Dear Le 15,
When you first opened your doors to Mumbai and unveiled the Macaroon, I felt very with it. Every time someone asked “What is a Macaroon?” I’d smile smugly to myself. You see I knew what a Macaroon was, I had discovered them years ago on a trip to Melbourne. I watched fondly as you went on to seduce Mumbai’s collective tastebuds with your psychedelic treats! And when Adriano Zumbo made them unforgettable with his macaroon tree in the popular TV show Masterchef Australia season 3, I was ecstatic to crow to people that you could find Macaroons at Le 15 – and go on to describe them and other favourite Le 15 treats.
So when I went back to Australia this April, to promote my food tours of India, Masala Trails. I just had to take the opportunity to visit Adriano Zumbo’ new café/lab in Rozelle, Sydney for you!
After a breakfast of fresh oysters at Sydney’s Fish market, we made our way to the suburb of Rozelle. The cafe is housed in a corner building and can be a little hard to find. Enter and you find yourself in a wonderfully quirky almost eccentric world of wonderful treats. A fantasy world of graffiti painted walls, lit by bare light fittings with one wall dominated by Zumbo’s chalkboard menu full of cakes, pastries, viennoiseries, gourmet pies and sausage rolls.
The friendly ladies at the counter, were happy to help us select in between catering to other customers, replenishing shelves and going about their business. Not to mention, being extremely tollerent of us mooning over the display case of fabulous treats. Once you have made a selection of what you would like, you can perch yourself on one of the eight stools at the bar that wraps around a display window that looks into the kitchen. As you savour your hot chocolate, gateau, coffee or macaroon you can watch the activity behind the glass and see what happens inside the Zumbo Lab. It is a small but cosy space, which got pretty busy while we were there.
I must apologise, here, before I even got to the Macaroons, I was distracted by the Passionfruit curd and pâte sucrée, a vibrantly colored beautiful passionfruit tart that made itself VERY hard to ignore. So much so, that I could not look at anything else! So I got one, to savour before I went on to look at the Macaroons. As I slowly worked my way through the tart, I watched the activity in the kitchen through the glass, Adriano’s team was preparing some visual treats. A macaroon piping machine was hard at work, filling trays with macaroon dollops that, when full would be, tapped hard to make the mixture spread and then put away.
Of course my visit to Zumbo could not be complete without macaroons. And what an array there was! Lime and Pineapple, Raspberry and Liquorice, Wasabi and Pickled Ginger, Toasted Marshmallow, Eucalyptus, Salted, Butter Caramel, Passion fruit and Basil! The Zumbo Lab was like a call to one’s inner child and I was lost, with my nose stuck to the proverbial glass, eyes wide in wonder as I made a selection! I could not help recalling everything you had taught me about good Macaroons, and I found myself checking if they had the legs, whether the two sides were properly matched, was the exterior crisp? With that slight brief resistance, that gives to the the sweet yielding interior but has enough texture for a satisfying chew? Was the filling distinctly delicious, did it at a certain moment, dance across the tongue? And they did. All of the Macaroons I tried that day were perfectly fabulous!
And yet, there was something missing. It took me a while to figure out what exactly, but then it came to me, they were not Macaroons from Le 15! When one has so many memories attached to something; little hands, reaching for a strawberry chocolate macaroon, little mouths covered in chocolate and macaroon crumbs, sinking ones teeth into a passionfruit Macaroon with coffee on a Sunday morning... Then, nothing else no matter how good, quite matches up! For me Macaroons will always mean Le 15....
Adriano Zumbo Lab: 114 Terry St., Rozelle NSW 2039 http://www.adrianozumbo.com/
Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal is an author, food writer and food consultant based in Mumbai who conducts food trails in India and cooking classes at Le 15. She blogs at http://a-perfect-bite.blogspot.com/