Shop 1204, Castle Towers Shopping Centre, Castle Hill
On a fine day last November, Mrs Snot Block & Roll and I had occasion to travel to Castle Hill Showground with our dog Scully. The occasion was an audition for Scully, to qualify to be accepted into training as a Delta Therapy Dog, to make authorised visits to hospitals to provide morale boosts to patients.
Scully had to pass a series of temperament, behaviour and, obedience tests, with the assistance of Mrs SB&R as her handler. Since the two of them would be occupied at the try-outs for an hour or so, I took a short trip over to Castle Towers, a giant shopping complex. Inside, I felt like a snack, and found Shepherd’s Artisan Bakehouse.
Being in a giant shopping centre, this wasn’t a nice homey street-front shop, but rather simply an island stall in the middle of the shopping promenade, with display counters on four sides and a couple of staff working in the middle. But they had not one, but two types of sausage rolls!
“Classic Beef” sausage rolls, with the name written on the glass in white grease pen.
And “Russian farmer’s” sausage rolls, with a herb or sesame seed topped crust. I asked what the Russian farmer’s rolls were, and they said pork and herbs. I wanted to try both types, but they said they’d just put the beef ones in to heat up, and they weren’t hot enough to serve. So I settled for a Russian farmer’s sausage roll.
Now, I don’t know much about agricultural production or pastoral agrarian culinary practices in provincial Russia, but I’m going to lay some good money on pork and herb sausage rolls not being a typical traditional Russian farmer’s dish. Despite this dubious claim to bucolic Slavic rusticism, the roll looks pretty promising. It’s generously long, but slightly on the thin side, although that’s nothing to worry about overall as the volume seems appropriate. The pastry looks flaky and cooked to perfection, although a bit oily, spotting grease on the paper bag it comes in. It’s topped with a generous sprinkling of toasted green herbs and the meat filling ends visible inside the shell also show plenty of green herb speckling and a nice juicy looking consistency.
The pastry is as good as it looks, nicely flaky and crisp on the outside – a little bit oily but not enough to drag it down. The disappointing part if the meat. The pork has plenty of herbs and fennel seeds in it, but is oddly on the dry side and strangely not very flavourful. Getting into it a bit more, the pork becomes slightly more moist near the middle of the roll – evidence that perhaps it dried out a bit near the ends. The flavour is not at all bad, it could just do with more seasoning to really bring out the herbs and fennel. Overall, it’s decent – better than average, but not great.
Oh, and to allay the suspense, Scully passed her qualification tests and subsequent training, and is now a fully qualified Delta Therapy Dog! Here she is on her very first day of work, just before attending the hospital.
“Russian farmer’s” sausage roll (pork and herbs): 6/10