12 Princes Highway, Sylvania, New South Wales
With COVID-19 lockdown still in the easing off stages here, I haven’t been making as many trips as usual. But today, on a fine and mild, sunny winter Sunday, I ventured to Sydney’s deep south – The Shire. Not for a sausage roll, but to sample another legendary Sydney food item: one of Paul’s famous hamburgers, from the Princes Highway-side shop known simply as Paul’s Famous Hamburgers, in the Sutherland Shire suburb of Sylvania.
Having negotiated the tricky turnoff directly after crossing Tom Ugly’s Bridge, I arrived at Pauls’ Famous Hamburgers a few minutes before 11:30, figuring I’d get an early lunch to avoid the crowds. They only open at 11:30, but even before there were signs of stirring within the shop, a queue was forming outside. It got up to about a dozen people before 11:30 passed and the shop opened – at which point I jumped on the back of the queue to avoid even more people getting in front of me.
While standing in the approved COVID-19 socially distanced queue, marked by taped crosses 1.5 metres apart on the footpath, a woman came out and moved along the queue with an order book, taking people’s orders. I ordered a special with cheese (which comes with beef patty, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, bacon, fried egg, and cheese), plus beetroot and Paul’s special sauce (home made aioli mixed with chili sauce), a large chips with regular salt (as opposed to chicken salt), and a peanut butter crunch milkshake. Having declared my Aussie colours in the previous hamburger review on this site, the additional beetroot was a complete no-brainer. In fact, no matter how famous these burgers may be, I’m a bit put out that beetroot is only presented as an option and not part of the standard package.
Continue reading Paul’s Famous Hamburgers, Sylvania
463 Miller Street, Cammeray, New South Wales
The previously reviewed Cammeray Cakes has closed down, but just a few doors down the street now sits Maggio’s Italian Bakery. This is an establishment that was spawned out of the nearby Maggio’s Cafe, which has been an institution in Cammeray since 1998. The new bakery shopfront takes some of the strain from the always busy cafe, allowing people to buy loaves and take-away cakes and pastries without battling the sit-down clientele of the cafe.
Being an Italian bakery, they are heavy on cannoli, biscotti, bomboloni, and various tortes, but they didn’t have anything resembling a vanilla slice when I scoped the place out. They do however have a pork sausage roll, as well as a small selection of meat pies. I ordered a roll and retreated to a nearby wooden seat under a shady tree outside to inspect their take on the Australian classic.
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11 Murray Street, Hobart, Tasmania
On holiday in Hobart over the Christmas break, I took the opportunity to try some of the local offerings. Walking down to the waterfront near Constitution Dock (where the Sydney to Hobart yachts come in at this time of year), you pass Daci & Daci Bakers, a quality looking French style bakery in a beautifully renovated old sandstone building that is no doubt historical, as are many of the buildings in this part of the old Van Dieman’s Land colony. The interior is smartly presented with brass, wrought iron, and dark wood panelling, and the place is bustling with activity as people pour in through the doors to either sit at the cafe tables or snatch a take-away pastry or two and a baguette for later.
In a suitable nod to its Australian location, they have a silver tray of sausage rolls on display amidst the croissants, galettes, and tarts. The pile of generously stuffed looking rolls bears a label declaring them to be “Moroccan lamb sausage rolls”, and bearing the hefty price tag of $10 if you take one away in a brown paper bag, or $14 if you sit at a cafe table and eat inside.
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Via Basilea 28, Lugano, Switzerland
On a driving holiday in Europe, we found ourselves checked into the Continental Parkhotel in Lugano, a lovely lakeside city in southern Switzerland. The hotel overlooks the old town, across a railway line, and consists of a grand old building, plus a newer annex where the cheaper rooms are.
Normally the breakfast buffets at hotels in this part of the world have a selection of hot food, bread, cold meats, cheeses, and fruit. Sometimes they have cakes or tarts. But as I surveyed the offerings on this fine morning, I spied, lurking between a row of doughnuts and muffins, a procession of vanilla slices! Having the luxury of taking whatever I wanted for breakfast, I first filled up on healthy things like muesli and fruit, before returning to the buffet to grab a vanilla slice.
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I was walking through a local shopping centre and passed a T2 shop, which sells various types of tea leaves, as well as tea-free herbal and fruit concoctions, and various teapots and other paraphernalia for preparing hot drinks. I often buy their “Liquorice Legs” tea, which is a blend of peppermint, fennel seeds, and liquorice and is my go-to hot drink since I don’t drink coffee or regular tea. But this day I was gobsmacked to see something new in their display window: Vanilla Slice tea.
