Café Ekberg has been around since 1852. They serve buffet breakfasts and daily lunch specials, however, we were here for a quick stop during our shopping expedition as Dragon was asleep and I needed to sit down (she was sleeping on the hip seat and I have been walking with her ‘attached’ to me like a koala for at least 4 hours!)
Café Ekberg is a very popular café and not only does it serve breakfast and lunch, it also serves great pastries and cakes. It is famous for the napoleon which we ordered and I have to say, I can understand why. Pastry flaky and the cream filling were not super rich. Perfect with a cup of tea!
I also couldn’t go past the ginger bread – it wasn’t too sweet and didn’t have a strong ginger taste which Dragon also loved!
Service was friendly and polite. The place was busy no matter what time it was but the pastries are definitely worth going for.
Next door to the café is a patisserie in which you can buy more cakes and bread to take home. We bought a couple of bread for Dragon to eat and no doubt she demolished them!
On the first few nights we were in Helsinki, Dragon and I were still very jet lag. ‘The Mother’ has been in Europe a week earlier so he was ok and has adjusted. Unfortunately for him, Dragon and I ended up sleeping rather early, mid-afternoon early, 4.30pm on the first day and then 5.30pm on the second day. He was so looking forward to going out for dinner with us, however, we were so tired that an earth quake couldn’t wake us up!
On one of the nights, he went to get Hesburger – Finland’s version of McDonalds – he bought me a chicken burger and chicken nuggets for Dragon. I have to say, it was pretty decent and I preferred this over Mc Donalds.
Jet lag is never fun, she got up at 2am the first day we were there. It took her about 4 – 5 days to go back to normal. Rule of thumb I hear, one day for each hour, which is about right.
So unfortunately we didn’t go out for dinner very often in Helsinki as we ate a lot of Pizza, and left over pasta! HA!
GA’s rating Café Ekberg: 7.5 / 10
Address: Bulevardi 9, 00120 Helsinki
Tel: +358 9 6811 860
Black Star Pastry requires no introduction. This patisserie is located on Australia Street and well known for its cakes and delicious sweets. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to come back since it first opened.
It’s a small bakery, limited seating area and extremely busy on the weekends. We were there on a weekday around lunch time and the place was already busy. I had just eaten lunch but wanted some sweets to take home.
I couldn’t go past their signature Strawberry, Watermelon and Rose cream cake. My goodness – doesn’t it look pretty? Ok I wasn’t driving that fast, it somehow toppled! I was tempted to buy the large cake but thought a slice would probably suffice. The cake is light and airy, I love the flavours and the subtle aroma of the rose cream. Topped with sweet strawberry, it was delightful – I couldn’t help but eat most of it, in hindsight, I probably should have bought the whole cake!
I love bread and butter pudding, and this was superb! As I didn’t dine in, I was told to heat it up for 40 seconds in the microwave and then pour the crème anglaise over it.
We devoured this within minutes! Eaten warm, it was incredibly sinful and incredibly delicious! One gripe though, I wish we had more crème anglaise!
It’s not all about the sweets, they have a mean pie here too – got two for the family, a lamb shank, red wine and vegetable pie – I can smell the aroma of the red wine, I am not usually a massive fan of lamb as you know but this was pretty good. The meat pie I didn’t get to try as I was stuffed, but I was informed that it was one of the best pies he has eaten!
I totally forgot to buy the donuts which means a visit again is in order. Next time we will definitely dine in! Can’t wait to go back, especially for that Strawberry, watermelon cake! YUM!
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
Black Star Pastry
277 Australia Street
Ph: +61 2 9522 5643
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this place – Bubbies Ice cream! It’s not your average ice cream but mochi ice creams. Mochi ice cream is a Japanese confection made from mochi (pounded stick rice) with an ice cream filling and these little babies were absolutely frigging delicious!
Bubbies can be found in the University district, apparently where college student hang-out. It does get busy and there aren’t many tables inside. We weren’t planning to dine in, as since Lobster Dynamite lives about 5 minutes away so it made sense to take away.
