On Saturday 5 March, thirteen keen ladies from Canberra took the bus to Cabramatta and were met by Peter Nguyen, a passionate ambassador for Vietnamese culture. Under Peter's expert guidance, we followed him on a wonderful walking tour as he took us through the heart of this vibrant community.
We started our tour at Phu Quac, a small local restaurant where we experienced the authentic taste of Vietnamese iced coffee, made with plenty of chunky ice and condensed milk. After the long trip and on such a hot day, the cool, sweet, refreshing drink was most welcome. We then went on to Vinata's hot bread shop. Peter had organised for trays of delicious rolls to be brought out to us for tasting. Sydney is experiencing a ‘pork roll competition’ and the signs and pictures of the advertising material on the wall of Vinata's screamed out that their rolls were the best! After tasting the delicious filling inside the crisp fresh bread roll, everyone agreed that these were definitely the best pork rolls any of us had ever tasted.
From Vinata's we walked down to the Lions gate at the entrance to Freedom Plaza. On our way ,we passed a multitude of fabric stores and other shops selling Vietnamese goods. When we reached the Lions gate we took the opportunity for a group photo before setting out to visit the fresh fruit and vegetable groceries that abound in this area. We moved through several of the market stands, and Peter showed us the many herbs, fruit and vegetables that make up the majority of fresh foods in Vietnamese cuisine. We had the opportunity to smell and taste a selection of the more popular ones before being taken to experience the Vietnamese Gatorade and a soft green waffle, known as the Kryponite waffle.
Our next visit was to the T & T Supermarket. We wound our way through the streets passing street squatters, elderly ladies who sat on milk crates selling a variety of fresh herbs and vegetables. Some of us made purchases of chopped lemon grass and other goodies from these ladies. Once at the supermarket, Peter gathered us around a table of a range of authentic Vietnamese products. He shared his knowledge about some of the more popular ingredients such as rice paper wrappers, the different grades of fish sauce, chilli sauce and other Vietnamese condiments. After learning about these items, many took the opportunity to purchase some items so we could practise some authentic Vietnamese cooking in our own kitchens.
As our tour came to an end we walked back through the streets of Cabramatta, and took in more of the specialties of Vietnam. We walked through the store that sold Sydney’s ‘best’ dim sims. In the markets we tasted snake fruit, custard apples, rambutan and logans. We were shown lotus stems, many varieties of mangos and a range of Vietnamese herbs grown locally at Badgeries Creek. The grand finale was a delicious meal at the end of our tour back at the Phu Quac restaurant. Thank you to Marg Collins for organising such a fantastic day.