I admit it – Adriano Zumbo is my new pastry hero. The man is a flavour genius. This is no chocolate-on-chocolate-and-what-goes-with-chocolate-oh-I-know-more-chocolate type of chef. This guy understands BALANCE. Sweets aren’t all about the sweetness. There’s sourness, tartness, even saltiness and all sorts of other things that are involved in making sweet things. And all of these have to be in the right balance, otherwise one flavour overpowers the others and you don’t get that beautiful complex flavour that you can savour.

So I was feeling pretty glum about not having won the famous Zumbo chocolate mousse cake lottery for the second time in a row, and certain friends were meant to visit me this weekend and revel in the sweet Zumboness of this patisserie with me and they didn’t show, so I made the pilgrimage to Zumbo Patisserie all by myself for consolation cake. Last time I went there they were completely sold out, so I got there a bit earlier this time.

It was packed. And when the people got in there, their eyes widened and they were just staring and drooling and LUSTING after the cakes. There were several people taking photos. This isn’t a big store – it’s like a corridor with a cake display case on one side. So I managed to get all the way to the end of the cake display stand where the good stuff is. I wanted ALL of it. The lady next to me was lost in a similar bewildered state of cakelust as we struggled to decide what to buy. But I managed to narrow it down to a few choices, before moving on to the macaroon section.


Then the most amazing thing happened. One of the macaroons broke. It was a salt and vinegar macaroon and the shop assistant said to me, “this one broke so I can’t sell it. Would you like to eat it?”

Free macaroon?

For me?

For ME????

So she started describing the other macaroon flavours to me, but I had already taken a bite of the free macaroon and I was far away on a distant planet called Planet of the Free Macaroon, a glorious place where salt, vinegar, sugar and macaroonness live in perfect harmony and dance and sing together. You should go there sometime, it’s awesome. So she had to repeat all the flavours to me again and I ended up getting two rice pudding macaroons because that’s all I could remember her saying.

Amazingly I left the store with only four items. I don’t know how I managed to resist all of these temptations.


I bought four things to try. Here they are, clockwise from top left :

  • “Amanda Made The Cut” (4 layers of chocolate mousse, passionfruit marshmallow, coconut crunch and chocolate brownie, partially covered in lime creme),
  • “Escape From A Columbian Rainforest” (if I remember correctly – chocolate mousse with a tangy rasberry filling covered in fizzy pink sugar with chocolate on top),
  • citron tart (a lemon tart) and
  • “Lukas Rides The Tube” (Macadamia praline mousse, macadamia docquoise, vanilla chantilly, pear tartin pallette, macadamia feuilletine).

zumbocakesboxMy favourite was “Amanda Made The Cut”, which was an unusual combination but really well balanced in flavour – with the lightness of the marshmallow, the zest of the lime creme and the sweetness of the chocolate brownie and mousse – and also in texture – with the crunch of the coconut, the softness of the marshmallow and mousse, the chewiness of the brownie and the gooiness of the lime creme.

The “Escape from a Columbian Rainforest” was extremely rich, but the richness was tempered somewhat by the tangy jelly in the middle. Lukas Rides the Tube was very rich as well, kind of like an upper class vanilla slice. I liked the flavours but found the chantilly cream too overpowering in richness.

I didn’t try the citron tart – I left all of that to my husband, connoisseur of all things lemon. The result was surprising – he usually says when it comes to citrus tarts, the stronger the better. However this time he said it was a very good tart – one of the best he’s had – despite not being overly sour and lemony in flavour. High praise indeed from this man.

So there it is, my new favourite Sydney patisserie. Next time I must try the cafe. Frustratingly, it is always full whenever I go there. However, fear not – I will find a way.

Zumbo Patisserie, Balmain, Sydney.

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