Grand Arcade, 7 Bong Bong St, Bowral, New South Wales
On a leisurely weekend drive through New South Wales’ Southern Highlands region, we stopped for lunch in Bowral, the town where Don Bradman grew up, and famous for the Bradman Oval and Bradman Museum. But in recent years, Bowral has become notable for a different, and culinarily oriented reason.
It is the home of the Gumnut Patisserie, established in 1995, and quick to win an impressive list of honours. It won the Baking Association of Australia award for best patisserie in New South Wales in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, and 2013. And as the comma at the end of the list on their window shows, they seem determined to win it again in the future. Not only this, but in 2015 they won the grand prize at the Sydney Royal Easter Agricultural Show for Best Vanilla Slice. Clearly this is a place we cannot ignore.
Continue reading Gumnut Patisserie, Bowral
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.
Continue reading Pierre’s Patisserie, Turramurra
371 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville, New South Wales
I was on my way home from a business function in an unfamiliar neighbourhood when I stumbled across Hellenic Bakery and Cakes, just a stone’s throw from Marrickville railway station. Peering into the unlikely looking 1990s semi-brutalist concrete exterior, I discovered an Aladdin’s cave of wondrous treasures.
Mounds of Greek pastries and cakes filled display counters that rose above eye level on three sides of the dimly lit store: baklava, kataifi, poura, galaktobouriko, Greek shortbread. Amongst these are more diverse wares: cannoli, eclairs, macarons, lamingtons, tiramisu, tarts, and all manner of cakes. In the centre of the room was a table laden heavily with freshly baked bread and buns. Anything and everything looked incredibly tempting, but my eyes fell upon a golden radiance emanating from one corner of this treasure pile. A tray of humble vanilla slices beckoned, promising release of the genie of deliciousness if I would but rub some coins in my pocket and hand them over to the elderly Greek woman who was tending the counter.
Continue reading Hellenic Bakery and Cakes, Marrickville
83 Willoughby Road, Crows Nest, New South Wales
I have wanted to review this bakery since the beginning, but every time I went in they had nothing resembling a vanilla slice in their selection of cakes of the day. Until this day.
St Malo is a fancy French bakery which does a line in fresh bread, croissants and other flaky pastries, and beautiful looking cakes and muffins. They also make delicious pies, as well as the other object of this review, sausage rolls.
On this day I went in, intending to have a pie for lunch and not expecting to get anything else. But as I looked into the cake display, I saw gleaming there a magnificent shining creation, resplendent in its French elegance. It was three layers of pastry separated by layers of custard, with intriguingly attractive red stains in it, and topped by a sprinkle of ground nuts and a dusting of cocoa. This, I thought, is in essence a vanilla slice. Upon inquiry, I was told that it was a “pistachio and raspberry mille-feuille”. Well, a mille-feuille is basically a vanilla slice, so good enough!
Continue reading St Malo Bakery, Crows Nest
36 Murray Street, Angaston, South Australia
This place was a must-visit, as it boldly advertises “the best vanilla slice in the Valley” on all of its promotional material in the tourist guides of the Barossa Valley, and on a large sign outside the premises.
It occupies a traditional neat-looking shop front on the main street of the tiny town of Angaston, but inside it stretches expansively back from the street to form a somewhat funky cafe atmosphere with chill music playing softly. The display counter is large, with a big selection of delicious looking savoury pies, plus dozens of cakes and slices, and then a fresh sandwich bar.
Continue reading D&M’s Bakery Cafe, Angaston