Newtown Dessert Crawl: Cow & The Moon Artisan Gelato, Black Star Pastry, Brewtown Newtown, Cookies+Milk Bar, Pastizzi Cafe and Izba Russian Treats

Ah, crazy food jaunts. It takes a very special type of person to keep up with my insatiable appetite for NEW EXCITING EATING EXPERIENCES. Luckily, I have a few friends who are more than game enough…and of course, K doesn’t get a choice in the matter and gets dragged along to everything anyway!

This time, my plan was to explore the inner-city hipster suburb of Newtown and become acquainted with all its sweet offerings. Some I had had before, others would be brand new experiences.

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Our first stop was Cow & Moon Artisan Gelato on Enmore Road – a new crowd favourite ever since it won the World’s Best Gelato award with its affogato creation. I like to say that I used to go to Cow & Moon before everyone else did, even preferring it to Gelato Messina. Now of course, it’s always jam-packed with long queues of people wanting to sample the world’s best gelato. Luckily, the crowd hadn’t yet started to form when we got there at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon.

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We only had a five minute wait, and before long I was standing in front of the beautiful display of gelato, trying to decide what to have. Classic vanilla or chocolate? Something more unusual and exciting? Or should I be sticking to my dairy-free vow and trying one of their many sorbets instead?

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In the end, I opted for a small serve of two flavours combined in a cone – Strawberry, Pannacotta and Balsamic Vinegar, and Lime in the Coconut. K opted for the Cherry Mania and the award-winning Mandorla Affogato in a cup. As someone who doesn’t normally appreciate the flavour of coffee, the award-winning flavour was a bit lost on me. I can definitely appreciate the two I picked out though – the Lime in the Coconut was just like having a pina colada, and the generous globs of pureed strawberries and streaks of balsamic vinegar packed a powerful flavour punch.

I love Cow & Moon Artisan Gelato and it is most definitely in my top two of best gelato shops in Sydney. It’s hard to justify battling the long queues at peak gelato hour after dinner these days though, so I think I’ll keep my visits to mid-morning and mid-afternoon visits.

Cow & The Moon Artisan Gelato on Urbanspoon

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Our next stop was Black Star Pastry for a slice of their famous strawberry watermelon cake. I wanted their cake as one of our (many) wedding cakes, but K was dubious as he had never tried the cake before. What better way to settle the score than to force K to have the cake and eat it too?

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The line wasn’t too long, and we made it inside within ten minutes. My mouth was drooling by that point though, as I saw everyone walk out of the shop with their little takeaway boxes of Black Star cakes. Someone walked out with a slice of this orange and fig cake, which looked an absolute treat.

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But we weren’t to be deterred from our original goal, and we did get a slice of the strawberry watermelon cake to share, as well as a raspberry brulee with a hard caramelised top and creamy custard that gave a satisfying crack as we bit into it.

Taking our purchases to nearby Newtown Park, we sat with our friend (who got a carrot cake) eating our desserts and enjoying the sunshine. Needless to say, as soon as Kieran took a bite of the strawberry watermelon cake, I won the argument. It will most definitely feature on our list of cakes available at our wedding, and I can’t wait!

I’ll always be back to Black Star for their cakes…and come to think of it, K didn’t get me a birthday cake this year! Maybe I could drop a few hints to K about getting the orange and fig cake for a belated birthday cake?

Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon

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Our next stop was everyone’s favourite Inner West café – Brewtown Newtown. Is it incredibly embarrassing to admit that this was my first time to Brewtown? I’d seen a million and one photos of their menu items on Instagram, but I simply hadn’t gotten around to visiting as I hardly ever visit the Inner West from my North-side home!

It was late in the afternoon by the time we got to Newtown, and the kitchen had just closed. “Sorry, we only have desserts left,” the waitress said as she welcomed us and took us to our table. “That’s what we’re here for!” I replied chirpily. The Brewtown Newtown cronuts (Brewnuts?) were our reason for visiting!

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K ordered a simple cappuccino and found it somewhat lacklustre for a café that brands itself as being “Brewtown”. He found the brew slightly thin and weak, and it definitely didn’t hit that need for a 3pm caffeine pick-me-up.

