Growing up, someone very close to me had a rule, and it has since become a guiding philosophy of mine: when visiting or passing through any country town you must ask a local about the best place to procure a pie and then you must purchase and consume said pie. It’s the best way to get a culinary feel for the place. Does a town value a buttery, light shell counterbalanced by a dense, scolding interior? Are they straight up mince-meat purists, or do they dabble in thyme, rosemary, veggies? Do they charge a premium for sauce? Every time I roll into a regional community the local bakery becomes my north star, it’s always the first thing on the agenda. I’ve been working towards creating a little catalogue of my best Australian pie experiences with the town of Holbrook close to the New South Wales and Victorian border currently holding top spot. I favour Holbrook for a simple reason: they do a standard pie well. It’s nothing fancy, no trimmings, just a molten mince centre and a generous amount of pastry. The stodgy, glutenous quality of Holbrook Bakery’s meat pie is exactly the kind of dependable stomach-filler your belly yearns for after hours of smashing lollies in a stuffy car. This had me wondering, what pies do other people hold dear? I levelled this question to some friend’s whose taste I trust and was met with strong opinions:
Parker’s Pies in Rutherglen are churning out an unbelievable product. I couldn’t endorse their Chunky Beef Pie enough. The texture is unreal, it’s all velvety melt-in-your mouth goodness. Definitely skip the Maccas drive-through and give them a go next time you’re hauling up the Hume.
Bit of a wildcard but Country Cob Bakery in Kynteon do a curried scallop pie and I’ve never been so unexpectedly delighted by something in my life. The meat is fresh and it holds the spices of the sauce in such a balanced, delicate, subtle way. The intricate, more complicated flavours of the filling are rounded out by the buttery casing. Definitely worth buying into the hype here- SO good.
I’m coeliac so, as much as I adore a piping-hot pie or pasty, I often can’t sample the offerings of our regional bakeries. For this reason, amongst many other reasons, I love Jojo’s Gluten Free in Kernot, Vic. They do an amazing veggie pasty here- all free from gluten and loaded with the chunkiest, caramelized roast veg. You have to get your mouth around it.
Well there you have it, three new spots to patronise on your next daytrip or weekend romp. The offerings of our regional areas are delectable, diverse and plentiful. Start exploring!