Zumbo party! Platters of luscious desserts…heaven incarnate!
He’s an intriguing fellow, that Adriano Zumbo. My first impression of the man when I briefly met him last year was that he was unassuming and seemingly surprised by the sheer amount of blogger attention that he was receiving. In fact he was almost too shy to come out and say hi to us when we gathered to preview his last Summer Collection.
The man himself…Adriano Zumbo.
This time around, we asked him to join us, have a chat, which he was all too happy to do. And there, with a group of Sydney food bloggers, he hung out in his Café Chocolat that was reserved for our hungry crew. (Big thanks to café manager Rachael for her hospitality!). All for the purpose of sampling his new winter collection 40 Days and 40 Nights In Paris. The lack of sleep was evident in his eyes, and his chef pants were still stained with chocolate, but he displayed amazing patience as he sat in front of fawning bloggers who got busy with their photo shoots.
There were the usual questions about the work that goes into developing his range, his months in Paris, why his desserts remain unnamed (‘no time!’) and how his range is still a work in progress. He also divulged which dessert of his winter collection he wasn’t entirely happy with and confessed that he might consider dropping it altogether (so get in and try it all while you still can!).
New season macarons
Chocolates made for me! ‘White chocolate and Rose Ganache’ and ”Violet Ganache Roses’ (in the background)
But what was more fascinating was observing his mannerism and trying to see how his mind worked. He threw around a few wacky new ideas for future desserts on impulse, like it just occurred to him. But he did so with the most mischievous grin that I didn’t know whether to take him seriously or not. I will wait and see if ‘The Pub’ or the ‘water-cake’ will come into fruition next season!
Peanut Butter and Raspberry Cups
Adriano Zumbo also knows that not everybody is going to love every single dessert of his range but he seemed to relish observing the reactions of those who are trying some of the crazier creations for the first time. Some reactions were priceless, but Adriano sat there and laughed. It’s as if he was enjoying his own private joke of unleashing psychotic desserts on a group of naive bloggers.
So many desserts!
His approach to the art of patisserie is untraditional but he challenges our tastebuds, turns the bizarre into delicious and takes us to a more fun and abstract world of pastry and desserts. To hell with French traditions and rigidity! The wacky aesthetics, the mad combo of flavours, and the addition of oddball ingredients…this man is serving us all a plate of crazy and I’m-a loving it! This is why I go nuts every six months and make the arduous trek to Balmain!
Adriano Zumbo show-and-tell
But underneath the bold creations, it all comes down to one thing: does it taste any good? Let me answer that with an animalistic groan as I work my way through his gianduja ganache tart!
Bear in mind that the winter collection has just launched and is still undergoing some last minute tweaking. So this isn’t a comprehensive list by any means but this generally covers his entire range. Without further ado, here is the rundown of 40 Days and 40 Nights In Paris:
‘Ed Rock the Cradle’
Milk coffee cheesecake with chocolate cheesecake base, coffee scented caramel crème and Italian meringue
Who the hell is Ed? I’ve been asking that question ever since he released ‘Ed Knocked Me Up’ and ‘Ed, It’s Twins, but…’ however the mystery remains! And tardy, tardy me, I forgot to try this one! In any case…it’s cheesecake! And coffee! Of course it’ll be good.
Chocolate pop rock and popcorn disc, vanilla almond chantilly, dulce de leche, flourless chocolate sponge, almond feulletine
Oh my god. The pop rocks! The way it all ‘popped’ in your mouth as you chewed! It was enough to bring out the giggles from Lili. And from myself when I tried it at home! Aah such happiness!
Milk passion caramel mousse, lime crème, passionfruit marshmallow, coconut crunch and brownie
Named after Zumbo’s birthday (really, it is!), this was definitely worthy of a groan or two! But eat this before the other lighter cakes as the richness factor can take its toll after four desserts!
Smoked toasted marshmallows and chocolate cake
Smiles all round when Adriano Zumbo brought out a tray of not one, but two whole complementary cakes! What a dessert orgy! One cake looked like a giant sushi roll and the other was just plain strange with what looked like chunks of coal and a tubular marshmallow bow. Odd. Very odd. But I’m intrigued.
When I heard Adriano describe this cake I heard the words smoke, hot coals and bushfire. I couldn’t help but think ashtray in cake form? As bizarre as it sounded, I really enjoyed this. The chocolate wasn’t as prevalent in the cake but the smokiness sure was! I loved the ‘bushfire’ fragrance and I seriously couldn’t help savouring each smoky bite. The smoked, dried marshmallow chunks that adorned the cake was like eating at flaky coal! But it was strangely alluring and I couldn’t stop shaving it with my teeth when I was trying it at home!
The ‘Sushi Roll Cake’ (name unknown) was a carrot, walnut and seaweed cake wrapped in a nori sushi sheet. There were puzzled looks all round on bloggers’ faces but some of us couldn’t wait to grab a knife and start slicing. The cake itself was lusciously dense and chockful of walnuts with the seaweed flavour ever so subtle. But when eaten with a piece of the nori seaweed that encased it, I just thought sweet sushi! I actually liked it and thought it worked. However not everyone was a fan.
