My last trip to Sydney was so brief. I would have liked much more time to wander around, shop and certainly eat more, but alas, it was not quite meant to be, with my time all getting taken up by the Eat Drink Blog Conference. Although who's complaining? I got fed magnificently!
So did you guys know that Jetstar have domestic flights that leave from the International terminal? And that you have to check in by International regulations, meaning you need to check in around 2 hours before your flight?
Well yeah, I kinda discovered that on my last trip to Sydney and well. Missed my flight. Pah. After a bit of a tantrum and some tears at the airport, lesson learnt, read the fine print!
It was just as well I had initially planned to be on the super early flight, so that I could afford a delay and $80 later, finally got myself to Sydney.
My awesome friend Simon picked me up and quickly took me to get some sustenance. He's well accustomed to this. The last time he picked up David (my bestie) and I from the airport, I promptly got into the car and demanded eggs. Like demanded. I might have been chanting.
As it was afternoon already this time around, I was a little bit more particular this time. Guzman Y Gomez please!
I was really interested in trying out this 'Mexican Taqueria'. One of our family friend's in Melbourne who has an investment in it has talked it up a plenty….but obviously, since GYG had not yet come to Melbourne, I could only imagine how delicious the menu could be in my head….
Until we eventually got to Bondi Junction…the franchise also has yellow all over the place. How can I not be smitten (at least aesthetically) by the place?
Simon and I both decided to go with a couple of quesadillas. For me, it was mainly because Mad Mex in Melbourne does not offer corn tortillas for their quesadillas, so I may as well indulge when I can hey?
I've always described Mad Mex as a Tex Mex version of Subway, being very much the go-down-the line and watch your sandwich/taco be scooped out and made in front of you. I would think that GYG is more akin to Nandos, where you make your order at the front, get your number and sit down and wait for your food to be made.
This results in absolutely beautiful, piping hot food which I found had so much more flavour that Mad Mex. It was love at first bite. To me the meat in particular stood out, it had so much more flavour and body, you could really taste that it had just come off the hot plate, with a bit of char and smokiness which was just a delight. And with all this heat? MELTY MELTY CHEESE.
Also how cute is the packaging? Simon and I were like a quiet old couple reading the morning paper, as we read through all the little tidbits of information and trivia!
So when are we getting one of these in Melbourne again? I can't look at Mad Mex the same anymore!
That evening, as Simon was working, I some time to myself. And come hell or high water, I was going to visit Zumbo on this trip.
Since the other locations weren't quite as accessible without a car, I opted instead to go check out the dessert train at The Star.
I was a little early, so I checked out the concept store next door. It was a little land of whimsy, with macarons stored in emergency glass cases, a bathtub in the middle of the store and all sorts of desserts held in neon coloured cages. Zumbo really is the Australian version of Willy Wonka.
Although what is with the dessert chefs all loving pink? You got Zumbo with his neon pink signs and Burch and Purchese with their adorable pastel pink shop (which my friend once mistook for a make up store!). Nothing against it, but why not like…yellow? Teehee.
I took with me a couple of macarons to try with Simon later. Cola, which we both liked, caramelised pumpkin seed, which I struggled to enjoy, too savoury perhaps? To round it off to three macarons, mango and sweet corn, which I found weird, but quite enjoyable, but I love corn, so I suppose that helps too.
Soon enough, the train was actually open and so I perched, a lone diner, at 6:30pm. Ready for dessert.
The dessert train essentially works the same as a sushi train, a wee mechanical belt, in which pokemon figurines can also be found on, goes past you carrying plates with delicious sweet morsels on them. You are then charged according to the plate value and number of plates obviously!
There is a great mix of desserts, with some special desserts exclusive to the train, but you can also order some of the cakes from the store next door. And macarons. Of course.
As a lone diner, there is unfortunately, only so many sweets I can eat. Yes. Even me.
So I started with the carrot cake. Which distinctly did not look like carrot cake. Which is awesome! The best way to describe it, is as a deconstructed carrot cake, as it really had all the elements. Carrot puree, cinnamon ice cream, orange mayonnaise, cream cheese, toasted almonds and walnut cake. Put it all in your mouth and it really did taste like a carrot cake, I loved the fresh carrot puree and the cinnamon ice-cream. So delicious and surprisingly light and refreshing!
It took a while to decide what I wanted next. As tempting as it was to get a plate of macarons, I ended up going for rather whimsical hazelnut dacquiose. It kind of reminded me of a couple of see-saws at the playground! So cute! The hazelnut dacquoise (which is essentially a layer cake with a light meringue that has nuts folded into it…and cream), also had hazelnut praline crunch, milk chocolate Chantilly and caramelised hazelnuts.
Wow. I lifted the little plastic dome and the scent of roasted hazelnuts pops out and punches you square in the nose. So dreamily aromatic…it's like when mum's baking cakes with hazelnut in them at home. I loved the play on soft versus crunchy texture, but my gosh. That thing was rich and nutty. I really didn't want to stop after two desserts, but I was actually struggling to get through this little hazelnut dacquoise!
I've said it before, I love novelty, so I love what Zumbo's doing with the train. I do wish though, that they served coffee or tea. At least tea, just to have something to cut through the sweetness and the richness while nomming away.
And with that, my one free day in Sydney left me and I met up with Simon who had finished work earlier than expected and went to get pizza. Tacos, dessert and pizza. Good on yah Sydney.
Adriano Zumbo Patissier