Growing up, I always had a thing against ‘Mot’. Born and raised in Golden Bay, I got sucked in to the hippies versus bogans rivalry that went on there in the 1980s and 1990s. I’m glad I’m over that. When you head down the main street of Motueka today it’s a thriving little centre.
The Rolling Pin Bakery, at the north end of the town, is your classic Kiwi bakery. You’ll find all the usual comforts, such as those shredded chicken or ham rolls with grated cheese and beetroot, in those soft, chalky, whiter-than-white bread rolls. They had a sign out for scallop pies and I definitely wasn’t letting that go by without a taste.
I was disappointed to see all the scallop pies were gone, so disappointed I said so out loud. The bakery was run by two middle-aged ladies who moved about the place with the sort of no-nonsense efficiency you expect from women in small New Zealand towns. Overhearing me, one of the women said they had one scallop pie in the oven. They didn’t like to put too many out, as the pies dried out if they were left in the warmer too long. It was a problem that obviously bothered her. She discussed trialling a new system of putting them up on a higher self in the warmer. This is the sort of care for food that often goes unnoticed in unassuming bakeries in New Zealand, but it’s common. They want to serve food at its best. I bought the scallop pie, along with a mince savoury for my son.
There was a baby sound asleep in her buggy in a corner of the bakery kitchen. The woman behind the counter said it’s the coolest place for her to sleep. Motueka is always so stiflingly hot in the summer. So damn hot that a bakery can be the coolest place to hang out in the early afternoon.
This scallop pie is not for those with timid arteries. It had a rich buttery pastry, flaky as anything. This was a mess-up-your-car-good type of pie crust. The pie had four scallops, along with their roe (generous I thought), and the sauce was a béchamel full of the flavours of stock, cream, butter and perhaps a hint of wine. The bacon was a thick, textury cut, and had been fried well to ensure a sweet flavour. The consistency of the sauce was bang on, a little bit oozy, but still thick enough to avoid molten drops falling out and scalding my legs (which were making a rare appearance in shorts that day).
My son, meanwhile, had finished his mince savoury before I’d even started taking pictures of my scallop pie, and he was already asking for another one. If the endorsement of a three year old means anything, his was emphatic.
The Rolling Pin Bakery pies are good enough to want them on a boiling hot day, in a boiling hot car, when you should feel like eating gazpacho. I’ll admit we did get an ice-cream from the petrol station after, which, on top of such a pie, made me feel a bit ill. It reminded me of being a kid when a good summer day ended with feeling giddy and ill from a combination of sunburn, too much fish and chips, and at least two litres of fanta.