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My palate-cleansing green tea arrived served in a traditional Japanese cast iron tea pot, with a slightly uneven porcelain tea cup in a wabi-sabi style. I’m amused by the little saucer of honey provided with the tea – I’m accustomed to having strong, bitter tea, and the idea of sweetening my tea is completely foreign to me!

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What of the Brewnuts? K and I ordered two – the chocolate crumble, and a glazed pineapple, and our friend ordered the plain glazed cronut. I was a big fan of the pineapple Brewnut which was filled with custard and topped with a glazed caramelised pineapple ring. The slight tartness and acidity of the pineapple helped to temper the sweetness of the cronut making it a much more interesting dessert choice.

This is blasphemy, but I don’t think I’ll be back to Brewtown Newtown anytime soon – at least, not for the cronuts. I’d prefer to go back to the Grumpy Barista in Petersham for their cronuts which were far superior. Maybe their savoury brunches will be more impressive?

Brewtown Newtown on Urbanspoon

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Our next stop was Cookies + Milk, and we had to rush there after our visit to Brewtown in order to get there before they closed. As it was, the guys were already starting to stack the stools on tables and package up all the leftover cookies by the time we arrived. We got there in just enough time to buy an end-of-day takeaway treat.

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We walked away with a brownie, and a cookie called a “Calamity Jane” that looked like a childhood classic, the Wagon Wheel. The brownie was particularly rich, and K who was reaching a sugar coma by this point took one bite and declared he couldn’t have any more. That didn’t stop me and our friend A from enjoying it though!

I was a big fan of the Calamity Jane – somewhat unwieldy to eat as the buttery choc-coated cookies slided and separated from the marshmallow filling, but it was just the perfect blend of chocolate, buttery cookie, berries, and sweet gooey marshmallow. Definitely better than a standard Wagon Wheel!

I’m keen to return to Cookies + Milk and try more of their offerings. Next time, I’ll even go before they close, and check out a larger variety of their baked goods!

Cookies+Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

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After our rush to Cookies + Milk, we needed to sit down and rest. Pastizzi Café, just a few doors up was the natural choice. I first visited Pastizzi Café years ago when I was still living in Melbourne. On a visit to Sydney, my friend M (who will be K’s best man for our wedding!) took me to Pastizzi Café, swearing it to be one of his favourite places in Sydney. I was convinced then, and it’s remained one of my favourite places to visit for a quick snack when in the Inner West.

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We got two pastizzi – one savoury chicken and chorizo, and one sweet apple cinnamon. K devoured the savoury chicken and chorizo, allowing me just a single bite to enjoy its slightly spicy tomato-based mix. “I’m in a sugar coma, I need something savoury instead!” he insisted.

I enjoyed the apple cinnamon pastizzi with its super crispy flaky pastry but I have to be honest – Pastizzi Café are best with savoury fillings, and the sweet pastizzi lack a certain oomph that you get with their savoury offerings. While I’ll be back, it’ll be for another chicken and chorizo or maybe a beef pot pie – not a sweet apple and cinnamon.

Pastizzi Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Our very last stop on the dessert crawl was Izba Russian Treats, located more towards the St Peters end of King Street. With pairs of older people sitting down enjoying a slice of Izba’s famous honey cake and a hot drink, you immediately get the feeling that the pace is a lot more relaxed down this end of town. Customers here are allowed the luxury of sitting and lingering over their cup of coffee, rather than being hustled out of the café to make room for the next paying customer.

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I deliberated at the cake counter for nearly ten minutes before finally settling on a slice of their apple pie – a super soft sponge cake with chunks of spiced apple throughout. It was particularly appealing lighter choice as I was feeling more than a little dizzy from the amount of sugar I had already ingested that day! While it was a tad on the dry side, I think that may be a result of us arriving late that evening, as opposed to having it earlier in the day when it was fresh out of the oven.

I was very tempted to order their signature honey cake, but I think I will have to save that for my next visit…and trust me, there will be a next visit! I think I’d also like to try some of their blinis next time as well.

IZBA Russian Treats on Urbanspoon

And there you have it – a particularly elaborate long afternoon/early evening of decadent sweet indulgence. If I learned anything that day, it’s that even I apparently have my limitations when it comes to eating desserts – apparently six desserts in six hours will leave me in an exhausted heap when I come down from the sugar high!

I guess it’s lucky that my next planned food crawl is a hot dog crawl…at least it’s savoury right?

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