adriano zumbo: let them eat cake

This is where cream and design meet. Adriano Zumbo is a cake institution in Balmain, where queues to get in lengthened dramatically when the man himself appeared on the last season of Masterchef. But it’s not for the television appearance that Zumbo is famous. His cakes have dramatically raised the bar of Sydney’s patisseries thanks to his always extraordinary and often unusual creations.

Zumbo shot on to the scene, seemingly from nowhere, with his Balmain shop in 2007, and since then the 28-year-old pâtissier has attracted endless rave reviews from the best cakeratti. Zumbo has become Sydney’s most sought after pâtissier, and he did a white chocolate cake for margaret Fulton’s 85th birthday last year, held in Parliament House.

His oddly named macarons, from Miss Marple (a miniature maple sugar crêpe cake) and Wheely Good (passionfruit mousse sandwiched between slices of almond meringue), also include Beetroot & raspberry, Pumpkin & orange risotto, Custard crunch, Chickpea lemon & caramel, Mont Blanc, Citrus & mustard, Blackened vanilla bean, 3 textures blueberry, Kalamata olive & bergamot candy, Pear pistachio & fennel, salted peanut caramel, Oatmeal & ylang ylang.

The shop itself is teeny, with beautiful distressed brick walls and rustic bread appearing half as a design element and half as just bread-for-sale. But the real show is the cakes. Like a chorus line of showgirls, brightly coloured and frilly and fantastic, the cakes dance in a long shop-length glass cabinet. Fluorescent greens and pinks, yellows and gold regularly appear on stage. Colours, however, tell you nothing about what the cake is about. Yellow is no longer reliably citrus or pineapple – it could be anything – ginger, lemongrass, coriander. Yes, this place is where sugar and cream become remarkable. It’s where something looking like a simple lemon meringue pie is actually.. “Liquorice pate brisee, olive oil creme citron, butterscotch caramel, oven roasted apples, mint meringue ball & thyme italian meringue.” Adriano Zumbo has recast the pastry world, where the unusual takes centre stage and all desserts want better lighting.

All photos, except those immediately above, by The Kitchen Inc.

Pictured second from top:

CHARLIE’S HOMEMADE GINGER FEAR (top): Ginger beer gel, ginger pudding soaked in coconut syrup, chocolate ginger foam eggs, ginger crunch, ginger chantilly & passionfruit bavarois

ED THERE’S ONLY ONE BALL!: Hazelnut sable, flourless chocolate biscuit, mascarpone creme legere, coffee brulee, baked hazelnut creme with a coffee shot

Adriano Zumbo: 296 Darling Street Balmain, Sydney. (02) 9810 7318

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