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Food Pilgrimage – Zumbo’s Pâtisserie (Balmain, Sydney)

zumboThe Doctor and I took a short trip to Sydney to escape the Melbourne Cup festivities last weekend.  In an attempt to get over my obsession with over-planning, I only allowed myself to schedule two specific activities – the first of which was to taste some of Adriano Zumbo’s creations.

The second activity was to feed the sharks at Sydney Aquarium, but that’s another post.

Adriano Zumbo Pâtisserie – http://adrianozumbo.com
296 Darling Street
Balmain, NSW 2040
(02) 9810 7318

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday  8:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday  8:00am – 4:00pm

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We decided to visit his pâtisserie in Balmain instead of the café in Rozelle, since it was easier to get to by public transport (eg: ferry).  According to Google Maps, it was only 1.7km from the ferry harbour… what Google forgot to mention that it was almost completely uphill!  It took us about 20 minutes to walk to the shop, but there is actually a bus that runs along Darling Street that you can take instead.  We just kept saying that it would be worth all the calories we’d soon be consuming.

The shop is really tiny – there is only about a metre or so for customers to line up along the cake counter and make their orders.  The two shop assistants were lovely, and quite opinionated on which products they liked… which is very useful when you can’t choose anything yourself.zumbo6

Clockwise from top left: Pain à la canelle (brioche feuilletage with cinnamon crème amandes*), Pain au raisins (brioche feuilletage baked with raisins and custard), Quiche Sue (spinach, goats cheese and blueberries), assorted cookies, Miss Marple (Grand Marnier strawberries, marscapone Grand Marnier mousse and orange jelly filled crepe), Lukas Rides The Train (macadamia praline mousse, macadamia dacquiose, vanilla chantilly, pear tatin and macadamia feuilletine)

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Clockwise from top left: Tarte au citron (lemon crème and pâte sucrée), two types of gateaux voyage (tea cakes), Cha Cha Cha (chocolate plaquettes, chilli chocolate ganache, caramel chantilly and moist lemon cake) and white sourdough bread.

I guess if I were to give a tiny bit of criticism, it would be the labels.  It’s all well and good for the chefs and well-educated to know what’s in the cakes (in fact, someone in line ahead of us was an executive chef, and was buying stuff for their restaurant), but I shouldn’t really need a French-English dictionary for just cakes… right?  It’s bad enough standing there trying to make a decision!

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But a decision we did make.  We bought two Sugar Lips, strawberry jam and custard ($4 each).  These were massive V-shaped doughnut pastries, about the size of an outstretched hand.  They weren’t oily or overly rich, but the sheer size meant that we were munching them all the way through the afternoon.  In fact, we finally finished them off about 6 hours later, sitting in front of Krispy Kreme (which had just declared they were going into administration…), sipping the best coffee we’d had so far in Sydney.

The strawberry jam was thick with actual chunks of fruit and very tangy, but still sweet enough to flavour the chewy pastry.  The custard was a standard vanilla one, but was perfectly smooth and thick enough not to drip through where I’d bitten through.

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We also got a Malt and Teaser ($8), as recommended by the shop assistants.  This was malt dacquiose, almond pralie feullitine, malt bavarois, vanilla cremeux and chocolate sabayon mousse.  Amazingly, this also survived the six hours between us buying it, walking back downhill to the ferry (and the subsequent trip back to Darling Harbour), then even more shopping around the city centre.  The Doctor unwisely said he’d only have a mouthful… let’s just say we wound up splitting this as evenly as possible while still remaining married to each other!

The malt taste was predominant throughout the entire cake, with the almond praline and chocolate crumbles providing a crunchy texture.  It did honestly taste like a Malteaser, only without the cheap chocolate aftertaste, or the bitterness from the malt.  It was extremely rich, but the different textures just made you want to keep tasting it again and again.

