Wednesday, April 30, 2008

...a paper (chipboard) heart

Here is a card I made for a wedding RSVP. It was my first ever attempt at covering a piece of chipboard (the heart) and it won't be my last because I'd bought a box of the things. It wasn't too bad though.

The spotty circle stamps are 'Seeing Spots' from Stampin' Up!, as is the ink. I'm glad I'm getting back into the stampin' (up!).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

...being artistic pays off

I'll admit I didn't think of this on my own - it is 'scraplifted' from an idea by Polly Maly in Scrapbooks etc. magazine Feb 2008. But I hope you'll agree that the effect of the lace cardstock set into a shadow box frame, with red accents, is pretty special. It didn't take long to do, either.

Just the thing to brighten up a rainy day (of which we have had lots of lately).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

...woohoo! A cooking class with Adriano Zumbo!

It is the inaugural Balmain Rozelle Food Week (April 21-27), and there is an intriguing lineup of events to highlight the range of food offerings and providores in the Balmain/Rozelle community. Great idea!

These include classes, workshops and tastings at places like the Three Weeds, The Barn, Aboutlife, and special offers at cafés and restaurants like Rosso Pomodoro, Efendy, Bertoni and Victoire (I walked past Victoire a few times and it looked tres french, with candles in paper bags on the tables outside and people sipping glasses of wine).

But the event that JUMPED out at me were the ‘Adriano Zumbo cooking classes: A rare chance to learn and feed on the ornate creations of patissier extraordinaire, Adriano Zumbo’. I managed to score a place in the ‘J’adore les gateaux – secrets unveiled’ class to see what it was about (the web description was a bit vague). I mean, I’ve eaten the cake, and now I really want to see the movie.

Well, it was held in the Zumbo kitchen/factory in Rozelle, which is a large room with stainless steel workspace in the centre and coolroom and storerooms off it. There’s an industrial oven and stove as well. The scene was, to be kind, sort of organised chaos, with the 15 or so attendees given an apron teatowel and a recipe sheet and told to go for it. In groups, we were given the task of making various components of a cake and tart. I think some level of competency in the kitchen was required though not exactly spelled out… I was just excited that we could use the Kitchenaid mixers.

We ‘contributed’, shall we say, to a coconut and coriander cake while other groups made a ginger and basil cake. Unusual flavour combinations are a feature of Zumbo’s creations, and these 2 cakes mixed the tradition of a loaf cake with the exoticness of herbs like coriander and basil. And they worked, of course, really wonderful taste and moistness.

Then we attempted a tart, with different groups responsible for the pate sable, lemon curd, soft caramel, choc mousse and praline feulletine noisette parts of the tart. Because we were making lots of tarts, the amounts of ingredient were largeish – 1kg of flour and 600g of butter for the pate sable; not sure I would try this at home!

But then it all came together and we were amazed that all that running around and spilled sugar could result in something so, well, professional-looking! Mind you, watching Adriano’s skill at making chocolate curls for the crown of the tart really topped it off. In the end, the session went for 3 hours instead of the advertised 2, but we did need the time to do it all.

Seeing how things worked in a commercial kitchen was fascinating for those who haven’t experienced it before. Apart from us amateurs tripping over ourselves and licking hazelnut paste off the spoons, we saw Adriano and his chefs assembling well-known favourites such as Miss Marple.
And though you realise that the actual cooking and baking part isn’t that hard, you can’t help thinking – wow, how did he come up that that idea, and ooh, that looks amazing, there’s no way I could do that (which is probably why there’s always a queue at the shop).

So the mystique is still there. What I’d really like is for Adriano and team to run courses more often, so that we could experience the thrill of turning out the works of art that he does so frequently. Though, by the state we left the kitchen in last night, he and his team are probably saying ‘oh god, never again’!

PS: I don't know if a version of our cooking class effort will make it into the shop (maybe with some 'tweaking'?). Please let me know if you see it, though.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

…do you remember…?

