Buttermilk fried chicken. The promise of tender chicken cloaked in crunchy batter has been on my mind all day, and I can barely hold back a smile when we finally walk into Pearl's Diner.
Sydney may be basking in newfound excitement over food trucks, but they've been around even longer in Adelaide. Burger Theory was one of the first to hit the streets in 2011, and when public demand continually outstripped their limited mobile supply, the permanently fixed Pearl's Diner opened in June this year.
You'll find Pearl's Diner in Felixstowe - not on a busy street or main thoroughfare, but on the site of a former hot food shop in quiet residential suburbia. It's quiet at 6pm on a Friday but by 7pm the place is bustling with families, couples and groups of friends.
In an interesting side note, Burger Theory was actually granted a trial in the Sydney food truck tender process but later withdrew saying "We've decided to remain in Adelaide".
Aside from a giant cartoon mural on one wall, the decor is simple and low-key. Serviettes, laminated menus and condiments are all DIY on pale wooden tables. You have to head up to the counter to order and pay (cash only). The team behind the counter and in the kitchen are young and bubbly.
Black iced tea with lemon $3.50
There's a blackboard special of black iced tea with lemon, served with a separate shot glass of sugar syrup so you can control its sweetness. It's cool and refreshing.
Chocolate milkshake $6
But the chocolate milkshake is even better, so lusciously rich with ice cream it's closer to a thickshake. The coffee version is intense and satisfying too.
14-hour smoked Berkshire pork bun $7 each
The menu is short and sweet, and between the six of us we manage to try everything except the mushroom burger. We start with the 14-hour smoked Berkshire pork bun, shreds of tender smoky pork doused in barbecue sauce and packed into a soft glazed toasted bun.
Burger #1: Beef with lettuce, tomato, American cheese and truck sauce $13
Burger #1 may look compact but it's all about the patty here. The mince is 100% Coorong Angus beef and ground daily, cooked to a juicy medium that leaves juices running down your chin. The lettuce is crisp, the tomato slice is sweet and a good slathering of truck sauce (a mix of hot sauce and mayonnaise) adds creaminess.
The burger and chips costs you an extra $1.50 than it would off the truck, but it's worth it just to have a plate and seat in my opinion!
Burger $2: Beef, onion confit, pancetta and blue cheese sauce $15
There are only two menu items on the Burger Theory food truck: Burger #1 and Burger #2. The latter brings out scores of devoted fans on Twitter, hooked on the combination of beef patty with blue cheese sauce. It's not as piquant as I expect, however, with the sweetness of the onion confit overriding the blue cheese.
Buttermilk fried chicken wings and coleslaw $15
There is only one reaction to the buttermilk fried chicken at our table, and that is complete and utter silence. There's a loud crunch from the golden batter with every bite, and the chicken hidden underneath is juicy and tender. I'm glad they've left the wing tips on too - crunching that pointy end is an overlooked joy by far too many. This is seriously good chicken, people.
Belgian waffle with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream $9
Pearl's Diner shares the space with La Waffle, a wholesale produce and distributor of handmade waffles. We'd been delighted by the sight of four waffle machines at the front counter but are crushed when we realise they're only being used to reheat ready-made waffles tonight.
The waffles have a crisp sugary edge but they're missing the light fluffiness from freshly made waffles. We're not fazed however, as we're off to Eggless Dessert Cafe for second dessert.
Waffle with fresh strawberries, vanilla ice cream, raspberry coulis and almonds $12
Eggless Dessert Cafe
Eggless is pretty self-explanatory. There are no eggs used in the entire menu. It's an ambitious endeavour, and one I was keen to explore, especially since I didn't get here on my last trip to Adelaide (I'd checked out The Aviary and Devour instead).
An early dinner at Pearl's Diner mean we arrive at Eggless precisely five minutes before they're due to open at 8pm. Even then there's already a queue of a dozen people patiently waiting at the door. At 8.01pm the doors are opened with a friendly welcome and everyone files in calmly and rather politely, taking their seat of choice from the happy mishmash of furniture.
Vietnamese iced coffee $4.50 and Malaysian teh tarik $4.50
Chocolate brown walls and hanging lanterns create warmth, and although it seems to a popular spot for dates, the crowd is mostly a mix of young people keen on getting a sociable sugar fix.
Little decorative touches, like Japanese ceramic teapots and yellow honeypots for honey get us all in a girly tizz, but it's the presence of Asian drinks like strong Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk and sweet frothy Malaysian teh tarik that thrills us even more.
Rose pannacotta $8.50
There are ten items on the menu plus three specials on the board, with vegan or gluten-free offerings clearly marked. After a day of prolonged eating, a group vote dismisses the heavy-sounding chocolate peanut butter pie and molten chocolate & butterscotch pudding. Instead we start with the rose pannacotta, a small but elegant offering of wobbly rose-flavoured pannacotta finished with lychee and fresh raspberry, served in a Moroccan tea glass.
