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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Adriano Zumbo, Balmain

I think I'm in love.

I've been a late arrival to the Adriano Zumbo online party, he the cherished darling of swooning sweet-toothed food bloggers all over Sydney. It doesn't take long for me to fall head over heels myself.

This small but amazing patissierie is housed in a narrow shop on Darling Street, a few cellophaned gingerbread houses greeting you at the entrance. Barely wide enough to fit two customers, the corridor down the left is long but rewarding, a journey that takes you past savoury quiches and pastries, sourdough breads on top and behind the counter, sweet loaves, flaky pastries, drawers of pristine multicoloured macarons and then finally, the illuminated showcase of exquisite pastries for which he is so renowned.

Christmas gingerbread house

Quiche Nancy $5.20
Corn, roast tomato and pesto

Fruit danishes $4.50

Banana bread $12.00; Orange almond cake $15.00 and pear cake

Berry brioche

Finger bun (left) and mango & jasmine (right) macarons $1.80 each

The macarons are cause enough for me to pause and ponder. There are twelve flavours currently in production although only half of them are available today. They range from the fruitiness of pink grapefruit, pineapple & ginger, forest berry and green apple, to the more unusual blue cheese, yoghurt & chilli, liquorice and coconut pandan. Dessert-inspired flavours bring the candy pink coconut encrusted "finger bun", a deep brown "sticky date pudding" and the almond flaked "feullitine".

Pink grapefruit and liquorice macarons $1.80 each

And then the climatic showcase. You can almost hear the angels sing. Lined up with precision along pristine white catwalks, a utopia of desserts calls you near. The white surrounds and backlighting give a heavenly halo effect to these creatures of perfection. It also creates a handy whitebox for the camera-clicking foodblogger.

Craigie bam! $7.50
Chocolate dacquoise, chocolate sabayon with salted caramel debris,
chocolate caramel creameaux an caramel mousse (gluten-free)

Adriano Zumbo's website will tell you he trained at the world-famous pastry school Ecole Lentore in Paris. You can tell. It's clear at first glance that these are no ordinary desserts. Each gateaux is considered and deliberate, creative interplays of flavour and texture melded into exquisite edible artforms that are almost a shame to eat. The whimsical names of many of his desserts only add to the appeal. Not only is he uber talented, he's also down-to-earth with a good sense of humour. *swoon*

Rice pudding eclair $5.20
Pate a choux, rice pudding creme patisserie
with cinnamon dusted fondant

It's week two of Zumbo's newly unveiled summer collection, launched on Saturday 22 November and available until 22 May next year. This latest collection has been named "Please sir can I have some more!". A new range of desserts is revealed every six months, giving even greater incentive to relish each gateaux as often as possible during their limited season.

Miss Marple cheesecake $7.50
Orange cheesecake with orange strawberry compote,
cream cheese creme legere with a crepe and maple glaze

The golden surface on the top of each cheesecake is a super-thin layer of crepe.

Where's the f*%#@^ cheese? $7.60
Blue cheese mousse, fig, raisin and pear creameaux,
pear and vanilla bavaroise, walnut biscuit

Have a chat Kai! $7.80
Coconut dacquoise, lychee jelly, coconut mousse,
coconut crunch, fresh strawberries and lychees (gluten-free)

On the lounge with Zumbo $7.50
Mango financier, raspberry and liquorice jelly,
fresh mango slices, liquorice mousse, mango caramel glaage

Zumbo the kid $7.50
Vegemite bavaroise, peanut butter creme legere, raspberry jelly,
chocolate peanut glacage, peanut feullitine, flourless chocolate biscuit

Cassius $7.80
Chocolate biscuit macaron, blackcurrant chocolate cremeaux,
chocolate pieces with sea salt, dark chocolate Chantilly (gluten-free)

Charles du Jour $7.60
Tart pate sucree, vanilla ganache, vanilla creme chantilly,
vanilla water bursts and vanilla glacage

Dr Apple $7.70
Pistachio dacquoise, apple cider jelly, vanilla creme chantilly,
Calvados cooked apples, green apple mousse (gluten-free)

So Zumbo has a mass of foodblogging groupies. It's a perfect venue for the latest foodbloggers meet-up.

We congregate at the recently opened Adriano Zumbo Cafe Chocolat a few doors up from the patissiere.

