Saturday, April 4, 2009
An easter egg hunt from A-B: Adora, Adriano Zumbo, Belle Fleur and Boon
Buying a jumbo bag of supermarket Easter eggs and leaving a Hansel & Gretel-esque trail of coloured foil around your living room is pretty much a major tradition at this time of year. I'm as happy as anyone else to leave crinkly metallic scraps of yellow and pink "eggshell" around, but I also like the idea of rediscovering your city through your sweet tooth.
So, for Anna Burns' great Weekend Lunch show on FBI, I came up with a list of Sydney places to get a hand-made taste of Easter.
Let's start with the chocolate rabbit ears (and cute bilby noses) poking out of the corners of Belle Fleur in Rozelle. (This exact range is also available at the new Petersham store.)
The original boutique is famous for its sculptures fashioned out of cocoa (from telescopes to violins), and aptly enough, there's an installation of large rabbits looking a little joyous and sugar-high in the window.
On a smaller scale, there are mini eggs for you to scoop into a box. There's the popular White Chocolate with Raspberry Filling and Light Milk Chocolate with Smooth Macadamia ($9.20 per 100g, roughly $1.10 a piece). My favourite Easter pick though, is their Mini Hot Cross Buns, which are apple & cinnamon-flavoured. A taste of it may conjure up memories of a baking-goddess grandmother that you never had.
I like the chocolates at Belle Fleur, but my only grumble is how steely cool the staff can be sometimes. When I asked if I could take a photo of the store for the blog, I discovered that silence actually comes with its own climate range and it is not gentle or balmy. They sized me up with one very long, forensic look and did not really respond that enthusiastically to anything I had to say. In the end, they turned me down because they didn't think the acetate-wrapped easter packages would look very good in photographs.
Which is fair enough and totally their right - I just wonder if their delivery could be a touch friendlier. Maybe they don't want to come across any warmer, in case all the hand-made chocolates end up melting.
The staff at Adriano Zumbo Cafe Chocolat (and its sister patissier) in Balmain, meanwhile, are gorgeous and totally lovely. The woman who served me, especially, was such a star, despite me being a total dunce and mistakenly dropping money everywhere and being an embarrassing dag.
And she was totally cool about my photo request. Maybe the blog-friendliness of this place is no surprise, given how reciprocal the warmth is. Adriano Zumbo is a big sugar hit with Sydney bloggers.
Sure, the Easter handcrafted chocolate range wasn't that extensive when I visited last week - there was just the Spiced White Chocolate Mousse Mini Hot Cross Buns. And even though it's available all-year-round, I'd totally buy the staff suggestion that the Fried Egg is Easter-related. Especially as it's such a lovely timestopper of a sweet. The egg "albumen" is a generous disc of coconut-flecked white chocolate and the "yolk" is this spiky-sweet passionfruit jelly. It is a pause-everything moment just sinking right into it. The seconds and minutes slow down as you linger over each deliberate bite.
The other chocolates I've filled the bowl with (above) are non-holiday items: Raspberry and Rose & Mandarin pieces, but who minds going off-topic with goodies like these?
A note to Future Me: I need to plan a proper sit-in cafe visit soon, as the menu blackboard looks super-tempting: one dish is called The Paris La Vie En Rose and is made of rose brulee and macaron, fresh lychees, raspberry sorbet and coconut tapioca shake.
Your mind just surges like an Edith Piaf high note, thinking about it.
And would it be too conspiracy-theory-esque to suggest maybe that's why the cafe is a tad hard to find? It's like some dental lobby hijacked the architects' plans - making the location a little tricky, so our sweeth tooths would be denied.
(But you can foil them by finding the hidden arcade a few doors down from the more prominent Adriano Zumbo patissier, on the main strip in Balmain.)
Adora Handmade Chocolates, with its locations in Earlwood and the city, has gone wonderfully ballistic with their Easter range. There is SO much to choose from. I love the look of their Rabbit Racing Car Drivers, complete with milk-white wind-blown scarves. (Sadly, I didn't get one in my order to show you - I ended up with a non-motorist box of bow-tied rabbits instead.)
It's great they offer a vegan version of the racing car chocolates (especially as chocolate boutiques, with their egg and dairy reliance, can regularly snub vegans). Ditto with their milk-spotted Dinosaur Easter Eggs: a vegan de-spottified version is available, too.
My utter favourite though, was the Half Chocolates with Truffles, which come with a small lottery of truffle flavours. My egg came with two goodies that - on first bite (and every bite after) - instantly made my brain go "Zing!". One was a white chocolate/roasted coconut piece with a kicking twist of lime and the other was a luscious passionfruit ganache tucked inside a rocky white-chocolate shell.
(My brain is resonating with another "zing!" just thinking about it.)
Another tip about Adora is that you can order online - which is brilliant if you are a lazybum (like me), who can half-justify the courier fee (from $16.95 - pricey, but a good excuse to order quite a bit!). You don't have to pick the specific hampers on their site - you can create your own order and email it through (I recommend being a truffle-hound when you decide).
As usual, Boon in Darlinghurst has new chocolates that will wow the eye and the palate. You can buy a Easter Chocolate Flowerpot ($20), that includes beautifully glossy eggs on choc "soil", all spade-filled into a garden-friendly vessel. The Lemon and Poppy Flower version has ruby-marbled swirls, and a lush strawberry-and-cream-like taste, with a dishy lemon flourish. It's a definite "oh my" moment. I also enjoy the tiny specks of pebbly chocolate "dirt" at the bottom of the pot. They're so small, they pop like little cocoa bursts in your mouth.
Sadly, the Green Tea variation was out when I visited, but the Caramelised Almond and Nougat Praline flavour is the favourite of Alex, who works in the store, and Fanny, who exquisitely hand-makes every single chocolate at Boon.
To me, it tastes like a mash-up between an easter egg and a Ferrero Rocher. And could that ever be bad?
Adora Handmade Chocolates, Shop P9 Wentworth Connection, 2A Bligh St, Sydney NSW (02) 9232 6601; 10 Homer St, Earlwood NSW (02) 9559 5948, www.adora.com.au
Adriano Zumbo, Shop 5, 308 Darling Street, Balmain, (02) 9555 1199
Boon Chocolates, 251 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst NSW (02) 9356 8876, www.boonchocolates.com.au
Belle Fleur Fine Chocolates, 584 Parramatta Road Petersham NSW (02) 9550 0650,