AS NICE AS P I E

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

PIES are se­ri­ous busi­ness in Aus­tralia: the won­der­fully named Harry’s Cafe de Wheels in Syd­ney’s Wool­loomooloo is a her­itage-listed tourist at­trac­tion, no less, about to chalk up 15 mil­lion sales. Owner Michael Han­nah tells me he even has two cus­tomers who have been reg­u­lars for more than 40 years (they are about to be re­warded with free pies for life). The Wool­loomooloo op­er­a­tion is the most pop­u­lar (and well known), but there are Harry’s pie vans in in­ner-city sub­urb Hay­mar­ket, outer-west Liver­pool and New­cas­tle.

On a busy day, 4000 pies are sold (and con­sumed), in­clud­ing curry, beef, chicken and mush­room, and cheese and veg­etable, as well as pasties made to a 1945 recipe and sausage rolls. The Tiger is the most pop­u­lar — peas, mash and gravy — named for the orig­i­nal owner, Harry ‘‘ Tiger’’ Ed­wards. It’s Syd­ney’s ver­sion of South Aus­tralia’s floater (where the pie sits up­side down in pea soup). ‘‘ Here we like the peas on top of the pie,’’ Han­nah ex­plains.

He says the se­cret of the pie’s pop­u­lar­ity is in the mak­ing: fil­tered wa­ter, 96 per cent fat-free, grass-fed beef, rock salt and low-fat pas­try. The pie cart has long been part of Syd­ney’s night­club scene (it stays open un­til 4am at week­ends), and nu­mer­ous celebri­ties, from El­ton John and Frank Si­na­tra to Kevin Cost­ner and Pamela An­der­son, have been cus­tomers. Ed­wards started sell­ing pies from a car­a­van near the gates of the Wool­loomooloo Naval Yard dur­ing the De­pres­sion. The curious name came from the lo­cal coun­cil’s in­sis­tence that mo­bile food car­a­vans move a foot (30cm) a day. Be­fore that, it was sim­ply named Harry’s.

In South Aus­tralia, the pie floater is so revered it is on the Na­tional Trust’s her­itage list. In the 1880s there were 13 pie carts across Ade­laide, but this dwin­dled to just two by the 1950s.

The pie floater can still be ex­pe­ri­enced at The Pie Cart out­side Ade­laide Rail­way Sta­tion on North Ter­race. It has been de­scribed as look­ing like ‘‘ a bowl of green, mushy gruel with a lump of some­thing solid sit­ting in it’’, but it’s ac­tu­ally a pea soup with a meat pie and of­ten em­bel­lished with tomato or Worces­ter­shire sauce or vine­gar. Some say it’s best con­sumed while drunk. Also in South Aus­tralia, the Old Bak­ery at Stone Hut in the south­ern Flin­ders Ranges (be­tween Laura and Wirrabara) of­fers some un­usual pies: croc­o­dile, camel, emu, veni­son, goat, rab­bit . . . there’s even steak.

Trav­e­landIn­dul­gence ’ s cor­re­spon­dents also rec­om­mend:

The Robert­son Pie Shop, perched high on the es­carp­ment in the NSW south­ern high­lands, has a choice of 24 va­ri­eties.

Jo­ce­lyn’s Pro­vi­sions, For­ti­tude Val­ley, Bris­bane, sells mem­o­rable pies from the bak­ery door. Jo­ce­lyn’s red wine and beef pie is said to be per­fect for a win­ter snack on the run.

Mick’s Bake­house, Wagga Wagga and Lee­ton, NSW, has a wide range of fill­ings: prawn and crab in Thai red curry, sa­tay chicken, apri­cot chicken and seafood are among the more un­usual.

Pie in the Sky, Olinda, Vic­to­ria, presents of­fer­ings from owner-chef De­nis Sideras that in­clude beef and bur­gundy, beef and Guin­ness, tan­doori chicken and spinach, and Thai green curry.

The Welsh Lady, Ros­alie, Queens­land, is well known for its pas­tries and spe­cialty cakes but own­erchef Gwen Gideon also cooks tasty pies that reg­u­lars ap­par­ently drive many kilo­me­tres to sam­ple. Barry Oliver

Up­per crust: Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.