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.