Cafe Cre Asion Review

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Sydney

My hopes are always set fairly high for cafes and eateries tucked away in hidden alleys, just as Creasions is. They specialise in Macarons but also offer a hearty selection of home made granola, cookies and muffins.

The macarons come in a selection of traditional flavours (salted caramel, pistachio, etc) as well as flavours that feature a Japanese twist (plum wine, charcoal and coco, Japanese black caramel, roasted green tea). I of course made my choice from the latter group.

Sadly, the location and unusual flavours only give false hope that ends in a sour disappointment. The shells were chewy and even crunchy at times, resembling more of a burnt meringue than a macaron. A flavours just lacked any real kick that have you the full experience of their uniqueness.

The plum wine could have been anything; there was nothing distinctive about the flavour. The Japanese black caramel tasted more like cinnamon than caramel (maybe this is what it’s meant to taste like?) but at least had a somewhat strong flavour with a salty after taste. The roasted green tea was the nicest of my three with a lot thicket filling and a refreshing taste. But I wouldn’t say that it stood out from competitors’ green tea/ matcha macarons.

The macarons are also very small for their price (smaller than a 20c piece) and despite only asking for three, the server tried to push me into buying a box of six (doubling the order size isn’t a standard upscale opportunity).

Their assortment of other homemade goods may be better (the muffins did look pretty hearty), but I would never return for the sub par macarons.

Price: $2.70 each
Atmosphere: 3/5
Value: 3/5
Quality: 2/5
Overall: 5/10

21 Alberta Street, Surry Hills
creasionmacaron.com

 Café Cre Asion on Urbanspoon

KaKawa Chocolates Review

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Sydney

Kakawa chocolates opened up their small boutique store in the Gaffa centre several years ago now, and the new central location has been a welcome addition to the original Darlinghurst outpost. Not as well known as most of Sydney’s artisan chocolatiers, Kakawa is a fairly well kept secret in the chocolate world, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not deserved of attention.

The name Kakawa is taken from the first civilisation to cultivate cocoa beans; the Olmecs of Mexico. All Kakawa’s chocolates are hand made with natural ingredients and void of artificial flavouring and preservatives and gluten free for our intolerant friends.

Kakawa do lots of seasonal chocolates, like hot cross buns for Easter and gingerbread men for Christmas, but some noticeable choices in their regular collection include caramelised banana (like bananofee tart in a chocolate), strawberry and balsamic vinegar, caramelised olive (intrigued? tastes amazing), smokey truffle, sea salt caramel (one of their specialities) and lychee. At $2 each, they’re quite reasonably priced, and all that I’ve tasted have been great.
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Aside from the collection of fine chocolates and truffles, Kakawa have a few other unique draw cards. There’s the range of chocolate “CDs”; flat discs of chocolate with different flavourings and toppings, and their chocolate bars- the most notable of which is the dark chocolate bar with liquid sea salt caramel inside! They also do ice cream sandwiches which I’ve been tempted by but have never tasted. Flavours like caramelised black sesame with white chocolate and praline with milk chocolate make me wonder why I haven’t though.
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Perhaps my favourite unique Kakawa offering though, are the handmade soft caramels. They’re wrapped up delicately in blank brown paper, all freshly made and soft and gooey. At 80c each, they come in butterscotch, peanut butter (if you like something a little more on the savoury side), apple pie (which seriously tastes like apple pie in caramel form), chocolate and raspberry (very tangy). All are really good and very moorish.

Overall, Gaffa ranks as high on my list of chocolate stores in Sydney, for their quality, value and natural ingredients.

