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Sausage Roll Review: Skala, West Beach

“I’m going to that bakery in West Beach to get a sausage roll. I’ve been ignoring eating and writing about sausage rolls for too long,” I said over the phone to Claire, “And that’s a sad sentence, right there.”

Hyperbolic exclamations aside, it was time for a sausage roll, and so I drove northward turning as the airport, or rather, the great, dry plains surrounding it drifted into view. I went past Beau’s Pet Hotel, or as I call it Beau’s Hideously Expensive Kennels for Aspirational Types and their Designer Accessories. Pulling in at the bakery I could see a sliver of sea next to the surf club.

Inside was busy with a range of punters. The wall behind the counter was gleaming and chrome. Shuffling forwards to place my order I peered in the warmer. This is always a moment of muted excitement when I glance in at the racks of baked goods although I don’t know what I expect to see beyond what I’ve seen hundreds of times before. Maybe some hybrid, Frankenstein’s monster in which the delirious, or merely creative baker has made a pasty/pizza/quiche/hot dog horror story that’ll end up in The Modern Museum of Odd Foods in Sioux Falls, South Dakota should it ever be built.

Is Skala a three-piece punk band? A 2yo filly with claims in the Golden Slipper?

I pause at the section labelled “Meat Pies” or “Pies” as I call them. You should too. But I return to my original decision and get a sausage roll.

At the sole red table outside I note how heavy my lunch is. It reminds me of former South African cricketer Lance Klusener and his monstrosity of a bat, both nicknamed SS Zulu. My sausage roll must be of equal size and weight to the handle of SS Zulu.

The pastry is secondary to the innards and this is appropriate while the meat is subtly flavoursome. West Beach Road is divided by a strip on which stretch a laconic row of palm trees while I can see the neighbouring apartments are plastered with stucco, all summery and promising. Others are Spanish Mission in style and this gives the suburb a Southern California veneer. If Jeffrey Lebowski drove past in a 1973 Ford Gran Torino, we could be in Venice Beach.

What my lunch lacks in elegance it aggregates in substance, and of course, we’re talking about sausage rolls here. If you want fine dining you best swing by L’Enclume in Cartmel, Grange-over-Sands.

Sausage Roll in White Bag on Red Wooden Table c.2021 (From the artist’s, oh shut up)

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Sausage Roll Review: (not quite) Hurling on Hurtle Square

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Colonel William Light’s vision for Adelaide included five public squares: Hindmarsh, Light, Victoria, Whitmore and Hurtle. Each has a distinct appearance and mise en scène and despite driving through it for decades I’d not enjoyed the latter’s leafy space.

Claire and I bought a late lunch from this state’s dominant petrol retailer and biggest private company: an On The Run (OTR) service station. Of course, its customers are rarely running anywhere as they’re in vehicles and as such are necessarily sedentary, and most outlets of this type haven’t provided any traditional service for epochs. Simply fill the car and then scoop up hideously overpriced drink and food and go to the cashier. The only service offered is a chirpily redundant, “Would you like your receipt?”

Hurtle Square is in the south-eastern corner of the city and mostly surrounded by low-rise apartments whose balconies look out over the greenery. Arboriculturally, this park is diverse with magnolia and thin pine trees and other trees in seemingly random arrangement. But I remember that like a late-period Steely Dan album, it’s possible to over-engineer.

I’ve a cheese and bacon sausage roll. It makes a positive optical impression with agreeable pastry that’s neither flaky nor oily, but my context is reminiscent of the soon-to-be-regecided King Duncan gazing upon Macbeth’s home when he remarks: this castle hath a pleasant seat.

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Unsurprisingly, this pastry’s sinister mission is to protect an inferior filling, like a heavy-set Secret Service agent from a 1980s film starring Brian Dennehy. While it’s admirable, camouflage and strategic distraction are evident and I note that yet again subterfuge lurks in my simple foodstuff.

Its texture is uncertain and mushy, and I understand that sausage rolls don’t contain real sausages, but if this were encased and sizzling away on my barbeque in front of people both dear or of mere acquaintance, I’d have an acute case of Sausage Shame (SS). Knocking sullenly on the office door of my superior, I’d hand in my tongs and apron and barbequing badge (a scene from a different Brian Dennehy film).

The cheese I was promised is barely present. Instead it’s like the elusive memory of cheese from, say, my middle past, and in the manner of a Wordsworth conceit it’s both troubling but also hopeful in that one day I may again enjoy cheese, possibly in a sausage roll advertising such. In 2020, even cheese is complicated.

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My longing deepens when I gaze over at the Coopers Alehouse. It began as the Earl of Aberdeen before Dame Edna Everage reopened it with a new name in 1987 (wouldn’t Sir Les Paterson been better placed to handle this?). Like many pubs it has a forlorn canvas advertising pick up only meals from 5-8pm.

Still, it’s a breezeless, mild May in our mostly safe and opportunely isolated state. SA’s had no new cases for twelve days and Audrey’s vintage coffee van was doing a lively trade this morning on the Glenelg North esplanade as I ambled through.

While my sausage roll was of motley quality Claire and I now turn to the next course of our alfresco eating: an unapologetically decadent vanilla slice with a calorific count probably beyond a K-Mart abacus.

As the Two Fat Ladies’ Clarissa and Jennifer used to rejoice, “Munch on, munch on, what a lovely luncheon!”

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Sausage Roll Review: LRB plays the Dulwich Bakery, Glenelg South

 

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At noon I remember my quest: to eat this country’s finest sausage roll. The two proximate bakeries offer products of middling quality like Little River Band’s 1978 album Sleeper Catcher which after the hit single “Lady,” falls away dispiritingly.

