New Oceanic Take Away – defining local
Sunday April 3, 2016, 45 miles (73 km) – Total so far: 971 miles (1,562 km)
This page is about buying local and supporting local business. It documents my required purchases to qualify for a Bike Life Challenge ride. As part of the Challenge, you must make a local purchase of some kind with each ride.
So you can’t get much more ‘local’ than The New Oceanic Takeaway shop in Wagga Wagga. It has been owned for the past 40 years by a line of Greek families. They make up their own batter for the fried foods, hand-form fresh hamburger patties each day and hand-cut their chips from fresh potatoes. There is not much healthy food to be had there, but the food on offer is fantastic, old-fashioned takeaway.
Here is a link to their website:
The building is a plain, old, ugly 1960s or 1970s square box with a dry cleaners next door. It is a few blocks away from the main street. You walk in to see the electrical panels/switchboxes right next to the front window with no effort to disguise or cover them. The counter runs the length of the building with cream tiles so worn that the red of their composition shows through. The menu covers the front part of the wall over the original tiles. Then there are the air vents for the grill and a long row of fryers. Keep walking down the counter and you will see all the fish in the glass-fronted cold cabinet ready to be fried. Behind that you will see at least four deep fryers with baskets perched and ready to go. At the end of the fryers on the stainless steel bench is a pile of potatoes two feet high by three feet long – ready for the evening rush. Once you see how huge the ‘minimum chips’ serving is… you will understand why they need so many potatoes! Finally, down the back are the drinks fridges. On the opposite wall are some high tables with bar stools – but this is a takeaway shop, so they aren’t really meant for comfort or lingering.
As soon as I walk in, the woman running the counter asks what I want while she is preparing another guy’s sandwich order. I ask for the plain hamburger special. This is a plain burger, minimum chips and a 600ml coke for $12.00. She immediately pulls out a lump of mince, flops it on the steaming grill and flattens it with a spatula.
The plain hamburger comes with lettuce, tomato, beetroot, fried onion and your choice of sauce. You can get a ‘burger with the lot’ for a buck more and it will come with cheese, bacon and a fried egg, too. That is too much grease for me, though, and I’ve never liked Australian bacon. It isn’t crispy and tastes more like ham or Canadian bacon. So plain burgers are the go for me.
While I’m waiting, I cruise the drinks case to get the Coke (to take along with me riding tomorrow) and find a new milk for the Guntonneuring. I find a chocolate milk made by Riverina Fresh. We’ve gotten out of our local Kiewa Country territory and found another local milk. Wagga is smack in the middle of the Riverina area.
After I had set up the tent at the caravan park, I just rode up into town with all my gear. I left the empty pannier my tent lives in attached to the front rack. It was fortuitous. When the woman goes to package up my chips, I can’t believe how big the ‘minimum chips’ serving is!! It will fill that front pannier!!
I take the haul down to a nearby park where there are cricket and footy fields, tennis courts, a skate park and the indoor pool and fitness centre. I sit there thinking that anyone walking by would think I had an eating disorder!
The hamburger is delicious! You can’t do much better in Oz (you can do lots better in the US, but burgers are definitely a US thing… even though burgers are trendy over here right now). And you certainly can’t do better for $6.50! I have to laugh because my total expenditure for a huge, tasty burger, more chips than I can eat, a 600ml Coke and 500 ml milk is $14.90. At one of those trendy places, the burger itself would be a minimum of $14!
So, there you go… heaps of calories for under $15 from a local institution. My $15 also gave a bunch of skateboarders a snack since I took over what I couldn’t eat to them.
Winners all around… well, you might point out that the obesity epidemic in the US and Oz is a direct result of this sort of establishment. I would agree… but I also think the obesity epidemic stems not from the food itself, really, but from our relationship with it and the frequency that we consume it. If you gorge yourself on this type of food once a month and go ride your bike long distances the next day, you will be fine. The trouble is that nobody moves anymore, many people drink soft drink daily, and everyone eats fast food much more frequently than they should. But that is just my opinion, my stuffed-to-the-gills-with-fried-potatoes opinion 🙂