Ricotta-filled long doughnut – $4.50 from Petit Espresso, Lower Ground Floor, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney
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.
Originality – Excellent
Execution – Excellent
Value – OK (Excellent if you manage to snag one for $2.50 after 4:00 pm)
Overall judgement: 4
BBQ Pork Pie – $1.00 from Ho’s Dim Sim Kitchen, 429A Pitt St Sydney 2000
Author’s note – It’s about time I publicly responded to some of the scathing criticism I’ve been receiving of late. By far my two most common complaints from readers are 1. ‘Why do you have a featured snack in the sidebar that you haven’t reviewed yet? Are you an idiot?’, and b. ‘I Like triaNgles’. To those readers, I apologise, and I present a review that I hope stills both concerns.
Ho’s Kitchen sells three BBQ pork based snacks: the Steamed BBQ Pork Bun, and the BBQ Pork Bun with sugary coating, and the BBQ Pork Pie. The three are filled with a common porcine goodness, but offer a variety of housings to suit every snack eater. For those interested in re-creating the classic filling at home, may I suggest you visit Use Real Butter. But for those who just want cutting edge snack knowledge, read on!
The story of Ho’s Kitchen dates back to the heady days of the mid 1970s, as Chinese immigration was beginning to boom. Every morning at 429 Pitt St, a small group of ladies engaged in the worlds oldest profession would down tools and head to the empty flat downstairs for some dim sum. Passers by, amazed by the new and exciting snacks the ladies were eating, would stand by the window and peer in at the eastern delights on show. One enterprising lady began offering snacks to the workers and backapckers along Pitt St, thus beginning the rise and rise of the pork bun in Sydney. Over time, the shopfront snacks became an even bigger money spinner than the Wild Orchid upstairs, and so Ho’s Kitchen was born.*
The beauty of the BBQ Pork Pie is in the balance. The triangular treat, sprinkled with sesame seeds, is both gooey and crusty at the same time, providing a feeling of both comfort and strength. The warm diced char siu, tossed in a variety of Chinese sauces, is wrapped in a cloak of short pastry so flaky that pieces will literally stick to your face, providing further nourishment upon meeting a friend or mirror. It really is the snack that keeps on giving. Four and a half stars.
Originality – Good
Execution – Excellent
Value – Excellent
Overall judgement: 4 1/2
*I may have used some creative licence in my history, but I think the About Us page on Ho’s website speaks for itself.