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Food, Travel, Inside Story

City of Dandenong Discovery Tour with Maeve O'Meara

Around the world in Dandenong! The World Loves Melbourne was part of an exciting City of Dandenong Discovery Tour with Maeve O'Meara from SBS Food Safari and her own tour company Gourmet Safaris. Here we have one of the most compelling foodie experiences in Australia only a one hour drive from Melbourne. Dandenong is the place for rich diverse communities where the food and cultural experiences are compelling, including delights from West Africa, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, The Balkans and Mauitius, Poland, Persia, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Uyghur. This tour is one of our highlights for the year.

Here at Polish Rye Crust Bakery Andrew delivered an impressive masterclass in baking smoky salty pretzels. These Polish style pretzels contain no preservatives and are dipped in a mixture to give them their fine texture and colour. Polish Rye Bakery is a multi award winning family owned and operated Polish bakery. Come here to imbibe their finest cakes, biscuits, pies, sweets, sandwiches, soups, salads, bagels, pretzels, baguettes and croissants.

Andrew also impressed with his doughnuts...

Breads, and in particular, the Sourdough are standouts.

Our tour then walked around to fabulous Uncle's Smallgoods, where Bert Glinka and Brendan D'Amelio, left their corporate jobs to pursue their passion for smallgoods. The boys grew up visiting this iconic Dandenong deli and when the owners of the deli told them they were thinking of retiring and selling up, Bert and Brendan jumped at the opportunity to buy the business. They haven't changed the traditional production methods, but rather learnt all the processes, and the smallgoods remain handmade.

Uncle's has a smokehouse on site where Polish sausages, smoked ham and bacon are produced. We were taken out the back to the smokehouse to check out the Italian sausages and Chorizo being smoked at the time.

The boys gave us a rundown of the smoking process and exuded their passion for smallgoods.

Uncle's Smallgoods is a hub for Poles to hang out as a meeing place and serves up a rustic menu including smoky bacon and Polish sausage...

Maiwand Supermarket is a compelling and unique destination selling Iranian, Afghan and middle-eastern groceries and quality halal meats. They also provide all that you need for a feast from dried nuts and fruits, sugar coated almonds, safron crystalised sugar, digestive syrups and bulk-buy pulses.

Maeve showed us the safron chrystalised sugar treats, not something we see every day.

These treats included toffee and pistachio and were moorish...

A butcher's section had this goat leg for sale, ready for your goat curry.

The Maiwand Bakery around the corner was a highlight. Jawad the baker, originally from Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan, throws flatbread in the oven thousands of times a week. 

The skilled artisans at Maiwand Bakery make the bread on site in traditional clay ovens. The ovens are set up in the shop so customers can see the process from start to finish. Maiwand sells thousands of flatbreads a week and that's not surprising as they are a bargain at 75 cents! The bread above was crispy with slight saltiness, and we couldn't stop eating the sample we were given.

With some $270 million poured into the Dandenong precinct by the State Government, the city is looking fine.

Another highlight of our tour was our session at MKS Spices 'n Things, a large specialty retailer which stocks Indian, Asian and Sri Lankan groceries.

Maeve introduced us to Raja and his team, who put on a feast of delights just for our tour.

Maeve pointed out some fascinating foodie items such as the Drumstick leaves for your curries. The store is filled with vibrant spices, condiments, rice, fresh fruit and vegetables, and an Indian cafe serving goat curry, fried sprat, and a good selection of Indian food.

Maeve also introduced us to Curry Leaf trees, also for curry cooking.

Rob's British Butcher was a lively stop with Rob in full cry as a British character of note. Rob Boyle has owned Rob's British Butchers for 30 years and seems equally passionate about AFL as he is about English soccer. People travel from all over Melbourne and the world to visit this gem. Rob supplies top hotels with his products and loves the diversity of Dandenong.

Rob lights up in showing us his super popular gourmet ham...

Apart from the produce, the store itself is eclectic...

To The World Loves Melbourne's delight, out came the Haggis, offal with a touch of spice.

A unique experience was our lunch at Tengri Tag restaurant, a Uyghur (pronounced wee-gur) delight and family owned restaurant. Uyghurs are mainly Turkic people from Central Asia, between Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The culture and cuisine is unique. 

Tengri Tag's signature dishes include handmade noodles with spicy chicken, beef, lamb, or vegetables; shish kebabs; and polos (rice platters also known as pilaf) with lamb or chicken.

This mint tea below was exquisite...

This is rustic food with subtle spices.

A1 Bakery were the final stop and a destination of Lebanese joy. A1 Bakery take great pride in serving traditional authentic Middle eastern and Lebanese food that delights the taste buds. They use the freshest ingredients to create delicious tasty pizzas, dips and sweets. Due to the large demand for Middle Eastern food products, A1 Bakery stock a large range of grocery products direct from all over the Middle East and Lebanon.

The three boys, Sam, Eddie and Leo Abdallah brought us amazing food and many laughs at a memorable stop. This Znoud el sit dessert with crispy pastry filled with clotted cream, topped with orange blossom jam and accompanied by cardamon.

And strong coffee to boot...

This tour is exceptional as you encounter experiences that are unique and bespoke.

Dandenong has so much to offer and we highly recommend a visit.

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