349 Darling St, Balmain
On a fine spring day Mrs Snot Block & Roll suggested we go on an expedition across the water to the Sydney suburb of Balmain. A convenient way to get there is to catch a ferry, so we made our way over the cool green waters of Sydney Harbour to the relevant wharf and walked up the steep hill to the main street, where an array of shops and food outlets awaited. Here, in search of sustenance we found San Antonio Sourdough.
Taking a look at the counter displays inside, the sweet treats looked extremely tempting, and they also had some pies and sausage rolls. I got a sausage roll and, because they had no vanilla slices, I opted for a pecan tart for afterwards.
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207 Ben Boyd Rd, Neutral Bay, New South Wales
Continuing to clear out some old reviews that I neglected to post soon after sampling, we move on to Paddy’s Pies at Neutral Bay. This small, rustic establishment is just around the corner from the incredibly good Bourke Street Bakery (previously reviewed not once, but twice), and so I’ve always neglected it in favour of the more upmarket and hipster looking Bourke Street. But on a fine October day I decided to bite the bullet (hopefully not too literally) and sample the less visually inspiring place.
It’s a small shopfront, which is basically just a little take-away pie and coffee place, not a full-blown cafe of any sort. There are some stools against a counter on the front window and a single table outside, but this isn’t a particularly inspiring place to stop in and eat your wares. The shop has generally very good online reviews, so I suppose there’s something to it.
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Shop 1204, Castle Towers Shopping Centre, Castle Hill
On a fine day last November, Mrs Snot Block & Roll and I had occasion to travel to Castle Hill Showground with our dog Scully. The occasion was an audition for Scully, to qualify to be accepted into training as a Delta Therapy Dog, to make authorised visits to hospitals to provide morale boosts to patients.
Scully had to pass a series of temperament, behaviour and, obedience tests, with the assistance of Mrs SB&R as her handler. Since the two of them would be occupied at the try-outs for an hour or so, I took a short trip over to Castle Towers, a giant shopping complex. Inside, I felt like a snack, and found Shepherd’s Artisan Bakehouse.
Being in a giant shopping centre, this wasn’t a nice homey street-front shop, but rather simply an island stall in the middle of the shopping promenade, with display counters on four sides and a couple of staff working in the middle. But they had not one, but two types of sausage rolls!
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4 Sowerby St, Goulburn, New South Wales
One fine autumn Saturday we took a driving trip to Goulburn, the first inland city established in Australia, proclaimed as such in 1863. Goulburn is mostly known as a former stop on the long drive between Sydney and Melbourne, and held the distinction of having the most patronised McDonalds outlet in Australia. But with the opening of the Hume Highway bypass in 1992, many travellers now avoid stopping in the city, and it has reverted to a more sleepy country nature.
The biggest tourist attraction in Goulburn is The Big Merino, a giant concrete sculpture of a ram. Directly across the street from the Big Merino is Trappers Bakery, which was the first hit when I pulled out my phone and searched for “best bakery in goulburn”. So we pulled into the large car park for what is obviously a very popular place. Trappers Bakery is housed in a large rural style brick building with a corrugated iron roof, and it was doing a roaring trade around lunch time, with customers arriving every minute or two. Not only is it a bustling food stop, but adjacent is the Trappers Bakery Motel, offering rooms for travellers on the road.
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463 Miller Street, Cammeray, New South Wales
The previously reviewed Cammeray Cakes has closed down, but just a few doors down the street now sits Maggio’s Italian Bakery. This is an establishment that was spawned out of the nearby Maggio’s Cafe, which has been an institution in Cammeray since 1998. The new bakery shopfront takes some of the strain from the always busy cafe, allowing people to buy loaves and take-away cakes and pastries without battling the sit-down clientele of the cafe.
Being an Italian bakery, they are heavy on cannoli, biscotti, bomboloni, and various tortes, but they didn’t have anything resembling a vanilla slice when I scoped the place out. They do however have a pork sausage roll, as well as a small selection of meat pies. I ordered a roll and retreated to a nearby wooden seat under a shady tree outside to inspect their take on the Australian classic.
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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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