The place was relatively busy, their specialty I think is the mochi – different types of flavours. The regular mochi flavours are on the left and the specials and chocolate dipped ones are on the right. We bought a dozen and I was hoping the guy behind the counter would give us one of each, but instead two of six different flavours – lychee, guava, chocolate peanut butter, mango, chocolate espresso, green tea and azuki bean.
We cut six mochi into thirds, for Lobster Dynamite, ‘The Mother’ and myself. My least favourite would have to be the lychee and guava. My favourite out of the combination was definitely the chocolate espresso followed by the green tea. The next day I had the chocolate espresso on my own – it was MINE!
Would have liked to try the tiramisu or the strawberry dark chocolate chip! Definitely a must visit if you love ice cream and mochi.
They also had other dessert – ice cream and other desserts with funny names – like ‘come here little girl’, ‘knock me up’ or ‘maybe the bag broke’ – we didn’t try any of them but would definitely be interested next time! lol
A couple of friends have raved about Leonard’s Malasadas, so I had HIGH expectations. Leonard’s Bakery on Kapahulu Avenue in Honolulu is a popular bakery, queues can be long and parking can be a complete nightmare. The attraction is the deep fried yeast dough which resembles a Portuguese version of a donut without a hole – the malasada.
Usually deep fried, and often coated or filled with different types of filings. The traditional is just plain with icing sugar, but on offer were custard, chocolate and the flavour of the month.
We got half a dozen, 2 traditional, 2 chocolate, and 2 custard – it was warm and good but considering I had high expectations it was a bit of a letdown. It was good but nothing special I thought. It was like a warm donut but softer and it didn’t have the hole – it didn’t leave me with any wow factor. The custard was probably better, but it was a little too rich for my liking. I had a bite of ‘The Mother’s’ and that was it, unlike bubbies – I wanted more!
The bakery is nothing fancy, small, and run down. You can order other things besides malasadas – different types of donuts, cakes, cookies and many more but we were here for the malasadas and that’s what we got!
If you are in the area and are curious then definitely get some, but like I said early, I think the mochi ice cream wins for me!
GA’s ratings: Bubbies: 8 / 10
1010 University Ave
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96826
Ph: +1 (808) 949 8984
GA’s ratings: Leonard’s Bakery: 6.5 / 10
933 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, Hawaii, 96816
Ph: +1 (808) 737 5591
I have heard wonderful things about this place, the pastries, the pies and many more. For fans of Nadine Ingram’s cookie Couture gingerbread, the not so new news is that she has opened flour and stone in the old Sweet Inifinty space (which has now moved to the Strand) which is in Woolloomooloo.
Upon entering Flour and Stone, you are instantly greeted by smiling faces and the smell of delicious baked goods. I was tormented by the various cakes and cookies, I really wanted one of each.
We were hungry, so started with the slow braised lamb, potato and rosemary pie. Now as most of you know, I am not a huge fan of lamb, but this lamb pie was incredible. Tender, succulent lamb with no smell or after taste. It was seriously good,
Uncle ordered the leek and gruyere tart and OH MY GOODNESS! The pastry was incredible, the soft creamy filling of leek and gruyere melted in your mouth. It was seriously tasty and I couldn’t help but buy one for the next day and seriously, I can definitely eat one right now. The tart was just A M A Z I NG!
We were full. But I did manage to buy a couple of things. One being the large ‘fine apple tart’ – thin crispy crust topped with finely sliced apples which is caramelised. It does tastes even better than it looks. Unfortunately, I had to share this with ‘The Mother’ and it did not satisfy my apple tart cravings!
The famous cookie couture – hand iced gingerbread, monkey shaped and it was good! I forgot how good they were.
Flour and stone serves many delicious goodies – cakes, scones, gluten free cookies, cookies, slabs of nougat, cheesecake and many savoury tarts including caramelised onion and goats cheese tarts and sandwiches.
They serve coffee alchemy coffee and pots of rabbit hole tea brewed in brown betty tea pots.
Came back a week later, E was craving for their old fashioned vanilla cake – how good can it be I thought? OMG! It could definitely be my favourite – soft, fluffy, melted in my mouth. Wanted to buy the whole cake but I knew that would be dangerous!
I love the croissant here too, soft, buttery, flakey – oh my. Absolutely scrumptious!
