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.
There are also intriguingly not one, but two shelves of the display bearing labels with the words “vanilla slice”. The top one says “French vanilla slice: cream”, while the lower shelf says “Vanilla slice: yellow icing”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t compare the two, as the only thing left on both shelves was a solitary vanilla slice with yellow icing. Lest it be sold before I could claim it, I quickly paid my $3.50 for it and sat down at one of the cafe tables to pass judgement.
The slice is in the very traditional old fashioned bright yellow “snot block” style. A bright yellow custard is sandwiched between two thinnish pastry layers, topped by pale yellow passionfruit icing (complete with black seeds). Two of the cut edges of the custard have matured to a toxic luminous yellow from exposure to the air, but even on the fresher edges where it was more recently separated from its siblings it is a colour that some would consider to be… unnatural.
The slice is very easy to pick up and bite, as the custard is firm and gelatinous, holding its shape well even under pressure from the pastry as the layers are compressed by bite force. The pastry is rather disappointingly soft from sogginess, it shows structural layering but with the sogginess there is no flakiness evident. The custard is actually… not terrible! It has a smooth creamy texture with not too much gelatinous feel in the mouth and a decent hit of vanilla flavour. The icing is a nice tangy passionfruit flavour which accentuates the vanilla. Really, the main let down of this slice is the pastry, which is pretty limp and blah. That aside, the total is a reasonable packet of sweetness and flavour, not bad for a gelatinous style snot block.
Coda: After finishing the block, I asked a woman behind the counter what the difference in the “French vanilla slice” was. She said that they had a “custard cream” instead of custard, and were topped with dusted icing sugar instead of “yellow icing”. When I pass by this way again, I shall have to pop in and see if they have one available.
“Vanilla slice: yellow icing”: 5/10.