Fine chocolate/truffle $2 each
Chocolate bar $5.80
Caramel 80c each
Ice cream sandwich $5
Chocolate CD $8.50

Atmosphere 3/5
Quality 5/5
Value 4/5
Overall 9/10

Gaffa Gallery, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney

kakawachocolates.com.au

Kakawa on Urbanspoon

Belle Fleur Fine Chocolates Review

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Sydney

Sydney has no shortage of chocolatiers. Consumers definitely have an extensive selection when it comes to gifting delicate fine chocolates upon their friends and themselves. And although Belle Fleur isn’t one of the oldest chocolate stores, it does have over 30 years of experience in dreaming up exciting new creations and pleasing the public.
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The stores themselves have a very homely authentic feel, although that is challenged somewhat when you come across the “novelty” chocolate section (chocolate iPhones, soccer balls and what not).

The selection of fine chocolate flavours is impressive though. If you’re finding gifts for your overseas friends, there’s a great range of Australian-themed flavours; ANZAC, wattleseed, lamington, beetroot ganache (don’t be put off, it’s really good) and eucalyptus. What stood out the most though, was the selection of chocolates that had fresh whipped cream in them. This is something that I haven’t seen in other chocolate stores and it’s damn amazing. In particular, I recommend the Melba; a combination of peaches and cream covered in milk chocolate, or the Tear Drop; whipped cream mixed with honey and praline atop a crispy nougat base all encased in milk chocolate with dollops of white chocolate on top.

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You can also buy chocolate bars, chocolate coated goods and cooking chocolate, but these aren’t as impressive as the fine chocolate range (and Haighs has got you pretty well covered on that front). The hot chocolate is worth a try though; served hot in store and made from single origin beans, it’s rich and sweet but still has that real cocoa taste rather than sickly chocolate syrup.

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Hot chocolate $3.50
Fine chocolates around $2 each

Atmosphere: 3/5
Quality: 4/5
Value: 4/5
Overall: 8/10

584 Paramatta Road, Petersham
658 Darling Street, Rozelle
bellefleur.com

Images from Belle Fleur’s Facebook and website.

Sydney Macaroon Showdown

The Sydney Macaroon Showdown: Zumbo’s vs Baroque vs Mak Mak vs Lindt

With the amount of macaroons available today and the price you pay for them (up to $3.50 each), you’ll want to make sure that you’re buying the right ones. We’re pitting off Sydney’s best macaroon makers against each other to find out who is worth your precious coin.

First of all, one thing to be noted: some of you may be wondering up front why Laduree is not entering the ring? The simple answer; they are not worthy. Go to Paris, the macaroon capital of the world, and for sure, Laduree will be one of several battling it out for the heavyweight title. However, by the time you’ve frozen them and then carted them all the way down to the Southern Hemisphere, suddenly they become a severely overpriced and overrated product.

The competitors:

adriano-zumbo-patissier-320261Zumbo’s: in the first corner, we have celebrity chef Andrian Zumbo who has established such a big name, that he has coined the term “zumbarons” to specify his unique and boundary-pushing creations. $2.50 per zumbaron.

Baroque:

.Lead by renowned French pastry-chef, Jean-Michel Raynaud, Baroque may considered the most authentic of the bunch. But will their dedication to tradition pay off? $3 each

makmakMakMak: in the third corner, we have Newtown’s beloved Mak Mak, an establishment who claims their hand-crafted pieces to be “the best in Sydney”, but is also the most expensive of our competitors.
$3.50 each or 5 for $15..

Lindt: in the forth corner, world renowned chocolatiers and heavy weights in the Sydney dessert scene amongst tourists, how do their skills transcend beyond chocolate and into baking? $3 per delice.

 

The competition:

berry

Round One :Berry

Zumbo’s Berry Brûlée: had a really nice cream brûlée flavour, the berry component was M.I.A and the shell wasn’t particularly crunchy. (6/10)
MakMak’s Raspberry and Cream: very crunchy, but a nice sweet and delicate berry flavour. Nothing outstanding. (6/10)
Baroque’s Strawberry and Poppyseed: a delicate flavour, the poppy seed didn’t add anything though. (6/10)
Lindt’s Strawberry and White Chocolate: mild strawberry flavour, combined with the white chocolate tasted a bit like strawberry milk, which is a good thing. (7/10)
Verdict: Lindt. Overall, this category was a let down from all competitors. None produced something that was just bursting with berry flavour. Lindt was my favourite, but I probably wouldn’t bother buying any again.

