Deep Fried Mars Bars, and Fish from Traralgon
Oooooh...the deep fried Mars Bar..the myth and legend that surround this hotly discussed item! Now I must confess I have descended to the underworld and am one of the number that have tried it and.......loved it! I know I know, I'm not supposed to say that. I'm supposed to say it was greasy and fatty and disgusting, and I was prepared to feel all of that, but....it just wasn't! It was SPECTACULAR!
How did I find myself eating half (take note, only half!) a battered deep fried Mars Bar in a fish & chip shop in Traralgon, about 2.5 hours east of Melbourne. Well, it was a public holiday here yesterday, and a sunny 32 degrees so we decided to take a drive to the country. We chose to go east to Gippsland as it is the most lush and fertile part of the state, and near the mountains (the Australian "Alps"!). A post will follow with pretty pictures of little mountain villages.
But a big (70,000 people) country town on a public holiday? NOTHING was open! All we wanted was a simple pub meal - a steak or sausages and mashed potatoes, but it seems all the pubs in the big Gippsland towns have all been glitzified; they're full of flashing poker machines and charge the earth for their mediocre food - $10 for a plate of potato wedges and $19 for some pasta???!!! Evidently the idea of going to the pub in the country equates to going for a 'nice night out' and a 'nice night out; equals flashing lights and brightly patterned carpet. We just wanted simple, traditional pub food, and it's a real shame that doesn't seem to exist in larger country towns any more. (We struck the same problem in Moe at lunch, ending up at a hot, overcrowded Subway; the only thing that was open and affordable)
Anyway, feeling hungry and grumpy we started to the nearest take-away pizza place when we saw The Blue Bay Fish Shop....but this wasn't your average take-away greasy fish & chip shop. It had customer seating and you could BYO wine! Besides fish and chips you could get hamburgers, souvlaki, schnitzels, garlic prawns....and DEEP FRIED MARS BARS! Ok, it wasn't the most atmospheric of places - we ate under fluro lights with the TV showing the swimming and a commentary of "No 68? No 68? 3 fried dim sims and a Chiko roll?" but to us it was perfection.
Look at this fish! Isn't it the absolute ideal of perfect crispy battered fish!
Thin crispy batter over a big piece of Blue Grenadier, served with good chips and a salad (salad hidden by the hugeness of the fantastic fish). They also gave us a jug of gravy to dip our chips into if we so felt (and we did...that gravy was goooood!) And all that for $7.70! Hangs $hit over the rubbish we could have got next to the smokers playing pokies in the pub.
But I'm digressing. You're all here to hear about the deep fried Mars Bar, aren't you? You want to hear of my deep fried fatty experience. Well I'm sorry to say but I'm about to rave. I placed the order with a lot of embarrassment, almost whispering it to the cashier. The cashier looked confued "deep friend Mars Bar? Do we do that? That sounds like something we shouldn't do!" and yelled across the store "how much is a deep fried Mars Bar??" Great. My cover blown. Everyone stared at me in disgust "how could she order such a thing!" (Incidentally, it was $3)
I scuttled back to my table and waited nervously, tapping my foot until A. returned from the toilet. It turned up in a brown paper bag, like one of those dirty magazines they sell in newsagencies.
Here is is, in all its glory:
It doesn't look so great, to be honest, but the first thing I noticed about it was that the batter was really thin and crispy. I was kind of dreading it would be covered in a thick, soggy, salty, fishy tasting batter, but this was almost like tempura - tempura chocolate and nougat! Now that sounds good! I managed to take a blurry shot of it uncut and cut (see above) before A got too impatient and said 'I'm eating it now, ok? I don't want it to get cold!'. Yes, I agree - a cold deep fried Mars Bar would be revolting.
We picked up our half, looked at each other and giggled and took a bite...and our eyes nearly rolled back in delight. It was....INCREDIBLE! I became aware of a murmering, like a litany from the other side of the table: This is fabulous. This is spectacular. This is incredible" only stopping for A. to take another bite.
It doesn't look like the Mars Bar is melted at all in the photo at the top, but the nougat in the middle had become light and soft, and the caramel and chocolate surrounding it had turned into melted chocolate/caramel sauce. The batter around it was light and not oily at all; the sign of a really good fish and chip shop is really hot, clean tasting oil and The Blue Bay distinguished itself there. The other best bit about it was they had sprinkled cinnamon sugar over the top. Yes, CINNAMON SUGAR! Ohmy gawd! I love that! It's just like a cinnamon doughnut but a million times better.
Anyway, it took us all of about 10 seconds to finish each incredible bite, but I can't say we longed for any more. Half a Mars Bar was definitely enough, especially after a meal of lots of fish, chips and salad. I even offered A my last, hoarded bite, but he declined "I just don't think I could do it' he moaned. Yes, half was certainly enough, and I could still taste it half an hour later.
You know, I'm starting to think I could recreate this at home for friends....we have a deep fryer. I'll just have to work on creating the perfect, light, crispy batter. Probably tempura batter. I think bite size chunks of Mars Bars and Bountys served on toothpicks would be awesome!
And The Blue Bay Fish Shop in Traralgon comes with my most enthusiastic recommendations. If you ever find yourself passing through and don't want to spend a fortune on a (crappy looking) pub meal or mediocre pizza, this offers you something a bit more special, for a really good price.
Blue Bay Fish Shop: Southside Central Princes Hwy, Traralgon, Victoria. Ph: 5176 0977