After all the buzz that was generated from his Masterchef croquembouche and chocolate mousse cake creations, there are probably very few people in Australia who are not familiar with Adriano Zumbo’s name. Back in August, Kiki was nice enough to have brought some of his cakes over for us to sample and it really was a case of one-taste-and-you’re-hooked.
We managed to share the above cakes between four people! The ‘Tarte aux fruits de la passion' looked like a summer sunset and tasted oh-so passionfruity that it embodied a slice of tropical weather despite the winter cold. 'Amanda made the cut 6/11/81' was an absolute revelation to me with about seven layers of deliciousness melded into such a small cake. Looks can definitely be deceiving, and the layers included milk passion caramel mousse, passionfruit marshmallow, lime crème, coconut crunch and a brownie base.
A few months later I finally made it out there myself, for a lunch date with none other than beautiful Wifey. We lunched at the café before wandering across to the pâtisserie to pick up some cakes to go.
It is a beautiful sunny day and we seat ourselves at a table in direct sunlight before worrying about getting sunburn and moving to a table in the shade when one becomes available. Wifey enjoys a flat white while I sit back with a pot of Earl Grey that comes in a stacked teapot and cup set.
It’s lunchtime so Wifey decides to have the quiche Lorraine whilst I go for the baguette of prosciutto, bocconcini, tomato and pesto. Moments later I am told that the prosciutto has been substituted with salami that day and, as a lover of cured meats, I go along with it anyway. The quiche arrives first and has a wonderfully crumbly pastry as well as a creamy eggy filling that’s not too rich and is studded with plenty of bacon pieces.
My baguette is exactly what I expect, with its salty and slightly spicy salami, milky bocconcini, sweet tomato, fresh salad leaves and basil pesto to marry the whole lot together. The baguette has a very chewy crust however, and my jaw receives a thorough workout.
After lunch we ponder dessert options and decide to share the romantically named 'PARIS - La Vie en Rose' as rose and lychee are both high on Wifey’s favoured flavours list. When we place our order with the waitress, we also request some water for the table. What we do not expect is to receive the half bottle that has been left behind from a recently vacated neighbouring table!
Its saving grace is that the water is in a pink bottle that perfectly complements our pink hued dessert. 'PARIS - La Vie en Rose' is comprised of a coconut strawberry tapioca shake in a small carafe, and rose crème brûlée, raspberry sorbet, lychees and rose macaron in a glass dessert cup.
The tapioca shake is exactly like coconut sago but spiked with strawberry bits. And whilst I am used to eating sago with a spoon, this shake has a lower concentration of tapioca pearls and drinking it with the wide straw gives the illusion of enjoying a cup of Taiwanese bubble tea. We feel sorry for the rose macaron that has been bisected to adorn the other half of this dessert and are at a bit of a loss to identify the rose crème brûlée. Assuming it’s the creamy mixture at the bottom of the cup, we both find it more similar to melted vanilla ice-cream but it is delicious nonetheless. My favourite part is, of course, the tart and smooth raspberry sorbet.
After a bit of requisite girly chatter we move on to the pâtisserie where I purchase several things to take home and share with Monsieur Poisson. One is the ‘NY Cheesecake’, for which I cannot remember the description, that appeared to be coated in biscuit crumbs and flaked almonds. The innards also seemed to have nut slivers throughout but was not distinctly cheesecakey.
An ‘Opera’ was purchased with Monsieur Poisson in mind, although this was a reworking of a classic that featured coffee-soaked jaconde, coffee buttercream, liquorice ganache and passionfuit ganache. The liquorice flavour was subtle but evident, however the passionfruit was not and Monsieur Poisson said he preferred the classic classic over this one.
And for me was the ‘Tarte aux Fraises’ which had balsamic pepper sous vide strawberries, vanilla crème brûlée in a pâté sablé shell. The berries were not obviously peppery and were tender without being mushy like in jams. The pastry shell was buttery and crumbly as always.
I have yet to make a trip back although I really should soon. If you want to keep up to date with Adriano Zumbo’s ever-changing range of offerings, then Ooh, look… is a pretty efficient and reliable source.
296 Darling St, Balmain NSW
Tel: (02) 9810 7318
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-6pm
Shop 5, 308 Darling St, Balmain NSW
Tel: (02) 9555 1199
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-4pm