Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day trip to Cabramatta

My long time friend Carol Selva Rajah has been hosting tours to Cabramatta for 20 years. I attended one of her first tours with my daughter Lucy – she was 5 years old and I recall she loved the Vietnamese duck soup. So it was fitting that I went along to celebrate Carol’s milestone late last year. Sadly Lucy lives in London now and couldn’t make it.

The group with Carol (in white) in the middle

We headed off bright and early on a Saturday morning and while some things at Cabramatta have changed since my first visit, many have stayed the same.  The bright towering displays of fresh produce are certainly the same.  Back then, of course, many of the herbs, fruit and vegetables sold in Cabramatta were alien to most of us, nowadays coriander is about as common as iceberg lettuce!

Carol at one of the vibrant fruit & vegetable stores

It was fabulous to have insider knowledge of where to go for the best of everything at Cabramatta and Carol didn’t disappoint.  I was especially enamoured with the produce.

Banana flowers – commonly used to made a salad with coconut cream and prawns

And the pork!
Behind the scenes at the pork roasting house

Then it was time for lunch at Lina Lam’s modern Vietnamese restaurant, Ban Truong (42 John Street, Cabramatta 2166 – telephone 02 9727 4492), where we met Dai Le, the former ABC journalist wife of Markus Lambert, PR Manager at Fairfield Council.

Margaret Fulton with Dai Lee
As you would expect lunch featured many new and innovative examples of Vietnamese cuisine.
As well as Australian wines, we sipped sake cocktails made from Australian sake from the Sun-Masamune Brewery at Penrith. Refreshing and deliciously sour.

Sake Cocktail
Now to the food:
Goi Bo Bop Thau - Beef & Mango Salad 
Nem Nuong Xa Cay - Chargrilled pork mince on lemongrass skewers
  Vit Xi Muoi - Main Meal of Seared Duck with plum sauce & steamed okra   
Ca Cha Ca –Triple flavour fishcake in clear soup garnished with dill 
Chao tom – Chargrilled Prawn paste on sugarcane skewers
Chem Nuong La Choi – Chargrilled whole Perch wrapped in banana leaves
Chuoi Nuong la Dua – Banana cooked with pandan, served with sago and coconut custard
These dishes made up a wonderful banquet.  To experience a similar banquet, some of the dishes will need to be ordered in advance, namely the triple flavour fishcakes, seared duck in plum sauce and the banana cooked with pandan.
Thanks for a great day Carol!

Click here for more information about Carol’s tours.

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