Christmas Foodie Tour 2011

On last year’s tour, it was steeenkin’ hot.  On this year’s, it rained.  But neither the heat nor the rain dampened the fun or enthusiasm of our Annual Christmas Degustation Trek, organised by the wonderful Natascha Mirosch along with Sally Lynch.  The theme this year was Russian, Greek and Italian. We came, we bussed, we conquered – and boy it was good.

Our first stop: Samios Foods. We were greeted by the owner who entertained us with charming stories of how his family came to Australia long ago, setting up shop in 1934. Tales of childhood and heritage had us all laughing. Now, with Stamios – don’t be fooled by the façade – inside this store is the most amazing array of European goodies. Harboured in every available nook, cranny and shelf are yummies from everywhere. And whilst he regaled us with great tales, we were offered a breakfast of dolmades, an array of wonderful cheeses, Greek coffees and Baklava. Time to browse the shelves, and I found wonderful goodies to share with my family this Christmas. Too many. I settled for jars of honeyed nuts, hand made halva, some of these wonderful dolmades and a few other goodies.

Back on the bus, and we head to our next destination. There is much chatter and comparison of purchases, and intended use. I am eyeing off Barbara from Winosandfoodies dried oregano with remorse. It looked amazing.  Our next stop: Pennisi Cuisine, a huge (and once again, unassuming from the outside) store that carries an amazing range of Italian and European goods. I have been told that Pennisi is the ultimate cheese destination in town. They boast over 177 varieties of cheese in store. It says so right outside.

More cheese to be sampled, along with jamon, smoked sausage, olives and more. It was most amusing watching little European housewives give a barge and biff to push through us so they good taste what was being offered us.Here, I snaffled pure chocolate powder, Manchego cheese, Jamon and some raspberry mustard.

Back on the bus, more chat and comparison, and this time we head to  Ruski Way Deli. Ruski was a complete contrast to the previous two stops, being a small, modern and new shop. The array was just as impressive though: Eastern European delicacies like Napoleon cakes, Russian chocolates, marinated smallgoods and home made goodies. We were treated to a Russian tea complete with Samovars set out for us on tables, sandwiched between by tempting items including bread with plump Russian caviar, eggplant purée, sliced sausage, and an array of sweet meats and cakes. Here I had to buy marinated mushrooms, Russian mayonnaise, eggplant puree, chocolate and more.

And complete with accessories: a bread necklace! :) I heard that Karen from The Word on Food found the most incredible marshmallow here. I will have to revisit! Back on the bus, we head to Sally’s home for a tea tasting, wine tasting, beer tasting (hic!) and lunch. (Like we were hungry!)

On arrival, May King from MayKing tea (yes, that is her real name) greeted us with a delicious iced tea. I wrote about May King’s tea tasting here.  Once refreshed, we gathered in La Taverna – as Sal referred to her rooms – for a wine tasting, led by Renae from Clovely Estate.

Followed closely by a beer tasting by  Matt Kirkegaard  (check out his Belgian blond ale La Chouffee.)

And a wonderful, wonderful meal of a variety of appetisers followed by Pork Belly Apple Fennel Salad, Smoked Trout Soba Noodle Salad, Banana Flower Salad with Shredded Chicken, Roasted Veg with Creamy Feta and Roquette Dressing followed by dessert of Black Rice with Mango and Coconut Milk with Palm Sugaso and Plum cake with clotted cream. YUM!

Thanks so much to Natascha and Sally for organising this tour again this year. I can’t wait to do it again next year. If you have never done a Taste Trekker food tour, then please try to. They are indeed, awesome.

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