Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Dunn Place, Hobart, Tasmania
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is the premier museum of Tasmania, and so a logical choice for spending a few hours when visiting Hobart. As such, I sought out its hallowed halls to peruse the natural history, human history, and art displays, spread over two floors and two different historical buildings.
The interiors of the buildings have been modernised and hold state of the art displays and visitor amenties, including a cafe in the courtyard, aptly named the Courtyard Cafe, complete with Muttaburrasaurus skeleton outside. Sitting here for a rest and to eat the sandwiches we’d brought for lunch, Mrs Snot Block & Roll returned from inspecting the food for sale to report that there was a tray of vanilla slices!
Continue reading Courtyard Cafe, Hobart
11 Murray Street, Hobart, Tasmania
On holiday in Hobart over the Christmas break, I took the opportunity to try some of the local offerings. Walking down to the waterfront near Constitution Dock (where the Sydney to Hobart yachts come in at this time of year), you pass Daci & Daci Bakers, a quality looking French style bakery in a beautifully renovated old sandstone building that is no doubt historical, as are many of the buildings in this part of the old Van Dieman’s Land colony. The interior is smartly presented with brass, wrought iron, and dark wood panelling, and the place is bustling with activity as people pour in through the doors to either sit at the cafe tables or snatch a take-away pastry or two and a baguette for later.
In a suitable nod to its Australian location, they have a silver tray of sausage rolls on display amidst the croissants, galettes, and tarts. The pile of generously stuffed looking rolls bears a label declaring them to be “Moroccan lamb sausage rolls”, and bearing the hefty price tag of $10 if you take one away in a brown paper bag, or $14 if you sit at a cafe table and eat inside.
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Careel Shopping Village, 1 Careel Head Rd, Avalon Beach, New South Wales
Oliver’s Pies is one shop in a tiny “shopping village” consisting of this pie shop, a pizza place, and a chicken and burger joint, on Barrenjoey Road as you head north in Sydney towards Palm Beach. I pulled into the tiny car park (holding about a dozen cars) around 11 am and found that Oliver’s not only makes a wide selection of pies and sausage rolls, but also several sweet treats, including chocolate eclairs, custard tarts, apple pies, and vanilla slices! So naturally the choice from the menu was dictated.
The place was rather popular, even at 11am with plenty of customers pulling up in the car park and picking up a pie. The pie of the day was smoked fish, which sounded intriguing, and I would have tried it had I not been moderately full already from a large breakfast.
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83 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest, New South Wales
I’ve reviewed two different vanilla slices from St Malo already, but when I went in recently they had yet another type in the display! The first two were very fancy and really good, and labelled as “pistachio mille feuille” and “vanilla mille feuille”, but this one was simply labelled as “vanilla slice”. It also looked much less fancy and more like the sort of snot block you get at a cheap roadside bakery, rather than something produced by an upmarket French patisserie. It had to be tried!
The first thing I notice is that it’s quite small. The second thing I notice is the price: a whopping $6. That’s the price I’d expect for something much fancier. Well, I know St Malo is a quality bakery, so hopefully it will live up to the outlay. I fork over my $6 and receive a plate with the slice and a knife – no fork. Not to worry, I plan on tackling it the traditional way, by hand.
Continue reading St Malo Bakery, Crows Nest: addendum 2
153 Katoomba St, Katoomba, New South Wales
Katoomba is a small town in the heart of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, and a perfect destination for a day trip. It’s on the edge of the Blue Mountains National Park, which is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, and walking distance from some of the biggest tourist attractions in the park. As such, it has a host of shops, cafes, restaurants, and – strung in a sequence along the main street – three bakeries within the space of about 20 metres. They are on different positions along the poshness to down-to-earthness scale. Possibly the most down-to-earth is the Blue Mountains Buttery, which has some good old working-class vanilla slices where the others tend to go for fancier cakes and pastries.
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112 Longueville Rd, Lane Cove, New South Wales
Pottery Green is a cosy and dark nook with rustic farmhouse wooden beams and walls, nestled in the otherwise somewhat run-down main strip of Lane Cove. The interior is cosy and warm in the winter chill, but there are also tables out on the footpath for brave souls or those who want to catch some sun. Amidst a tempting selection of cakes and pastries, they have a hot savoury selection boasting two types of sausage rolls: “plain beef” and “pork and veal”, for $4 and $5 respectively. For my first taste I plump for the pork and veal, and accompany it with the traditional vanilla slice.
