A French affair

Thanks to Sydney’s Westfield City being so huge and labyrinth-like, it’s easy to turn a corner and stumble upon something exciting – like the Becasse Bakery located on the level of the food court, right across from the bathrooms. It’s near the entrance to the restaurant, and consists of a long counter filled with decadent French pastries and treats ….

When presented with such an array of deliciousness, rather than make a decision, I’ve taken to asking the staff what the most popular item is. The girl behind the counter recommended the banana and toffee nut tart (pictured above, right), which apparently sells out so often in the morning rush that they’ve started to make double quantities. This turned out to be a great choice. A French version of banoffee pie, the pastry case is filled with a vanilla bean and banana custard and topped with sticky caramel covered walnuts. If this was reviewed on masterchef I’m sure George would say the textures are the hero of the dish – it’s creamy, gooey custard, flaky pastry and crunchy, buttery toffee all at once. Yum!

Ben tried the Opera Cake and gave it a big thumbs up. This kind of cake is not my cup of tea at all but I had to admit it did look pretty impressive.


Current crushes

BreadTop‘s green bean sesame balls… Golden fried mochi balls rolled in crispy sesame seeds. Worth making a detour for on my way to work.

Bourke St Bakery creme brulee tarts and lemon tarts (nothing new there).

Polli mobiles like this one on my co-worker VJ’s window. The rainy backdrop doesn’t show it off in all its magical glory but it’s lovely (and as a bonus, it’s made from industrial offcuts so it’s ‘sustainable design’).

Making matcha latte on these last days of cool weather.

Pretz provided by VJ when we had to go into work one Sunday – milk coffee flavour and vanilla green tea flavour. Both exceptionally good but the coffee ones blew me away with their intense latte flavour! Just like a Starbucks.

Riding home from work and being greeted by this ridiculous sunset behind the anzac bridge and fish markets recently.

Flower of the week

I’m loving having crimson roses around the house this week. One little bunch goes a long way.

Lunchtime yums

My lunch hours have been full of treats lately. This week the girls and I had lunch at Alfresco Emporium in Collaroy, and enjoyed mini milkshakes in vintage British milk bottles with retro paper straws. The homeware store’s cafe is adorable, and serves high tea every Tuesday, as well as small cakes and sandwiches every day. Unfortunately they don’t sell the milk bottles.

My friend Jules has been suggesting we visit The Pie Tin in Newtown (above), for its American pumpkin pie and range of yummy savoury pies. It didn’t disappoint, with its huge glass cabinet of fruit filled pies, chocolate cream pies and caramel macadamia pies. When you place your order, they give you an antique pie tin with your number on it.

We tried the slow cooked pork and apple pie and the moroccan lamb pie, and I bought a slice of ‘Noelines’ caramel and triple chocolate pie to take back to work. With its dark chocolate pie crust,  gooey caramel filling and rich chocolate chunks, it took me two days to finish.

We’re also lucky to be a short drive from Black Star Pastry. My friend VJ and I sampled the flourless chocolate cake with violet sugar creme, pistachio macarons, and their famous mini orange cake with Persian fig and quince, which tastes just as gorgeous as it looks.

Signs of spring

There is a beautiful peach blossom tree a few streets from our house, and it’s in full bloom now, which must mean spring is almost here! Yesterday, Ben, Albina and I stood underneath it for ages, photographing the flowers. (We realised afterwards we must have looked a bit ridiculous.)

Bean and I stopped into Zumbo just before closing and they didn’t have many treats left, but we were able to try Blackcurrant, Mandarin and Pear & Vanilla macarons. They were OK, but no Strawberries & Cream.

Feels like every day it’s sunny, blue skies and a light breeze – perfect bike riding weather! I am obsessed with riding to work and am trying to channel Cadel Evans. If he can ride 200km across France each day, I can ride 14.

I’ve been on a Portuguese tart mission lately. When I lived in Dulwich Hill I had my favourite portuguese tart place – Fernandes patisserie on Marrickville Rd. But now I think I prefer the ones at Honeymoon Patisserie in Petersham (above). The flavours we tried were lemon & coconut, ricotta, almond and original. They also make mini bite-size versions, which are sooo cute (but surely not enough for a serious Portuguese tart craving). Jonquils are another awesome early Spring offering.

Kakawa chocolate store in East Sydney first tempted me via Lee Tran’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry blog. Whenever I am anywhere nearby, I drop by to pick up their bubble wrap chocolate, available in single origin varieties such as Venezuela 43% or Papua New Guinea 64%. (The one I bought, above, was just their traditional dark chocolate blend.) You can’t pop the bubbles like you can with the plastic version of bubblewrap, but it’s just as satisfying.

True colours

If there’s one colour that inspires me, it’s pink. A quick flick through my iPhoto library told me that about 3/4 of the pictures I take are of pink things, and I can never say no to something if it’s pink. I was reading up about the colour meanings of this sweet hue lately and found out that pastries taste better when they come out of pink boxes or served on pink plates, as pink makes us crave sugar (source). I also read that it is a calming colour, and is used in prisons to calm inmates – but apparently it’s only the initial sight of the colour that has a tranquillizing effect, prolonged exposure to the colour can have the opposite effect ! I also found out that busy or overworked women may develop an attraction to pink as it reminds them of the ‘carefree days of childhood’ (from here).

I don’t know why I love pink, but here are some of my favourite pink moments of the last little while…

Above: I arrived at work on my bday to find these, from my lovely friend Virginia.

Above: I recently tried this pink grapefruit sparkling mineral water which appears to have been made in Daylesford, Vic. 

Above: Mad Mex has fun Mexican sodas, Jarritos. I asked the guy which one was the most popular and he said guava, so another pink drink for me.

Above: My friends Dave and Nicole came around on the weekend and brought me a bottle of Rekorderlig wild berries cider. I didn’t realise it was pink, because the bottles are brown glass, until I poured it into this vintage Sodastream bottle from Mitchell Rd Auction House. It’s great to serve anything from cola to milkshakes to berry cider, with the heart-printed straws Mads gave me, from Emerald & Ella.

Above: Don’t usually wear pink, but this (re-worked) vintage dress from Cream on Crown in Surry Hills was just too cute.

Above: Red & white isn’t really pink, but I think this colour combo has almost the same feel as pink. I bought this Gokuri apple juice from a vending machine at an onsen in Nagano, Japan, back in January. I wanted to take a piccie of the gorgeous design and was looking for a good background when I realised I was wearing one. My BF Ben took this shot for me before we left to visit Nagano’s famous snow monkeys.

Above: Saw these at Harris Farm last weekend. Awww.

Which colour inspires you?