Grand Arcade, 7 Bong Bong St, Bowral, New South Wales
On a leisurely weekend drive through New South Wales’ Southern Highlands region, we stopped for lunch in Bowral, the town where Don Bradman grew up, and famous for the Bradman Oval and Bradman Museum. But in recent years, Bowral has become notable for a different, and culinarily oriented reason.
It is the home of the Gumnut Patisserie, established in 1995, and quick to win an impressive list of honours. It won the Baking Association of Australia award for best patisserie in New South Wales in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, and 2013. And as the comma at the end of the list on their window shows, they seem determined to win it again in the future. Not only this, but in 2015 they won the grand prize at the Sydney Royal Easter Agricultural Show for Best Vanilla Slice. Clearly this is a place we cannot ignore.
Continue reading Gumnut Patisserie, Bowral
123 Fern St, Gerringong, New South Wales
Gerringong is a small town nestled on the coast a couple of hours south of Sydney. The town spills down a steep hill to a picturesque beach surrounded by grassy headlands. It’s one of those tidy little towns close enough yet far enough from a major city to turn into a haven for day trippers, and thus end up with a main street full of trendy antique shops and rustic country home goods, but so far this transition seems to be only partly complete.
There are still some typical country town establishments, one of them being the local bakery and cafe, which goes by the original and creative name of the Gerringong Bakery and Cafe. It occupies a recently repainted brick building in the middle of the main strip, which looks very neat and modern from the outside. Inside, it’s clean, with modern fittings, but the building has have obviously been there considerably longer than the most recent paint job. The bakery holds a very typical selection of bread loaves and buns, as well as counter displays of various traditional Aussie treats: Neenish tarts, custard tarts, Anzac biscuits, meringues, apple slices, and also not one, but two lookalike items named after branded trademark names: wagon wheels and (giant sized) iced vovos.
Continue reading Gerringong Bakery and Cafe, Gerringong
30 Station St, Mount Victoria, New South Wales
A leisurely Sunday drive up into the Blue Mountains west of Sydney for a day out provided the opportunity to sample bakery products from a bit further afield. We stopped for morning tea at Leura, having a Devonshire tea of scones hot from the oven (they had literally taken them out just minutes before serving them to us), with home made strawberry jam and double cream. The scones were chocolate chip and cranberry, which made things even more decadent. After spending some time in Katoomba, we found ourselves in Mount Victoria when lunch hunger hit. So we parked in this small mountain town and walked to the Piccolo Deli, which also serves as a cafe.
In the display counter were various pastries, both savoury and sweet. They had two types of sausage rolls: beef and onion, and pork and fennel, as well as a vegetable roll for the meat-free. A few rolls were hot in a pie warmer, but the friendly woman behind the counter said they could heat up anything for eating. Naturally, I ordered one of each of the sausage rolls, while Mrs SB&R chose the vege roll.
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Cnr Masonite Rd & Pacific Hwy, Heatherbrae, NSW 2324
Heatherbrae Pies is located a couple of hours north of Sydney, and is an ideal place to stop off for lunch or a snack on a road trip up the NSW coast. Ever since starting this food review blog, I’ve anticipated coming here to do a review. The opportunity arrived, I checked their website, and yes, they do indeed sell Sausage Rolls and Vanilla slices!
Continue reading Heatherbrae Pies, Heatherbrae
37 Murray Street, Angaston, South Australia
This is really a cafe doing breakfasts and light meals throughout the day, not a bakery. However they had a very interesting looking vanilla slice sitting in the cake counter, so I took the plunge and added one to my breakfast order of muesli with fruit and milk.
I was attracted by the different appearance. This slice had three layers of pastry, with custard filling the gap between the lower two, and an equally thick layer of what looked like whipped cream or buttercream between the upper two. The whole was topped with a thick glossy layer of light brown icing decorated with white and darker brown diagonal lines.