Braving the chill winter air on an outside table, the goodies arrive on two china plates. The pork and veal sausage roll looks great, with a rich golden brown pastry casing, bursting at the ends with generously stuffed, caramelised meaty filling. On a first bite, the meat filling is deliciously moist, with meat juices seeping through the lower pastry layer. The meat seems to have shrunk a bit during baking as it has come free of the pastry tube and slides around freely inside, which makes things a little tricky on the structural integrity front.
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3938 Rivermark Plaza, Santa Clara, California, USA
I was on a business trip to Santa Clara in California, to attend meetings at the Intel headquarters there. On the day I arrived, I checked into my hotel, and then went for a walk to find the nearest cluster of shops. This turned out to be Rivermark Village, a new looking outdoor shopping mall in the Californian style, with a bunch of shops surrounded by an expansive area of asphalt dedicated to parking the hundreds of cars that Americans use to get everywhere. I wasn’t particularly intending to get anything to eat, but I passed a bakery called The Prolific Oven, and popped my nose in for a quick peek to see what sort of things they had.
Perusing the cakes and pastries, my eyes were stopped and riveted by what was obviously a vanilla slice, but with a bright red topping! It had the traditional wavy lines of white icing, but decorating a translucent and visually appealing red glaze. There was only one left in the counter, sitting on a large tray with a fresh raspberry next to it. I deduced that this must be a raspberry vanilla slice. I had to have it!
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47 Argyle St, The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales
I’ve reviewed La Renaissance before, testing out their pork and veal sausage roll. But that’s not all they have on their menu, by a long shot. So it was natural that I should return to sample other wares of relevance to this blog.
Checking the shop’s history on their website, I find that this patisserie began in 1974, when a French pastry chef opened a shop in Roseville. The business subsequently moved to The Rocks in 1994, sited in an historical building built in 1842 (by an ex-Irish highway robber!), where it has been ever since. With this venerable history behind it, one would hope that the products have stood the test of time with their quality.
On this fine day, I sat in, and ordered the second type of sausage roll from the hot food menu, a pork, bacon, and fennel roll. And to follow, of course, one of the vanilla slices. The items are plated for me by a woman serving from behind a tall display counter, and I take them to a small cafe table in the flagstoned courtyard that extends out the back of the shop.
Continue reading La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie, The Rocks, part 2
2070 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin, New South Wales
On a lazy Sunday drive into the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, I like to head out on the Great Western Highway, and then return via the more northerly route of Bells Line of Road, which is more scenic and has less traffic. Along the way you pass through the small settlement of Bilpin, which with its cool highland climate, is a great place to grow apples and stone fruits. Lining the road through this area are several roadside stalls where you can stop and buy fresh fruit and vegetables. Some are mere shacks, while a couple are larger and offer tables and cafe refreshments.
On this day we stopped for an afternoon break at The Pines Orchard Cafe, right across the road from the more well known Bilpin Fruit Bowl with its giant colourful fibreglass bowl of fruit out the front. The Fruit Bowl has a small kitchen right in the middle of the shop, where ladies make and bake apple pies seemingly constantly, and you can buy them either hot out of the oven, or cooled down to take home. The Pines Orchard is not quite so fancy, but upon entering and perusing the bakery cabinet I spot something which looks like a vanilla slice. They’re square cut slabs resting in a tray, topped with a delicious looking layer of passionfruit icing. Mrs Snot Block & Roll wants to get a coffee, so I ask her to add a vanilla slice to her order and I head across the room to find a table.
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142 Malabar Rd, South Coogee, New South Wales
A sunny late autumn morning is perfect for a morning tea, and for exploring new bakeries. We took a drive over to Coogee and continued south to the Bakehouse South Coogee, which sits on a traditional corner store site surrounded by residential properties, and right across the street form the sprawling old Randwick Cemetery, which is situated on a gentle hillside with wonderful views.
The bakehouse is busy, with plenty of locals popping in for a coffee and a croissant or something a bit more substantial. Besides bread and pasties, the bakers do an impressive line in cakes, with a couple of dozen mouth-watering varieties all on display. One is an amazing looking multi-colour iced rainbow cake, which is also available by the slice, sitting right next to the huge vanilla slices.
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