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Maiwand Bakery - Afghan Cultural Tour

Springvale, Footscray, Dandenong…though not necessarily the most obvious precincts on the destination list for visitors to Melbourne, these multicultural neighbourhoods offer a fascinating insight into Melbourne’s migrant history; the cultural traditions, fashions, and delicious flavours. These alternative food tours provide the perfect introduction to Melbourne food on the fringe of the city.

Angie Chong’s Sensational Springvaleimage Angie Chong, daughter of television food icon, Elizabeth Chong, has stepped into her mother’s shoes and is offering new guided-walking tours of multicultural Springvale. An easy trip from Melbourne’s city centre, this fascinating exploration of Springvale will stimulate both the mind and the taste buds.

A Vietnamese chicken or pork baguette from Bun Bun Bakery sets guests up nicely for the three-hour tour and as the group passes the Chinese medicine shop, Angie explains the close cultural connection between food and medicine. Lewis from Golden Lakes Cakes and Roast then offers meat samplings of duck, pork and beef while he provides insights into the generations of Asian families that have prospered in the area since the large influx of immigrants in the 1950s. Springvale Market is the next stop, a one-stop-shop for the freshest ingredients to make yum cha, dumplings, Asian fish, and all of the other recipes that Angie reels off as she peruses the produce.

Delicious savoury mini pancakes, Bò Lá Lót (beef wrapped in betel leaves) and other delicious morsels are then tasted at Hoang Yen, Vietnamese & Chinese Restaurant before the tour ends at Milan Teahouse where Chinese tea master Wendy welcomes guests into her shop that is filled from floor to ceiling with decorative tea making paraphernalia. A tea ceremony follows, a perfect digestive to all the food consumed on route. Wendy has a encyclopedic knowledge of tea and explains that when consumed regularly, promises health and wellbeing benefits for all manner of ailments.

Tours cost $45 per person and run on specific days starting at 10.30am. Bookings essential, check website for next tour date.

Melbourne Food Experiences Footscray TourLying just west of Melbourne’s city centre, Footscray has long been a cultural hotspot with Italian, Greek, Irish, Indian and Vietnamese people living alongside recently arrived migrants from Ethiopia. This mix of cultures has created a unique place for food lovers to explore.

Developed by local food personality Allan Campion – who after more than 15 years as a chef turned his hand to food writing before founding Melbourne Food Experiences – the Footscray Tour  provides history and insights into many of these exciting cuisines.

Tastings start with a hot jam doughnut from the famous Olympic Doughnut van. The tour then works its way through the butchers, fishmongers and delis of the Footscray Market where guests can marvel at the market prices and sample the exotic (and not so exotic) fruit dipped in a bowl of chillied salt for an extra kick. Beyond the market, the tour offers an opportunity to try a variety of snacks at Indian food stores, sample the ricotta filled cannoli at an Italian bakery, taste sugarcane juice at Asian grocers and enjoy traditional African bread. The tour also explores the Little Saigon shopping area packed with Vietnamese food stores – perfect for foraging together the ingredients for a homemade pho or bánh mì.

The tour ends in the African precinct with a shared meal of Injera bread and fragrant Ethiopian dishes at Konjo restaurant.

This is a private tour that costs $675 for up to five guests and can be organised any day of the week.

Afghan Bazaar Culture TourIn the truly multicultural city of Dandenong, the Afghan Bazaar Culture Tour takes visitors on a sensory exploration of Melbourne’s Afghan culture, fashion, food and music, meeting the friendly and diverse retail traders in Dandenong’s Afghan Bazaar Precinct.

Groups are led on a journey to a far flung corner of the world, throwing light on the captivating Afghan culture where exotic music, unique fashions and tantalising food combine.

The tour includes visits to speciality shops where guests can enjoy food samples that will excite the senses. One such stop is Maiwand Bakery, a speciality bread shop where the only bread they sell is made in a tandoor oven and sold in large round $1 pieces – perfect for dips. The tour also provides an introduction to Afghanistan’s long history with Australia, intriguing rugs and carpets, authentic Afghan music, including a variety of delicious food samples. Guests then share the fun of the tour over a delicious meal in a local Afghan restaurant.

The tour is part of the Greater Dandenong cultural and food tours program and costs $45 per person for two to three hours at 6pm starting from Dandenong’s Thomas Street. Bookings are essential  – next tour is 28th April, 2016.

Queenies City Centre French TourAnd for visitors who want to explore Melbourne’s multicultural food scene without leaving the city centre, ex-Masterchef contestant, Andrew Prior, offers an insight into the Melbourne love affair with all things French. Andrew set up Queenies Food Tours after his appearance on the popular reality cooking show helped him realise his dream of working in the food industry. With French cuisine his main passion, The French Tour of Melbourne is aimed at introducing visitors to some of Melbourne’s best French culinary locations and food producers. The all-day city centre tour and lunch starts with a croissant at one of Melbourne’s oldest French bakeries, and a coffee at one of Australia’s finest bread makers to uncover the secrets to French bread making. Next up is Pâté, how to make it and where to buy it, along with other fine French ingredients. Lunch follows at one of Melbourne’s finest French bistros where guests will be treated to two courses and a glass of wine.

If that wasn’t enough, after lunch tastings turn to fine chocolate and cheese at some of the city’s most reputable producers.

The tour costs $175 per person, which includes tastings at each venue, a two-course lunch with wine and a goodie bag to take home.

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