fruit

Round Two: Fruit
Baroque’s Mango Lime and Coconut: a mild flavour overpowered mainly by the coconut and slight hint of lime. Couldn’t taste the mango (5/10)
Lindt’s Passionfruit: a very nice sweet passion fruit flavour but I’m not sure that the chocolate ganache really complemented it (8/10 for shell, combined with choc 6/10)
MakMak’s Green Apple and Guava: slightly sour from the apple, very sweet from the guava. A good combination overall. (8/10)
Zumbo’s Grape Hubba Bubba: a flavour very reminiscent of my childhood bubble blowing days. Luckily the almond meal she’ll cuts out some of the sweetness to make it a bit more palatable than the original. (7/10)

Verdict: MakMak. A unique and tasty combination that was done very well.

salted caramel

Round Three: Salted Caramel
Lindt’s Salted Caramel: really good, perhaps not as salted as it could have been but the flavour of the shell and the chocolate ganache went perfectly together. (8/10)
Zumbo’s Salted Butter Caramel on Toast: The salted caramel inside here was divine, such a strong and perfect flavour. To me, the salted caramel domain is Zumbo’s strong point.( 10/10)
MakMak’s Salted Caramel: it was pretty good but not amazing. The salted caramel flavour struggled to overcome that of the almond meal biscuit. (7/10)
Baroque’s Salted Caramel: very salty salted caramel with a smooth ganache. Perfection. (9/10)
Verdict: Zumbo. Note that Baroque was a very close second.

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Round Four: Chocolate
Lindt’s Chocolate with 70% Cocoa Ganache: not a rich chocolate flavour but a very nice cocoa flavour, quite unique (9/10)
MakMak’s Peanut Butter and Belgian Chocolate: not too much of a Chocolate flavour, mainly peanut butter. Nice, but didn’t standout any more than the next peanut-flavoured dessert (7/10)
Baroque’s Dark Chocolate: Another nice cocoa-filled flavour, but as good as Lindt’s. (7/10)
Zumbo’s Dark Chocolate: very cocoa-ey but as much so as Lindt. Rich but nothing too special.( 8/10)

Verdict: Lindt, for the uniqueness of a 70% chocolate macaroon.

but

Round Five: Nut
Lindt’s Pistachio and White Chocolate: nice flavour but a little dull (7/10)
MakMak’s Smoked Vanilla and Pecan: this could have just as easily gone in the “creations” section. The smoked pecan flavour is unmistakable and you can even finds little prices of crunchy pecan inside. (10/10)
Baroque’s Peanut Butter and Chocolate: (closest thing they had) strong peanut butter flavour and lovely rich chocolate (9/10)
Zumbo’s …:After dropping by Zumbo’s on three separate occasions and not seeing any flavours that could pass off as nut, I have to remove him from this round.

Verdict: MakMak, Baroque put up a good fight, but I couldn’t get past the smokeyness of this one.

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Round Six: Creation
MakMak’s Coconut and Pomegranate: the outside shell is almost caramelly and there’s pomegranate jam in the middle but it’s disappointing that the flavour is overpowered by the coconut.(6/10)
Baroque’s Jasmine Green Tea: I’m not usually a green tea flavour fan, but this had a lovely sweet flavour. Very moorish. It’s a pity there weren’t any more exciting a contenders for their representative in the creations category. (9/10)
Zumbo’s Bread and Butter Pudding ; delicious. The flavour of this favourite dessert was captured, with layers of cinnamon (9/10)
Lindt’s Chocolate Banana: the white chocolate filling was nice but there was nothing particularly special about the banana. (6/10)

Verdict: Baroque and Zumbo, both flavours were divine.

