On a lovely, sunny winter Saturday, I went on a wonderful food tour with my cousins Paola and Rosie.
Organised by Carmel Ruggeri, who co-owns La Casa Ristorante in Russell Lea, the tour was a Sicilian Food Tour that focussed on the Sydney suburb of Five Dock as a speciliast hub for sourcing great Sicilian-inspired ingredients and food.
We met at Carmela’s restaurant La Casa Ristorante at 9.45 am where we were greeted by wonderfully warm hospitality and a lovely freshly roasted coffee before the tour began.
After loading in to a mini van, we soon arrived at Five Dock and our first stop, La Cremeria De Luca.
This place was really special and so beautiful inside. Take a look.
They made wonderful granita here, which is a traditional breakfast in Sicily. We tried one made from ice, frozen espresso coffee, blended with cream and sugar.
A brother and sister team have opened up Cremeria De Luca, with help from their Dad, who is quite a character. The grandfather had a gelateria in Sicily and a picture of the Grandfather’s licence in the shop is a lovely, nostalgic touch.
Next up on the Sicilian trail was Caminiti Butchery, across the road. They had set up a barbeque out the front of the shop to try delectable sausages that they make. There were two types: Sicilian Pork and Fennel; and Provolone and Tomato.
The pork and fennel ones were lovely, but in terms of an unusual and delicious taste, the Provolone cheese and tomato ones were amazing.
Next up was Bar Rizzo for some arancinis. Bar Rizzo is a cafe now more known for its breakfasts. But they also do wonderful arancini, according to Carmela.
We tried them and they were sensational.
The lady who made them said the recipe came from her brother. Arborio rice is used, as is Neapolitan sauce. Egg and parmesan is mixed into the rice. Some have mozzarella, peas, bolognese sauce. They are prepared for celebrations and the lady who made them said they were “a lot of work”.
Our stroll took us past a memorial to Sicilians in the area. Here we saw elderly men hanging out on benches and shooting the breeze.
Onwards to Pasticceria Tamborrino, a landmark cake shop in Five Dock.
Cristina was our guide who, together with her partner, run the place. Her partner trained in Rome as a pastry chef and opened the store 12 years ago. There is a huge variety of everything, from cakes to biscuits, and other desserts, with cannoli a specialty.
While seated at a big table at the back of the store we were informed by Cristina that cannoli are prepared on a stick, then deep fried. They are then filled with custard, ricotta (Southern Italian specialty), or chocoloate (Rome and Northern Italian specialty).
Large cannoli bubble up because white wine is used, she said. Cottonseed oil is used for frying. Sicilian varieties of canneli have candied fruit and pistachio.
Cristina also showed us the most famous cake Pasticceria Tamborrino make, the baccio cake. It is made from an elastic chocolate (a secret ingredient, says Cristina) and filled wih semi-freddo. It won’t melt in a fridge and is 76% chocoloate.
Our final stop was Peter’s Delicatessen. This place has for several generations been Raineri’s delicatessen.
Here, they strive for traditionalism. There’s Sicilian olive oil and San Daniele proscuitto. We tried a cheese from the North of Italy, the Veneto region, called “Asiago” . It was mild, young cow milk cheese.
Our guide explained that we can’t bring salami from Italy. Some of the Australian salami makers have been going for a long time and this deli uses Casa products, from St Mary’s.
We also tried a pecorino, sheep’s milk, cheese. It was aged under pepper and because it is very light, you “can eat a tonne”. It had a lovely aftertaste.
Next up was a salami from Lismore and some Provolone piccante. We also had mortadella from Perth. Peter explained that there was not a prestigious following for mortadella here as there is in Italy. The chicken and chilli antipasto was excellent.
Peter then proceeded to make us a three cheeses pasta disha, using home made fusilli or strozzapreti. The cheeses were asiago, parmeggiano and truffle pecorino.
We tried the truffle pecorino too and it was out of this world good. The flavour of truffles cut through and deeply infused the beautiful cheese.
84 Ramsay Rd
Corner First Avenue
185 Great North Rd
(02) 9713 7027
157 Great North Rd
73-75 Great North Road
97 Great North Rd
Five Dock New South Wales 2046
(02) 9713 6886