Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. THE place to get your meat pies. More about this later.
We grabbed a late lunch at Black Star Pastry, in the trendy Newtown section of Sydney. Since most of the stuff is gone within a few hours of opening, we were stuck with prosciutto, rocket and parmesan sandwiches on olive baguettes. It hit the spot perfectly.
For dessert, we shared a coconut and tangerine panna cotta, which was deliciously surprising: the gelatine on top was tart and citrusy, not sweet, and there were whole tangerine sections and lemongrass leaves as well. The coconut pannacotta was creamy and flawless. I’m hankerin’ for one right now as I write this.
We hauled out to Manly Beach via ferry, a.k.a. the best bang for your harbor tour buck. We decided to splurge on a “half-family box” at Monger’s, the biggest damn box of fish & chips I’ve ever seen. For 35$, you too can have: 4 fat slices of whitefish, 2 raw oysters, 2 big scampi, a nice handful of calamari, and 2 potato croquettes, as well as a heaping helping of thick handcut fries. We went with the fried option (I wanted some traditional fish & chips), but if I had to do it again, I’d go grilled. The whole thing was delicious, and thanks to our in room fridge, fed us for several more meals.
We rewarded ourselves for soldiering through the damp and dreary day with an all-you-can-eat BBQ feast at Nick’s Bondi Beach pavilion. From the top: fried fish plate (went mostly untouched, fried food distracts from meat and mussels), BBQ plate (pork ribs, lamb with creamy cheese sauce, chorizo, and roast chicken with steak fries), GIANT mussels in cream sauce.
As if that wasn’t enough, that was served concurrently with a giant rack of beef ribs. From what I can gather, Australians share the American fondness for slathering on the barbecue sauce. I’m a dry BBQ kinda girl, and generally prefer my sauce on the side, because much of this world’s BBQ sauce relies too heavily on liquid smoke (smoke should come from the grill, not a bottle) and subsequently tastes like armpits… so while I was hesitant, I can say that the sauce these ribs were drenched in was pretty great. It was tangy with a strong fruit flavor, and the meat melted off the bone in perfect tandem. The ribs were fantastic, and I would have done them more justice had they been served on their own.
Thing is, I was very distracted by the massive mussels (easily 2” across, and varying shades of deep orange). We had them both ways, with cream and with tomato. I recommend the cream mussels most, but don’t expect the thin, wine-heavy cream sauce you’d expect from a classic “moules et frites”. No, this cream sauce was much thicker, practically suitable as a pasta sauce, but my apprehension quickly melted away with the heavily buttered sauce.
On our last night in Sydney, sick of all the cold and rain, we took comfort in a second round of pies from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels (mentioned earlier). Pictured are two tigers, which is a meat pie (fist sized and filled with gravy and fat chunks of beef) covered in mashed potatoes, mashy peas (not a typo; our mushy is their mashy) and more gravy. SO GOOD. Really, the best comfort food ever.
… some buttered corn on the cob…
So we ordered a mushroom, mozza and kalamata olive pizza with additional anchovies. Perfect. The food was all very fresh and good quality, but the smoked salmon pizza was a little light on flavor. The capers, onions and fish could have used a bit more punch, but my experience in Australia has been that subtler flavor, even from pungent ingredients, is the norm.