We’ve been a bit slack lately. At the start of the year, we thought we would make a resolution – at least once a fortnight, we would visit a part of Sydney that we’d never been to. Up until late February, it had happened exactly zero times…until we finally made the decision to drive out to Auburn for a meal and a little bit of grocery shopping. It’s really only 45 minutes drive from our place to Auburn, but we’ve just never made the effort to go out there for a visit.
Our first stop was lunch at Sofra Restaurant! By the time we got to Auburn, I was getting more than a little hangry, snapping at K for every little sentence that he dared to utter. Knowing that we were going to be buying bits and pieces from different shops to snack on during the afternoon, we decided to share a single Mixed Grill Plate.
Topped with a generous serve of Lebanese bread, the plate of roasted-to-order meats arrived quickly. The chargrilled chicken was probably my favourite bit – charred and black on the outside but tender and moist on the inside, it really couldn’t be beat. Note – make sure you have some mints on hand, as the plate is loaded up with raw onions and you will be left with a bit of a tang on your tongue!
Our next stop was at Farouk El Bahsa & Sons Pastries. I find myself wondering whether the owner is of any relation to another of my favourite baklava shops – Chehade El Bahsa & Sons Sweets in Bankstown. It is a similar concept, displayed in the same way – slabs upon slabs of Lebanese sweets and pastries laid out behind glass along a large counter running the length of the store.
Like Chehade El Bahsa & Sons, they sell by the kilo or half kilo – or by single slices if you can restrain yourself to buying in small quantities which I never can. We walked away with a kilo of a variety of sweets – baklava, ladies fingers, pistachio nut slices, and more. Unfortunately, the full kilo of sweets wasn’t just for us! We had a family lunch the next day, so we took it along as our contribution to the meal.
Gima Supermarket is an icon in Auburn – and is a real destination supermarket for many people of Turkish descent, as the largest Sydney stockist of goods and groceries from that area of the world. We were very much the outsiders while we were there – while we were treated politely and with smiles, there were still some questioning looks as to why we were shopping there rather than around the corner at the Asian supermarket!
Part of it was pure curiosity on our part – K and I love visiting supermarkets in the different countries that we visit, as a real snapshot into what and how people eat in different countries. I loved seeing the massive 1, 2, 5, 10 litre containers of yoghurt and feta cheese in the refrigerator at Gima Supermarket. You can definitely see how dairy plays a part in the diet!
The produce section was a little bit different as well, featuring certain chillies and capsicum that you wouldn’t normally find in a standard Coles or Woolworths supermarket – or even our usual Asian grocery stores.
We ended up walking away with a few bakery items, a few jars of sauces and chutneys, and some large bags of dried pulses as well. There’s some great deals to be found at Gima Supermarket, especially if you’re planning on cooking a Turkish, Lebanese or Moroccan inspired meal as ingredients like dukkah or bulgur can be found here for half the price of anywhere else.
A trip to Auburn isn’t complete without buying a 1 metre long Afghan bread for only $1.20 from New Afghan Bread. That’s a metre worth of hot delicious soft yet crispy flatbread, hot out of the tandoor, for only $1.20. You could save it for a later meal…or you could do what I did, and gradually rip pieces off and eat as you walk around Auburn. How could I resist when it was still warm and toasty?
We finished off our afternoon in Auburn by wandering down the Chinese side of Auburn, ducking into supermarkets to pick up some of our staples (Chinese pickled cabbage, dry noodles, tofu) and to check out some of the shops. It was surprising to see how much cheaper some of the groceries were in Auburn compared to what we would normally pay in Chatswood. Some things like beef mince were $1.50 cheaper per kilo in Auburn, and even veggies from the greengrocer were cheaper per kilo as well.
I’d like to add Auburn onto our list of regular shopping areas – even if it is only once a month or once every two months. Making savings on non-perishable things like bulk packs of dried lentils and pulses and other items like that would make the trip out more than worthwhile. I’ll be back!