It's the start of summer, and that means barbecue season.
Easiest thing to throw on the barbie? The humble sausage. It comes in edible packaging, already portioned and its generous fat content means guaranteed juiciness.
Of course there's a big difference between good and bad sausages. And at Hornsby Tender Value Meats, butcher Adam Stratton knows his snags.
It's a small and cosy butchery in Hornsby, its window display of meats lined with the obligatory borders of dark green plastic hedging. Stratton sells all kinds of beef, lamb and chicken but it's the sausages we're always after, like so many others. Though modest in size, this suburban business sells more than a tonne of sausages every week. Yes, that is a lot of sausages!
Consistent winners at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show, the sausages here are well-renowned for both their flavour and variety of flavours. At last count they had 35 different varieties including butter chicken & yoghurt, Danish frikadellar, South African boerwors, crocodile, emu and camel.
Proudly gluten-free, Stratton also claims to put less fat into his sausages, a modest 12% compared to the usual 27%.
I've had the good fortune to eat my way through a lot of his sausages. The Old English Pork is a bite of ol' Blighty; the Beef and Mushroom is hearty with big chunks of mushroom. We're surprised but delighted by the lingering chilli hit in the Thai Chicken Basil and Coconut Cream sausages. These have as much flavour as the fiery Vietnamese sausages you sometimes find at Asian butchers.
The Sweet Chilli Chicken and Mango sausages are made for sweet tooths. They're a little on the sweet side for me, but I'm impressed by the distinct taste of mango that accompanies each bite. Beef Spinach and Pine Nut give you your meat, greens and a generous trail of pinenuts in the one parcel.
Adam Stratton with Gordon Ramsay
proudly displayed on the butcher shop window and inside as well
My favourite is the Chicken and Sweet Corn though, a preference shared by the majority of customers, this particular snag far outselling all other flavours. "Third best snag in Australia!" the placard trumpets, a reference to its success in a recent national sausage competition.
I love the little nuggets of super sweet corn kernels you find as you chomp your way through the sausage. Apparently these also contain iron bark honey, lending a complex but subtle sweetness.
I also heart the Moroccon Lamb and Raisin, a fantastic combination of sweet lamb studded with fat swollen juicy raisins.
L-R: Beef and mushroom, chicken and sweet corn,
Moroccan lamb and raisin ($14.99/kg to $16.99/kg)
The best thing about the shop though is the service. In this day and age of faceless service, it's a rare treat to be greeted by genuine warm smiles, sparkling eyes and friendly caring conversation.
Service and quality like the good ol' days. With tasty flavours of the future.
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Hornsby Tender Value Meats
12 Florence Street, Hornsby, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9987 4028
Monday to Friday 7.00am-5.30pm (Thursdays til 6.00pm)
Full list of sausages
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12/09/2008 11:59:00 pm