Adriano Zumbo Cafe Chocolat

Tucked inside the courtyard of Balmain Mall, the Cafe offers savoury and breakfasts, handmade chocolates, hot chocolates and drinks, a la carte desserts, and most important, customer seating.

The cushioned alcove

We've reserved the cushioned alcove, the only indoor area which comprises a wooden u-shaped padded bench, red, black and white cushions, and a spectacular red chandelier overhead.

Earl grey and milk chocolate macarons $2.00 each

Lavendar truffles $9.50/100 grams

Gianduja $9.50/100 grams

Chocolate ADZ $9.50 / 100 grams

The staff have been forewarned of our arrival and have generously agreed to let us bring our patissiere desserts to the cafe. Cake boxes are whisked away by friendly staff and the desserts inside are transferred to plates and returned, as we set up the mother of all foodblogging communal taste testings.

Dark hot chocolate $6.00

My dark hot chocolate is the sweet calm before the sugar storm. Rich and foamy, it's a perfect balance of bitter dark cocoa blended with frothy milk. I suspect it's thickened slightly with cornflour, a comforting drink that's not too sweet or heavy.

Where's the f*%#@^ cheese? $7.60
Blue cheese mousse, fig, raisin and pear creameaux,
pear and vanilla bavaroise, walnut biscuit

I've contributed two desserts. Where's the f*%#@^ cheese? is a domed slice of mild blue cheese mousse studded with pieces of fig, pear and raisin atop a layer of pear and vanilla bavaroise and a base of crisp pastry. Shards of golden hued walnut biscuit on the outside add crunch. The blue cheese is mild, more like a creamy Castello, that marries well with the sweetness of fruit and slight bitterness of walnut. It's the perfect dessert for the non-sweet tooth, or, as in my case, the sweet tooth who likes to have a second course of dessert.

Charles du Jour $7.60
Tart pate sucree, vanilla ganache, vanilla creme chantilly,
vanilla water bursts and vanilla glacage

"You must try the Charles du Jour," I was implored, as I'd stared longingly at the array of gateaux earlier on in the morning. "It's one of the best desserts in this collection, if not ever!" he'd continued. The fact his name is Charles was no bias of course.

So I'd found myself purchasing the dessert named after the counterboy. The four-pronged assault of vanilla on vanilla hits your palate without relent, leaving some of the tastetasters in rhapsodies of joy. The two enrobed spheres on top are balls of dark chocolate filled with vanilla water. They explode between your teeth, a refreshing spray of vanilla-infused liquid washing its way coolly down your throat.

Left: Cassius $7.80
Chocolate biscuit macaron, blackcurrant chocolate cremeaux,
chocolate pieces with sea salt, dark chocolate Chantilly (gluten-free)

Right: Tarte aux fruits de la passion $5.50
Pate sable, passionfruit creme

Miss Marple cheesecake $7.50
Orange cheesecake with orange strwaberry compote,
cream cheese creme legere with a crepe and maple glaze

Food bloggers in action

The food photography studio

The desserts number so many we end up with an overflow area we christen The Studio. The timber benchtop is the perfect backdrop for the non-stop exquisite sugar parade.

PARIS - La Vie en Rose $13.50 (from the Cafe menu)
Rose creme brulee, raspberry sorbet balls, fresh lychees,
petit rose macarons and coconut strawberry tapioca shake

Cross-section of Zumbo the kid $7.50
Vegemite bavaroise, peanut butter creme legere, raspberry jelly,
chocolate peanut glacage, peanut feullitine, flourless chocolate biscuit

Wheely Wildly Wendy $7.60
Fresh roasted peach in a tonka bean creme legere,
sandwiched between two almond dacquoise disks and
rolled in almond crumble

UZC $7.80
Biscuit macaron, sweet corn jelly, saffron bavaroise, vanilla brulee

Past jobs $7.50
Kaffir lime and ginger pannacotta, black sticky rice pudding,
exotic fruit jelly and palm sugar mascarpone

Sunny cloud $7.00
Pate sable, lime jelly, yoghurt creme fraiche,
lime curd and Italian meringue

The Younger Years $13.50 (from the Cafe menu)
Chocolate fondant with raspberry coulis injection
and peanut butter gelato

The Younger Years is probably the dessert with the most amount of hands-on fun. A vial of blood red raspberry coulis is provided for personal injection into a chocolate fondant. Presented in a silver kidney pan alongside a scoop of peanut butter gelato, it's cute, funny and tasty too.

