My dear mother, fully appreciating my penchant for kitchen experiments and still quite annoyed I moved too far north for her to enjoy them, sent a gift of three small tins of La Dalia smoked paprika to my workplace. My previous batch had proved irresistible to an invading horde of weevils; they found the tins on the kitchen bench and decided there was no point advancing to the pantry, as they’d found weevil Valhalla.
Mum had let me know she was sending a replacement to my office (bless her), so I was expecting the parcel and had no qualms about opening the package at my desk.
Unfortunately, she had included a rather dubious ‘Bonus Treat’. In full view of my colleagues I extracted a clear plastic sandwich bag containing what ultimately proved to be fancy sea salt, but actually looked like 300 grams of crystal meth.
If it wasn’t for the sticky label with ‘fleur de sel’ (pretty sure that’s French for ‘pretentious wanker’, cheers Mum) scrawled on it, it’s quite possible I’d be on the way back to Melbourne now, flanked by members of the Drug Squad.
So in lieu of a plausible segue, let’s leave my mother’s accidental smuggling and have a look at some of the eats and drinks around town with names so puntastic Instagram might actually break.
One of my esteemed colleagues stalked into the office the other day utterly incredulous. She had been to Alley Cats for lunch where a certain menu item caught her eye. It was, by all reports, an incredible sandwich, full of tender pork, soft cheese and lashings of creamy slaw, made all the better for being named ‘Notorious P.I.G’.
But that wasn’t what had left her shaking her head. She’d placed her order with an oh-so-white ‘I’ll have a Notorious PEE AI GEE, GHETTO STYLE YO!’… correctly, if a tad embarrassingly, spelling out ‘P.I.G.’ in full.
In response, the waitress threw herself dramatically upon the till, arms flung as wide as Maria von Trapp spinning about the Austrian countryside and exclaimed ‘Oh frikking FINALLY. We’ve had that on the menu for AGES and you’re the first one who got the joke!’
Come on Darwin, pick up your pun game and appreciate brilliance when it presents.
Notorious P.I.G.: Slow cooked pork, Asian slaw, fermented chili, double brie, aioli on a brioche bun
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, much less pick a cocktail based on a clever name, but one can’t go past ‘Chuck Norris is Your Real Dad’ on the drinks menu at Chow. Could it really be as hard core as Walker, Texas Ranger? I admit the first time I ordered one I was hoping that instead of a cocktail umbrella it would come garnished with miniature nunchucks. (Indeed, had I read the menu properly I’d have found the disclaimer clearly stating it didn’t.) However, it’s totally badass with a spear of raw ginger and a single hunk of ice the size of a fist, with a full-faced tropical zest that hits you like a Norris punch to the throat.
Chuck Norris is Your Real Dad: Fireball Cinnamon Whisky infused with uppercuts, lemon, sugar, ginger
Dukes Café + Eatery
Duke’s in Knuckey St also has a flare for nomenclature (the science of naming things, which is obvious to anyone who looked it up in Google Dictionary like I did 10 seconds ago and is also a pretentious wanker) that would make David Attenborough blush. My colleagues and I pre-ordered a boardroom feast the other day chock-full of exquisite burgers with names like the The Pig, Southern Chic and Angry Cow, and I can tell you right now I’d happily face-plant a Dirty Bird every day for a month full of Fat Fridays.
Dirty Bird: Kentucky-style fried chicken, cheddar country slaw, pickles, smoky BBQ sauce, aioli
There was a teensy bit of controversy surrounding Pee Wee’s signature dessert late last year; a Sydney organisation pulled their function after getting a tad ruffled by an item on the dessert menu. Despite the dessert featuring under its original name for 15 years, the owners had a bit of a think (no doubt encouraged by the $25,000 fallout) and changed the name to Fifty Shades of Chocolate. Said owners were subsequently surprised to receive fifty shades of complaint in the following months from local patrons who demanded to know ‘where the slut had gone’. Which just goes to show that Territorians aren’t as delicate in their menu sensibilities as their Southern neighbours, particularly when presented with an elegant dessert at total odds with the name.
The Dessert Formerly Known as the Chocolate Slut: Aerated chocolate, chocolate meringue, chocolate macaroon, raspberry gel, white chocolate, raspberry ice cream
Big Pig Little Pig (Moorabbin, Melbourne)
I mentioned being from Melbourne earlier, so thought I’d include this little doozy as a ‘Bonus Treat’. (But one that shouldn’t have you hauled off a domestic flight by the authorities.) Over the holidays I was seated at the big communal bench inhaling a mountain of beef brisket when Bill the Barman brought me a complementary shot. Actually, it was two shots, a rich and smoky bourbon followed by an oh-my-sainted-aunt-that’s-delicious-but-my-mouth-is-aflame chaser, which upon enquiry turned out to be the brine from the jalapeno jar. My only question was what came first, the super-tasty shooter or the super-average rock band?
Pickleback: Bib & Tucker Bourbon, jalapeno brine
On that note, I’ve gotta fly. Literally. I’m off to South Africa to witness the nuptials of Lynda and Sexy George, so better make sure I don’t have any fleur de sel secreted in my luggage.
See you all at TTF 2017!