This could be my new favourite bakery. You can check out their full list of products here.
*note, they are not open during the Christmas break, re open on the 9th January 2012 from memory.
GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10
Flour and Stone
53 Riley Street
Ph: +61 2 8068 8818
Bread – I LOVE bread but have never attempted to make it at home. The thought of working with yeast just frightens me. So when I received an email from Sarah Han of Brasserie Bread asking if I would like to attend the Artisan Baking with Seeds and Grains Workshop, I couldn’t help but say yes!
The Artisan baking with seeds and grains workshop is a three hour hands-on class where participants learn how to make bread – seeded loaf, shape baguettes and dinner rolls. It also includes a tour of the Brasserie Bread’s operational bakery and ends with a tasting of the various types of organic breads with complimentary wine and cheese – YUM!
Now as the name suggests Artisan Bread: it is bread that is crafted rather than mass produced. An artisan baker is ‘a craftsperson who is trained to the highest ability to mix, ferment, shape and bake a hand crafted loaf of bread’. Matthew Brock, Brasserie Bread Training Manager taught us how to make these wonderful bread. Step by step, we started with the Multigrain Struan, described as bringing together a soaker, biga, and a selection of grains.
The recipe on how to make this tasty bread: It’s quite tedious, there are about three steps. Starting with Biga, which is a type of pre-ferment used in Italian baking. It adds complexity to the bread’s flavour and is often used in breads which need a light, open texture with holes. Made by mixing 112g of bread flour mix (40% kialla organic stone-ground wholemeal flour, 40% Manildra bakers meal and 20% organic unbleached plain flour) with 1g of fresh yeast and approximately 85g of water at 21 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients together and form a dough ‘ball’. Knead for 2 minutes, then let it rest for 5 minutes then knead again for another 1 minute, then covered and refrigerate for 8 – 12 hours.
The soaker is made from 30g of bread flour mix, 85 grains consisting of soaked sunflower seeds, linseeds, boiled grains and rolled oats, 2g of river salt and 85g of milk. The other ingredients include 7g of fresh yeast (which can be purchased from your local baker), salt and agave nectar in extra virgin olive oil to impact flavour and fat.
The final dough can be made by chopping the biga into 6 small pieces and lightly dusted with flour. Combine all the ingredients together and mix for 5 minutes. The dough will become very sticky (and gooey – my least favourite part), and it is important not to add flour, and important to work the dough by hand. Rest the dough for 5 minutes, then knead again for 1 minute to strengthen the gluten before it is placed in a bowl, covered and left for 45 minutes.
Another tedious process, which I am not very good at! Once the dough is ready, ‘shape’ it into a round-ish looking ‘ball’, roll in rolled oats and dust with wholemeal flour and prove at room temperature for 45 – 60 minutes. Matthew makes it look so easy! Clearly I had trouble and my bread looked a little ‘rustic’ – to put it nicely. Using a sharp blade, slash the dough, and place into oven (preferably onto a pre-heated stone base) and start bake at 220C, inject steam for 2 – 3 seconds, and reduce heat to 18C and finish baking for 40 – 50 minutes for at least 1 hour.
The SECOND part of the workshop involves making multigrain bread rolls, baguette a l’ancienne and pain d’epi. Unfortunately I didn’t take step by step photos as my hands were a tad dirty, but it was definitely fun! My baguettes were again ‘rustic’ looking but surprisingly it turned out ok and was quite tasty!
Whilst the bread were baking, we were taken on a tour of a bakery whilst it is in full operation.
The bread…. it smelt so divine, I was so tempted to grab them and eat it on the spot.
After all our hard work of baking, we were treated with some degustation of different types of Brasserie Bread with a selection of cheese, pepe saya butter and taramasalata.
So many bread, I was in heaven! Will definitely come back to pick up a loaf or two.
Before leaving, I did buy some pastries – croissants, snail and my favourite the fruit pastry – seriously sinful, but seriously good!
I have yet to dine at the cafe, but will not hesitate to go back!
Thanks again Sarah and Brasserie Bread for the experience. We got the recipe to make the bread, and no doubt I will try and make it soon. The family definitely enjoyed it – who doesn’t love bread right?
Full course details can be found on Brasserie Bread website.
