As a Kapunda kid I had many sausage rolls in the Barossa, but never with any ceremony.
I’m quite sure today’s the first I’ve eaten while sitting down. As a nod to the late Lizzie, I use a knife and fork.
Launching into my plate of tucker, I imagine myself sipping a 2016 Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin while the wait staff hover about all subservient, and if tittering into their hands is any indicator clearly thrilled to be in my lordly presence.
In Nuriootpa for work, I’m at Linke’s on Murray Street. Once just a bakery now it’s a ‘bakehouse & pantry.’ Murray Street is wide and handsome, and it’s down the road from the petite Angas Park pub, or AP, and the cavernous Vine Inn, or Slime Inn as some used to call it with gentle mockery and ultimately, generous affection.
It’s Friday lunchtime.
There’re about six exceedingly effervescent staff behind the counter dealing out the pies and lamingtons and irresistibly fat, evil buns and they’re all a-gallop. At a nearby table, a visiting American is telling some locals about his travels. He sounds Californian. All retirees, they conduct their chat with a relaxed rhythm. Lunch can go for as long as they wish. How lucky?
I’ve a cappuccino. I won’t admit it to anyone, but this new enthusiasm is really about the chocolatey foam and not the beverage. Linke’s do a most tidy one.
Researching for our upcoming Italian trip I learn that it’s impolite to have a cappuccino after 11am. I’ll observe this cultural expectation as I don’t want to be scolded by a wildly gesticulating Milanese barista. Who does?
As the great English restaurant reviewer, Victor Lewis-Smith often (nearly) asked: what made me pleased about my sausage roll?
The size was right. Too small and there’s instant, irrecoverable disappointment. Too big and I’m suspicious because, I’ll bet, the fatal tastelessness is being compensated with bulk. This, of course, is a cynical marketing strategy to make you vapidly pleased, like a breathy Kardashian.
Pastry is tricky. Flaky and dry is bad, as is oiliness. Sausage rolls in contemporary, post-pandemic Australia is a tough gig. Linke’s are fine exponents of this delicate craft.
The first incision of the knife (or tooth) is telling. You don’t want the baked good to collapse at the introduction of pressure, like Port Power, but equally you don’t want the utensil to buckle in your mit at the resistance of a house brick masquerading as food.
This goes well too.
With an underlying hint of pepper in the mince the taste is also impressive. But not too much spice given our local palettes aren’t accustomed to unexpected confrontation, especially in the conservative context of a bakery set in a German-settled wine region.
It’d been most tasty.
When I was a boy, this town was hostile, largely because of the football rivalry and I was tainted. Home of the Nuriootpa Tigers, it’s now more kittenish. It’s a gentle and welcoming place.
Later, I drive around the town oval, and through the surrounding caravan park. Across the decades this has been a vivid, telling location. My memories flicker in sepia, and then in colour.