us how to make Besan battered vegies with sweet potato and pumpkin. Delicious. If you want a relaxing cultural vegetarian food experience, Alisha’s is the place to go.
We boarded a tram for the short ride to Kumo Izakaya a contemporary Japanese Restaurant with a huge selection of sake to sample. They serve “izakaya” style Japanese food, which is a bit like Spanish tapas; lots of smaller dishes to share. The food was fresh, flavoursome and delicious. I’ve not experienced a lot of Japanese food before, besides sushi, so this was an amazing experience for me. The different types of sake to go with the different foods was also an eye-opening experience. Who knew there was a dessert sake? I can now add Japanese to the list of foods I need to try more.
The last stop of our tour was Bar Idda . A celebration of all things Sicilian. Using fresh ingredients and recipes from his parent’s homeland, owner Alfredo, creates an amazing array of different dishes which we sampled and washed down with some Sicilian wine of course.
My mum lives in Brunswick so I thought I knew the area well. Boy was I wrong.
With Rafaella showing us around this area, giving us the history of the buildings and migrant stories and then experiencing the different foods, sampling the sweet and the savory, it made for a wonderfully cultural afternoon.
Just remember… don’t eat before you go.
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