Continue reading Soul with Zest, Angaston
9 Main Street, Hahndorf, South Australia
Earlier in the morning I had visited Beerenberg’s Strawberry Farm, on the outskirts of the small town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. When approaching the farm shop, there was the surprising but unmistakeable smell of tomato sauce in the air, which made no sense at all to me. Upon going inside the shop, which had numerous jams and sauces for sale, I discovered the reason. Through a window one could see workers processing fruit and other ingredients to make product, and a sign indicated that today they were making… tomato sauce!
And so we come to Otto’s Bakery, where I stopped for lunch later that same day. They boasted “award winning” pies on a blackboard outside, as well as a vanilla slice. This seemed to bode well, so I ordered the obligatory sausage roll and vanilla slice. (I neglected to take a photo of the exterior of the bakery, but a quick search online will reveal several photos.)
The roll got things off to a bad start. It looked decidedly average, like a roll from a warmer in a petrol station. The pastry on top was an anaemic looking pale golden brown, with evidence of thick crocodile-skin-like flakiness rather than delicate thin flakiness. Biting into the roll confirmed my worst fears, as the pastry was crisp on the outside while not being flaky enough and a bit soggy near the meat. The meat centre was bland and a bit too dry. Not terribly dry, but certainly too dry to be good.
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148 Main North Road, Sevenhill, South Australia
I arrived here with Mrs Snot Block & Roll on a cold, rainy morning for an early breakfast, as it was one of the few places in the Clare Valley region open before 9am on a Sunday. We asked if they had a breakfast menu, but received a politely apologetic response in the negative. The place is simply a bakery with a coffee machine – whatever you see on display is what’s available. But since that included good looking sausage rolls and vanilla slices, there was no real decision to be made anyway! The bakery is actually attached to a cafe of the same name which serves meals and acts as a cellar door for one of the local wineries, but the cafe wasn’t open at this time.
The sausage roll is an enigmatic yet ultimately frustrating compilation of excellent meat in a frankly awful pastry blanket. It looks promising, with golden brown flaky pastry on top, wrapped around a plump roll of meat filling. The first bite delivers a pleasant experience as the flavour of the meat explodes in the mouth. It is delightfully savoury, with a hint of herbs and the right amount of saltiness to bring out the savoury umami flavours of the meat. Any additional spices are subdued, but there are huge chunks of onion adding to the taste, which is like a friendly home-cooked stew, cooked well, and simply all round a great flavour experience. The texture is in that perfect zone between too soft and too dry. It’s really very good. It would suit a full flavoured Cabernet Sauvignon.
Continue reading The Little Red Grape Bakery, Sevenhill
36 Murray Street, Angaston, South Australia
This place was a must-visit, as it boldly advertises “the best vanilla slice in the Valley” on all of its promotional material in the tourist guides of the Barossa Valley, and on a large sign outside the premises.
It occupies a traditional neat-looking shop front on the main street of the tiny town of Angaston, but inside it stretches expansively back from the street to form a somewhat funky cafe atmosphere with chill music playing softly. The display counter is large, with a big selection of delicious looking savoury pies, plus dozens of cakes and slices, and then a fresh sandwich bar.
Continue reading D&M’s Bakery Cafe, Angaston
40 Murray Street, Nuriootpa, South Australia
I found this bakery cafe for breakfast. Linke’s Bakery has been operating since 1938, as a small sign inside proclaims proudly. Apparently everyone in Nuriootpa was part of the Linke family back then, because across the road is the Linke Butcher, and around the corner is Linke’s Building and Construction.
The bakery does a line in muesli or bacon and eggs and various other breakfast goodies, but I sacrificed the chance for an eggs Benedict to try their sausage roll and vanilla slice. The bakery goods all look really good here, with mouth watering sweet tarts and slices galore, and a full range of hot savoury pies with obviously hand-crimped pastry tops. Given this promising selection, I was looking forward to reviewing the twin quest items.
Continue reading Linke’s Bakery and Tearooms, Nuriootpa