Apropos of The Great Aussie Pie thread, I got the opportunity to travel from Melbourne to Golburn via Bairnsdale and the Monaro Highway this weekend.
And being a "staunch" hound, I used it to advance my knowledge of Meat Pies....
First stop was The Old Rosedale Bakery in Rosedale. Tried a bog standard Meat Pie...
The key to a good pie begins before the first bite... How does it sit in your hand?, how does it look?.. smell?...
This one sat too low in my palm, leading me to think it had a soggy bottom... and I was right...
First bite was encouraging, the top pasty was flaky on the top, with just the right amount of "sog" on the bottom. The filling was a minced meat variety, with a good ratio of gravy.
I suspect the filling was boiled, it tasted slightly "meaty", indicating that the meat hadn't been browned first.
The shortcrust pastry, however, was disappointing.. it was far too soggy and started to break down about 3 bites in.
All in all, a bog standard meat pie.. not good, not bad.
Next stop was Sale, where I attempted a "local" brand called "Mrs Mac's Good Eating Pie".
**NOTE TO SELF** Do not eat a pie which comes in a plastic oven bag...
Poor pastry, a crust that was crumbly, rather than flaky and a very VERY hard pie bottom. It had obviously been frozen and then bunged in a pie warmer for a few days. Tasted definitely oven/freezer burned... old and stale.
Surprisingly, the filling was quite good. There were nice big chunks of beef that had clearly been slow braised, and the meat/gravy ratio was very VERY good.
The stale/crumbly pastry was a total put off, and I won't be eating these again.
On a side note, I asked the purveyor of fine pies for a local brand, and he recommended Mrs Mac's.. but I continued to see this brand in servo's for another 500kms....
Next stop was Bairnsdale, original home of Patties Pies. I was a bit over standard pies, so I selected a pepper steak pie. Again, the pie tasted over heated.. slightly stale, and the pastry top was crunchy/crumbly rather than flaky. The meat inside was minced, with rather too much gravy for my liking, and the pepper overwhelmed everything.
The pie bottom was alright, didn't fall apart during consumption, but the slightly stale taste was off putting.
Next stop was Cann River, a tiny little hamlet at the pointy end of Victoria. We stopped at the Cann River Kiosk. The only pies for sale were Mrs Macs, so I chose to segue into the Best Burger thread and ordered a One With The Lot.
Not as gargantuan as the Cathedral Burger, (which is a good thing).. but heavenly all the same. The cheese was laid long enough on the burger to melt nicely and then the crispy bacon was laid on top.. causing further cheesy melty goodness. NO PINEAPPLE, but lettuce, beetroot, tomato and BBQ onion completed the ensemble. The best thing about it was the toasted buns and the pattie.. O.M.G... obviously sourced from local meat, it was delicious.. crisp on the outside with a good bit of grill caramelisation, but still juicy and moist in the middle. There had clearly been no additives, as the individual "bits" of mince started to fall apart from the burger, making each mouthful an explosion of artery hardening lerve....
After a snooze, we ended up in a place called Nimmitabel...
Can we all say "crusty meaty goodness"?
As chowhounds, I know that y'all understand me when I say that sex and food are interchangeable. These pies were ORGASMICALLY good. I mean, it was all I could do not to moan and get all unneccessary and beg my friend to allow me a private moment.
The bakery has a life sized concrete elephant in the courtyard, completely decked out in Balinese/Hindu regalia.. which made me love it at first sight, but the menu.. oh the menu.
I chose the chunky beef and mushroom pie. Perfect golden flaky puff pastry, thick enough to be flaky on the top and get a good bit of gravy into the bottom. The X on the top was an added flaky bonus...
The underside of the top slurped off and hung over your bottom lip, leaving a welt.. PERFECTION IN A PIE!!!!
The pie casing was true shortcrust pastry and stayed intact until the last cup-like morsel, that final bite that MUST contain the last bit of gravy and a mere hint of crust.
The filling had been slow braised, resulting in perfect morsels of beefy goodness, flaking up and taking up the spiced gravy with perfection. The mushrooms were REAL!!!! and had been diced up finely, which added to the flavour of the gravy. I am not a fan on the mushroom pie, where a single slice of dodgy Coles mushroom sits atop the filling... nor (as I am sure we've all experienced), a mushroom pie, where the addition of a can of Home Brand "mushroom in butter sauce" to some dodgy mince.
*winces* just writing it"
Anyhow.. this was it.. sheer pie artistry. The humble Aussie meat pie transformed into a synergistic, deeply sexual, satisfying experience!!!
Get thee all to Nimmitabel and experience the quasi-religious experience that is one of their pies...
After that, I dared not consume any more because a) my cholesterol had peaked at about 9000 and b) I knew it would all be down hill from there.
So... 4 pies, 1 hamburger, assorted Danishes, a rhum ball and a slice of raspberry baked cheesecake in 36 hours, over 1400kms.
See.. I told you I'd take one (or several, for that matter) for the team!!!