|Eyes on the Portuguese tart!|
Situated opposite the Caltex petrol station across Oakdale Avenue in Kogarah, and at the junction with President Avenue leading to the Esplanade at Brighton Le Sands, with a busy fruitery nearby, stands an establishment decked out in white and bright red. I initially needed a coffee on the way driving to the north shore of Sydney and had always wanted to stop by this place - Sugarloaf - but previously I was passing by there at the wrong time and it was already closed. So I made a purposeful stop this time around, had my Arabica and had my eyes opened to the delights created by Kurt and Wendy. There it all was - South American
empanadas, dulce de leche, vanilla slices, Argentinian caramel delights, German torte and Spanish churros.
A couple of Spanish speaking women were engrossed in their conversation at the next table. Although the cafe has the usual plethora of birthday cakes, quiches, cupcakes and pies, I was most captivated by their offering of triple crustless sandwiches (de Miga), so unique and so different, together with the medium sized
rail station clock on the inner wall. There is seating both indoor and outside and it was a particularly sunny aspect to the Sunday winter's mid morning.
There are specialised teas waiting on shelves. The day I was there, in attendance as well was
a smiling young man at the counter and a busy female barista interacting with the customers. I also recall the
breads, families and cling wrap, a feel of a village gathering hub and a variety of things to choose from. I reckon it feels like morning and afternoon cuppas there, plus the delightful feeling of trying out petite creations or wholesome savoury stuff.
|Apparently suburban but Sugarloaf has a certain sophistication in its products.|
The pastel in Brazil, or Spanish empanada, is basically a baked or deep fried pastry or stuffed bread, well known in southern Europe and Latin America, although it can also be found in South-east Asia, a legacy of colonial times there. The cousin of the empanada is probably the curry puff in Indonesia or samosa from India. Back in Galicia and Portugal (in the latter, just known as empada), the fillings of these snacks can be cod, chorizo or pork loin. The important thing that distinguishes a good one is the quality of the gravy or sauce inside, usually based on garlic, tomato and onions.
Whether with savoury or sweet intentions, if your eyes navigate through the displays of the Sugarloaf, you will find many variations of caramel in its offerings. However the canoli I saw has chocolate inside. I found the yellow round shortbread biscuits not so creamy but more flaky instead. Generally I can say Sugarloaf's freshly baked menu can be described as crispy, crunchy and aromatic. It is a delight to me to find they are not overwhelmingly sweet, for example in the most sensational almond croissants and in biting into the elegant Portuguese tart.
Churros, whether you see them as exotic doughnuts, simple fried dough pastry or knotted dippers, are related to the you tiao of China and the eu char kueh found in Chinese communities around south-east Asia. Sugarloaf offers a delectable version for breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea. Beautifully made churros also give pleasure in their carefully crafted prism shape - and they can be curly, spiral or star-shaped. In Europe and Latin America, you naturally think of chocolate with the churros; in Asia, they are seen as savoury accompaniments to congee or just eaten on its own or dipped in hot coffee.
Dulce de leche is a Portuguese confection used mostly to flavour ice creams, cookies, cakes and creme caramel. A comparable process in French cuisine is known as confiture de lait. Both depend on a caramelisation to change and transform the ultimate colour and flavour by heating sweetened or condensed milk. This resulting candy of milk is offered at Sugarloaf.
|Waiting for your palate, well toasted almond flakes grace a carefully prepared pastry.|
The torte can be rich on the mouth and pompous in looks. Central Europe and German traditions are well known for Linzer torte and the Austrian Sacher torte. This is perhaps where Kurt showcases his talent and experience at Sugarloaf. A multi layered cake, the torte utilises jams, butter creams, whipped creams , mousse or fruits to add festivity and sensations between the layers. Interesting enough, breadcrumbs or ground nuts are used instead of flour. The cooled down torte, once prepared, is usually glazed and garnished. It is an effort of love, inspiration and tradition.
Would I return to Sugarloaf? A definite yes, now that I know that they are open on weekends. The staff are friendly and act fast. It harks back to memories of Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires or Barcelona - and yet you may sense the whiff of the Australian surf not too far away. The variety of what you can choose surpasses the size of this corner cafe.