Archives For French

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?

Café Lyon, Lindfield

October 17, 2011 — 2 Comments

A month or two back I’d read in the SMH about the opening of a new French bistro in Lindfield, Café Lyon, so I just had to try it out.

The menu is fixed, with the choice of 3 dishes for each of the 3 courses, at $65. The menu mostly changes every week, with a few favourites staying on there, and other favourites make repeat appearances every so often.

On a Saturday night there are two “sittings”, the first starting about 6pm, and we were told on booking, and again several times that we needed to be out by 8pm. That seemed limiting at first, but worked out OK, although it did mean eating and running, rather than lingering over the meal for more conversation. If a longer time is needed, I would suggest booking the later session.

Seeing we knew the time was limited we were there right on time at 6pm, but it took a bit for the staff to get their act together, which I thought was a bit odd seeing the time limit had been stressed. Once they did get going, the service was friendly and helpful. Maybe that’s all part of learning what works in a new-ish restaurant.

The tables were close together (although not as close as in France), with starched-white table cloths topped with white paper. The atmosphere was elegant but relaxed.

The wine list was not huge, but had enough choices between local and French wines.


I wasn’t going to take any photos of the dinner – sometimes you just want to be “in the moment” without any distractions – but when one of my friends asked about not taking any photos, well from then on I just had to. So… there are no photos of the first course.

I ordered a delightful dish with smoked salmon, topped with prawns in a tempura batter, drizzled with a citrus sauce and decorated with fish roe. Apparently this is one of the dishes which stays on the menu, and I can understand why: it’s light, tasty, with a combination of textures.


One of my friends ordered the barramundi, served on a bed of potatoes and onions:

I ordered the quail ballotine, stuffed with spinach, and also served on a bed of potatoes and onions, but with peas. The sauce was rich, full of flavour.

And then another friend had the lamb shanks, served on polenta. It was all that you would expect: rich tomato sauce and vegies, with tender meat.


There was a parfait with white chocolate and honeycomb, with strawberries:

The ice-cream in the parfait was firm, with the honeycomb providing crunch.

And I ordered the pear tarte tatin:

The pastry was wonderfully caramelized, sitting on a rich caramel sauce dotted with finely crushed nuts, and served with vanilla ice-cream. I loved it all, with the caramel sauce and tarte and ice-cream all complementing each other well. I’d order it again.

The third option on the dessert menu was a cheese dish. None of my group ordered that, so I didn’t see how that looked.


The coffee was served in gorgeous red cups (alas, I didn’t take a photo!). Along with the coffee came some tiny treats: mini almond biscotti and berry jellies. Both gorgeous, and a good finish to the meal.

Petit fours


The serves were not huge, but you realized by the end of the meal that they were just right. It’s not haute cuisine or a 3-hatted restaurant, providing lots of “wow!”, but good bistro food. Three courses for $65 is a good price. Knowing that the menu changes regularly, I can imagine quite a few people make regular returns. I know I will.


Here are the details about Café Lyon at time of posting. Please check their web site for more current details.

Web site
Address 366 Pacific Highway, Lindfield 2070, NSW
Phone (02) 9416 5026
Open lunch, Mon-Fri; dinner, Mon-Sat
Menu $65 for the 3-course meal, plus more for drinks
Cafe Lyon on Urbanspoon

What’s your favourite local French restaurant?