Overall Winner: Zumbo, all things considered, it’s difficult to ignore Zumbo as a strong contender. Offering a cheaper price, there’s no compromise on form or quality. The flavours are bold, creative and always changing- and always tasty!

Zumbo Patiserie on Urbanspoon Baroque | Bistro Bar Patisserie on UrbanspoonMakMak on UrbanspoonLindt Chocolat Café on Urbanspoon

The Mac Factory Review

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The Mac Factory seemed to beat everyone else to the punch when it came to capitalizing on the macaron frenzy. As the first store in the city solely dedicated to the precious baked creations, it quickly became known as Adelaide’s best producer of macarons. That being said, I had high hopes for the Mac Factory.

The place itself is quite cute. It’s located on quiet Hutt street, up stairs that are encased by a white picket fence. Fake grass is laid out to create a quaint garden-type feel and seating is supplied on the balcony overlooking the street. Inside, the shop is quite spacious, and they have a cookbook store next door. First impressions were looking good.
http://themacfactory.com.au

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Unfortunately things didn’t go so well from there. The macarons have very soft flavours, so much so that sometimes they are indistinguishable. I had the Turkish delight first, and it was a real let down- I couldn’t taste the rose flavouring at all. Next, strawberry and white chocolate. This one tasted a lot nicer, but didn’t have much of a strawberry flavour. The salted caramel was the best, as usual, and actually had a hardish, chewy caramel centre, as opposed to ganache, which was quite nice, but like the others, I think all the flavour did come from the centre; I got nothing from the shell.
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On the up side, the shells were well presented and good quality in terms of consistency and texture. They had a good, crispy shell, and weren’t too dense. At $2.50 each, they are not too badly priced either. But the dull flavours were a real disappointment. I should probably also mention that the flavour selection wasn’t very adventurous. They kept pretty close to the classics, although the list might be rotating.

Atmosphere 4/5
Quality 2/5
Value 3/5
Overall 6/10

190B Hutt Street, Adelaide
Mac Factory on Urbanspoon

Dulce Luna Review

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Dulce Luna is a self-claimed Viennoiserie (bakeries making goods from yeast-leavened dough or puff pastry) whose speciality, the dulce luna (probably didn’t see that one coming) is a cross between the French croissant, Italian cornetti and Argentine media luna and comes in a host of different flavours. Aside from this, they offer hot drinks and empanadas.

The Argentine hot chocolates (“submarines”) are done a little bit different here- the cup is initially lined with a small amount of chocolate sauce, filled up with steamed milk and then you’re given a big bar if chocolate to melt and store in to give the extra chocolate flavour ing. Having a big stick of chocolate to stir into your drink sounds all well and good in theory, but in practice, it does mean having to wait a considerable amount of time for the chocolate to melt so that you can enjoy it. If you get impatient, you’ll end up drinking plain steamed milk and then be left with a delicious but unattainable lump of chocolate in the bottom. Once melted, it does taste pretty good. One of these will cost you $4.50, and you can get white, milk, dark and dulce de leche.

The empanadas are slightly on the salty side but have good fillings otherwise, although the pastry is soft and doughy rather than crisp and flakey (but maybe empanadas are meant to be like this?). For $4.50, these seem to be on the expensive side, as they are not particularly big, but the ingredients are good quality.

The Luna’s, are probably the star of the show. A luna is like the croissant’s South American, soft-pastried smaller cousin. They look a great deal like croissants with toppings, but if you’re expecting them to taste like croissants you’ll be disappointed. As mentioned, they are a lot softer, and halve flavours that would make an authentic pastry chef cry- dulce le leche, raspberry, glazed, etc., but presumably, this sorts of flava ours are more common amongst the media lunas. With prices ranging from $2.50 – $3.50, they’re pretty good value too.

Value 3/5
Atmosphere 3/5
Quality 3/5
Overall 6/10

66 King Street, Sydney
72 Pitt Street, Sydney

dulceluna.com.au

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Dulce Luna Viennoiserie on Urbanspoon