Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Victoire Bakery, Balmain

Chocolate and Grand Marnier Tart

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.

Sourdough Levain Rolls

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.

Custard Pastry

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.

Victoire Bakery Balmain
Victoire Bakery
285 Darling Street, Balmain
Phone: (02) 9818 5529


Bonnie said...

What gorgeous photos, JenJen. You definately do them justice. Maybe you could try selling them to Victoire's with payment in pastries?

Anonymous said...

Yes I know what you mean about bakeries, they have this thing about them. Addictive! Looks like a nice treasure spot!

wheresmymind said...

So...I'm not clear...do you like this place?? hehe

Anonymous said...

Wow, this bakery sounds like a dream! Delicious!

Anonymous said...

I get similarly excited about bakeries - whenever I travel someplace new I always make a list of bakeries to check out in the area! Btw, the first photo is really beautiful - I love the colors!

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a really divine place. I would love to "work" in a place like that. Just for a learning tour, maybe 6 months.

Anonymous said...

mmm - your spoils sounds delicious! Great review :)

Anonymous said...

You should most definitely have your own bakery with creations like that!

tytty said...

i've a deep love for bakeries too (*:

what's the quickest way to get there from the city? (:

Anonymous said...

oh i love victoire... you have to try their walnut bread... its the best nutty bread i've ever had!

Jen said...

Bonnie- pastry extortion, I like it!

Bea- yes, it's one of the little gems in Sydney's bread scene.

wheresmymind- i wasn't sure if it was obvious enough, he he : )

gilly- a delicious dream indeed!

anita- wow, how organised of you, I think I might start doing that, it's a great idea. Thanks

Tanna- I always wondered if they allow just anyone who was interested in bread-making to 'work' at a bakery. I think I might investigate this further.

Ellie- thanks...to the Victoire the spoils!

Natalia- oh if only I could send some your way, they are truly beautiful creations.

Ivonne- thank you so much, sounds very tempting but early starts are just not my thing. I think I will leave it up to the real bakers.

tytty- I would say going over the Anzac Bridge and taking the Victoria Rd exit (right), then turn right onto Darling St is the quickest way.
Now I can't remember if you can turn right to Darling St from Victoria Rd, so you might have to check that part out in a map.

deborah- I am not a big walnut fan, but if it comes as one of your recommendations, then I think I will. Thanks.

Belinda said...

Hmmm! I was in Balmain at the start of the year... damn, why did I walk past and not go in? :)

Audrey said...

Now that you've convinced me how good the bread is I'm already planning a trip to Balmain at the weekend to pick some up. Thanks.

Ed said...

Warm and inviting? I lived in Balmain for ive years and what i thought was part of their charm was the surely attitude. Great bread and pastries too.

Unknown said...

In case they do not publish it, here is my letter to the SMH.

The Editor
Dear Sir

Matthew Evans ("Bubble, bubble, toil no trouble," Good Living, 4 September 2007) has committed the ultimate sin of omission by failing to acknowledge Myriam Cordellier's Victoire at Balmain, in his list of "Bakeries making great sourdough." While his nominees undoubtedly make great bread, her's is incomparable. Simply, the best!

Yours sincerely
Bernard Shirley
Grandson of a Baker
8 High Street

T: 9363 3059
M: 0400 802122