Anyone travelling up the east coast of this fine country must have noticed one thing. Why does every pie shop along the national highway lay claim to having “the best pies in Australia”. Thehumble pie is Australia’s answer to a Yorkshire pudding. Following the coastal road up from Sydney the lazy traveller will invariably stop to have a pastry case filled with horse meat.
Leaving the shiny metropolis of Sydney we had our fingers crossed that our bombed out Toyota would make the journey. An hour in, after multiple cigarettes and manic drivers we decided to try our first “best in Australia” meat pies. Gosford was where we decided to test our palates. Pastry was crusty, the horse meat was edible. It was the best so far.
We piled back in and off we went. The tunes were loud, the car was full of fuel and the Toyota was eating the road for breakfast. Much like we just did with those pies in Gosford. Good stuff. Next stop, Coffs Harbour and with it we were hoping for a culinary experience like no other.
Coffs is a great surf spot and after some waves we walked through town looking for “the best pie in Australia”. Low and behold we find a bakery. “Which ones the best pie in Australia?” I ask. “They all are,” was the prompt reply we received. Righto, we can’t order 30 pies now can we? We opt for a standard pastry case and stuff our faces.
Better than Gosford? I don’t think so, but there is only so much you can do with Bonox, horse meat and puff pastry. We persevere and keep on.
The sun sets in the west, and we decide to stop for the evening, so we drive to Grafton and call it a night. Stomachs are grumbling so there is one thing to do. Get some more pie.
We decide to not go for the bakery option and head for the supermarket. Dodging the young mothers with three kids, and the guy that looks like he has small pox, we arrive at the brightly illuminated freezer door.
Stuck for choices we ask an enthused employee on their preferred choice of horse meat in pastry. “Don’t touch ‘em mate, I prefer pizza.” Helpful. We ask a heavy set woman in her late 30s. “Sargents, steak and onion,” she wails as she grabs the blue packet. “Not for nine bucks lady!” my mate exclaims. Scotty’s is our choice. Six for six bucks. Hello value, hello good times.
After an agonising 10-minute wait staring at the microwave, the ivories go to work. It’s hot, but it’s good. The horse meat is cooked to perfection, the smile on our faces is evidence enough. The dawn light beckons us awake and back into the Toyota we go. Queensland is calling, and so is more delicious pastry.
We drive to Byron Bay and our hopes are high. Not for good surf or sun but for golden crust and peppery steak pies. I know our priorities are wrong but it’s important to know where and what to eat. We sit on the beach after purchasing a couple of bad boys and let the pepper tease our taste buds. Good but not great we all agree.
We get to Queensland and all decide that maybe we should focus on travelling rather than pies. But we do come to one useful conclusion. Even though all the pie shops claim they have the best pie in Oz, the best pie you can get is Scotty’s.
Australia has some awesome places to see, but it can’t be done on an empty stomach, so we always try to eat the humble Aussie meat pie.