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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lismore Pie Cart

I'm perhaps not qualified to make this first statement regarding the fine city of Lismore, having barely been there at all, but I will anyway; excluding work, there is absolutely no reason comprehensible to visit there. I have only been there a handful of times and only recently since I've had to go there for work, still nothing much there catches my eye.
For the unimformed, Lismore is in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, slightly inland from Ballina. I think it trades as a city, but hardly warrants the tag. It's kind of one of those awkward regional centres, too big to be void of any small-town country charm, but not big enough or even socially diverse enough to disguise it's preeminant demographic; riff-raff. If you were to drive through the CBD during a weekday you'd see very few professionals but a shit-tonne teenage mums, some felons dragging back a few darts outside the courthouse and a whole mess of ink.
So, once every month or so I haul my arse up there to check in on a few customers, I roll in and I roll out as quick as I can, there's not a lot going on there. I've only once had to spend a night there so the it's really only lunch that I ask of Lismore.
A few trips back I was driving around, looking for a safe place to eat, when I chanced across the Lismore Pie Cart. I can't tell you exactly where it is, in part for laziness of looking it up or describing where it is, but its somewhere in the CBD, which isn't terribly big, and is basically a big silver caravan, chock full of pies.
I've since made a couple of trips back there and, well, it's pretty good.
They're not your regular pies, kind of a mash between your regular meat pie and those old traditional British pork pies, at least in shape. I can't remember which I've tried but safe to say they're all been pretty good. There's a load of different ones, your standard gear like pepper steak, steak and kidney, chunky steak, then a few more "exotic" numbers like Thai chicken curry and a couple lamb ones, too.
They've got an pretty unique kind of pasty as well. I'm fucked if I know exactly what's different about, perhaps it's extra buttery, I don't know, again though, it's pretty good.
As well as regular savoury meat pies they also have a few sweet ones, apple, apple and custard and, my favourite, peach. You don't see a lot of peach pies getting around, so I always grab a couple; one for lunch and another for whatever lonely-ass motel I'm likely to be holed up in that night.
Price-wise, I think they're in the vacinity of $4-$4.50.
There's not a lot more to really say about the place, for all intents and purspose, it's just a pie shop, but a good one. I wouldn't go so far as to say they're the best pies going around, but if you ever have the misfortune of one day driving around Lismore, keep your windows up and the doors locked and try if you're a bit peckish, swing by the pie cart, they go alright.
Lismore Pie Cart, meh, what's it matter; 8/10.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Peasant, The Barracks, Petrie Terrace.



I went to dinner here last night with a friend and needless to say, but I will, it blows. As with pretty much every tapas joint around it's pretty new. I don't know how new, perhaps less than a few years. It's at the relatively-new-itself Barracks precinct at the top of Caxton Street, Petrie Terrace/Paddo. It’s just across the way from the Coles there where we do most of our shopping, so for a while now I’d wanted to go there. I’d read a couple of reviews and apparently it was the shit.

I’ve been to Spain, just once and only for a few days but my only culinary experience still with me is one I’d care to forget.

A few years ago, in between a two week pilgrimage through France chasing the Rugby World Cup and a cirrhosis inducing stint in Munich for Oktoberfest, my mate and I stopped over in Barcelona to sample their wares. I had no real agenda and was just happy to have a look around, try their food and drink their beer, Cookie however, come hell or high-water was insistent that we go this dingy little back-alley bar called L’Ovella Negra, or Black Sheep. Actually, this is hardly culinary at all.
After walking through a maze back and side streets we eventually ducked through the ancient stone doorway and took our seats. The reason we’d come here, we the main reason, was to drink sangria. The second was so Cookie could by a t-shirt.
Until a fortnight earlier when we were camped in a cabin next to a lake somewhere in the middle of France drinking some awful red-wine syrup from a box I had no idea what sangria was. Perhaps even after that it still wasn’t clear, save for the clear similarity to red wine goon punch.
Anyway, we hooked in. Over the next few hours we worked our way through jugs of the shit before things inevitably came to a head. Returning from an extended trip to the gents, I announced to Cookie that we should probably get out of there, and get out while the gettin’s good.

That’s it. That’s all I remember. What a fucking waste.

I’ve been to a few tapas joints here though. A great one in Neutral Bay called Fire Fly a few times, another in Byron and an Ok-food-shit-service one in The Valley, cleverly named Spanish Tapas Bar; I was looking forward to this one.

From the outside it looks nice, it’s new obviously, but it’s well fitted out and always buzzing activity along the bar that lines the forecourt. It also ties in with a kind of sister restaurant called Libertine, a trendy little French-Vietnamese joint. I’d eaten there once before a Wallabies match and it was pretty good, so I figured it’s little brother from another mother (and father) would be pretty good too.

We arrived late. Quickly we were ushered out through the main dining area to the garden area and were seated next to about a dozen punk-arse chicks celebrating, presumably, an 18th. Fantastic. But that’s no fault of the restaurant’s.

We ordered drinks. A Spanish ale and a white wine Sangria. Moments later the waitress returned to tell me they were out of that beer, so I ordered a Spanish Lager instead.

The menus are all scribed in chalk on little chopping board-sized black boards. I can’t remember everything that was on there, other than what we ordered, but I certainly remember something that wasn’t on there; grilled haloumi. It doesn’t bother me as such that I wasn’t able order it, as it does that, fundamentally, every tapas should have it on their menu. It just didn’t seem right.

The problem with tapas for two is that unless you’re packing a Marlon Brando sized appetite you kind of miss out, completely, on what tapas is all about, that being, being able to sample a little of everything. That said, we chose carefully, four dishes;

Tomato and smashed olive salad for $15, a tasty little mix of novel black, yellow and red cherry tomatoes, with kalamata’s. Refreshing but perhaps in need of seasoning.
Seared kingfish escabeche with white gazpacho, $16. Escabeche? We’d no idea, but what we got was essentially sashimi. It was nice.
Braised octopus and kipfler potatoes, $12. I chose this but wasn’t a fan. The flavours were good, but the texture of the octopus, this dish in particular, really didn’t sit well.
Pork, fennel & raisin empanadas served with romesco, $13. Again, neither of us knew exactly what empanadas were, but pork and fennel is (usually) always a great pairing so we ordered up. I’ve since Google-d empanadas and I can only suggest what we got was an empanada only by name. For those who’ve ever made the trip from Brisbane or Toowoomba to Goondiwindi you’ll be familiar with the Captain’s Mountain BP, in which case you should also be familiar with the Captain’s Mountain BP hot-box. What arrived looked like it had spent the best part of a week warming in that exact steaming bain marie, and had been cooked in the same deep frying oil that was churning out crispy, golden nuggets of MSG back in ’05. They were terrible.

The service was generally great, with dishes appearing within moments of the order being placed, though none of the dishes were particularly exciting.

Somewhere in there we ordered a carafe of red wine Sangria, which in tactful moderation was remarkably but perhaps no surprisingly refreshing.

Eventually, when we decided to split. After three attempts the waitress eventually got us the right bill and we left. For a modest sum of $108 I’d struck Peasant off the list of places to eat. I won’t bother again, which is a shame. So, in the pursuit of a good tapas in Brisbane, the search, continues. Thankfully, I think there’s a few to work through yet. Surely, the only way it up.

Peasant. Four out ten. At best.

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