Instead of gingerbread men, you can get kick-ass Ginger Ninjas ($4) at Black Star Pastry in Newtown. Yes, ninjas. They don't come with ninja stars, but they are clad in a thick identity-disguising coat of chocolate, which is more enticing than the sparse button-only gear their traditional friends get around in.
There are many other likeable things about this squeezing-room-only bakery, now neighbours to the ever-popular Oscillate Wildly restaurant.
You can get Toast ($4) sweetly slathered with Rose Petal Jelly, Seville Orange Marmalade or Strawberry Jam. And if you'd like any of these condiments to safeguard your breakfast table, the jams are available in cute fabric-topped jars, for $10 each.
There are intriguing variations on sweet-tooth favourites - Elderflower Cheesecake ($5) and Mango Panna Cotta ($5) to name a few. If you need a cocoa fix, you can search out the tray of handmade chocolates. And if you need something crusty for dinner, there are stand-bys like baguettes and sourdough loaves to choose from. Sandwiches and galettes are provided for the lunchtime crowd.
The staff are very nice and patient, despite my embarrassing case of can't-decide brain-freeze. In the end, I get a box that includes a Handmade White Chocolate with Lemon ($2), a Handmade 'Espresso' Chocolate ($2), Lemon Melt ($2) and Saffron Mango Shortbread ($3). I especially like the latter's spunky strands of dried mango, all haphazardly strewn about like a rock star's perfectly windblown hairdo.
The white chocolate was fabulous - it wasn't shriekishly sweet (as white choc can be), just creamy and lush and well-paired with the zesty lemon hit. In fact, everything I had was moment-pausingly good. I guess it's no surprise given Black Star Pastry's pedigree - it's run by Christopher The, a former pastry chef at three-hatted Claude's in Woollahra. He's also worked at Quay (another triple-toquer) and renowned bakers, Sonoma and Victoire.
This is probably one of the star reasons why, even on a drizzly Wednesday afternoon, the bakery was buzzing with people. The flour-dusted and sugar-sprinkled treats on the shelves and counters complete the argument - this is a bakery worth crowding into. I left with my arms full and a smile on my face. Next time, I'll just have to remember to get a Ginger Ninja for on-the-street protection ...
Black Star Pastry, 277 Australia St, Newtown NSW, 2042, (02) 9557 8656