Three crème brûlées
First impressions always count but with food they’re normally about looks and smells rather than sounds. Not so with crème brûlée where anything less than an audible crack as the spoon hits the toffee top is a letdown.
The name means ‘burnt cream’ and is loved by the Spanish as Crema Catalan and the British as Trinity Cream, so called because it was served at Cambridge University with the Trinity College crest impressed into the sugar with a hot iron. Traditionally the rich cream and egg yolk custard is flavoured with vanilla but it’s not the only thing that works. More important is cooking it at a low temperature for maximum smoothness lest those eggs scramble.
One of Noosaville’s most beloved eateries proves crème brûlée can carry flavours other than vanilla. Chef David Rayner says his version infused with finger lime and maple syrup ($16) is a best seller, partnered with housemade biscotti, poached rhubarb and orange salad. We loved the seriously cracking top, achieved with a three-millimetre layer of torched caster sugar and the ultra smooth custard baked long and slow in a bain marie at 140 degrees.
1/201 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville, Queensland 07 5470 2224
Bourke Street Bakery
When tart meets crème brûlée magic happens, at least in the hands of these seasoned experts. The gorgeous little ginger crème brûlée tarts ($6), which are available at all the chain’s outlets, are good throughout, from the crisp sable pastry shells to their thin brittle toffee tops. The ginger custard is perfectly pitched and smooth too. Try washing one down with the housemade iced coffee ready-bottled in the fridge.
2 Mitchell Street, Marrickville (and other locations) 02 9569 3225
Given the classic bistro pedigree of crème brûlée, it’s no surprise to see it here alongside steak tartare, pate and cornichons, paper on cloth tables and bentwood chairs. It’s a classic vanilla version too, with thousands of weeny seeds from the pod settled in the bottom of the ultra smooth custard. The almond tuile added little more than architectural interest to the dish though, and we’d have liked the crisp toffee top less fragile, succumbing silently to the spoon with the lightest tap. We want to work a little for our custard please.
116A Queen Street, Woollahra, 9327 9777