11 Old Hume Hwy, Berrima, New South Wales
The little town of Berrima sits just off the Hume Highway south of Sydney, perfectly positioned for a day trip or a stop on the way to Canberra. And a pleasant stop it is, with several interesting shops full of knick-knacks and places to eat and drink. One of those places is Stone’s Patisserie, which is run by a skilled pastry chef. Besides a luscious looking array of cakes and pastries, the premises has cafe tables and light meals. These meals include pies and sausage rolls.
The sausage roll I ordered looks astonishing, with an intricate latticework of pastry covering the whole thing, dripping with a rich golden brown egg wash in the crevices. This indeed looks like the construction of someone who has mastered the art of pastry. But have they mastered the art of the sausage roll? The physical construction is shortish but very fat, thick stubby cylinder more like a drinking glass than the more familiar longer skinny shape. It looks gorgeous. But how will it hold up on taste?
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150 Lyons Rd, Drummoyne, New South Wales
The focus of my ongoing quest turned from chasing reports of the “best vanilla slice” in Sydney to seeking alleged sighting of the “best sausage roll”. One of these sightings was at the Drummoyne Bakehouse Cafe, which seemed a good excuse to go for a lazy Saturday lunchtime drive during a brief sunny respite from the rainy winter weather of late.
The bakehouse sits on the busy but narrow Lyons Road, running down the centre of the Drummoyne peninsula on the south side of Sydney Harbour. It has a distinctive green, yellow, and brown striped awning and signage visible from the road, and sits next door to Ocean Foods, which also has conspicuous signage, proclaiming it to be the home of the “Best fish and chips in the Universe”. They certainly don’t do things by halves in Drummoyne!
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Shop 8/1380 Pacific Highway, Turramurra, New South Wales
On a fine winter Sunday afternoon, after a relatively light lunch, the call of afternoon tea beckoned, and I decided to make the trip and check out a place that garners a mention in various “best vanilla slice in Sydney” discussion threads on the Internet. The place is Pierre’s Patisserie, on the Pacific Highway in Turramurra, in Sydney’s northern suburbs.
According to the potted history on the website, Pierre’s was founded in 1976 by immigrant Frenchman Pierre Cantin. He was not, however a pastry chef, so hired two chefs, who preceded to build a reputation in the local area. The current owner and chef is the son of one of those two, and appears to have maintained the local praise for this establishment.
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920 Military Road, Mosman, New South Wales
I’d taken a Wednesday off work, and decided to head out for lunch. I took a drive to the suburb of Mosman, which has a long main street with dozens of shops and cafes. Unfortunately my first choice for lunch had just sold out of sausage rolls when I arrived – the man immediately before me had bought the last two! So I wandered in search of another bakery for my lunch.
I found Rustique, sitting on the corner of Military Road and Raglan Street. The sign proclaimed it to be a “bakery patisserie cafe”, which sounds good. Mosman being a posh suburb, I expected it to be a bit fancy inside, but it was very standard bakery-cafe sort of decor, a bit tired looking even, as though overdue for a renovation. Furthermore, even though there was a fairly large selection of cakes, they didn’t have a vanilla slice! I decided to try a sausage roll and a pie, and seek a slice elsewhere.
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2/40 Miller St, North Sydney, New South Wales
Finding myself in North Sydney around 9am on a weekday, I did a quick web search for bakeries in the vicinity. The Bourke Street Bakery was nearest and sounded promising, with Internet reviews recommending the pork and fennel sausage roll highly. But when I arrived there and managed to penetrate the queue of a dozen people waiting to order take-away coffees in order to see what sweet delights lurked in the display cabinet I was heartbroken to see that they did not stock vanilla slices. Thus crestfallen, I sought the next bakery on my search list, St Honoré.
This is a French styled bakery lurking in a nondescript black granite office tower front around the corner from North Sydney station. It too was doing a brisk trade in take-away coffees as the morning office workers began their day in the corporate rat race. Peering through the window I spied both the quest objects, so walked boldly in and ordered. The woman behind the counter reached for white paper bags before I specified that I would be eating in at the small café tables, whereupon she changed to a pair of white plates. I would have liked to have taken the bags outside, but there was nowhere nearby to sit and the morning was chilly.
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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.
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