November 14, 2007

Lambasting the Mint Condition

Pretend you don’t know anything about lamb or how to eat it. For one moment, picture it as a new meat that has been discovered by mankind, and a team of scientist and chefs are fast at work to discover the best way to eat this new “lamb.”

Now, imagine that they declare lamb and mint to be one of the best ways to eat this new and mysterious meat. Chances are, you’re a little put off by this declaration. Meat and mint? Isn’t that like having beef flavored Altoids?

Of course, lamb and mint isn’t a new discovery. It’s actually a quite old and traditional pair. Put it in a pasty, and chances are you’re in England.

And if you happen to be in England, you really should try a lamb and mint pasty. Whether you get it from some old-fashioned bakery in the country or a commercial “Cornish Bakehouse” in London (like I did) it is an excellent piece of grub. Pasties, for starters, are nice flaky pastries typically containing potatoes, onions, and some form of meat, though you can find vegetarian versions. They’re kind of like the stepbrother of steak and kidney pie.

Inside a lamb and mint pasty lies a plethora of potatoes, some onions and lamb meat. If you’re lucky, the cubed potatoes and diced onions will be so soft from cooking that you can’t tell the difference between the two. You’ll also get a little more meat than I did. The only real bite of lamb I got was in the very center of the pasty.

There wasn’t much mint to speak of, either. Whether it just blended in to the pasty experience so seamlessly that it wasn’t noticeable or whether the folks at the Cornish Bakehouse are too cheap to include a man’s portion of mint sauce is debatable, but the fact that you can’t taste much in the way of mint isn’t.

Which is a shame, because as someone who has never tried lamb and mint before, I was really wondering what kind of mint is best with your slice of sheep. Is it peppermint? Spearmint? Some form of mystery mint?

That will have to be a question for a rainy day. In the meantime, the Cornish Bakehouse is serving up some pretty good food that overcomes its flaws. For £2.95, you can’t get much more artery-clogging, brick-in-the-bottom-of-your-stomach food than the brick-sized pasties they are serving up. The potatoes and onions are so good, you probably won’t mind that there’s barely enough meat to constitute a carnivorous meal.

Hey, the cheese and onion pasties are even cheaper. Why not save your lamb experience for another venue and just try a cheap and tasty pasty? The lack of meat and mint forces me to rate my Cornish Bakehouse pasty at just 3 out of five sporks, but a cheese and onion pasty would probably get higher marks for its more accurate nomenclature and lower price.
Now, “wool”dn’t you like that?

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