Obviously, I had to go in and check it out. The neat cubic box stated the ingredients as apple pieces, rosehip, hibiscus, vanilla pieces, and a mysterious ingredient described only as “flavour”. Determining it was caffeine-free, I bought a box for later brewing and reviewing.
Continue reading T2, Chatswood
My work has a social club, in which a monthly fee gets you access to various events and give-aways throughout the year. Today they had free doughnuts. Now, I’m not a member of the club, and I don’t eat doughnuts (I like them well enough but I gave them up completely a long time ago as a concession to healthy eating), but it turned out that the selection – from Krispy Kreme – included a “vanilla slice doughnut”! And when the call went out that leftovers were available for people to claim seconds, a friend of mine grabbed one of these for me. So I decided to violate my 20-year abstinence solely for the purpose of research for this blog.
The doughnut is neither a traditional toroidal doughnut nor rectangular prism vanilla slice shape. It’s a square pillow of dough, presumably cooked by deep frying as is usual for the product. The surface of the dough glistens disturbingly with fat and sugar. The top side is coated with what looks very much like conventional vanilla slice icing: a thin layer of white topped by a pattern of brown lines dragged into the classic parenthesis shape. With some trepidation, I take a bite.
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1-1a Brown St, Newtown, New South Wales
I’d been wanting to visit this place ever since I first heard about it. They do a big line in pies, as one might expect from the name – both the savoury, meaty Australian sort, and sweet dessert types. The establishment is tucked away in a little side street off Newtown’s bustling King Street restaurant and university student shopping strip. If you didn’t know it was here, you’d probably never notice it unless you are a local to the area.
On a sunny winter Sunday I sought out the address and ventured into the old brick building, painted a neat light grey on the outside. The interior is funky and modern, with two large display cases arranged at right angles. The right one contains hot savoury pies of several different varieties, while the left contains sweet pies. Some of the hot pies on offer include: steak, cheese, and smokey bacon; lamb and rosemary; smokey beef brisket and mushroom; Sicilian style chilli lovers sausage and white bean; creamy chicken with hot seeded mustard and mushrooms; vegetable and lentil; sweet roasted duck with Cointreau and seasonal vegetables. While the sweet section has: Black Forest meringue; whipped lime; brown butter pecan; American style pumpkin; banoffee; creamy coconut custard; lemon brulee; Mississippi mud; and “the apple pie that ate Newtown” – an apple pie roughly the size of a car tyre, I kid you not.
Continue reading The Pie Tin, Newtown
57 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest, New South Wales
Here at Snot Block & Roll we are, of course, proudly Australian, and aim to bring you the best in true Aussie cuisine. So we were somewhat taken aback when the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Good Food site posted a reference to an article written by American chef David Chang about what he thinks makes the ideal hamburger. Chang writes:
You know who fucks up burgers more than anyone else in the world? Australians. Australia has no idea what a burger is. They put a fried egg on their burger. They put canned beetroot on it, like a wedge of it. I am not joking you. This is how they eat their burger.
Uh… okay. But wait, he doesn’t stop insulting people who happen to have different tastes to him there:
My ideal burger is bun, cheese, burger. Sometimes bacon. … And the cheese thing has to be very clear: American cheese only.
Wait, whoa! If this guy had any credibility left at all, it’s all gone by now. American cheese??? This stuff?? But wait, there’s even more:
Honestly, what does the lettuce do? It adds texture, Dave. Texture? Really? Is it really going to hold up, crushed between the bun and the hot patty that steams it? I don’t think so. … And onions and tomatoes — what do they do? … The whole idea of half-steamed veg on top of your burger is the dumbest fucking thing I could ever think of. And I will say this: if you enjoy it, you’re an idiot.
Well. We could not let this go unanswered. So this very day we went to a local burger place: Grill’d at Crows Nest. They have a menu with several different types of burgers, including a good selection of chicken burgers, vegetarian options, and a trio of lamb burgers to showcase that great Australian meat as well as the beef. The ambience is casual and friendly, with bare brick walls and solid wooden furniture and slightly dimmed lighting. This couldn’t be further from your plastic primary coloured American fast food burger chain decor. For which we can be grateful.
Continue reading Grill’d (burger), Crows Nest