Erina Fair shopping centre, Terrigal Drive, Erina, New South Wales
Went for a drive up the coast today, and did some exploring of new places. While I was out, popped into “the biggest single-level shopping centre in the southern hemisphere” for some shopping. Now there’s a drawcard.
Now, usually, shopping malls in Australia just feature the same 50 shops cloned from every other mall, and aren’t the sort of place you would expect to find an actual bakery that makes its own products. You might find a little cafe that gets baked goods delivered from an off-site commercial kitchen. But I found this little place amongst the standard clothing outlets and homewares stores.
Gleaming red and white decor, with immaculately presented hot and cold display cases. Behind the drinks display there’s a small commercial kitchen where they make the products fresh on the premises. Store signage lists “Slices” and “Sausage Rolls” as the top-billed items – hey, this place is perfect for Snot Block and Roll! I ask for “A sausage roll and a vanilla slice, please”, they ask which type of slice I want, leading me towards “just the standard one?” I go with their suggestion, leaving the fancier-looking one for another time. The total is just $3, this is certainly a bargain.
I take the products to an outdoor area just outside the food court, where I can take pictures of my lunch in peace. In a move that some may judge as “traditional”, I go for the sausage roll first. First impression is that it’s fairly light for its size. It’s also light in colour. The pastry is uniform in appearance, and studded top and bottom with holes arranged in geometric precision. I take a bite, the pastry is tough and not flaky in the slightest. The filling is overburdened with breadcrumbs or some sort of bland filler material. I notice that the actual sausage inside the casing is very thin – I can actually see a gap down the side of it all the way to the unbitten end, like a tunnel. Two bites of this and I want a drink. I don’t want to be too harsh on this – I know I can’t expect to get a lot of meat for $1.50. But it’s not even that tasty – a bit of seasoning could have improved things.
Oh well. On to the vanilla slice. It’s a square of wobbly jelly-like custard, just a single layer between two pastry layers. Crowned in pink frosting and dessicated coconut. I can’t figure out the way this was made – the rough edge looks like each square was individually frosted, rather than frosted first and individual squares sliced up. There’s excess coconut on the sides too.
Nicest thing about this one is the pastry. It’s like a delicate biscuit, and crunches into a myriad of separate layers. The frosting is something I don’t like, it reminds me of that terrible mock creme that bakeries sometimes use as a filling for little caramel tarts and the like. It’s become dry and chalky. It’s coloured pink, but not flavoured like anything at all (strawberry would have been nice), unless sugar is a flavour. The custard is gelatinous rather than creamy, and has a sort of transparent look about it. I didn’t write down any notes about the taste of the custard, so let’s just say it was pretty unmemorable. Probably closest to the archetypal “snot block” that has been reviewed here so far.
I applaud this business for selling a lovingly crafted hand-made product for a value price, and for keeping trading in a world where shopping malls increasingly don’t want to know you if you aren’t part of an international brand with a chain of hundreds of stores across the country. They’ve picked a price point and produced items at a corresponding level of quality and sophistication. I’ll point out too that these items are the most basic on their menu, and they make a lot of other things which all look delicious. At $3.00, it’s certainly the cheapest slice and roll we have reviewed so far.
Sausage Roll: 4/10
Vanilla Slice: 4/10