Any one that knows me personally or follows my reviews, would know that I have a little bit of a sweet tooth. This sweet tooth leads me be to be terrible lacking in self restraint when it comes to all things sweet, whether it be pastries, chocolate or decadent (or even non decadent for that matter) desserts. I love everything about the sweet, the look, the construction, and of course the taste… hmmm, just thinking about it makes me want to go for a drive to see what I might be able to find…

So when the opportunity came to watch patissier extraordinaire Adriano Zumbo in action, I was not about to let that opportunity go by. For the unacquainted, Adriano is the magician of the patisserie world. A guest chef on Masterchef Australia and his own cooking show on SBS, his desserts and pastries are nothing short of decadently amazing.

The location was at the magical Freestyle Escape outdoor kitchen and cooking studio at Dulong – where better to watch a magician at work? It was a big day and lots to do, so after a quick morning tea they got straight into breaking the participants up into two groups and putting them to work.

The delicious creations for the day were to be:

Lamb Shank Quiche
Pineapple Pandan Mint Religuese
Burnt Vanilla Cream Brulee Macarons

Yes… heaven indeed…

The Lamb Shank Quiche was quite a process; the shanks slowly braised amongst a multitude of aromatic ingredients and then cooked further in Myrtle (the pizza oven), then the pastry cases and the beautiful filling – the final dish a savoury delight and a perfect light lunch dish – there were desserts to be made, so nothing too filling!

The Pineapple Pandan Mint Religuese was a construction feat of mammoth proportions and an absolute joy to observe. The combination of the use of unusual cooking ingredients, as well as some unusual cooking techniques made for interesting and informative participation. Essentially a Religuese is a French cream puff, two to be exact, propped on one another. These ones with green, yes, green shells. The cream was a beautiful custard style cream with pandan leaves as the flavouring – most unusual! So when it was finished you had this impressive little double decker light and fluffy pastry puff with pineapple and pandan filling – yummo!

Then there were the macarons. Aaah, yes, memories, I remember the macarons…

Adriano is infamous for his macarons. He has created infinite flavours. Traditionals such as Chocolate and Strawberries & Cream, some exotic ones like Black Sesame, Licorice & Lime, Charred Coconut & Black Rice Pudding and then some downright whacky ones such as Japanese Mayo, Chocolate Foie Gras and Blue Cheese & Pear, there is even a Vegemite Sourdough one.

We were being blessed with a Burnt Vanilla Cream Brulee Macaron. Wow, is all I can say. The process itself was quite fascinating, although the Queensland humidity did cause a little havoc, but nothing the meister couldn’t deal with. What I was especially fascinated with was the burnt vanilla aspect of this secret recipe. Adrian took a bunch of vanilla pods, pops them in the oven until they were blistered and burnt, and then proceeded to crumble them for use. I was fascinated at it turned the pods into what was almost like coffee grounds (in flavour and fragrance). They were fragrantly bitter – not what I would have expected.

The end product was sensational. There have been a number of moments of regret since that I didn’t sneak a few of these macarons for the road. I was sooo full by the end of the day that I couldn’t even think about what the future might hold for me in the way of macaron regret. Had I known…

As all events at Freestyle Escape, it was an amazing day. Thanks to Martin once again for his incredible hospitality and Adriano for sharing his pastry magic.

Visit Adriano’s website:

To follow his cooking show visit:

and to discover the secret of his Macarons visit:

Visit the Freestyle Escape website for upcoming cooking classes:

This post was written by Petra Frieser – Local Harvest

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