The Dulwich bakery began in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs (yes, in Dulwich) and has since expanded like the belly of the man who ate all the pies and now there’s one in Glenelg South too.

Heading along Partridge Street I pass a school where it’s also lunchtime and I see all the straw-hatted girls, all eating entitled food, all named Charlotte.

Gliding through the roundabout near the Broadway pub and despite being a modest Korean model, my car issues a little automotive whimper as I cruelly ignore the lure of beer garden refreshment and carry on.

Outside the bakery are shiny nubs of metal tables and chairs while inside are wooden booths, and my sausage roll, having been, “plated up” as Gordon Ramsey might bark, I take a quiet corner.

I have a bite.

Food and memory are coupled. Fish and chips on the breezy foreshore; a bucket of undrinkable coffee in an airport dawn; the languid schnitzel in a wine valley pub.

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Sausage rolls speak of the past. Even if you trot out after reading this and buy one, I reckon you’re time-travelling to your childhood. They live in a black and white era when you were small and the world was unthinkably big. Sausage rolls, home-made with fork marks sealing the pastry, at a primary school birthday, when the fun was unscripted and there was running, lots of aimless, skun-knees running.

Today, the pastry is tasty and of a welcoming texture. It avoids the twin evils of being greasy and soggy or dry and flaky. A bright opening like, “Help Is On Its Way” the first song on Diamantina Cocktail. 1978 was a great year for LRB and for sausage rolls.

The filling is a pleasure: warm, with a suggestion of spice and pepper and showing a brownish, beefy hue unlike the Barbie pink of other sausage rolls loitering within this postcode. Various lunch punters come and go; variously corporate, high-vis, matronly, harried parent.

If I applied the Pitchfork (an alternative music website) album review metric I’d give my sausage roll an 8.3.

And with my lunch now commencing its growling digestive journey I considered my good fortune on this autumnal afternoon. I had the three essentials for a happy existence: something to do; something to look forward to; someone to love.

If peak Little River Band is the full version of, “It’s A Long Way There” the first song from their eponymous album, then while the Dulwich bakery release is excellent, I’ve not yet located the sausage roll equivalent.

My quest continues.

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Sausage Roll Review: Banjo’s, Moseley Square, Glenelg

Approaching the bloodthirsty climax of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War tour de force Apocalypse Now there’s a scene in which Colonel Kurtz: bloated, monstrous, world-weary, insane, hidden in the jungle dark, murmurs to his would-be assassin Captain Willard, “Get me a sausage roll.”

Sadly for film aficionados this didn’t make the final edit, but the idea translates into contemporary living.

With thoughts of luncheon foodstuffs swimming before me like the haze of the Mekong River delta I ventured to Moseley Square, which hosts a new bakery, named Banjo’s. Like fruit bats or swine flu South Australia is the final challenge in their plan to colonise our country.

It’s a bright and spacious retailer with swarms of tables and chairs and a large menu board. The first problem occurred as I peered into a glass display case, otherwise warm and oddly exciting.

A cheery, young thing hovered behind the counter.

“Someone chopped all your sausage rolls in half,” I noted.

“This is how we make them,” she retorted rather obviously, I thought. A bit like saying, “Ouch, that hurt,” when a white pointer makes off with your favourite leg.

“Oh.” I wasn’t keen on an argument, just a full-sized sausage roll. They were all squat and abbreviated. What fresh madness is this I moaned inwardly.

“We have an offer,” she continued eagerly, entirely unlike Bill Murray’s character Phil in Groundhog Day. “You can buy three for $5.60.”

This seemed better than a half sausage roll for $2.70, so me and my gizzard signed up.

Francis Ford Coppola himself would’ve enjoyed the mis en scene of my outside table, two happy dogs and Glenelg’s seaside square, on a spring afternoon.

I sat with my trio of sausage rolls which might’ve been described by a minor character in Apocalypse Now as trio de petits pains aux saucisses.

I began modestly, with the traditional version. It was appropriately hot and the pastry was flaky and sweet, but not sweaty as it can often be at times. Taking a bite I examined the innards. It was alarmingly pink and pale, and I must report, tasted just this way. If I ran a photocopying franchise, I’d analyse it as being a crappy copy of what must be an insulted, once illustrious original.

A sausage roll should possess subtle spiciness.

Coming in after this golden ball duck, the next batsman was nervous. It was curry and chickpea. Yes, in a sausage roll. Does this strike you as being overly-ambitious for a common or garden sausage roll? It did me, but I found it pleasant enough to endure, although I’m unlikely to venture there again, which is what visitors say about the North Wagga Wagga RSL.

The dogs next to me continued to show interest while their female owners chatted. Apparently Corey had disappointed Kylie. And not for the first time either. In fact, he had been poorly behaved for a while. Move him on Kylie I thought. You’re better than that.

About my third sausage roll the bakery server (Hello, my name’s Siobhan and I’ll be your server today) said, “It looks like a sausage roll but tastes like a pasty as it has the same ingredients.” She smiled at me and I wept for the future.

Sweet Jesus I said to myself (if there’s kiddies watching flip the screen down now). What the actual fuck are these people doing?

Happily my inner monologue stayed just that.

I ate it outside in the warm sun, and you’ll be comforted to hear that it tasted just like a pasty although like a shape-shifter in a dreadful teen horror movie it was dressed up as a sausage roll.

Why?

Having set off earlier with pure intentions and a simplicity in my heart, my dream of a single, uncomplicated sausage roll had become overly complex. Banjo’s had not been in tune.

No wonder Colonel Kurtz went mad.

 

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