Adriano Zumbo brings a little bit of magic, wonder and childlike whimsy into the world.

Please sir can I have some more!

Top to bottom: Blue cheese; earl grey and chocolate;
pink grapefruit and pineapple & ginger macarons

View Larger Map

Adriano Zumbo Patissier
296 Darling Street, Balmain, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9810 7318

Monday to Saturday 8am-6pm
Sunday 8am-4pm

The summer collection, "Please sir can I have some more!",
is available from now until Friday 22 May 2009.

Adriano Zumbo Cafe Chocolat
Shop 5, 308 Darling St, Balmain, Sydney
(inside Balmain Mall)
Tel: +61 (02) 9555 1199
Open 7 days 7am-6pm

This has been included as an Intrepid Eat on Grab Your Fork's Top 10 Sydney Eats for Tourists. Read the entire list here.

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Adriano Zumbo Macaron Day photos (Oct09)
Adriano Zumbo Macaron Day flavour list (Oct09)
Adriano Zumbo Patissier, Balmain ( May09) , (Jan09) and (Nov08)
Adriano Zumbo Cafe Chocolat, Balmain (Nov08)
26 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/30/2008 11:53:00 pm


  • At 12/01/2008 3:21 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm obsessed with Macarons. I'm so going here on my visit home next week.

  • At 12/01/2008 4:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You very naughty girl! Did you try everything and leave nothing for me?! :) This has got to be the longest entry you've made so far! Thanks for this. This is definitely a place I will visit when I return to Sydney in 2 weeks time.

  • At 12/01/2008 5:50 am, Blogger Bean Sprout's Cafe said…

    My goodness, I have read a lot of Adriano reviews, this one is the most perfect ! tons of desserts at that day, even I only see the pictures, already happy .

    Thanks for all cakes' details, so I don't need much time to think at the counter :D

  • At 12/01/2008 7:15 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, that's a lot of photos. I'm so pleased to hear there are gluten free desserts available. Now I'll have to go there.

  • At 12/01/2008 7:33 am, Blogger Annie said…

    The Craigie Bam! looks great - chocolate, caramel and salt - yum! I'm impressed at how good your photos are Helen, considering how many of you there were! Although maybe it's a good thing I couldn't make it - I don't know how long I could have waited before I started eating!

  • At 12/01/2008 8:17 am, Blogger ragingyoghurt said…

    truly fantastic documentation, helen. thanks!

    it must have been hard sharing with everyone else... some of these things i'd want all to myself. ;)

  • At 12/01/2008 9:01 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    hi helen, great photos and comprehensive review as always. gee i sometimes wish i had a digital SLR for better lighting and depth of field.

    s :-)

  • At 12/01/2008 10:08 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    woah awesome post! heh you beat us all in posting i think lol so was it worth the wait and whatd you think of the macarons?

  • At 12/01/2008 10:30 am, Blogger Miss Honey said…

    Lovely pics, is there anything that we didn't manage to buy between the million of us lol? I had a great time:)

    Great to meet you:D

  • At 12/01/2008 1:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, we came late to the party, but you guys must have tried everything on offer! (Maybe he'll have to make some new things just for the foodblogging community ;)) Amazing effort, all of you!

  • At 12/01/2008 2:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Love at first bite? Everything looks so decadent.

    Parking in Balmain sucks. Could become a very expensive habit if he opens one in town.

    It's so much nicer when you go with a group. It's like dessert yum cha - more things to try.

  • At 12/01/2008 2:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh my, must get Balmain immediately.

  • At 12/01/2008 3:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, you're quick-I only finished writing mine today!

    There should be a Zumbo'ers Anonymous group for us addicts!

  • At 12/01/2008 8:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So good to finally meet you even though we didn't get to talk much haha too busy munching and taking photos haha

    I seemed to have missed out on trying so many of the desserts :( but I guess that just means another meetup ;)

  • At 12/01/2008 9:36 pm, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    Yum, your photos made the desserts look so much better than I remember! Is that my arm in one of them? :) Anyway nice to meet you Helen!

  • At 12/01/2008 9:50 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Jess - Oh yes, the magic of macarons is so very addictive. You'll have to stock on up, especially at the current exchange rate :)

    Hi Hilda - I think it is definitely one of the longest entries - it certainly took hours to edit! Hope you enjoy your visit. Make sure you pack an extra stomach!

