Don't ask Kelly what her favourite cuisine is! She would probably rattle off a dozen or so. Being such a foodie, she was thrilled to join Maeve O'Meara on one of her fantastic Gourmet Food Safaris.
Australia is blessed with an enormous variety of food influenced by people who have come to live here. Greek, Italian, Thai, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Indian. You name it and you can probably find ingredients to make your own or dine on someone else's creations.
So, with an empty tummy, Kelly joined Maeve on a tour of Auburn, one of Sydney's western suburbs. It's a real melting pot mainly Turkish, but with Afghanis, Bosnians, Somalis and Vietnamese. It's a place of many languages, colour and fabulous food.
You will see the beautiful Gallipoli Mosque, an Ottoman-style building, complete with silver minaret. It is a place of worship used primarily by Turkish Australians, and is the largest mosque in Australia.
Turkish food was the order of the day, and if your experience there has been kebabs and Turkish delight, you are in for a taste-sensational experience.
It all begins with a Turkish coffee or tea in an Aladdin's cave of a cafe to learn about some of the food and ingredients you are about to enjoy.
Gima Market is crammed with ingredients and produce for you to use at home. Thick Turkish yoghurt, fig jam, fairy floss, goat cheese, apple tea and pretty glasses to serve it in, breads coated in sesame seeds and copper coffee makers. It's an eye-opening education.
Maeve explains the staples and then you have a taste test with Mohammed, the store owner. He really enjoys introducing people to a new cuisine. He told Kelly many who have visited on one of Maeve's tours have become regular customers.
Real Turkish Delight
Owner Baha Pekuzun started making Turkish delight in Turkey and continued the tradition when he arrived in Australia in 1970 with his young family. What began as a hobby in the kitchen at home grew very quickly and now it's a big and sparkling operation, run with the help of Baha's two sons and daughter.
They manufacture around 60 tonnes of the sweet every year and it is sent Australia-wide.
Traditional Turkish delight flavours of rose, vanilla and mint are there, some with almonds or pistachios, but they have added new flavours. Orange, hazelnut, coconut and chocolate covered.
There are also wonderfully tempting chocolates and biscuits and they will assemble hampers for very lucky recipients.
Ottoman Turkish Bathhouse & Gym
The only bathhouse of its kind in Sydney, Ottoman is in Granville, a few minutes from Auburn. It's basically for women only but men can visit on Wednesdays and Saturdays after 8pm.
The history of the Turkish bath goes back many hundreds of years, and began out of necessity. In Ottoman times, houses didn't have running water, so families went to a communal bathhouse.
It's highly unlikely that in those days women could relax and enjoy the pleasures they can today. Spa, hairdresser, waxing, facials, nails and make-up are all there in Granville. There's a solarium gym, cafe, huge terrace where authentic Turkish cuisine and beverages are served, and they even a child minding service.
Known as 'hamam' there is a spa, central massage slab and marble basins. Temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius causing sweating and the pores to open as you lie on the slab. An attendant appears to scrub your skin with an exfoliating mitt, followed by a loofah and natural soap treatment.
It is a wonderfully exhilarating experience leaving you refreshed and squeaky clean!
A taste of Turkey in Sydney's western suburbs.
Gourmet Safaris five-hour Turkish Walking Tours of Auburn are $115 per person. They include coffee, guided tour tastings, lunch and a visit to the Gallipoli mosque. They also have On Wheels bus tours ranging from $130 to $140. They include transport, coffee, tastings and lunch. Banquet lunches are $120, including wine. Check their website for dates at www.gourmetsafaris.com.au
Gima Market is open between Monday and Saturday from 8am to 10pm and on Sunday between 9am and 9pm.
Real Turkish Delight is open every day except Sunday.
Ottoman Turkish Baths and Gym entry is $25. Body exfoliation is $15. It is open every day between 9am and 8pm. It is open for males only on Wednesdays and Sundays between 8pm and midnight.
Prices correct at November 19, 2011.
For further information
Box 877, Post Office
Neutral Bay 2089
Ph: (02) 8969 6555
Fax: (02) 8969 6222
31-35 Queen Street
Ph: (02) 9749 4588
Real Turkish Delight
3-5 Station Street
Ph: (02) 9649 9787
Fax: (02) 9649 9111
Ottoman Turkish Baths and Gym
Cnr Clyde Street & Wellington Road
South Granville 2142
Ph: (02) 9897 7738