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The Little Red Grape Bakery, Sevenhill

148 Main North Road, Sevenhill, South Australia

I arrived here with Mrs Snot Block & Roll on a cold, rainy morning for an early breakfast, as it was one of the few places in the Clare Valley region open before 9am on a Sunday. We asked if they had a breakfast menu, but received a politely apologetic response in the negative. The place is simply a bakery with a coffee machine – whatever you see on display is what’s available. But since that included good looking sausage rolls and vanilla slices, there was no real decision to be made anyway! The bakery is actually attached to a cafe of the same name which serves meals and acts as a cellar door for one of the local wineries, but the cafe wasn’t open at this time.

The Little Red Grape Bakery

The sausage roll is an enigmatic yet ultimately frustrating compilation of excellent meat in a frankly awful pastry blanket. It looks promising, with golden brown flaky pastry on top, wrapped around a plump roll of meat filling. The first bite delivers a pleasant experience as the flavour of the meat explodes in the mouth. It is delightfully savoury, with a hint of herbs and the right amount of saltiness to bring out the savoury umami flavours of the meat. Any additional spices are subdued, but there are huge chunks of onion adding to the taste, which is like a friendly home-cooked stew, cooked well, and simply all round a great flavour experience. The texture is in that perfect zone between too soft and too dry. It’s really very good. It would suit a full flavoured Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Crows Nest Bakery, Crows Nest

24 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest, New South Wales

Snot Block & Roll is a review blog dedicated to the two true measures of worthiness of a good old Aussie bakery: the Sausage Roll and the Vanilla Slice.

First, let’s get one thing straight. The vanilla slice is as Aussie as a sweet treat gets. In some places, essentially the same thing goes by various different names, depending on level of poshness. From the top: mille-feuille, Napoleon, or custard slice. And at the slangiest Aussie end, they are also known affectionately as snot blocks. But they’re pretty much the same basic principle – layers of custard sandwiched between flaky pastry – and this blog will review anything on that spectrum.

Before getting dessert though, we examine the savoury end of the bakery spectrum, with the classic sausage roll. Yes, yes, meat pies… we know the argument. But pies aren’t as variable as sausage rolls. If you want a good bakery, they have to be able to make a good sausage roll – it’s so easy to do it wrong.

So, the ground rules of this blog: We go into a bakery and ask for: “A sausage roll and a vanilla slice, please.” We review whatever they give us. If they claim not to have a vanilla slice, but we see one on display labelled “Napoleon” or somesuch, we can point at that and say, “Well, one of those instead.”

Crows Nest Bakery

First up we have the Crows Nest Bakery, a small bakery on the bustling Willoughby Road restaurant strip at Crows Nest in Sydney. It seems like a relic from the 1970s, nestled in between upmarket Thai restaurants, fashion outlets, and relaxation therapy boutiques. It would seem more at home amidst milk bars, charcoal chicken shops, and a pub. The bakery has been there as long as I can remember, outlasting an incursion from the Michel’s chain right across the road, and now putting up a good fight against a couple of newcomer fancy French patisseries. The bakery has a selection of hot pies, individual quiches, loaves of bread, and baked sweets including tarts, cakes, and slices.

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