Macadamia praline mousse, macadamia dacquoise, vanilla chantilly, pear tatine palette, macadamia feulletine
Cake carnage! Sadly this didn’t survive my trip home but I loved the crispy nutty base! It tasted good even when I was scraping up its remains from the inside of the cake box!
Baked meringue, crème citron and sable sand
Again, it half survived the drive but the lemon crème ball fell off onto my tart! I love lemon curd so big thumbs up however I’m not a meringue lover so for now, I’ll stick to his Tart au Citron.
Tea and passionfruit soaked pears and savarin, lavender saffron mascarpone crème, crumble, raspberry jelly, coconut rehydration pipette
Belle thoroughly enjoyed this one. I just loved squeezing the pipette and watching the coconut rehydration squirt out to the bottom of the glass. It was almost like a fancy, fruity trifle…but better, naturally.
Gianduja ganache with caramel in a pate sable shell
A new one to his tart collection. The gooey caramel, the Nutella-like ganache filling? Instant gratification. Zumbo is the king of tarts, seriously.
‘Escape from a Columbia Rainforest’ (gluten-free)
Flourless chocolate sponge, dark chocolate fizzy disc, cherry cola jelly, cherry cola slurp, chocolate sabayon mousse
Slurp baby, slurp! Yes, this playful and ingenius design comes with your own straw to suck the cherry cola syrup and jelly that’s encased inside the cake. Ingenius, because this baby sat in my cake box and survived the wild drive home and somehow it managed to stay upright and in one piece when I expected it to be one big melted syrupy mess! This coke can cake must be my dessert soulmate as I literally live on the real stuff intravenously.
Smoked rice brulée, violet curd, pate sable with mandarin and ruby grapefruit segments
My favourite out of the range and it definitely wins the beauty contest! I loved the smoked rice brulée and the tart that I bought on the second day was especially smoky. It’s paired with an ambrosial violet curd and it exuded a similarly fragrant quality like rose. Floral and sugar? Beautiful! The bite of the mandarin segments just gave it that final refreshing burst. My god!
Olive oil biscuit, olive oil ganache, vanilla candied Kalamata olives, lemon and olive oil crème, vanilla lemon crème legere, jumbo gumbo jelly
Aah, this was one divisive dessert. You either liked it or hated it. I admit I wasn’t impressed at first but then again, I tried each layer separately. I didn’t know what it was at first but I was wondering why it was bitter and tasted, well, odd. As soon as The Captain said olive oil, then it made sense. But as Zumbo said, you must eat all the layers together. Trust me, after a few spoonfuls you’ll be wondering why you ever questioned Zumbo in the first place!
‘Just 2 fingers Tiger!’
Corn, saffron and vanilla custard, vanilla brulée, chocolate custard, yuzu crème, sable crunch terrain
Like I mentioned before, this gave The Captain chills when he ate the saffron half. Me? I’m just happy to eat choux pastry and custard. Any custard.
Mandarin mousse, tonka bean brulèe, pain d’epice, sour cream jelly, almond ginger crunch disc
Nothing crazy about this (except for its Sputnik appearance) but it was oozing comfort with the ginger layer. And if you’re wondering, those sticks are just white chocolate.
Pine nut gianduja mousse, dark chocolate crème, pate feulletage caramelise, sacher sponge
A crowd pleaser, rich and fulfilling…like any man should be!
Hazelnut meringue, anzac moisture, mint chocolate disc, vanilla apple tatin chantilly, apple tatin compote, isomalt caramel
A tough one to eat and share as dividing it or getting your fork onto it will lead to a carnage. Nevertheless, it’s a sweet homage to the nostalgic favourite, toffee apple. The toffee discs however seemed to be softened by the humidity so eat at your own peril unless you want your teeth stuck together. I was at odds with the mint at first but soon I was enjoying its trysts with apple and the hazelnut meringue.
40 Days and 40 Nights is available for about six months from May 23rd. Of course, I personally advise against eating the entire range (and double quantities of the tarts) in one weekend…it’s a bitch of a sugar headache (but goddamn it’s worth it!).
Again a big thanks to Reem for organising it, my fellow bloggers for a great afternoon and Adriano, Rachael and the Chocolat Cafe staff for their hospitality!
Other Food Bloggers in attendance:
- Foraging Otaku
- I Am Obsessed With Food
- Leave Room for Dessert
- Ooh, Look
- Pikelet and Pie
- Raspberry Cupcakes
- Something To Nibble On
- The Heart of Food
- The Way It Crumbles
Related Posts: because you can never have too much Zumbo!
- Adriano Zumbo Winter Collection 2009 Preview
- Adriano Zumbo Summer Collection 2008 Preview
- Adriano Zumbo Summer Collection 2008 and a Blogger Pilgrimage
- Return to Paris for a life in pink
296 Darling Street
Balmain, NSW 2041
(02) 9810 7318
Open 8pm to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 8pm to 4pm on Sundays.