Gelato Messina and Zumbo Dessert Train at The Star, Pyrmont, Sydney
We take the monorail to Pyrmont and walk a few minutes to The Star, formerly known as Star City Casino. We're not here to gamble - we've come in search of sweet treats.
First stop is Gelato Messina, where there are around 40 flavours of gelato and sorbet to choose from. The majority are signature flavours available daily, with around half a dozen specials that vary each week.
We pace up and down indecisively, gazing at the display trying to choose, and in the end share two scoops - a signature flavour coconut pandan sorbet (dairy-free), and a special flavour monoffee gelato, Gelato Messina's version of a banoffee pie with fresh banana and rich brown caramel. Both are delightful. If you like pandan, the coconut pandan sorbet is a must-try.
Gelato Messina Also at Darlinghurst.
Adriano Zumbo Patisserie and Dessert Train
We make our way to the latest venture of Adriano Zumbo, Australia's most famous patissier - his new outlet at The Star boasts a unique feature, a dessert train.
You know you've stumbled upon the magical Land of Zumbo when your vision becomes tinted with the colourful glow of neon lights. It's eye-catching and spectacular, designed by someone with a twinkle in their eye, overflowing with that sense of fun that we've come to associate with Adriano Zumbo and his creations.
If all of that doesn't grab your attention, it's hard to miss Zumbo's name emblazoned across the window, lit up in hot pink bling.
In the front window, a showcase of Zumbo's original dessert creations all lit up in fluorescent glory. It all looks very futuristic and fantastical, a cross between Futurama and Willy Wonka.
We giggle at some of the dessert names, especially "Water my melons" and "Ping pong show". But listening to the other Zumbo fans cooing around me, we're not the only ones to have a chortle.
Adriano Zumbo is not here today, but in his absence, his creations are the rockstars. We ogle, admire, drool and photograph these glamorous and glossy celebrity desserts.
These are just some of the desserts in the spotlight.
The current zumboron (Zumbo macarons) flavours are also on display. I wonder what would constitute a macaron emergency in Zumboland? Don't worry, you can purchase macarons without the need to break glass.
Unfortunately (my fault), it's almost closing time when we arrive, so when we take our seats at the dessert train, there aren't many desserts coming around on the conveyor belt. Still, it's most appealing to the eye!
Note: not long after we visited, the opening hours were changed (details below).
In between desserts and bottled drinks there are toys on the dessert train. This one is a Pokemon named Munchlax.
We share a couple of dishes off the dessert train. There's a range of sweet creations available only on the dessert train (not on display in the front window). First, Violet Crunchie, with honeycomb foam, violet bavaroise, chocolate shards and honeycomb pieces.
We also share Watermelon Yoghurt, with compressed watermelon, yoghurt creme legere, yoghurt snaps, green apple bubbles and orange custard. It looks melted and somewhat shapeless, but it's delicious.
We can't resist sharing a plate of zumborons. Starting left, clockwise: cola, caramelised pumpkin seed, watermelon and orange and raspberry caramel. The caramelised pumpkin is nutty and savoury sweet. I find the other macarons too subtle in their flavours - but perhaps my palate has been numbed by sweet overload. Current zumboron flavours are listed on Zumbo's website.
In a way, it is probably just as well the dessert train is closing up for the day - everything we eat is very sweet and I think I will struggle to eat much more. I recommend going with friends who will be happy to share so you can get a taste across the range. That way, you can share the cost too - AU$3.50 (ice-cream bowl), AU$8.50 (white plates), AU9.50 (pink plates), AU$10.50 (black plates) and AU$9.50 (zumboron plate).
There are 16 seats around the dessert train. It's busiest on Friday and Saturday nights.
I love the wallpaper on the back wall, featuring a rainbow of macarons. I'd like it for my study, my mousepad, on an apron, pyjamas or undies.
Zumbo at The Star will delight fans, the sweet toothed and young at heart. We feel like big kids, enthralled and delighted by the bright colours, constant movement and the wonderful treats all around us. There isn't a cafe section where you can eat your dessert purchases (and I hear they don't always travel well), but some of the desserts on display at the front are included on the dessert train too.
Adriano Zumbo Patissier Patisserie and Dessert Train at The Star
Dessert Train opening hours:
Tuesday to Thursday 6pm to 10.30pm
Friday and Saturday 6pm to 11.30pm
Sunday 12pm to 5pm
Patisserie opening hours:
Monday to Thursday 11am to 11pm
Friday and Saturday 11am to Midnight
Sunday 11am to 10pm
There are also Zumbo patisseries at Balmain and Manly and Zumbo Lab cafe at Rozelle.
Opposite Zumbo at The Star is another big name in food - David Chang's first restaurant in Australia, Momofuku Seiōbo. We tried to reserve a table but weren't successful. This is as close as I got - peering through the window and taking a self portrait reflected in the momofuku ("momofuku" means "lucky peach" in Japanese).
Missed out on yet another Macaron Day!
When Juji and I originally planned our trip to Sydney, we did so around Zumbo's Macaron Day, which is usually held on Adriano Zumbo's birthday on 6 November, the one day of the year when 60 special macaron flavours are available at Zumbo stores. Every year, we've enviously read Sydney bloggers' posts about Macaron Day. We were eager to experience it for ourselves and join in the fun, buy a big box of macarons and have a mega macaron tasting/photographing session.
We were all systems go for Macaron Day scheduled for 6 November 2011. It had been confirmed at various places online, including Zumbo's Facebook page. But I must admit I started to have doubts when I discovered Adriano Zumbo would be in Perth on 4 November to launch his new book. And on 31 October, just a few days before we were due to get on the plane to Sydney, I was disappointed to read this announcement at Zumbo's Facebook page:
"NUTS have fallen with into our almond meal stash! Macaron Day will no longer be taking place on Sunday, November 6, as it will take our Zoompa Loompas some time to return the almond meal to pristine condition. Instead, please come down to the BALMAIN STORE on NOVEMBER 27 for our annual celebration. Thanks!"
Yep, we missed out again.
And as it turned out, due to popular demand, Macaron Day was held on 27 November at Zumbo's stores in Balmain, Manly and The Star. But we were well and truly back in Perth by then. As you can hopefully tell by my posts, we enjoyed our Sydney trip despite missing out on Macaron Day. It's unlikely we will try again for Macaron Day 2012. Of course, Zumbo could solve that problem by opening a store in Perth (hint hint)!
I went to Sydney with my sister Juji and her fiancé Jay in November 2011.
See the list of Sydney posts so far, in reading order. There’s a whole lot more to come.
See Juji's post: Things I love Thursday: The Star Edition