Take a tour of Lebanon – no visa required

Cooking, like languages, is one of those things best learnt in situ: total cultural immersion means total cultural absorption, we think. Want to cook great Lebanese? Jump on a plane and get chopping.

All very well and good, you say, but it’s not that easy to long-haul from Sydney.

Now help is at hand in the form of new Middle-Eastern themed cooking tours – or ‘progressive brunches’ as they like to be known – in our very own backyard. ‘I Ate My Way Through Granville’ is a guided feast through the bustling Lebanese hub of Granville, 22km west of Sydney. No visa needed and a short trip away by train. The once-monthly gastronomic tours kick off tomorrow, so yalla, get going.

Passionate Lebanese chef Norma Dakhoul starts the three-hour expedition with a feast of a breakfast including za’atar-topped breads and fresh cheeses. Next, it’s a dip into the colourful groceries, butchers, supermarkets and bakeries that make up the Beirut-on-Sydney suburb and a rundown of techniques, traditions and anecdotes from Norma’s childhood.

Leaving no room for girly appetites, a full mezze lunch at renowned Deek Duke restaurant follows. As well as the usual suspects like baba ghanoush, fattoush and falafel, it’s all about exploring lesser-known, authentic favourites, so expect nkhaat (lamb’s brains pan fried with garlic, lemon and coriander) or kafta (aka kofta: lamb mince marinated in spices), cooked in a variety of ways.

Wrap up the journey with a visit to a pastry palace – as no visit to Lebanon is complete without a sugar overload in the form of syrupy baklawa – before rolling home to wow those less travelled with your newfound expertise. When you can think about eating again, that is.

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.