5

Sausage Roll Review: The Goolwa Bakery

It’s a snaking and demanding ribbon of tar from Glenelg to Goolwa along and across the Hills and between the vines until the great arc of the Southern Ocean appears like a pale blue relief.

It was supposed to pour down but instead just spat with appalled apathy on my Korean car’s bonnet. I’ve the best part of three days overlooking Knight’s Beach to write and think and read for which I’m enormously grateful.

But I need to open my holiday with a sausage roll, as one should.

My now annual writing retreat is largely predicated on nostalgia and other investigations of the past so exiting the Southern Expressway and ignoring the radio I push in a CD on my hugely old-school car stereo.

The Eagles accompany me on my trip down to the gushing, green Fleurieu. Although my tiny brain is prejudiced happily to the past, I reckon they stand up well. It’d be easy to mock them as symbols of 70’s American excess but the songs and the musicianship are peerless. Eagles Live was enormous in my youth, and it might’ve had the be-jesus overdubbed out of it, but ‘Seven Bridges Road’ and its climbing harmonies still arrest me.

The Goolwa Bakery is located on a side street, and I was instantly smitten by the cosy interior. Some modern bakeries tend towards supermarket dimensions, to their consequent detriment. The atmosphere was also buoyed by a fishbowl in TV, sitting on a table near the door, as it always is in a rural baked goods emporium.

Ordering my $5 sausage roll my thoughts meandered towards Pulp Fiction’s Mia Wallace and her famous $5 shake, a speciality at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. Initially expressing disbelief Vincent Vega then takes a socially inappropriate sip and exclaims that it’s a ‘pretty expletive good milkshake!’

And so it was with my sausage roll.

Claiming a chair on the early afternoon footpath and withdrawing (careful now) the lunch from its brown bag it appeared as a freshly busted hunk of axe handle in both girth and approximation.

My first bite met with peppery whiffs and pleasantry. There was flaky, tasty pastry and it wasn’t sweaty which the medically alert among you will know is the biggest killer of over 55’s in this antipodean country.

Looking about my environs I note that the bakery shares premises with the Goolwa Health Centre and hope that all the kiddies reading now grasp the attendant irony.

The woman serving the baked grub was effervescent if somewhat resigned; I wondered about her life but not for long.

Munching on I was acutely aware of my enormous privilege as I was soon to drive to my beach accommodation. I’d be on a balcony with long, glorious hours in front of me.

Five quick minutes later I’d finished my lunch, scanned the surroundings, and pointed my motor west.

The Goolwa Bakery is over a century old. They know how to craft a sausage roll.

I’m unsure but they might even serve them (sauce if required) with ‘pink champagne on ice’ in the Hotel California.

6

Sausage Roll Review: The Port Elliot Bakery

It’s a curious and startling world that offers up the first Abba songs in four decades.

And, of course, both tunes feature immaculate vocal melodies, a pretty piano line, and lyrics that are at once sad and grimly triumphant.

But are they really any good? Or do we cut them extra slack just ‘cause they’re Abba?

What if they were a fresh Scandinavian pop outfit, trying to break into the moo-sic business? Would they make it?

Imagine driving to work with the radio tuned to your local Wacky Crew on 99.9 FM. You know the recipe- two guys and a girl all laughing way too heartily at their own jokes and endless torrent of stories about their goofy spouse and madcap kids. Alongside the city’s widest mix of old and new musical slop. Our Wacky Host announces-

“And that was our sixth song this hour by Pink. Up next is a new track by a group from Sweden called Abba.”

I wondered about all of this as I drove to the Port Elliot Bakery and speculated on the connection between Abba and sausage rolls, as I often do.

In the world of South Australian regional bakeries its reputation is colossal, and I imagine, unrivalled. But is it justified? I’d never been in there but just like the Famous Five on Kirrin Island, I was about to find out.

Departing the Southern Expressway, I was suddenly stricken with that ancient fear. What if I arrived and the warmer was devoid of sausage rolls? In forsaken earthly bakeries, no-one can hear you scream. A phone order and all was sorted.

I put on my favourite sausage rolls are a-comin’ playlist (actually a CD of Tame Impala’s Inner Speaker) and stepped on the gas, as they say down south. Doubtless, there’d be gas a-plenty by mid-afternoon if my baked goods form held up.

My Korean kar pulled in across the road from the Port Elliot bakery. Actually, it was outside the Royal Family Hotel. I peered in the window and couldn’t see Charles or Liz or Phil (in an urn above the fireplace). However, I bet Harry was out in the beer garden in a boisterous shout of Sparkling Ale with some old rugger types and soon to request, “Eagle Rock” to his grandmother’s limitless horror.

My sausage roll was huge and if frozen solid, could be used to rob a servo. The pastry was suitably flaky (like Port Power in a home preliminary final as folks other than me might suggest) but not sweaty. Sweaty Sausage Roll Syndrome (SSRS) remains one of this province’s biggest killers of the over 30’s.

I glanced up and saw their sandwich board on the footpath. It self-confidently declared, “Freshly Baked Daily on the premises.” This seemed a minimal achievement to me and should probably be a given in the bakery caper. But how would you react to a sign saying, “All Goods Baked last July in a Distant Anonymous Country”? I thought so.

And while we’re applying some critical thinking to country bakeries, can anyone tell me if there’s a one that’s not award-winning for pies or lamingtons or vegetarian pasties? Yes, they all are because each has signage festooned on the window telling you. It’s like the egg-and-spoon race at a church picnic. Everyone wins a prize even if it’s Best Mushroom and Goat Meat Pie- Barossa District, C Grade, 1994.

The sausage roll innards were peppery and delicious while hinting at delicate spice. It was a most excellent late lunch for a Wednesday. I actually bought two so Claire could sample one later, and that my research could be peer-reviewed. But she’s only coming down on Friday and It’s unlikely to survive until then.

So, you’ll just have to take my word for it. I’m off to listen to “Chiquitita” and the rest of Abba Gold.

2

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)

4

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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