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Finally, as a favour to Celeste (Berry Travels), we picked up some of the famous Zumbo macarons ($2 each)!  Clockwise from top left, we had Earl Grey and Milk Chocolate, Mont Blanc, Coconut and Pandan, and Mandarin and Date. 

Again, the shop assistants were lovely and gave us a broken Earl Grey macaron to taste.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I could quite appreciate it since I kind of… hate… Earl Grey tea, and the macaron was very faithful to that taste.  Texture-wise, it was light and extremely delicate – the outer shell practically puffed away in your mouth.  There was only the slightest chewiness to the biscuit, and the filling was just like chocolate that had melted in your hand.

Compared to the macarons that I made (and I’ve made quite a few recently… including both Zumbo’s French and Italian recipes), this macaron had no almond aftertaste to it at all.  They also had very small feet, but were beautifully glossy and a perfect generous bite-size.  I would probably rave about them a bit more if I had tried a flavour that I actually liked.

Overall – I do wish this was more local to me!  Zumbo is apparently opening one in Melbourne later this year, but there really isn’t that much year left for him to do so…  He’d better hurry up if he wants to catch the Christmas rush.  Yes, his popularity probably shot through the roof due to Masterchef, but I do think that his title of “mad god of pastry” is quite well-deserved.  The quirky names for his delicious creations, the whimsical but tasty flavour combinations, and amazing presentation just all add up to a wonderful dessert experience that I’m glad to have had.

Translations

  • Pain à la canelle Cinnamon bread (brioche puff pastry with cinnamon cream and almonds)
  • Pain au raisins Raisin bread (brioche puff pastry with raisins and custard)
  • Lukas Rides The TrainCandied macadamia mousse, macadamia sponge cake, vanilla whipped cream, caramelised pear and macadamia puff pastry
  • Tarte au citronLemon tart (lemon cream and sweet pie pastry)
  • Cha Cha Cha – Thin, tempered chocolate sheets, chilli chocolate ganache, caramel whipped cream and lemon cake
  • Malt and Teaser - malt sponge cake, chocolate crunchies with candied almond bits, malt custard, vanilla firm cream and chocolate mousse. 

Translations mostly from http://www.slowtrav.com/france/restaurants/glossary.htm and extensive Googling.

7 comments to Food Pilgrimage – Zumbo’s Pâtisserie (Balmain, Sydney)

  • Sefie, love the visual tour…and about feeding the sharks..LOL! love the contrast…hehehehe!

  • Sam

    Oh my gawd you lucky duck i’m dying to go to Zumbo’s shop :(. That Earl grey macaron sounds interesting, Im a big tea drinker so if it’s gonna taste like the tea I’m definately gonna try hell or high water to get there and get me some of those macarons.

    @Chisa wanna go for a food round? Meet ya in sydney :)

  • Let me do the raving for you. I can’t do it on my blog because OMG I inhaled them so fast I couldn’t take photos.

    The Mont Blanc wasn’t that great. It was good, but it wasn’t mind blowing. The Mandarin and Date was very mandarin-y and not much date.

    But the two that really really blew my mind were the Coconut and Pandan and the Earl Grey.

    But of course, I do like Earl Grey.

    It was incredibly faithful to the taste of the tea, and I was in 7th heaven! To be honest, I thought the chocolate ruined it a little, I’d have been happy with another tea flavoured filling.

    And that coconut pandan! Incredibly refreshing, incredibly easy to eat. Super subtle flavourings but with the tiny zing to give you the glossy eyed look of pleasure.

    Thank you so much for bringing these back. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience being able to taste these!

  • Oh noooo… Zumbo in Melbourne would cause TOTAL CHAOS!! But hehe great review :)

  • Oh man, I’m looking at that pandan coconut macaron wishing I could grab it out of my screen and eat it. Also pretty much everything in your photos. I’ve been to Sydney a bunch of times and still haven’t gotten around to visiting Zumbo, will definitely have to change that soon!

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