364 Pacific Highway, Lindfield, New South Wales
It’s been a long time between drinks here at Snot Block & Roll, mostly precipitated by the acquisition a few months ago of Scully, our toy poodle puppy. Raising a puppy limits time available for other activities, alas reviewing sausage rolls and vanilla slices among them! But happily Scully is growing into an adolescent dog and is becoming trained, so it’s easier to take her on trips and to find spare time once more.
On this fine spring day, partly cloudy so not too hot, we ventured forth on an expedition to a small local market at East Lindfield. It was indeed small, but pleasant because it wasn’t the same stallholders who travel around the north Sydney area and can be found at a different local market each weekend. There was a burger van and a stall selling Russian food like blinis and pirogies, but we decided to leave the market and seek out a bakery nearby: Christophe’s Pâtisserie Française at Lindfield proper, a short drive west.
Christophe’s is part of a row of old style narrow shop fronts directly facing the Pacific Highway in its role as the main artery through Lindfield. It’s noisy and there’s nothing but a strip of bitumen footpath between the highway and the shop fronts. But the patisserie invites with a display of delicious looking French pastries in the window and an impressively boastful array of certificates plastering one window with pictures of gold and silver medals. These turn out to be local business awards, so not an especially wide competition, but still, presumably it means there is something worth checking out here.
Continue reading Christophe’s Pâtisserie Française, Lindfield
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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57 Hampden Road, Battery Point, Tasmania
When Mrs SB&R and I were planning our trip to Tasmania, one of her work colleagues gave her a list of place to visit in Hobart. Jackman & McRoss was high on the list, recommended for its bakery products, coffee, and its signature scallop pie – a culinary item peculiar to Tasmania, which is well known for its scallop fisheries. Walking up the hill from Salamanca Place, we discovered the bakery nestled in the historic Battery Point area, which is mostly residential, with only a few shops clustered around one intersection. One of these shops is Jackman & McRoss, and it seems to draw a big crowd as the only eating establishment in the immediate area. Painted underneath the name on the outside of the Federation era building is the slogan “Bakers of fine breads, cakes & pastries”. It’s a shame the word “purveyors” isn’t in there somewhere.
Inside, the small area in front of the display counters is packed with customers queueing to order coffee or get a croissant or other pastry to take away. The counters are stuffed to the gills with amazing looking cakes and Viennoiserie. And to the right side is an opening beyond which several roms of what obviously used to be a house have been converted into places with cafe tables. We are fortunate to grab a free table at an inside room, and sneakily move over to a window table later on. On the menu are not one, not two, but three different sausage rolls: pork and apple; duck, cranberry, and walnut; and Thai spiced chicken! Also in the display counter is something I’ve never seen before, labelled with a little sign, describing it as: “vanilla slice with crème patisserie, fresh strawberries, & brisee pastry”. All right! Let’s try the highly unusual duck sausage roll, with the vanilla slice for afters.
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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
3/1A The Corso, Manly, New South Wales
After filling up on the amazing sausage roll around the corner at Infinity Bakery, I had to make a bit of a trek in search of a vanilla slice for dessert. Not too far, fortunately, for on the western end of The Corso lies The Corso Bakehouse, a typical old style Aussie bakery with a store front and a counter, selling cakes, slices, pies, and freshly baked bread, as well as drinks from a fridge emblazoned with a Coca Cola logo. No cafe seating here, but they do have a line in fresh sandwiches to take away, with an Asian twist that includes pork rolls.
In the large glass-fronted display is a huge tray of classic looking vanilla slices, nestled amidst other tempting looking sweets. The slices have a slightly rustic look, with the white icing scribbled with some very hasty and rudimentary looking brown markings, as though someone knew the classic parenthesis shape that they were supposed to have, but had done it at rapid speed in between checking the ovens.
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840 Military Rd, Mosman, New South Wales
One of the nicest things about having a day off work during the week is that you can travel around the city when everyone else is at work. Everything is open, but the streets are populated mostly by people with free time, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back, unlike when hordes of 9-5 workers are around after hours or on weekends.
On such a fine day, I took a drive to the posh north shore suburb of Mosman, to partake of some of its fine array of victuals. Mosman boasts a swag of high fashion outlets, boutiques, and a high end toy shop featuring such children’s playthings as rocking horses and hand carved wooden soldiers. On the food side, there is a gourmet butcher, and Italian delicatessen, a specialty cheese shop, plenty of trendy cafes, and this place: The Little French Patisserie.
Continue reading The Little French Patisserie, Mosman
443 Miller Street, Cammeray, New South Wales
This is an old-fashioned bakery on the main street of Cammeray, in a somewhat run-down shopfront building with a rusting steel awning over it. It seems to have at least two identities, as the signage outside calls it the very descriptive and down-to-earth “Cammeray Cakes”, but once inside there are posters stuck up proclaiming the premises to be “Le Martin Patisserie”.
Whatever the place is called, it’s a small, locally run bakery staffed by a couple of friendly Vietnamese ladies. They do some Vietnamese treats like pork rolls, as well as the usual staples of Australian bakeries. I ordered my sausage roll and vanilla slice and took them out to the nearby shopping plaza across the road to find a seat and eat them.
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4 Ennis Rd, Kirribilli, New South Wales
I’d had my eye on this bakery for some time, but on my previous visit it was too early to eat lunch, and I had only recently had breakfast. But I had quickly checked they had sausage rolls and vanilla slices, awaiting a more opportune moment. That moment finally did arrive last weekend, having visited the area for a jog along some harbour-side paths and a swim at the North Sydney pool. I earned this!
Continue reading The Flaky Tart, Kirribilli
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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9 Main Street, Hahndorf, South Australia
Earlier in the morning I had visited Beerenberg’s Strawberry Farm, on the outskirts of the small town of Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. When approaching the farm shop, there was the surprising but unmistakeable smell of tomato sauce in the air, which made no sense at all to me. Upon going inside the shop, which had numerous jams and sauces for sale, I discovered the reason. Through a window one could see workers processing fruit and other ingredients to make product, and a sign indicated that today they were making… tomato sauce!
And so we come to Otto’s Bakery, where I stopped for lunch later that same day. They boasted “award winning” pies on a blackboard outside, as well as a vanilla slice. This seemed to bode well, so I ordered the obligatory sausage roll and vanilla slice. (I neglected to take a photo of the exterior of the bakery, but a quick search online will reveal several photos.)
The roll got things off to a bad start. It looked decidedly average, like a roll from a warmer in a petrol station. The pastry on top was an anaemic looking pale golden brown, with evidence of thick crocodile-skin-like flakiness rather than delicate thin flakiness. Biting into the roll confirmed my worst fears, as the pastry was crisp on the outside while not being flaky enough and a bit soggy near the meat. The meat centre was bland and a bit too dry. Not terribly dry, but certainly too dry to be good.
Continue reading Otto’s Bakery, Hahndorf