Vietnamese banana coconut bread pudding $9
Vietnamese banana coconut bread pudding, banh chuoi nuong, is jazzed up with a rich caramel sauce. It's fragrant with banana and rich with coconut cream, tempered by a scoop of cool vanilla ice cream.
Pandan and coconut custard cake $8.50
The pandan and coconut custard cake looks a little lopsided, but it's an intriguing combination of pandan sponge cake slathered with a thick pandan and coconut custard. A 1950s shade of spearmint, the custard has set like icing, but it's slightly rubbery on the tongue, and I find myself continually coming back for more.
Cinnamon jam donuts $9
Cinnamon jam donuts provide the undoubted highlight of the evening. Its presentation on a black plate dusted with icing sugar is dramatic enough, but the proof is in the eating. They're astoundingly crunchy, a thin shell encrusted with cinnamon sugar that gives way to a warm and fluffy core within.
Each donut has been piped with a different jam. Tonight's jams are chestnut, raspberry, rhubarb & berry and plum & apple, but the jams change daily. The chocolate sauce is unnecessary but I drag my spoon through the glossy lake to savour it anyway.
Eat Drink Blog 2012
Wine blending at d'Arenberg Estate, Mclaren Vale
I was in Adelaide, of course, for the third instalment of Eat Drink Blog, an annual conference run by food bloggers for food bloggers. Commencing in Melbourne in 2011 and then hosted by Sydney the following year, the concept is to encourage food bloggers from all around the country to network and learn from each other and industry experts.
Each year 80 food bloggers are granted free tickets - through the organisation of the conference committee and the goodwill of event sponsors, the event is entirely free for attendees. Even the invited speakers pay for their own flights and accommodation so that the event can run on a cost-free basis for all.
It's this sense of community that strikes me most about Australian food bloggers - regardless of personal endeavours or professional success, the most rewarding thing anyone can do is to give your time, and give back to others. It's this generosity that saw the always entertaining Peter G from Souvlaki from the Soul run a workshop with his insights into home shoots and photography tips, and Jules Clancy from The Stone Soup sharing her tips about the importance of web design.
Spit lamb and roast corn at the conference dinner at the Hilton, lachsshinken and piroshki at Adelaide Central Market and inside an Adelaide tram
The two-day event included a tour of the Adelaide Central Market, day trips to vineyards in the Barossa or Mclaren Vale and an optional paid workshop with keynote speaker Dianne Jacobs, author of Will Write for Food.
Adelaide YHA kitchen, ping pong table, pool table and computer terminals
And if you're looking for budget accommodation tips, I stayed at the Adelaide YHA, only an 8-minute walk from Adelaide Central Market. As a former YHA-staffer in the UK, I've always had a soft spot for the Youth Hostels Association, especially as it funded so many of my travels throughout Europe. Dormitory accommodation doesn't quite have the same appeal as it used to, but who can argue with a private double room with own bathroom for less than $100 per night?
Private double room and activities board (free walks and free pancakes!)
Lambs at d'Arenberg Estate
I was an invited speaker for the final panel session on "Opportunities from Blogging". Peter G talked about working as a freelance photographer, Sandra Reynolds from The $120 Food Challenge shared some fascinating insights on the realities of getting a book deal, and I spoke about the writing jobs I've earned through my work on Grab Your Fork.
It was mostly an informal discussion but perhaps the underlying sentiment was that there is no secret to instant success. Hard work, professionalism, being good at your craft, and continually striving to improve were key components for everyone. The nature of having your work online means you never know who is looking at your portfolio or what opportunities that might bring.
Overall it was a hugely rewarding weekend for everyone involved. It was fantastic to meet so many food bloggers from all states, and to put faces to blog names and twitter handles. Thanks especially to the herculean efforts of the Eat Drink Blog 3 Commitee, especially the co-chairs Amanda McInerney from Lambs Ears and Honey and Christina Soong-Kroeger from The Hungry Australian.
38A Briar Road, Felixstow, Adelaide
Tel: +61 (08) 8165 2448
Wednesday to Friday 5.30pm-9pm
Saturday 11.30am-3pm and 5.30pm-9pm
Burger Theory food truck
Eggless Dessert Cafe
162 Goodwood Road, Goodwood
Adelaide, South Australia
Tel: +61 (08) 8272 0777
Wednesday to Saturday 8pm - late
Sunday 7.30pm - late
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Reservations for groups of 6+ only
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Adelaide - Adelaide Central Market
Adelaide - Adelaide Showground Farmers Market and Inside a Bee Hive
Adelaide - Aviary Dessert Kitchen
Adelaide - Devour Dessert Bar
Adelaide - Press Food & Wine
Adelaide - Taldy-Kurgan Russian piroshki
Eyre Peninsula - Coffin Bay oyster farm and swimming with tuna
Nuriootpa - Lunch with Maggie Beer
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11/13/2012 01:14:00 a.m.