If I were to establish a niche in the food market, bakeries would probably be my thing. I just love bakeries, for me the discovery of a new bakery is cause for sheer elation; it’s like a drug, addictive and insatiable. I am constantly on the hunt, eyes wandering and nose twitching to and fro, searching for evidence of rising dough and baking bread.
The smell of fresh bread baking, the sight of beautiful pastries displayed pristinely in glass cabinets and the sweet taste of satisfaction after the first bite. It is all these things that I truly savour about bakeries; there is just something tangible and sensual about them, perhaps because they are indeed such sensory places. They are places were you can engage each of your senses and in that engagement arises the pleasure of the experience.
The sight of buttery croissants, rich brioches and pain au chocolat; the sweet fragrance of mascarpone and strawberry rhubarb tarts, quiches and madeleines; the crumbly texture of crunchy palmiers or the crusty feel of freshly baked boules, batards and baguettes. A bakery is the height of sensory overload and it is master baker, Myriam Cordellier-Wever and her son Herman Wever who are responsible for setting out this banquet for your senses at Victoire Bakery.
Located in Balmain, it is undoubtedly one of Sydney’s best bakeries. Neil Perry and QANTAS seem to think so, as Victoire supply both Rockpool and QANTAS First Class with specially made sourdough breads. As I have ardently expressed before, Victoire is one of my favourite things about Balmain. I first fell in love with their chewy levain ficelles two years ago and most bread-loving individuals would agree that there is no one else in Sydney who can attain the same distinguishing balance of crustiness and sourness as that of Victoire’s sourdough.
A trip to Victoire Bakery after a relatively early departure from work allowed me to enjoy my treats at home just in time to watch the sun set from my backyard. I came home with a chocolate tart, a custard pastry, some madeleines and half a dozen sourdough rolls. The shop assistant warned me that the chocolate tart contained tangelo pieces and Grand Marnier; a combination which some people did not find too agreeable. I am not sure where this dislike came from because this tart was amazing, a beautiful balance of flavours mingling together to create a sensation in your mouth.
I decided I would behave myself and share the rest of my spoils; and as usual it was met with satisfied jubilation. The custard pastry was definitively eggy, although not sickeningly so. In every bite was the perfect amount of custard to pastry ratio, which made for every bite a pure joy.
Victoire Bakery is simply one of those places where a loyal following has been forged by consistently supplying patrons with excellent products. It has certainly kept me going back for more and I see no evidence of this patronage stopping anytime soon. If you are one of the few Sydney-siders who have yet to sample Victoire’s beautiful breads then I urge- you must not delay.
The store is small and intimate and allows you to get up close to the breads and pastries. The owners are friendly and inviting, and every so often you will see Myriam greeting passer-bys, exchanging stories with customers and playfully gooing and gaaing at their babies. Victoire also sell fine cheeses and gourmet pastas, and aside from the regular French boulangerie fare, you will find the occasional bread and butter pudding and flourless brownie. Whatever your taste, you will find something to enjoy from this quaint little bakery.