Wine Pairing Partners for Aussie Hand-Held Pies

Marys_1I went to Australia over the New Year’s weekend.

Twice.

Yes, that seems rather unlikely, given that the travel time from Los Angeles to Sydney is around 15 hours.

Even given the long three-day weekend, even one round-trip wouldn’t have left much time to do much of anything.

Yet I found time to have two great meals, each time feasting on one of the iconic foods of Down Under cuisine: hand-held meat pies.

For my first meal, I had a pie dubbed “Mary’s,” consisting of premium Australian ground lamb, roasted garlic, rosemary and back bacon. It was perfectly spiced and delicious, leaving me craving a glass of Aussie Shiraz.

The next day, I returned to Australia and had the more traditional Aussie beef pie, made from Angus beef and petite peas and carrots, with a mashed potato top. A glass of Merlot, or perhaps a Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, would have been perfect with this delicacy, which was called “Drover.”

I brought my family with me the next day, and they had two other pies:

  • Dog’s Eye — Ground Angus beef, minced onions, minced garlic and savory gravy. This was the type of pie I had when I made my first trip to Australia back in 1998. I remember jumping off a hop-on, hop-off tourist bus at a spot that was supposed to be known for Aussie pies, and had one of the greatest — and at the same time simplest — meals of my life. The Dog’s Eye was every bit as good, and deserved a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or Italian Montepulciano as a companion.
  • Southern Comfort — This pie consisted of white meat chicken breast, peas, carrots, celery, thyme, white wine cream sauce and black pepper. A glass of creamy Chardonnay would have been ideal as an adult beverage companion.

Unfortunately, I had to be back at work today, so I couldn’t make a third trip to Australia. There are still a few more pies I want to try.

By now, you’ve no doubt figured out that I did not actually travel to Australia twice… or even once… over the weekend. But I did visit an Australia-style bakery called Pie-Not in Costa Mesa, Calif. — first on Friday, and then again on Saturday.

Pie-Not specializes in hand-held gourmet pies, and also features breakfast pastries, savory pastries and sweet pastries. Each pie is a meal in itself, and is a bargain at $6.50. The shop is small, with no indoor seating and only a couple of tables outside, so most customers take their pies to go — which means they could take them home and crack open a good bottle of wine.

The average Australian consumes 12 meat pies per year according to The Age, a Melbourne-based publication. When they go to watch Australian Rules Football or Rugby matches, they eat meat pies like we Americans eat hot dogs at football and baseball games.

Considering I ate two pies in two days — while suffering no jetlag whatsoever — I guess that makes me way above average.

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There are other purveyors of Australian-style meat pies, but at least for the time being, I can vouch only for Pie-Not. To read more about the bakery, its founders, the concept and more, go to: http://www.pienot.com.

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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