“Eatable Marshmallow Pillows. Lickable Wallpaper for Nurseries. Hot Ice Creams for Cold Days. Cows that give Chocolate Milk. Fizzy Lifting Drinks. Square Sweets that look Round.”― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Who wouldn’t want to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? Even better, without that strange and unstable Wonka around, playing tricks and turning people into blueberries…
Minus that shudder-worthy creepiness, Adriano Zumbo has to be the closest thing to Wonka the real world has to offer. I’ve been, ahem, a bit obsessed with his work for a while now. Anyone who knows me knows I love me a macaron but I am very difficult to please. They have to be perfect, really perfect and I’ve tasted every classic flavour under the sun. Pistachio, chocolate, vanilla, rose… The genius of Zumbo is that he creates flavours that are not only new are inventions you hadn’t even imagined in a macaron before: Salt & Vinegar, Malted Milkshake, Cinnamon doughnut, for example. His store, at The Star in Pyrmont, Sydney, is an adventure too – neon, vibrant, featuring a dessert train (!) and unlike any patisserie you’ve ever been into. A bathtub full of biscuits, emergency glass cabinets of chocolate bunnies. And, as a little research uncovers, the design was inspired by none other than Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Aha!
Let me take you inside with me…
The goodies that came home with me were four little macarons: Raspberry lamington, Hot Cross Bun (Happy Easter!), Caramel (for Matt) and Gingernut, plus a cake called Wunderbar.
The cake got a little smashed around in the car ride home but the flavours reminded me of trifle – cream, sweet, sticky fruit, biscuit. I am a biiiiiiiiiig trifle fan. It has a restraining order out on me so I can’t get within 200 yards of a bowl of it. I’ve only ever tried Zumbo’s macarons before so the cake was a real treat especially the textures – creamy, crunchy, juicy pineapple bits, velvety raspberries. Drooling yet? And, of the macarons my favourite , by a country mile, was the raspberry lamington: rich chocolate flavoured, sprinkled with toasted coconut and featuring a sweet, gooey raspberry jam centre. Hmmmm-mmmm.
Zumbo has just started producing “bake-at-home kits” for a couple of his macaron flavours. I know I should be interested in trying one but truthfully, I’m not. There is something fairy-tale, something Dahl, about venturing into one of his stores and seeing the treats on display. It’s a visual feast and a surprise every time. I don’t want to know Zumbo’s secrets the same way I don’t want to know Wonka’s and know I could never write like Roald Dahl. Nope, I’m not keen on DIY in this case. The way both the author and the chef weave everything with fantasy, mischief and delight, that’s the pleasure of it for me.
Of course my only disappointment is that I couldn’t take you with me to this “Wonka-land”. Although, if I could, would you ever leave?
HUGS, Hannah x
This shop is amazing, Hannah. The colors are amazing and the display cases are unique. It certainly would be a visual feast at this store. I tried my hand at making macarons, inspired by your book, but I think you have to have a very experienced hand to make them something truly delicious.
Zumbo is definitely experienced! You are right, it definitely is a visual feast 🙂 H x
Okay…what the heck is a bastard cake? I want to love the sound of it, but I kind of feel bad for the cake. I mean, it looks really pretty. It’s got to sting, having a name like that. Inferiority complex, anyone? Why can’t this cake measure up to its neighbours? Clearly it’s of questionable parentage, but still–being illegitimate is kind of becoming mainstream these days, right?
Maybe it’s more about the expletive that I would utter when eating the cake, as in, “Bastard! This baker is the sh–t!” Which still brings me back to: why the strong language?
Is there an Aussie context here that I’m missing?
Pah ha ha! Aussies sling the word “bastard” around like it’s no big deal and certainly not in the context it’s supposed to be used for. I think Zumbo probably first served it up to his staff and they exclaimed “You bastard, this cake is freakin’ awesome!” Don’t you love how purple it is. I feel like I need to go back to the store and try it. Except that I’ve been thinking that about every cake I saw and didn’t buy – sticky popcorn finger for example. Zumbo, you bastard, I’m hooked!!!
But for the record, I’d still eat this cake no matter its name.