Last Saturday was our second anniversary of living in Australia. Last year we went to Atelier and had a wonderful dinner. This year Alvaro had to work in the afternoon/evening so the best option was to have lunch at home. Plus I thought that an Australian theme would be more appropriate, so I went round the ‘hood looking for pies.
My first stop (Luxe Bakery) didn’t produce me any and I resisted the temptation of getting some pastries. My second stop at The Pie Tin made me want to order one of each, but once again I resisted the urge and got a steak & ale pie with mash on top and a tender steak, bacon & cheese pie. The takeaway box was sturdy (a good thing when you’re planning to pile up more pies on top) but unfortunately they didn’t have any plastic containers for takeaway gravy (they offered to put some on top of the pies but that would have made them soggy by the time we got to eat them). Third stop was at Janet’s Pies, where Alvaro and I had a pie we didn’t like when we had just arrived to the country. Once there I realised I had forgotten my gym card, which gives me a 10% discount. Silly me. Anyway, since the pie we didn’t like had beef in it, I chose the chicken and mushroom, plus a takeaway container of gravy. Next stop was Black Star Pastry. Once again I did my best to ignore the sweet things surrounding me and ordered as quick as possible one of their famous lamb shank pies and a beef & pork sausage roll. The final stop was South End Cafe, where the home-made pies are famous, too. I ordered a beef curry and a vegetarian pie. They were huge, twice as tall as a regular pie.
Back home I whipped up a salad with spinach, radishes (briefly pickled in lemon juice and salt), multi-coloured heirloom tomatoes, baby cucumbers and avocado. Much healthier than chips, mash and/or mushy peas on the side.
The day before I went to my local bottle shop at The Union Hotel to pick up some drinks. Because the idea was to sample different pies, it made sense to buy different kinds of ales to match. Lucky me, they have a huge range of beers in this often overlooked bottle shop and I managed to get 5 ales that looked great and I hadn’t tried before. I also bought a bottle of ginger beer in the supermarket for the kid (that’s Alvaro). Oh yeah, and I got BBQ and tomato sauce, too.
The pies were all kept warm in the oven. We took out 2 at the time, cut them in pieces and tasted them with the beer I thought would be a good match. This pairing thing was very improvised, as I knew basically nothing about the beers I bought except that I <3 ales and I <3 Murray's beers.
In the first batch we tried the lentil and vege pie from South End. The filling was awesome, sweet and spicy. Alvaro hated it, it was too loaded for him. The only downside was the dough, it was heavy and not flakey. Good for a rustic apple pie, not ideal for a savoury pie in my humble foreigner opinion. We paired this pie with what became my favourite beer of the day: the Murray’s Grand Cru. I thought the sweetness in the beer complemented that of the pie nicely.
South End Cafe – Lentil and vege pie ($6.90)
Then we tried the chicken and mushroom pie from Janet’s Pies. The pastry was pale in comparison to all other pies, what made it look somewhat unappealing. But once cut, the filling looked promising and certainly tasted very good. It had big cubes of chicken breast (yay!) mixed with sliced mushrooms and bechamel sauce. Gladys thought it lacked a bit of salt, nothing that some gravy couldn’t fix. We paired this pie with the Vale Ale, which was the only pale ale I bought. I liked the match, that beer is very good although I’m not sure if I’d drink it on its own, because it has some floral tones that for me are best disguised with food.
Janet’s Pies – Chicken and mushroom pie ($5.95), Gravy (not pictured) ($0.50)
On the next batch we took out of the oven the South End’s beef curry pie. Same thing with the lentil and vege pie, the crust was not my favourite. The filling was very tasty, and the spiciness was within Alvaro’s limits. We paired this one with the James Squire “The Chancer” Golden Ale, my least favourite of the lot. I’d probably find it great if compared with mainstream beers but it couldn’t compete with Murray’s. Sorry, James. The pairing wasn’t particularly exciting, but a pie with beer is always good, right?
South End Cafe – Beef curry pie ($6.90)
The next pie was the steak & ale pie with mash on top from The Pie Tin. I had big hopes for this pie as I’ve been dying to try this place’s stuff. It was very good. The filling was moist and had great taste, the pastry was good, the mash was, well, average (not that it’s a bad thing). We paired this pie with Murray’s Dark Knight, an excellent porter, much mellower than a Guinness. This beer could have been paired with all the steak and lamb pies, I think.
The Pie Tin – Steak & ale pie ($5.80)
At this point we were officially full, even when we were leaving a quarter of each pie untouched. But we had to move on. The next batch brought us Black Star Pastry’s lamb shank pie. Amazing flakey pastry. Great tasting filling, with extra tender meat that was virtually falling apart. One of my favourite pies of the day. It was paired with the Punch & Judy Ale, another Murray’s masterpiece. Good pairing, but probably the Dark Knight would have worked better.
Black Star Pastry – Lamb shank pie ($7.50)
The tasting pieces were getting smaller as we approached the end of the batch. Next up was the tender steak, bacon & cheese pie from The Pie Tin. Another outstanding flakey pastry, properly browned on top. The filling was good, but not my favourite. As we ran out of beers to try, we ate this with whatever was left on the bottles.
The Pie Tin – Tender steak, bacon & cheese pie ($5.80)
Finally, the last bite that got into our stomachs: Black Star Pastry’s beef & pork sausage roll. We all agreed it was our least favourite item. I found the pork flavour too aggressive. I ate my bit with lots of BBQ sauce to minimize the impact, and washed it off with more leftover beer.
Black Star Pastry – Beef and pork sausage roll ($5.00)
Alvaro left to work and Gladys and I had a good rest before dessert: healthy mini rhubarb & apple pies. The crust had almond meal, coconut oil, water and a pinch of salt, and the filling nothing more than rhubarb, apples, cinnamon and vanilla essence.
Note: All pies are darker than when just bought because they spent extra minutes in my oven.
Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9557 8656
283 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9557 2565
The Pie Tin
1-1A Brown Street
Newtown NSW 2042
South End Cafe
644 King Street
Newtown NSW 2042
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