It is Adriano Zumbo Patissier’s first birthday. I remember the first day I visited the shop so clearly…Actually, when I asked the girl behind the counter how long they had been open, she said three weeks, to which I replied ‘Ooh, I didn’t even notice!’. How things have changed.

Because the cakes were so special, I started taking photos straight away. The date on my first photo, of the ‘Marie’ (below left) is 29th April 2007. So it’s almost a year since I stopped by.

The one that clinched it for me, though, is the ‘Merry-go-round’ (below middle). The square of Turkish delight on top of the macaron is, well, so delightful!

I didn’t make note of the name of the cake on the right but I think it is a version of the Odeon cheesecake.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

...who's a lucky girl?

Me, me, me, that's who!
Because I got not one, but TWO cakes from Zumbo.

That's Miss Marple at the back, and a berry tart in front.

The berry tart is actually cheesecake topped with assorted fruits: strawberry, red grapes, starfruit, and an unusual caramelised olive. The olive does have a strange taste that is reminiscent of those Chinese preserved plums, sort of sweet yet savoury, with the distinctive olive flavour still quite strong.

And as with all Zumbo cakes, it looks spectacular...

Friday, April 18, 2008

...pretty, pretty macarons

Macarons are the coryphees of the cake world - delicate yet strong, reliable, and a great support to the prima ballerina main attractions.

These macarons were in the Zumbo shop when I went to get some bread, quiche and croissant, so they were pretty hard to resist.

And the background paper is some lace cardstock that I purchased for scrapbooking, though it looks really good as a doily!

And yes, these are the macarons that manky cat rejects.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

...If Whiskas went upmarket

I've tried in vain to get manky cat interested in more sophisticated eats. She is a cat, after all, and they are supposed to be fussy eaters.

So every time there's been cake or macarons in the house, I try and tempt her.

But to no avail. This is what she prefers... *sigh*.

Monday, April 14, 2008

a lazy post.

Feeling a bit lethargic because of the rainy weather. It hasn't stopped the consumption of cake, but it has put a dampener (pardon the pun) on my posting.

Anyway, here are two recent eatings from Adriano Zumbo. Firstly, the salted caramel millefeuille looks exactly like the vanilla millefeuille but has a caramel filling. It is very sweet (literally).

This is a fluorescent passionfruit tart. It tastes wonderful, tart yet creamy. And it looks great, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 and white daisy card

Here is a quick card I made with some scraps of cardstock I had lying around, and some new stamps (thanks Lin Mei!). I suppose I should do the usual crediting of suppliers...

Daisy by belle. Supplies Cardstock: Paddy's Market; Stamps: Friendship Blooms by Stampin' Up!; Ink: Versamark and Memories; Flower and brad: Target

Monday, April 7, 2008

…um, how do you pronounce it?

I have to say that I wasn’t initially impressed with this dessert from Adriano Zumbo because it seemed a bit on the small side. And it looks a lot like the Mogador, except for the strip of orange on top.

But what it lacks in size it makes up for in taste, texture and ‘yuuummm’ factor (official scale of yumminess). I ate this layer by layer, starting from the base, which is full of crunchy hazelnut. Then, there are piped rolls of ganache, with the sweet orange complementing a more refined non-sweetened chocolate. And then there’s the dark chocolate ‘plaques’, which are crisp yet melty in the mouth. So, from an innocuous introduction, this has become one of my favourites.

But I still don’t know how to say its name. So I Googled it and found that Essaouira is a resort city in Morocco, known for its white buildings and narrow streets. And it was formerly called Mogador. Of course!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

…it comes in Chocolate!

If Charlotte is all blonde and rosy cheeked, then this is her richer, more exotic, brunette sister, Chocolate O’hara.

She wears a chic chocolate mousse jacket around a smooth vanilla and pear (!) heart.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

…I choux choux choose you…

This creation had a short but spectacular outing at Zumbo last year. It has to be in homage to the Religieuse at Laduree, but I think this Balmain version looks heaps better.
“It’s almost too pretty to eat”, I said. But I say that about all his cakes.

First tasted in November 2007.