    Hi Bean Sprout's Cafe - Expect a whole raft of posts by Zumbo-swooning Sydney foodbloggers over the coming days! I spent ages at the counter myself. So many delectable choices!

    Hi Arwen - It's great that he does gluten-free desserts, especially ones that look so good! lol. I'm sure you won't be disappointed!

    Hi Annie - I didn't get to try the Craigie Bam! but I did hear someone describe it as tasting like a steak! And re: the photos, you'd be surprised at how patient and accommodating we foodbloggers are :) We all understand!

    Hi Bowb - Ahh but my documentation has not been as historically comprehensive as yours :) I think you've been his biggest online champion!

    And it was a little hard sharing, I must admit! But the trade-off to try other desserts was more than worth it.

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - You should definitely invest in an SLR. It makes food photography so much more fun!

    Hi Chocolatesuze - Was I the first? I knew I had a tonne of photos so I thought I'd better get to them asap. The macarons are great - I lovelovelove the blue cheese version. Amazingly good.

    Hi Miss Honey - I think there were probably only three gateaux we missed out on, but they weren't available I don't think? I didn't spot the Charlotte Full, the Yuzu No A Nothing! or the Skip Cindy Skip. We did incredibly well though!

    And it was great to meet you too :)

    Hi thewayitcrumbles - It's never too late to come a Zumbo party :) And no, I think these treasures must be relished as often as possible.

    Hi Veruca Salt - Once bitten, twice smitten :) I was actually thinking I'm glad he's not so close, otherwise I'd be there every morning! A dessert yum cha is totally my thing. We should arrange our own one soon!

    Hi icelollypalooza - Enjoy. It's an amazing journey :)

    Hi Lorraine - Oh yes I think Zumbo-itis has afflicted us all. It's a dangerous but oh so tasty addiction.

    Hi FFichiban - It was great to put a face to your name as well. I think foodbloggers and desserts go a little too well together!

  • At 12/01/2008 10:23 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Lovely photos as always! Did you try all of the macarons? Those desserts look sinful!

  • At 12/01/2008 10:25 pm, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    I'm still dreaming of all the desserts! I loved your photos! Nice to meet you btw!

  • At 12/01/2008 10:47 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    I think it was amazing that there weren't many double ups of the cakes. Great round up, Helen. I see that there's so many more to try now that you've documented them all.

  • At 12/01/2008 11:04 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It was lovely meeting you Helen! :)

    I knew I should have tried that thick hot chocolate... looking at your pic makes me want one right now!!

    But the dessert I had was awesome... mmm chocolate fondant! Hope to meet you again next time!

  • At 12/01/2008 11:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hhmmm... definitely in my MUST visit list... btw, I am wondering hows your gaydar on that day with Zumbo? ;)

  • At 12/01/2008 11:53 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Dylan84 - I didn't try all the macarons - I only bought the ones at the end with the blackground. The blue cheese one is especially delicious :)

    Hi Karen - It was great to meet you too. And yes, I find myself lingering over the photos with longing too!

    Hi Belle - Yeah it was great that we managed to cover so many without a double-up, and it wasn't even orchestrated. I need to try each one personally (and all to myself! ha!).

    Hi Teresa - Lovely to meet you too! The thick hot chocolate was yum. It's so hard to find decent dark hot chocolates these days!

    Hi Billy - You must visit, and soon! And ha, I think everyone is in love with Zumbo :)

  • At 12/29/2008 8:45 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    dasiscrIt's a long trip from New York to Sydney but after seeing these desserts I think I need to go and rent an apartment for a month or so. With all your restaurant reviews, dinners are taken care of and now all breakfasts and lunches are too!!!

    Your photos are outstanding!


  • At 1/22/2009 1:01 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Jean - Thanks for your lovely comment. Sydney has a feast of great food not to mention lovely weather :) I'd book a plane ticket and maybe get an apartment for a few months at least!

  • At 11/12/2009 12:24 pm, Anonymous Amy said…

    I am just in love with macarons... how could have missed this event where they was more than 60 diffrents flavours of macarons...But I never tried salty macarons, must be very new and lovely... I MUST GO THERE!!!

  • At 11/13/2009 6:03 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Amy - You must indeed! The salty macarons were great. I'm sure he'll include a few of these in his upcoming collection :)


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