Flossy Hamchez – $2.60 from Barby, 2 locations in Haymarket (Sussex St and Market City)
In life, as in pork-products, two’s company.
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There comes a time in a man’s life when he feels that eating one pork based product at a time is just not enough. Luckily, the buzzing brains at Barby’s have their fingers on the pulse, and have created a snack for such a man, the Flossy Hamchez.
This snack is a throwback to the days of the once great Porcine Ingestion Group, who campaigned for years for mandatory minimum pork standards. The PIGs popularity peaked in the late 1980s following a heavy media campaign, but soon fell out of favour after a tell-all documentary revealed just how poorly the animals were treated. A number of snack purveyors, who had invested heavily in gaining ‘two-pork preferred’ certification, were left to cut their losses, and few have been game to combine pork products ever since.
Barby have bravely returned to the territory though, and have come out with mixed results. The Flossy Hamchez combines pork floss, diced ham, melted cheese, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, and herbs, presented attractively in a plain bread bun. At first, eating the Hamchez feels like a flavour overload. Sauce is the first to tickle the tastebuds, then the herbs and ham hit you like a one-two punch. The floss adds a lasting chewiness and texture, but for the life of me I couldn’t find the cheese. I knew it was there, but it became obscured in the face of so many other flavours. If I had some advice for Barby, it would be to put the cheese on last before grilling, giving eaters enough time to savour some dairy goodness before diving headlong into pork paradise. All in all, a solid snack, but just doesn’t have the same appeal as other options. I applaud Barby’s bravery though in attempting a two-porker, and look forward to other eateries following suit. Three stars.
Originality – Excellent
Execution – Good
Value – OK
Overall judgement: 3
* For those of you who were wondering, I’m not counting the Nicky Sausage as a two-pork snack, as we all know frankfurts aren’t really meat, and if they are, we can never be sure what animal it came from. Most likely horse.
Cheese and Bacon roll – $2.00 from Barby, 2 locations in Haymarket (Sussex St and Market City)
Barby are renowned for pushing the envelope when it comes to snacks (see the Perfect Roll), so it was with some trepidation that I purchased the innocuously named but outrageously shaped Cheese and Bacon.
A perennial favourite at Vietnamese hot bread shops all across suburban Australia, the humble cheese and bacon roll has filled the stomachs of school children and shift workers alike for nearly four decades. For many, this is probably their first foray into the world of hot bread snacks. In their search for snack market domination, Barby have combined the familiarity of the cheese and bacon roll, with the uniqueness of an small vase of flowers, to create what could be the perfect gateway snack for new eaters.
Eating the roll took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Firstly denial – This can’t be a cheese and bacon roll, it just cant. It looks like an explosion! Then anger – What? Where’s the hidden boiled egg or chocolate chips? This is just a plain roll! It’s not fair! Then bargaining – I’ll give anything for a tiny bit of pork floss, some corn, anything. Then depression – It’s over, it really is just a cheese and bacon roll. I don’t know why I even bothered to buy it. And finally acceptance – Actually, this makes a lot of sense. It looks like mushroom, but tastes just like a cheese and bacon roll. It’s going to be OK. This reaction is not uncommon, and is known in snack circles as the Five Stages of Grease.
When I reached the fifth stage, and accepted the roll for what it was, I found myself eating what is possibly the best cheese and bacon roll I’ve ever had. The bread is flawlessly soft, like a blanketing of powdery snow on a misty morning. A light crust on the outside holds the roll together, without adding chewiness. The bacon and cheese to bread ratio, a common downfall of the traditional variety, is just about spot on. Finally, a light smear of sauce and a sprinkling of herbs add the finishing touches and provide a welcome colourful variety to the protruding top.
Barby have succeeded here, in making a snack that doesn’t look out of place next to the Pork Floss Sushi Roll, but at the same time is approachable and familiar, like the Salvo’s brass band at Christmas. But beware! – you’re on the edge of a slippery snack slope, soon you will be salivating for something more adventurous, and Barby are ready to show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes. 4 stars.
Originality – Excellent
Execution – Excellent
Value – Good
Overall judgement: 4
The Perfect Roll – $2.70 from Barby, 2 locations in Haymarket
Banana. Chocolate. Bread roll. Grated cheese. I knew I was going out on a limb with this one, but it had to be done.
My hyperbole radar was flashing wildly as I wandered into Barby, and found what they claim to be The Perfect Roll. To add to my alarm, I noticed that this was one of those snacks I have coined a ‘fence sitter’, one that can’t decide if it wants to be sweet or savoury, so attempts both at the same time. I often find that these snacks tend either towards excellence or oblivion, as there’s little margin for error when two worlds collide.
Despite the unorthodox choice of ingredients, the snack had promise. Sweet and savoury are fast becoming friendly bedfellows, as demonstrated by the rise of salted caramel. The Perfect Roll however, suffers from a lack of execution, rendering it far from perfect.
The chocolate, coating the banana, appears to be a form of compound cooking chocolate, a big no-no in my books. This does allow it to remain solid at room temperature, but at the expense of taste and texture. On the other hand, the grated cheese used seems to be real block cheese. This seems a positive step, until you realise that grated cheese when left out in the air quickly hardens and becomes oily. The resultant roll is edible, but I wouldn’t go much further than that. Not my idea of perfection. 2 stars.
Originality – Excellent
Execution – Poor
Value – Fair (if you’re into that sort of thing)
Overall judgement: 2
Pork Floss Sushi Roll – $3.00 from Barby, 2 locations in Haymarket
So you’re a hip latetwentysomething not-yet-executive but dressed to impress, swanning about the CBD looking for a snack. But all you see is sushi, and you already had sushi nine times this week. You find yourself thinking “I wish there was a snack just like sushi, but has no rice, and a wig”. If this sounds like you, read on, for your snack has arrived.
Imagine, if you will, a tubular bread roll, hollowed out and filled with corn kernels, a stick of cucumber, pork floss, and mayonnaise. Imagine this wrapped in a seaweed paper, the ends of the roll dipped first in more mayonnaise, then more pork floss. The result, while only bearing a passing resemblance to a sushi roll, is delicious, and is fast becoming part of my regular snack routine. For those uninitiated with the delights of pork floss (sometimes referred to as meat wool), may I direct you to Chow Times for a full run down. It’s essentially pork, cooked so much that it turns into fairy floss.
Barbys pork floss sushi roll is well balanced. The savoury tang of the pork floss is punctuated by the sweet pop of a corn kernel. The cucumber cuts provides a refreshing escape from the gooey clutches of the mayonnaise. The roll is soft, yet when aided by the seaweed paper, is substantial to hold all these elements together in perfect harmony. Some may find it has a touch too much mayonnaise, but this is a minor quibble. Four and a half stars.
Originality – Excellent
Execution – Good, with bonus marks for anything with pork floss
Value – Good
Overall judgement: 4 1/2