Seriously, is there anything better than a feast of American BBQ? I honestly can’t think of many things more enjoyable than a platter of smoky meats, served with heaping bowls of mac and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread. Coupled with the fact that decent BBQ isn’t all that common in Australia, and how I won’t let myself indulge in it very often, it is a real treat when I do get to have it. Despite having been in Sydney for over a year now, I’ve only had BBQ once, at Bovine and Swine. This travesty was finally remedied with a long overdue trip to Surly’s – a heavily American-themed sports bar in Surry Hills.
The best Korean BBQ I’ve ever had? It would have to be that time in Seoul where I feasted on a whole 600g plate of pork belly. I’ve never before, or since, had pork belly that was quite so indulgently fatty and delicious. Just the thought of that smoky, juicy pork, wrapped with spicy bean paste and scallions in fresh salad leaves, makes my mouth water. Of course, I haven’t been foolish enough to try and replicate that experience since coming back to Australia. Not only do I think that I won’t be able to find any sensible place that will sell me 600g of pork belly at the degree of fattiness I found in Korea, it also just seems a bit too much to have on a regular, non-holiday day. But I will admit that when I laid eyes on Yang San Park, with its outdoor setup so reminiscent of Korea in both appearance and the smoky, meaty aroma that wafted down the entire street, I was a little bit tempted to see if I could make that pork belly fest happen again.
Let me put this down on record so Chris can’t weasel out of it down the track: he has promised to bring me an entire sheet of pork crackling at uni. And where exactly does one get an entire sheet of pork crackling? Mr Crackles of course, the place where the name really does say it all. Having long-since held cult status in Sydney (and probably Melbourne too before long – they’ve just expanded interstate), Mr Crackles is a takeaway shop along a main street specialising in sandwiches stuffed with crispy roast pork. The setup is very much grab and go – with just a couple of rows of fairly awkward bench seating lining the walls, eating in definitely not the preferred option, as evidenced by the constant stream of Deliveroo drivers.
Any excuse to eat burgers is a good one in my books. Ever since I started keeping a closer eye on my diet (now that I don’t live at home with MARM, I need to make sure that I’m not eating too much, but still eating enough!), I’ve found it harder and harder to justify a meal that can easily take up 70% of my daily calorie intake. But clearly I’m not that actually dedicated to this whole thing, because when I found myself with a voucher to try out the new wagyu burger range at Ribs and Burgers, I was all over that in an instant.
I make a massive effort to be healthy on a day to day basis. Although I’ll never say no to free cupcakes being handed out on campus, most of my meals are wholesome and balanced enough to make a nutritionist shed a tear. Part of that is because I’m learning of new ways to get sick every day at med school, but mainly I do it to offset the indulgent meals I eat on occasion. I absolutely love carbs, red meat, and saturated fats, and what’s the point of being a foodie at all if you can’t occasionally order the bone marrow mashed potatoes and meat donuts?
Has anyone ever heard of the podcast Stuff You Should Know? I stumbled upon it about 5 years ago, and have been an avid listener since. Well anyway, recently they did an episode on How BBQ Works, and although I had been planning to go to Dexter for a long time already, that was the nudge I needed to finally get me there. With that said though, Dexter is far from the usual American BBQ joint. In fact, their restaurant website actually specifically advertises themselves to be non-traditional. Certainly, the place is a far cry from the brooding, masculine spaces you often associate with a carnivorous meal. There were skylights and greenery aplenty, and was a perfect fit for an idyllic Sunday afternoon.