1737 Botany Rd
Ph: 1300 966 845
Sonoma bread really requires no introduction to bread lovers in Sydney. Most restaurants, cafes, will get their bread from Sonoma and most delis and even grocery stores will stock Sonoma bread.
Sonoma has opened several cafes across Sydney, Waterloo, Glebe, Bondi, Paddington and of course their large commercial bakery in Alexandria. I was catching up with the gorgeous B and she suggested this place. We both love bread so this was the perfect reason to go!
There’s no shortage of cafes in Waterloo and Sonoma Bakery Cafe can be found on the main strip of Danks Street. It is a very small cafe, brightly lit and serves breakfast and lunch and sells bread for bread lovers like us!
The skim cappuccino is excellent deliciously strong and aromatic.
B had the muesli – half honey spiced hand roasted and half soaked sonama muesli ($9), topped with yogurt and rhubarb. I love the combination of crunchy and soaked muesli – and the rhubarb, excellent.
Great little spot, it can be uber busy around breakfast and lunch time. They have pre-made sandwiches and soup for diners who can’t dine in. Service is minimal, you order at the counter, pay, take a number and food will be delivered.
No doubt I got a couple of loaves of bread and as always great catching up with you gorgeous B! Hope you all have an awesome weekend!
GA’s rating: 7 / 10
Sonoma Bakery Cafe
2 / 9 Danks Street
Ph: +61 2 9699 1920
Bourke Street Bakery (‘BSB’) requires no introduction. It has been around since 2004 and opened by both Paul Allam and David Mcguinness. Original bakery is in Surry Hills, it now has two other branches, one in Alexandria and the other in Marrickville with one more opening in Potts Point.
I can’t believe it has taken me this long to go back to BSB. Prior to living in Surry Hills, I would go here religiously, once every fortnight, and ever since we have moved to Surry Hills, only three times in three years! However, when we first moved in, the first place I went was BSB! Forgive me dear bakery, I haven’t forgotten you as you are by far one of my favourite bakeries!
The line for BSB is usually ridiculously long, but it does move pretty quickly and in my books, definitely worth it. Minimal seating indoors, there are now a few tables and milk crates outside where diners can wait and sit. However, this time round, I just wanted to takeaway and eat it at home.
I remember coming here the first time, from memory, I stood there for a good 15 mins trying to decide, but this time, I knew exactly what I wanted – pies, sausage rolls, a couple of tarts and bread. For those who has never been, I can see how it can be a little overwhelming – so many options!
I really wanted the beef brisket pie, unfortunately, they ran out and had to wait 25 minutes. So opted for the normal beef pie ($5.00) – large chunks of tender, moist beef bursting with flavour. My brother, F, believes this is the best pie he has had, although, he did ask whether or not the size has some what decreased? I love the beef pies here, the beef brisket even better – I probably should have waited!
I’m not usually a huge fan of sausage rolls, however, the pork and fennel sausage roll ($4.50) at BSB is amazingly good. The pastry is thick and flaky, the roll consists of pork mince which is succulent and the fennel a wonderful complement. Definitely one of the best sausage rolls I have eaten!
The strawberry vanilla brulee tart is a must have, unfortunately, I didn’t see any that day (I was there at about 12.45pm, either I wasn’t looking hard enough or they were all gone). Got the ginger tart which was covered with pistachios, and wow, smooth vanilla custard with ginger – LOVE!
I do love the lemon tarts too and the muffins – I love everything in this bakery. I love sourdough, the fig blueberry sourdough is amazingly good, so is the soy and linseed – unfortunately ‘The Mother’ doesn’t love sourdough as much as I do. HOW CAN HE NOT?
I remember coming here with a friend, he ordered the ‘personal’ sourdough and he took ‘personal’ literary – ate the whole thing on his own and did not share! BSB also serves breakfast items like muesli, croissants and toasts. There are also sandwiches and soup for lunch.
The coffee here is excellent, no doubt I will be back this weekend (or during the week) with a book, sit under the sun and have one of their delicious tarts!
GA’s ratings: 8 / 10
Bourke Street Bakery
633 Bourke Street
Surry Hills 2010
Ph: +61 2 9699 1011