Offering a taste of Tripoli in Guildford: La Shish owner Youssef Tassir, centre, with Susan El Dirani and chef Sam Zain. Photo: Marco Del Grande
It's not one of the first destinations listed in a gourmand's guidebook, but Sydney's Guildford has its colourful surprises.
Next Saturday, a group of 20 will traverse the main food strip of Guildford to sample treats from the Tripoli region in northern Lebanon, hosted by Taste Tours as part of Good Food Month.
It will culminate with the samke harra at La Shish restaurant. The hearty serving of fish, slathered in rich tahini sauce with a sprinkling of pine nuts, was the meal co-owner Youssef Yassir regularly ate as a child in the coastal city of El Mina, in the Tripoli region.
''We lived on the water, and where I came from, we were all fishermen,'' he recalled. ''There were 12 or 13 islands, and that's where the best fish were. I learnt the dish from my father, and we still make it the traditional way.''
The number of food tours has grown in the past two years, allowing Sydneysiders itching to go beyond the traditional meat and three veg for dinner to connect with chefs, bakers and butchers of communities as diverse as those of Ethiopia, Sicily and Nepal.
A year ago, Wee Lynn Teo quit finance law and fused her love for food and knowledge-sharing in the form of her Feasting in the Know food safari business.
''Aussies are a culinarily adventurous lot, but occasionally it is useful to have a local in the know giving guidance on which of the 63 menu items the restaurant excels at, and singling out the real McCoy dishes that people of that heritage actually eat,'' said Ms Teo, a Singaporean-Australian.
''I share with my guests little secrets on the hero ingredient, or how the dish was prepared,'' added Ms Teo, who hosts themed tours through Burwood, Strathfield, Campsie and Homebush.
Restaurateur Carmel Ruggeri began Sicilian Food Tours in May and hopes it will be for the long haul. A member of Five Dock's thriving Italian-Sicilian community, she said the tour stops were her favourite provedores in the suburb.
''We will go to the gelataria and do a granita class there and have granita and brioche for breakfast,'' she said. ''Then we'll go to the butcher and do a sausage tasting and to Bar Rizzo where there's amazing arancini.''
She said the cuisine's rustic style differentiated it from broader, well-known Italian fare.
''It's much more home comfort and street food. A lot of the dishes and foods are found on the street in Sicily. A brioche or a granita can just be carried - no need for a Ford.''
ITALIAN FOOD SAFARI
October 19; 08:00am - 02:30pm
Chef Luca Ciano will host a Italian food tour which will begin at Flemington Markets in Homebush and end at Casa Barillacooking school in Annandale.
TREATS OF TRIPOLI
October 19; 10:30am - 02:30pm
Walk down Guildford Road sampling the best treats of Lebanon, from meats to pastries to pizzas. End the day with a Tripoli-style fish feast at La Shish restaurant.
FLAVOURS OF AUBURN
October 19; 12:30pm - 03:30pm
Experience Ethiopian, Somalian, Persian, Afghani and Nepalese’s cuisines during the Flavours of Auburn food festival, hosted by Auburn Council. A second tour on the day will focus on traditional and modern Turkish cuisine.
SICILIAN FOOD TOUR
October 26; 09:45am - 04:00pm
Restaurateur Carmel Ruggeri will lead a pack of foodies to her favourite Sicilian providores for granita and brioche, cannoli, sausages, cheese and salami in Five Dock. Tour includes a cooking demonstration.
BEYOND LAKSA: MALAYSIAN SAFARI
October 26; 11:00am - 02:00pm
Discover where Malaysian-Australians shop and eat by joining guide Wee Lynn Teo on a trip through Campsie. All proceeds go to OzHarvest.
For more information visit www.goodfoodmonth.com