Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Avoca main street: more gold.

The butcher at number 110 had a nice array of fish in the window. I bought a pack of smoked salmon. The butcher smokes it himself in his own smokehouse.

The salmon at Pyrenees Gourmet Butchers alone makes a trip to Avoca worthwhile. It was the best I've tasted and completely different to the smoked salmon you find in most other places. For one thing, it wasn't orange. For another thing, it wasn't oversalted.

Of course, the butcher had meat in the window as well. After all, he is a butcher. But you have to diversify these days. Just look at any post office. You can't see the stamps for Wiggles books, Steve Parrish greeting cards, outdated street directories and useless plastic junk. I suppose you have to forgive them because who writes letters any more? No-one. I haven't received a letter in years.

I bought some sausages as well. Children don't eat smoked salmon. While the butcher was wrapping the smoked salmon and the sausages I glanced around the shop and nearly fell over when I looked to the right of the counter on the opposite side to the door. There was an entire wall of bottles of red wine. All regional. None of your million-selling Fosters Group Beringer Blass Mildara Southcorp or whatever they call themselves this week.

The unusual propinquity of red wine and racks of eye fillet brought me around to thinking, as the butcher placed my package on the counter, that if you liked your meat rare, really rare, you could just about whip the top of a bottle of red and eat in, right there.

I took my package and paid the butcher and, in the paling late afternoon with the low sun painting orange tracery through winterbare trees onto the Victorian shop verandahs, I walked down the main street of Avoca, which is called Main Street, just to save any confusion.

It was a long street, and wide enough to turn a camel train.


Lesley said...

I love Avoca and all of the other small towns that still hang in there, despite so called progress and the big smoke...Beaufort, St.Arnaud...please tell me you're heading to St.Arnaud. Take a look at the historic ANZ Bank there. What a great building

jo_blue said...

I loved visiting these small towns too - ohh, the lovely fresh food - when I was living in Aust. Now I'm stuck overseas, I'll be satisfied reading about it in your blog. Thanks for the lovely trip, you do write well.

Dani said...

I can feel a road trip coming on. You're inspiring me.

Must say though, my kids eat smoked salmon and Son and Heir (with my help) wrote his first letter on the weekend. To the Essendon FBC. They sent him stickers and posters and a scarf for his efforts :)
But we've never fit the mainstream norm in our house.

The Food Whore said...

You really do need to write a book about your travels. Your descriptions are amazing.

And oh how I love smoked salmon. My father has been smoking his own for as long as I can remember. I love nothing more than a day of fishing, a night of cleaning, and then I leave him to his expertise. His brine and technique a secret - I just pray he wrote it down somewhere.

My most favorite is that first bite out of the smoker when the fish is still warm.

neil said...

Oh, I'm quivering, I love Avoca. Did you know that before CC (climate change), you could get morel mushrooms in these parts? That butcher is just as great as you write. Did you manage to eat some of our wildlife in a pie and discover the massage chair at the Avoca Cottages? If you did, I bet you didn't get a proper go as the boys would have been all over it.

kitchen hand said...

Not St Arnaud this time, Lesley: but I know those magnificent gold-era buildings.

Jo Blue, I love the small towns.

Dani, EFC is my club - I grew up almost in the shadow of the A. F. Showers Pavilion.

Food Whore, I hope you can get your father to divulge his secret. It sounds wonderful right out of the smoker.

Neil, no Avoca cottage this time; the cabin down the road came in at $100 less per night (although the massage chair sounds tempting after a long day's drive).

neil said...

I hear you; on a driving holiday with petrol prices touching the stratosphere, probably more so in the country, every cent counts.