Tagged: cheese

Ricotta-filled Long Doughnut – European elegance in snack form

Ricotta-filled long doughnut – $4.50 from Petit Espresso, Lower Ground Floor, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

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Yes readers, it’s been a long time between posts. I don’t know if it’s the weather, or the shorter days, but I feel a startling lack of snack inspiration lately. Even my favourite little BBQ Pork Pie hasn’t been filling me with joy. This week however I once again felt the urge to venture forth in search of new snacks, thanks to the worlds greatest bicycle race, and Gabriel Gaté, a man whose passion for eating rivals even that of my own. It’s fitting also that this week sees the first ever stage wins by an Australian team, and the Maillot Jaune worn on the back of a hardworking Aussie. To honour this significant moment, I depart from my usual Asian snacks and venture to continental Europe, and Petit Espresso.

This snack purveyor can hardly be called a shop, being a small corner of an arcade in front of which some enterprising person has placed a glass booth and an espresso machine. Not being a coffee drinker, I had paid little attention to this nook as I ambled past each day, assuming it was a coffee stand with the appropriately standard array of stale pastries. But one day while spinning to avoid a group of schoolchildren on smartphones, I turned my head and was surprised by what I saw: the glass booth contains all manner of elegant European treats, including chocolate éclairs, cannolis, and filled donuts. I wiped a small string of saliva from my face and moved closer.

One snack in particular caught my eye, a unique beast that I have so far failed to identify, so comment away if you know the name. It’s made of sweet doughnut dough, spiralled into a long bar shape with a tunnel through the centre. The tunnel is filled with your choice of chocolate, custard or ricotta, and dusted with icing sugar. Not quite a doughnut, or éclair or longjohn, but some sort of delicious doughy hybrid. This week I opted for the ricotta version, and was delighted by what I found.

The dough is a fairly standard doughnut recipe, sweet, not too chewy, the perfect starting point for an afternoon treat.  The structure of the doughnut can be described in a word – solid. One might expect that a completely hollow tube of dough would be brittle at best, but biting into the doughnut leaves the structural integrity satisfyingly intact. The spiral formed tube is also aesthetically pleasing, with evenly formed lines and subtle ridges, obviously the work of a master pâtissier. The ricotta filling is a superbe, smooth and creamy, and just enough sweetness added without compromising its dairy nature. Writing this has made me so hungry, I might just go and purchase another one right now. 4 stars.

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Originality – Excellent

Execution – Excellent

Value – OK (Excellent if you manage to snag one for $2.50 after 4:00 pm)

Overall judgement: 4

Flossy Hamchez – For when one pork product just wont cut it

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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Author’s note: If you are reading this, you are one of a small minority of people blessed with the honour of being able to read this highly informative and socially important blog. However, dwindling numbers of visitors have caused me to reconsider my approach. After researching the successes of other major media outlets, I have decided to convert the blog to tabloid format, to cater for those commuters who find the broadsheet version just too unweildy. To take advantage of this new format, simply rotate your computer screen or mobile device 90 degrees to the right.

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.

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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.

Smarter than the average Cheese and Bacon Roll

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.

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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.

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Originality – Excellent

Execution – Excellent

Value – Good

Overall judgement: 4

Sacha Pork Floss Roll – Literally

Sacha Pork Floss Roll – $2.80 from Breadtop, plenty of locations all over Sydney (except for Sussex St which has closed)

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There was a time before I knew of Breadtop. I don’t like to think of those times, they were dark years, but sometimes I reminisce just to see how far I’ve come. It was a stormy afternoon all those years ago, when I dived into a shopfront to avoid the splash of an oncoming bus. I looked around, my day was brightened instantly when I saw I was in a snack shop. A small, square looking treat named Sacha caught my eye, and the rest, well, you know the rest.

One of my favourite things about the Sasha Pork Floss Roll is that it’s literally* a roll, the first I have come across in my regular snack perusals. If you’re lucky enough to be at a Breadtop on Sasha-day then you’ll see the bakers start with a large flat piece of bread dough, which is sprinkled liberally with pork floss, then rolled up like a log, coated in corn kernels, sweet chili sauce, cheese and parsely. The log is then baked until crisp and cut into lengths for adults and children alike to enjoy, and enjoy it they do.

The Sacha is a different beast to that other pork floss treat, the Pork Floss Sushi Roll. The addition of melted cheese adds a whole new world (don’t you dare close your eyes) of textures, as the eater is greeted with a crunchy crust on the outside, delving down to the depths of chewy cheese below. Again, the corn adds an important burst of freshness and life, but has an almost quiche-like element to it thanks to the oven baking. The sweet and salty pork floss provides the solid flavour base upon which the snack is built, and the clever spiroid layers of bread ensure textural and visual variety the whole way through the roll.

If the roll has a downside, it’s in the consistency. As a regular consumer of Sacha’s, I notice that there is a significant variation in quality across the pieces on a tray. For those of you playing along at home, I suggest these two simple tests to ensure maximum snack value. Firstly, look for the pieces that are more of a square shape. Due to the rolling process, the ends of the roll are slightly tapered, providing less room for filling and topping, and are to be avoided (such as the one pictured, an unfortunate failure but was the last one left). Secondly, compare the weights of at least 7 or 8 pieces before choosing one. Use the tongs provided to pick up a piece, feel the weight in your hands, then place the piece back on the tray, sorting according to estimated weight. You might need to check two or three more times to ensure you get the order right, but you can’t rush these things. Following these simple tricks should ensure you net a prizeworthy Sacha every time. 4 stars.

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Originality – Excellent

Execution – Average to Excellent (learn the tricks to maximise your chances of a good one)

Value – Good

Overall judgement: 4

* N.B For those of you born after 1990, the word ‘literally’ does have a specific meaning and is not just a big word one can use to make one’s story less mundane. Those who misuse the word should literally have their left hand removed and replaced with a thesaurus, giving them lifetime access to an array of other more appropriate adjectives.