As promised, I shall start with my Australia oriented travelogue, going down the alphabet as I recount my foodscapades and experiences :]
To start, I have Adriano Zumbo. I’m not sure how many Singaporeans or Malaysians know about him, but he’s the cute young bald chef who appears sporadically in Australia’s Masterchef, and his appearance never fails to bring trepidation in the hearts of those Masterchef hopefuls, because they know they’re going to have to recreate a really hard dessert made by Zumbo. Some of my favorite desserts by Zumbo include the V8 Vanilla, which I hope to recreate soon, and his macarons :]
|Pictures linked to their original sites.|
|The V8 Vanilla cake.|
Also, 6 November, when he celebrates his birthday, is also known as Macaron Day in Sydney. He goes crazy by producing more than 60 flavors of macarons, usually wacky and unheard of macaron combinations. Check out this post from Simon to get an idea of the 66 flavors for 2010 and this one by Helen for the 60 flavors for 2009. Check out the pictures for an idea of how crazy things get on that day. I’m pretty sure the queue outside his bakery stretches on for miles! How I wish I could be here this year!
Anyway, one of my most vivid memories of my last trip to Sydney was having a macaron and a chocolate cake from Adriano Zumbo. I made a trip down to the Balmain outlet, queued for some time, before deciding on this huge macaron – the Houdini (macaron with fresh strawberry, raspberry and basil curd) and this multi-layered chocolate cake. I can’t remember the names of these desserts now, but I still remember the amazement I had when I tried them. I still remember the praline and feuilletine layer in that marvelously executed chocolate entremet. He also conducts these macaron master classes once in a while, but alas I couldn’t get myself enrolled into one during my stay here.
Naturally, Adriano Zumbo was one of my first stops (actually not really since it was a week after I arrived in Sydney that I got here) and surprisingly, I was rather underwhelmed by the selection he had in store. Maybe it’s because I’ve tasted so many macarons and sweets in Melbourne (will write about those soon), but I felt that Zumbo looked a little rundown after the chic patisseries I went to. His macarons were not of the same size – see the different between my salted caramel and strawberry one, and the filling across the macarons were not equal! That is unacceptable to me – slight differences are okay but I had to choose the macaron with the most filling because the guy was going to pick one which looked under-sandwiched :/
Nevertheless, he is still one of the more inventive patissiers that I believe Sydney has seen! Just check out his website for an idea of how creative he is! Every season, he comes up with an array of new cakes and macaron flavors, and obviously, this season’s inspiration must be Asian, or more specifically Malaysia, as he has these palm sugar and pandan entremets, as well as satay flavored macaron! I wasn’t that daring to try the satay macaron, and stuck with plain old salted caramel and strawberry, as well as toasted white chocolate for a later trip.
|The exterior of his lesser known Rozelle outlet. There’s seating inside!|
|Inside his lab…|
|An open kitchen where you can see the patissier filling up the macaron shells.|
|Flavors of the day – 6 flavors, including very Malaysian ones like pandan, palm sugar and satay(!)|
|Beautiful skirting on the shells, but see the size difference? =[|
|Eeks definite NO-NO!|
|It was strawberries and cream, and it did taste pretty good though!|
|An almost finished almond croissant – the actual thing is three times the size!|
|An innard shot of the almond cream.|
I was not too impressed with the almond croissant – the croissant was pretty good – the outside was crusty, but the layers did not have that buttery flavor I was seeking, and the almond cream inside reeked too much of almond essence and not of the almond flavor from real almonds. The icing on top of the croissant was also overly sweet, detracting from the wonderfully done pastry. It really was a pity actually!
As for the macarons, I was pretty happy with the flavors of both macarons – the strawberries & cream macaron didn’t have much of a strawberry flavour, but in the cream, you could see tiny specks of vanilla seeds, which was awesome – the cream was very wonderfully balanced. As for the salted caramel, in a taste test with Baroque’s salted caramel macaron – Zumbo’s won in terms of taste – the caramel has just the right balance of sweet and salty. Only fault was the texture of the macaron – I personally like macarons that have a crisp exterior, giving way to a chewy interior when bit into, but Zumbo’s macarons were merely chewy and soft. I’m not sure if this is the result of the macaron being placed in the fridge for way too long, but I tried his macarons on 2 other occasions and they had the same texture, so I guess to each his own!
Balmain – 296 Darling Street
Rozelle – 114 Terry Street
Also located in Manly (which I have yet to visit)
Price: $ ($2.30 for a macaron, $9 for an entremet, <$10 for assorted breads and pastries)
PS: My advice is to head to the outlet in Rozelle, because that is where his ‘lab’ is, and it is the less popular location (no queues!). The Balmain outlet is the original outlet, and when I visited on Saturday and Sunday, the queue snaking out of the shop was crazy!