I had to fend for myself for a few days, while my family were up the coast on holidays. I missed out on going with them because my deadlines week at college happened to coincide with their already-booked week away. I promised myself that I would eat good home-cooked food, because when you’re busy trying to finish projects and only cooking for yourself, it is tempting to take the easy/lazy option and either order a pizza or subsist on only two-minute noodles. Cooking for one is very different to cooking for four, which I usually do. It felt strange to cook so little! I ended up with leftovers of almost everything, but it was nice to have food in the fridge for lunch the next day.
Luckily, I had a good friend come to stay towards the end of the week, so I didn’t go completely mad in my solitude. We had a variety of food-based adventures, since I seem to navigate Sydney purely via coffee shops, and she’d seen The Bridge already. It was so nice to have someone to share things like this with, because sometimes it seems like all my best friends live far away. I think food always tastes better with the people you like.
We took a ferry to Balmain and visited Adriano Zumbo’s famous patisserie; above you can see a tangy and delicious passionfruit tartlet, a salted butter caramel mille-feuille and two varieties of macaron, because we couldn’t help ourselves. We had Sunday brunch at the Bourke St Bakery, or more accurately in the little park opposite (and then went back to try the strawberry vanilla brulée and lemon curd tartlets). On Monday we headed across the road to The Book Kitchen, where the walls are lined with cookbooks. I loved the coffee and the very nice day menu, I can’t wait to go back for lunch one day! For breakfast I had the date and fig pikelets, which were gorgeous, fluffy and studded with hidden surprises. The accompanying poached pear and rhubarb was the perfect match, and just wonderful with the creamy vanilla ricotta. I have it on good authority that their scrambled eggs on sourdough were a winner too.
We also sampled South American ice cream from a place that has recently opened up within walking distance of home, called Patagonia. The dulce de leche ice cream was fantastic, and inspired me to try Alfajores: cookies sandwiched with dulce de leche. I read last November in the(sydney)magazine, about a bakery in Fairfield that does the best Alfajores in Sydney, but it’s closed for renovations at the moment, so I decided to try making my own.
I was slightly concerned by the warnings on the can that it might explode, so I did some research and found that many had success with poking a few holes in the top of the can. The dulce de leche was incredible, I couldn’t help but sneak spoonfuls whenever I went past the kitchen. I’m not sure how traditional my Alfajores are, but I loved them. They reminded me, in a way, of the biscuits in the very first photo I uploaded to Flickr, but with a tastier cookie and creamier filling, these were even better.
296 Darling St, Balmain
Bourke St Bakery
Corner of Bourke St and Devonshire St, Surry Hills and 130 Broadway (next to Kinkos)
The Book Kitchen
255 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
Patagonia (South American Ice Cream)
231 Coogee Bay Road, Coogee and 55 Smart St, Fairfield
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller
Makes about 25 sandwiched cookies
• 100g unsalted butter, cold, coarsely chopped
• 150g caster sugar
• 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
• 1 cup plain flour
• 150g cornflour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
Dulce De Leche
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk, label removed
1. To make dulce de leche, make a few small holes in the lid of the can with a can opener. Place in a heavy bottomed pot. Fill with water to just under the top of the can. Simmer for 3 – 4 hours, ensuring that there is always enough water to cover the can. Allow to cool in the water, before opening the can and spooning out the contents. It should be light caramel coloured. Allow to cool completely.
2. Process butter and caster sugar in a food processor until pale and creamy. Add egg and egg yolk and pulse to combine.
3. Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder together and add to food processor. Pulse until just combined, then form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F) and line an oven tray or two with baking paper.
5. Roll out chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick. Using a 3cm round cookie-cutter, cut rounds and place 5cm apart on the oven tray. Bake for 12-25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. To assemble, sandwich two biscuits together with 1 teaspoon of dulce de leche in the middle.