Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adriano Zumbo, Balmain

Adriano Zumbo, The Patissierie

After assessment week, the gang with a big appetite troop down to experience the creations of Adriano Zumbo, Sydney’s answer to Pierre Herme. Our motto “travel anywhere for good food” points us in the direction of faraway Balmain. We’re glad that we finally made it there.

Adriano Zumbo, the pastry chef and creator, is really young. At 27, he runs his own patisserie that does takeaway pastries and cakes and a chocolate café. He’s an inspiration to me as he travels and notes down flavours and then experients with different ingredients and create pretty unexpected desserts. I’m also in awe of pastry chefs who continuously launch new ranges of desserts, discontented with status quo. Here at Adriano, you’ll find new ranges of desserts that change with the seasons. We were right about time for his winter collection.

As we stepped into the tiny hole in the wall patisserie, we (I) were (was) mortified that it has been raided. I’m exaggerating slightly but most of the display cabinets were almost empty. My first reaction was to exclaimed to the guy behind the counter. He then told me that there was a massive rush around noon and told us to come earlier the next time.

I always hope to see the good in every situation. In this case, it greatly helped us narrow down our choices. I cannot imagine if the full range was in sight. We’ll probably be stationed at the store for hours and getting more than we can chew on.

Even in an almost empty shop, we spent about a good fifteen minutes before we walked away with our prized goodies- two cakes and seven macarons between four of us.

Then we trooped down for a few hundred metres to Adriano’s café chocolat to order coffee and erm..more sweets.

A chocolate with a name like ‘raspberry and parmesan cheese’ would hardly go unnoticed. While some may give it looks of bewilderment or maybe disgust before turning attention to its more endearing neighbours, the more adventurous lot would be lured by the possibility of wonderment.

We belong to the latter group so each of us got a piece of that dark chocolate with raspberry and parmesan cheese. Being in a chocolat café, you can’t stop at a single chocolate piece, so we ordered a chocolate ganache macaron, a banana chocolate macaron and a earl grey flavoured macaron.

Satisfied with our lot, we wanted to dig in but not knowing where to begin. Eventually, we started off with the two cakes that we chose: Lucas rides the tube which was what I chose: macadamia praline mousse, macadamia dacquoise, vanilla chantilly, pear tartin, macademia feuilletine. Our next cake was Aranus ( I might have gotten its name wrong)..Aranus was very interesting. I wouldn’t pick this dessert so I’m glad that someone else actually did. To me, it was somewhat Asian inspired- with spiced sable biscuit, mandarin mousse, tonka bean brulee, almond and ginger crunchy bits. It was really interesting blend of flavours and textures.

Lucas rides the tube

Aranus-The winter collection

Both desserts were so different and unique in every way; it’s too hard trying to pick a favourite. It’s would be like making my sis pick out her favourite bag and she’ll justify that each bag would suit a different day and different occasion.

Our adventurous selves then emerged as we gingerly took bites of our chocolates. While I wouldn’t mind eating them again, I thought it was a bit of a push to bring the two flavours-raspberry and parmesan together. Both flavours were intense and sharp but somehow they were so far apart on the spectrum that made them seem like an awkward couple being on a blind date.

Moving on to the happy-looking and colourful macarons: the first thing we noticed was that there were of different sizes! Their flavours were unlabelled. We did try to find out what they were but we found ourselves lost in between tonka bean, pear and salted popcorn as the guy behind the counter rattled off their names.

So we had a taste test: between us, we managed to list out the flavours- (from left to right) pear, salt and vinegar, passionfruit, tonka bean, berries, mandarin orange and spice and salted popcorn.

Macarons- The winter collection

The macarons were a bit of a letdown; you cannot compared these to the ones at Pierre Herme or even La Renaissance. The stand out flavour for me is the mandarin orange and spice and the salted popcorn oh..and the tonka bean which has hints of vanilla flavour.

It was a light and delightful tea, giving us hints of what Adriano has up his sleeves and definitely leaving me wanting more surprises.

Adriano Zumbo, The Patissierie
296 Darling Street Balmain.
Ph 02 9810 7318.
Open 8 to 6 Monday to Saturday and 8 to 4 on Sundays.

Café Chocolat
Shop 5, 308 Darling Street Balmain.
Ph 02 9555 1199
Open from 8 to 4 Monday to Friday, 8 to 5 on Saturdays and 9 to 5 Sundays.

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