Part 2: The Spice Trail @Taste Tours

The tour continues, pounding the pavement of Merrylands with anticipation. We were led by our wonderful guides Latife and Parastoo. After a great start to the Taste Tour from Afghanistan to Persia, we’d been to a Persian sweet shop, an Afghani bakery, a Persian supermarket, a Turkish Diner and an Afghani kebab shop. Having already experienced so much, it was hard to fathom that there was so much more to come. We are led to visit a shop that is not food related: The Khosh Rang Boutique. This boutique specialises in traditional Afghani outfits, jewellery and high quality fabrics including silks, often worn for special ceremonies. 

Walking along the street, on the way to our next destination we were pulled into a bakery called Persian Bakery for an impromptu visit. This bakery prepares an Iraqi sweet called dahini made with tahini, honey and slow cooked for 10-12 hours in the oven. This produced an amazing sweet caramelized, creamy, toasty treat. We are informed they are the only family in Sydney that sell it.

We then made our way to the intended destination, a Persian restaurant called Saffron. We were welcomed into the restaurant for a sit down meal. We learnt about the family run restaurant and sampled some hearty options from the menu. Saffron restaurant tabled some flavoursome soup and lentils to start, which was followed by some colourful rice dishes. One rice dish of saffron and pomegranate, the other broad bean and dill, both perfectly accompanied two nicely fragrant spice of the lamb stew and the Ghemish stew.

Latife and Parastoo used the sit down meal as a fantastic opportunity to get to know the rest of the people enjoying the tour. They prompted some fun and engagement by encouraging all tour members to share a bit about themselves, including the strangest food we have tried and our favourite type of food. Our touring companions were from all over Sydney, Including a work group from the Northern Beaches, a group of friends from the inner city, another husband and wife combo as well as an individual who had attended a few of the other tours, loved them and returned for more.

Now on to another Persian supermarket, this one is quite large, with fruit, veg, nuts, spices and a butcher on top of a range of other goodies. We sampled some cherry juice and browsed the aisles. The pickles and Persian fairy floss were well sought after. We also purchased some fresh honeycomb for a good price.

Then on to a definite standout, this restaurant called Kabul House. We love dumplings, but who knew Afghani’s had their own version called mantu and damn, they were impressive. With two types of freshly made mantu hitting the table, vegetable and lamb mince. Both equally impressive topped with a spiced yogurt sauce, these things are so good they will draw us back to Merrylands for some more.

The tour finished on a sweet note at Shiraz Persian dessert bar. We had passed Shiraz earlier and spotted some enticing cakes on the counter. Walking in, I noticed the ice cream cabinet and was hoping to sample some of that goodness. We were all seated and were excited to see the ice cream arriving at the table. The ice cream was a saffron ice cream served some sweet crunchy noodles for texture. The table also had some sour cherry and lemon syrup to counter the sweetness. Unable to resist the cake, we wanted to find out more. Apparently the name of the cake does not translate into English. A layered cake with a crisp pastry top covering a sweet saffron sponge cake, with layers of nuts and the sweet and interesting flavour of the carrot jam. 

We finished the tour with each of us sharing what our favourite food of the day.

This is a well run and inclusive tour, an eye opener to the positives of the Merrylands community. The people of the area are warm, generous and welcoming and the food is diverse and downright delicious. We highly recommend this tour, it is insightful and makes for a great day out. Explore the area with those in the know. Check out the Taste Tours website make a booking to see and taste for yourself.

Thanks again to Ompty Media for introducing us and to Taste Tours for inviting us to explore Merrylands.

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