I have just eaten the best sausage roll ever. Yes, I concede, it’s a small thing in life’s grand tapestry, but I feel it is a culinary milestone nonetheless.
The sausage roll seems so Australian, but of course like so many other ‘true Aussie’ dishes it originated somewhere else. Meat pies came from the Romans and the beach kiosk staple, fish and chips, is English in origin. Ditto the humble sausage roll. It has a long history, all the way back to the 18th century and seems to have originated in Sussex. Here an unrecorded, but brilliant, cook realised that if you baked a pie crust around a sausage then farm labourers could carry this tasty snack with them as they worked the land. Surely this makes it one of the first take away foods? Enter the French who ditched the pie crust, substituted divine puff pastry and voila! The modern sausage roll was born.
But back to THAT sausage roll. It was from Roux.d, the West End’s new bakery, and it was sensational. The shop is named for roux the substance created when flour and melted butter are combined and used as the basis for the French sauces béchamel, velouté and espagnole. But what I like best is that it’s pronounced ‘rude’, so entirely appropriate for our edgy and playful part of town.
The business is owned by the Lamond family and run by chef Duncan Lamond with his friend Adam Lewis as Roux.d’s baker. The pair have worked together for 25 years and were united in their commitment to take Aussie bakery staples: pies, sausage rolls and sweet pastries and make them over, bringing the highest quality ingredients and old school methods to these traditional food stuffs.
Roux.d’s rules are straight forward: good quality fresh ingredients including real butter and a ban on any kind of fillers which Duncan succinctly describes as “rubbish”. Handmade means exactly that. Every week Adam makes about 90 batches of puff pastry from scratch, meaning it’s hand rolled, a task which has seen him develop muscles on his muscles or, according to Duncan, “arms like Popeye”.
Their simple menu is divided into savoury or sweet and this simple menu is simply divine. Savoury pies are described as being either ‘pig, cow, sheep or rooster’ and the sausage roll options are three: Chicken, bacon and cheese, lamb/rosemary and pork/fennel. When you do it right you don’t need 101 (artificial) flavours and varieties. It was the pork and fennel sausage roll which brought me undone on my first visit to the shop, but the lamb and rosemary is also a worthy contender for Best Sausage Roll Ever.
If your taste runs to all things sweet the tarts include: passionfruit and pistachio, peanut butter and chocolate and ginger mojito. As befitting a bakery sporting a French moniker Gallic classics such as baguettes, brioches and pains au chocolat are on the shelves along with a range of Danishes. If you need help deciding what to tuck into just ask the ever smiling and helpful young women at the front counter: Tess, Rose, Josie and Georgia.
An impressive range of bread fills the shop’s front windows and includes an intoxicating sounding beer & barley sourdough, perfect I would assume for the morning after the night before. As a fruit freak the fig, raisin and cranberry sourdough caught my eye and I fantasised about waking up on a winter’s day to see slices of it perfectly toasted and loaded with lashings of butter.
Ah, the sourdough. Roux.d loves its bread and rightly so. It’s sourced from the Bread and Butter Project, an awesome a not-for-profit social enterprise project, which reinvests all its profits into baker training and employment pathways for communities in need. The sourdough so cleverly combines being the product of an inspired ethical initiative and being simply delicious artisan bread.
Well we may not have invented the sausage roll but we have, culturally at least, made it our own and the same is true of Roux.d. It already has the intimacy of a local favourite, a place where West Enders regularly drop in lured by the smell of crisp sweet pastries, rich meaty pies and – undoubtedly – the siren song of the sausage roll.
Roux.d, 754 Hunter Street, Newcastle West. Open: 8.00am – 3.00pm Monday to Saturday. Find them on Instagram: 1Roux.dbaker and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/onerouxdbaker
Find out more about The Bread and Butter project. Web: http://www.thebreadandbutterproject.com
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