Ever since Charlotte’s Persian Excursion on How to Shuck an Oyster, I’ve been hankering for Halal, informing Llewie a while back that I wanted to spend my birthday on Saturday checking out Auburn, home to any number of Sydney’s Turks, Afghanis and Iranians in a general melting pot that includes Chinese and Nigerians. For a foodie, this all spells excitement. We spent birthday morning making the most of the beautiful day, going for a short recovery run (I made merry with a couple of friends at the Australian Hotel on Friday night, successfully booting my doldrums well beyond city limits, but leaving me with a rather thick head next day), followed by a swim in the beautiful Pacific (water temperature a brisk 18 degrees), and then we hopped into the Welsh Dragon with coffees and apples and drove out west. From Man Town, it was an hour’s drive, and we were dangerously ravenous by the time we parked the car near Auburn train station.
Llew had some tips from colleagues who live locally, but we did the requisite familiarisation lap while weighing up lunch options. Eventually we decided on a roving meal. We took the advice of Llew’s workmate and sat down for kebab and pide at Murat and Ziya’s Sofra (35-39 Auburn Rd, Auburn, 9649 9167), sharing the mixed kebab plate (succulent chicken, beef and lamb pieces served with fresh tomato, onion and squares of piping hot pide) and barely making a dent in the huge, delicious ground lamb pide pizza. It was so scrumptious, but despite Llew’s valiant attempt, it was clear we’d need to take the rest home, and it’s taken me two days of concerted effort to finish it off. Well worth the trouble, I assure you.
After rolling away from Sofra clutching our bursting guts, we waddled down Queen St and basically chucked a lap around Auburn. That’s when I noticed the birds. After reading Woo’s recent post on the subject of Sydney’s springtime swooping birds, I’d been feeling a little nervy, having been victim of a vicious head peck in the past, and I couldn’t help noticing a very agitated group of mynah birds in a couple of trees lining one of the backstreets. We hurried past, but as we walked beneath the trees, a mynah came flying toward us at warp speed. It flew directly at us like a locked missile. I leapt out of its way, now knowing for sure we were travelling too close to its nesting ground, but as we briskly continued on our way, the bird came back, clipping the back of my head. It was all over very quickly, but I can confirm that being swooped shakes you up. Llew later admitted thinking I was paranoid right up until it attacked.
The small tarnish on the happy birthday feeling was soon alleviated by our arrival at Real Turkisk Delight (Shop 1/3-5 Station Road, Auburn, 9649 9787). I’m eating an icing sugar-dusted square of the rose original right now, and it (and the second piece, and the third…) is delicious. Okay… I need to put it away now… step back from the Turkish Delight… Give me a minute while I take this box into the next room out of harm’s way…
I’m back, wiping icing sugar off my gob.
We bought several take-home packs as hard-to-part-with gifts, and they have a number of variations including one with almond, another with pistachio and more. Real Turkish Delight is also a fine chocolatier, so the shopfront smells wonderful, and they have a mouth-watering selection. Back over the bridge, we continued on until we found ourselves at Ismet Mutlu’s Butchery (8 Civic Rd, Auburn, 9643 1686), spying the Turkish smoked sausage parmak sucuk hanging on hooks behind the counter. We chose a fat chilli version before heading into the nearby Sweets House (12 Civic St, Auburn, 9749 2915) for some take-away baklava and an Iranian cake that had surprise hints of pepper when we finally got around to scoffing it yesterday at home. A final inspection blitz included the small arcades loaded with cramped Money Transfer offices and whole families shouting orders across glass-top counters groaning with bargain meats. On the other end of Queen St, next we found the local market and its tasty selection of olives, anchovies and Persian spun sugar, the foodie’s fairy floss, before happily stumbling across New Afghan Bread (1 Beatrice St, Auburn, 9643 9633), where a couple of bucks scored us two large rounds of fresh-baked traditional Afghan bread straight from the oven. More than satisfied with our haul for home, we retired to Akif Karapinar’s well-known Mado Cafe (63 Auburn Rd, Auburn, 9643 5299), which specialises in Turkish cuisine, particularly ice cream and sweets. Its calm interior seemed far from the madding crowd, and the service was equally unhurried. Llew tried a Turkish coffee – I opted for Turkish tea, already knowing the silty Turkish blend is not my preference – and we shared a dessert plate. More baklava, which I adore, in a selection including a strange green concoction that was probably pistachio-based, and the famous Maras ice-cream, which is traditionally eaten using a knife and fork due to its unusual consistency. The firmness is apparently caused by an ingredient the menu also suggests is an aphrodisiac, orchid root. Indeed, check the back of the menu for more curious Turkish ‘facts’ – we enjoyed them almost as much as the ice cream.
Over-indulged at every turn, it was time for us to head for home. We did make one final stop: Wing Fat’s butchery opposite the station. Eye-wateringly cheap eye fillet and lip-smacking lamb chops were both simply too tempting to leave behind.
As you can probably tell, I ended up having a great birthday festival. It turns out Persian product makes me perky.