Stall 66, Adelaide Central Market, 44–60 Gouger Street, Adelaide, South Australia
Adelaide’s Central Market is a marvellous place, the likes of which we unfortunately don’t have in Sydney. It is like a classical European food market, with multiple permanent stalls selling all sorts of fresh food ingredients and some specialty items like wines and cakes. There are a dozen or more fresh fruit and vegetable stalls to choose from, each displaying luscious, colourful produce: butchers, fishmongers, cheese sellers, bakers, and so on. And mixed among them all are cafes and stalls selling meals of all ethnicities. It’s easy to spend an hour or more here, wandering around and enjoying the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes.
One of those stalls is Providore, and walking past I spotted something that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from. Sitting in the display case was a tray of delectable looking slices labelled as “Greek vanilla slice”. They were in a large slab, dusted with a layer of icing sugar on top, and sliced into square pieces. Naturally, I had to try one. (Even if there was no sign of a sausage roll anywhere nearby.)
I obtained a slice on a paper plate and sat down at a nearby table to tackle it. It was tall, with two layers of creamy, almost white custard separated and surrounded by three fat layers comprised of dozens of sheets of thin, crispy, flaky pastry – very much like the filo pastry seen in a good baklava. It was a little tricky picking up the slice, because of the height and the softness of the custard, but I managed it. The fingers sank into the pastry layers on top and bottom as I applied enough pressure to stop it slipping out. This was going to be a potentially messy affair.
I bit into the slice, sending snowflake-like shards of pastry and a sprinkle of icing sugar falling languidly onto the plate as if in glorious slow motion. I could almost hear Queen Elsa singing as the flakes drifted down. The custard oozed out but some deft reorientation prevented any from dripping off. Some slurping was needed to mop up precipitously dangling pseudopodia of custard, but this wasn’t too difficult. And it was a pleasure to do so, as the custard was delicious. It was creamy, but with a somewhat curdled, crumbly texture like cottage cheese. This was clearly hand made and had an intense vanilla flavour with a restrained sweetness which combined to make this the perfect custard.
Not content with that, the pastry was beautifully crisp, but delicate and flaky enough to give when bitten. It was accentuated by the simple dusting of icing sugar, rather than hidden beneath a stronger topping. The delicate crispness of baklava wrapped around layers of wonderful, sensuous custard – a perfect marriage of textures and flavours. A worthy winner of a perfect score.
Greek vanilla slice: 10/10