Archives For butter

La Galette des Rois

January 8, 2012 — 10 Comments

Whenever I’m in Cammeray I have to pop in to Victoire (they’re also in Rozelle) to pick out at least one delightful treasure to take home. Today I made a special trip to buy la galette des Rois.

In France, as in many other countries, there is a special cake associated with the Epiphany festival (January 6) (La Fête des Rois), called “la galette des Rois”. It marks the visit of the wise men to the infant Jesus in the manger. The galette is traditionally sold for the few days before and after Epiphany.

The galette is round, made with puff pastry, filled with frangipane, a butter-rich, smooth mixture of crème d’amande (almond cream) and crème pâtissière (pastry cream).

Inside the galette is a small figurine, known as la fève, and whoever gets it in their piece of galette is “king” or “queen” for the day. The little figurines are often collectables. There’s even a museum in Blain with a collection of les fèves. Last year in Paris, one patisserie included a 2000 Euro diamond in one of the galettes as the fève.

Traditionally the galette was cut into the same number of pieces as people in the gathering, plus one “for the poor” or “for the share of God”. To ensure that the piece with the fève was distributed fairly, the youngest at the gathering would hide under the table, then as each piece is cut, the child would yell out who would receive that piece.

The galettes, on sale in boulangeries and pâtisseries, usually come with a cardboard crown for crowning the king or queen for the day. It is said that it is the responsibility of the king or queen to buy the galette the following year.

In Paris you can also buy some variations on the galette, such as with caramel, raspberries, orange or chocolate.

Victoire produces a regular-sized galette which is about a foot across, and a smaller one, which is more like about 4 inches in diameter. In the photo above the top left photo shows the fève from the standard size (a bit hard to tell what it is in the photo: a shepherd with a sheep around his shoulders), and the top right shows the fève from the smaller version.

You can see how flaky the pastry is, how many layers there are, crisp on the outside, with the small layer of frangipane inside, just enough to give the flavour without being squeezed out as you eat it.

The photo below shows the crown given to the king / queen, sitting on top of the galette. Below that is the special paper bag provided for the galette, depicting les rois visiting Bethlehem.

The galette is light, and buttery, special anyway, but made more special with the tradition and stories which go with it, and because it’s available for such a small window of time each year.

More about Victoire

Victoire is a true French patissier / boulanger, making fresh each day a variety of rustic breads, croissants, quiches, and luscious little pastries. Because it’s fresh and they bake just what they think will sell, it’s always advisable to get there in the first half of the day to be sure you can find what you want to buy.


Here are the details about Victoire in Cammeray at time of posting. Please call them for more current details.

Address 451 Miller St, Cammeray, NSW 2062
Phone (02) 9929 3434
Victoire on Urbanspoon

Where do you go to buy special dishes only available for short seasons like this? What’s your favourite seasonal food?

Update (June 25, 2012): It is with regret that I learned that Ad Lib Bistro, along with the Berowra Waters Inn was closing. See the SMH article for more details. I’ll leave the rest of this post as is, in memoriam! Big changes going on in the restaurant world in Sydney.


In thinking about what to do to celebrate my “round birthday”, as a friend called it, another decade, I had been debating where I’d like to go for dinner. It had to be something with great food, something special, and something where there would be dishes my nephew and niece might enjoy. There are quite a few restaurants I was looking at, with unique, incredible dishes, which I would enjoy, but then those might be not appreciated as much by younger ones.

Another consideration was how many to invite, whether to invite the majority of my family and friends, or to limit the numbers and keep it more intimate.

French food, and just about all things French, are the ultimate for me, so eventually I settled on Ad Lib Bistro at Pymble, which had the added advantage of being easily accessible by everyone who were going to be there. I had been to Ad Lib Bistro earlier, and found the food delicious, and service superb.

On the evening, I arrived to a beautifully set table, with the menu for the evening there for each person.

As guests arrived, we had some celebratory champagne: the Pommery Springtime Brut Rosé. Loved that! It was a pale pinkish-golden colour, and gentle, subtle in flavour.

For the more than 10 people there for the celebratory dinner, I could choose a dégustation menu, or a table d’hôte menu. I ended up going with the latter, so that people could choose what they wanted. The Ad Lib staff were helpful in the planning of the evening, including letting me make some adjustments to the standard menu to include dishes I wanted:

The Ad Lib Bistro staff provided superb service, in the planning, and throughout the evening.

Ad Lib Bistro - staff


For the appetiser, I ordered the prawns sautéed in garlic butter, baby spinach and Paris mushrooms. It seems to be all the rage to have a foam on a dish, and this had the garlic butter foam surrounding the prawns. Even the spinach tasted garlicky (yum!). The prawns were tender, succulent.

Here’s the sugar-cured salmon, toasted brioche, herb and shallot mascarpone. It looked gorgeous. I’m looking forward to getting back again so I can have more of the dishes!

I heard good reports about that, and the onion soup gratinée:


I had eaten the duck before at Ad Lib Bistro. Big, big flavours. Normally I would choose something different on each visit to a place, but this was so good I had to order it again. The duck confit is moist and tender, with a crispy skin. The Lyonnaise potatoes were rich and flavourful, having been sautéed with butter, onion and garlic. And then the fresh orange, and the endive and raddichio salad added complementary flavours and textures, with the orange adding sweetness, the endive and radicchio adding crunch and bitterness, which all the more made the flavour of the duck stand out.

The fish fillet meunière was served with almonds, green beans, and beurre noisette. The fish was tender and tasty.

I heard good reports about the grilled sirloin steak, served with beurre café de Paris. One of my friends who doesn’t usually eat steak even ordered it and loved it.

For sides, we had lots of small dishes of mesclun salad, French fries with mayo, and creamed potatoes. Even though I had the Lyonnaise potatoes on my plate I had to try the creamed potatoes, and they were light, fluffy, buttery, creamy, heavenly, melting in your mouth.


I had read that the dark chocolate mousse is normally plated at the table, for a bit of showmanship, but I think because of the number at our table, it was served already plated. Light, full chocolate flavour.

I ordered the crêpes suzette, served with macerated oranges. By that time of night it was dark outside, and the light more dim inside, so the pouring of the lit Cognac and Grand Marnier liqueur, with its blue flame, onto the crêpes provided some drama. The rich orange flavours and the lightness of the crêpes were even better than I could have imagined they’d be. Another dish I’d order again because it was so good.

The raspberry souffle, served with a raspberry sorbet, was gorgeous. I’ve had it previously there at Ad Lib. The souffle is incredibly light, and the raspberry so definite. The raspberry sorbet ball rests on tiny crumbles of something like a butterscotch, presumably to stop it from rolling around the plate (and the crunchiness adds texture).

After dessert we were served tea, coffee and petit fours, which were delicious chocolate truffles.

A wonderful evening. Superb food, superb company and superb service. What more could one ask?


Here are the latest details for Ad Lib Bistro, Pymble (details are different for Ad Lib Bistro at Double Bay). Check their web site for current information.

Web Site
Address 1047 Pacific Highway, Pymble, NSW, Australia
Phone 02 9988 0120
Open Lunch: Mon-Fri, 12 noon – 2:30pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat, 5pm – 10pm
Also open from 10am Mon-Fri for coffee and dessert
Menu French, Mains $25-45
Ad Lib Bistro on Urbanspoon

Where have you gone for a memorable celebration meal?