The Jean Claude Van Hamme. The Barry Croquer. The Granoel Gallagher. There's a wicked sense of humour at Abbots & Kinney, surpassed only by their dedication to flaky pastry. The crowning glory here is the sfogliatelle, of which they only bake a dozen. If luck strikes you, they occasionally bake a second batch. Owner Jonny Pisanelli says he'd love to make more but "they're so much work".
If you ever had the good fortune to visit the former From Scratch at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market, Abbots & Kinney is what happened next. It's just Pisanelli at the helm now, opening this slip of a cafe in June 2015. Don't be fooled by the cafe name either - it's inspired by the American property developer Abbot Kinney who famously built Venice Beach, converting a previously swampy and unloved part of California into a major tourist attraction.
In a neat twist of fate, Pisanelli has done exactly the same with this narrow shopfront. The cleverly designed space, contrasting pale Tasmanian oak with matte black walls and floor along a harmonious diagonal, is the work of Studio-Gram winning them Best Cafe Design in the 2015 Eat Drink Design Awards.
Barry Croquer and danwiches
I ended up visiting here twice during my brief stay in Adelaide last year, skipping the hotel breakfast for the promise of pastry. They take their coffee seriously too. Not only is Pisanelli a pastry whiz, he's also the 2015 South Australia Barista Champion.
Barry Croquer $9
Butter croissant filled with gruyere, bechamel, leg ham and cornichons
Trivia buffs will know that Barry Crocker sang the original theme song to Neighbours. One could make all kind of cross-references with his namesake croissant, hammed up and unapologetically stuffed with cheese.
Stretchy gruyere cheese in the Barry Croquer croissant
The lofty croissant seems a little brutally flattened by the sandwich press by the time it arrives but it's a small price to pay for the reward of stretchy gruyere cheese and a warm puddle of bechamel. It's a rich breakfast but the pile of rocket on the side does wonders, its balsamic-dressed bitterness paving the way for yet another bite.
Breaky Danwich $9
Slow roast tomato, bacon relish, goats curd and soft boiled egg
The next day it's all about the Danwich, a turret of pastry draped with a variety of fillings for the day.
Breaky Danwich, coffee and the morning papers
We ordered the slow roasted tomato and bacon relish version, its saltiness countered by a runny boiled egg and a generous dollop of goats curd.
Jean Claude Van Hamme $9
And because sharing is caring, we also find room for the Jean Claude Van Hamme, because how could we say no?
Leg ham and bechamel inside the Jean Claude Van Hamme
We cut into the pastry to find a double impact (oh yes, I went there) of leg ham and bechamel. It's an impressive construction with the pastry still managing to separate into distinct layers despite the weight of its filling.
Salted chocolate cookies $3.50
The dessert cabinet is small but enticing. I had one of these salted chocolate chip cookies takeaway and was glad I did. It's that perfect balance of crispy edges and chewy middle, punctuated by alternate bursts of bittersweet chocolate and tongue-tingling salt.
Bananas in Pyjamas chocolate and banana cake croissant $5
On the first day I visited, Pisanelli had just put the finishing touches to his Bananas in Pyjamas, an ambitious concoction combining a croissant with chocolate and banana cake.
Tunnels of chocolate and banana bread in the Bananas in Pyjamas
The glaze on the surface of the pastry is incredible but it's only when you turn it sideways that you notice the little tunnels of chocolate paste and banana bread.
Pastry layers, molten chocolate and banana bread
A cross-section cut reveals a wondrous network of distinct pastry layers, its softness accented by the crunch of caramelised pastry on the outside. The banana bread log may be small but its flavour carries itself throughout the pastry, highlighted by the molten river of melted chocolate.
But really, the one thing you must get your hands on is the sfogliatelle. It's a skill that Pisanelli honed in its Italian birthplace, the province of Benevento. Pisanelli travelled there specifically to learn its complex craft after completing a TAFE patisserie course. It's also where his family is from.
The sfogliatella is sometimes known as a lobster tail in the United States but I much prefer the way "sfogliatelle" rolls around in your mouth. The lobster tail usually holds a filling of French cream.
Sfogliatelle translates to "small thin layers or leaves" in reference to its appearance. Pisanelli's version is a sight to behold. Each layer is distinct and separate, fanning out as a series of noticeable ridges.
Candied orange rind and ricotta inside the sfogliatelle
That first crack of crisp pastry is so deafening you can't help but laugh with glee, even as powdered sugar falls onto the plate, your lap and leaves a trail all over your lips. Inside is a soft and warm filling of lightly sweetened ricotta dotted with citrusy bursts of candied orange rind.
Coiled layers of pastry
And I can't help but marvel when my pastry layers start to pull apart into coils. It's like being faced with an edible Slinky. There's only one thing to do. You eat every last bit.
Grab Your Fork travelled to Adelaide as a guest of South Australia Tourism for a Tasting Australia preview but visited Abbots & Kinney independently and anonymously.
Abbots & Kinney
78 Pirie Street, Adelaide
Tel: +61 (02) 0412 550 336
Monday to Friday 6.30am-3.30pm
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Sfogliatelle - Fine Italian Bakery Voglia di Pane, Woodpark, Sydney
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3/11/2016 01:14:00 am