It’s been a while folks – over a year since our last culinary offering. Too long between meals frankly, but for good reason: we’ve been busy. Travelling from one end of the earth to the next, working out where our primary kitchen ought to be, all the while, revamping the sh.k site into the sleek beast you see before you.
Last October, Hon and I split from Berlin for the winter, and ventured back to our native Australian lands (via Ko Chang, Thailand for a month of hot curry and beach lounging). Back in Oz chiefly for Christmas, we’d intended to keep travelling on via South East Asia again ’til April, a long, slow, sweaty and delicious jaunt through culinary wonderland all the way back to Europe. Well…that didn’t happen. We were lulled by the Australian summer and the promise of sandy good times via Hon’s family beachhouse in the rural confines of Normanville, South Australia (population 864).
In Normanville, we lived a relaxing, at times strange and isolating small town existence for what felt like a very long time, and slowly infiltrated the local community. It wasn’t quite an adventure packed romp through foreign lands, but it was a fine chance to collect our heads after a wild couple of years abroad, to cook, read, write and rejuvenate our systems. Life here was more or less the direct opposite of our share house existence back in Deutschland. Trade housemates, Cormac and Heiner for ‘Ponglord’, the family border collie; hectic nights in the smoky bars of Neukölln for cups of tea and bed before 10; one of the most volatile capitals in European history for the McLaren Vale wine region, and long summer nights along glorious empty shorelines. We got cosy in Normanville. Perhaps a little too much.
As you can imagine, there wasn’t a whole lot going on nearby. Thankfully, we were privy to an unusually high per capita surplus of decent cafes for a rural area. One of the first things we noticed passing through Normanville’s sister town Yankalilla was a curiously funky looking vintage garage with cafe shopfront lurking just off the main drag. Prior to lurching into an unfortunate caffeine detox for far too many slow, turgid weeks, Hon and I started making 21 Junk St our new local.
It became evident during the first visit here that our unexpectedly long stint in the middle of nowhere would not be quite as isolating, or without a bang-up daily infusion of artisan caffeination (their range of teas were also inviting, making detox slightly less mentally disturbing). There was everything to like about the place – the excellent coffee, the friendly service, the fact that it was here, to say nothing of its exterior Yoda stencil, pre 10-am punk soundtrack, and neat array of vintage curios coating the coffee tables and walls (curated, presumably, from the miscellany of pre-loved junk lurking in their rear garage trove, which one was able to explore should they survive the intrepid traipse along the shrapnel driveway without being attacked with unconditional love from the cafe’s three resident golden retrievers).
The dogs were a drawcard, but the menu was the leading lady in this show. So too, TJ, the pink haired, gut-health-lovin’ dynamo-barista behind the whole enterprise, and her right hand champion, Hope, who multi-tasks on-site as an highly sought after exhibiting tattoo artist.
Consider some the delights on their board of fare: raw berry and lime swirl cheesecake, turmeric lattes, smoothie bowls, paleo Thai prawn salad. So too, burgers. Good ones. Ones to make you ravenous. Ones to make you drool.
On our last day in town before shooting back to our life in Berlin, we enjoyed a parting 21 Junk St burger feast. Hon took down the classic 100% grain fed beef patty from Wakefield Grange butchers around the corner, while I (still on enforced probation from anything fattening/caffeinating/delicious) slammed down an equally sensational vegan nutmeat variety, both of them served up on soft damper rolls.
With TJ at the helm, 21 Junk St seemed to unveil something fresh and innovative every weekend. Maybe we were just in town too damn long. Last I heard, they’ve been pumping out feta stuffed lamb burgers, and beef, brie and nashi pear on a rye sourdough roll. Almost (almost) enough to want to fly back.
From our vantage here in Berlin, Normanville seems like a long, strange dream. Still, a tasty one. A healthy one. One that, in the clearing of endless Australian space, we rediscovered our sh.k inspiration. Expect more from us very soon.
Lately we’ve been jonesing for a solid burger fix, a healthy one with all the flavours like the 21 Junk St experience. Here’s what we came up with: The Ultimate Bean Burger