Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thumbs up for coeliac-friendly cafes in my Sydney suburb

A couple of months ago I wrote a story for The Australian Coeliac magazine's 'Thumbs up for your home town' competition.   The competition invited Coeliac Australia members to write about coeliac-friendly restaurants, cafes, caterers and stores in their home town.

My story, which follows below, was published in the June 2011 edition of The Australian Coeliac.  For my efforts I won a hamper of GF food from Simply Wize.

Petersham's sweet gluten-free treats
I am taking you on a tour of Petersham’s sweet gluten-free (GF) treats. Just six kilometres from Sydney’s CBD, my suburb is a place of planes, trains, terrace houses and ‘Little Portugal’.  
First stop on our tour is Perfect Crema or ‘Michael’s’ as all the regulars call it after its friendly owner. Just off Parramatta Road on Railway Street, Michael and chef Tom have recently added some GF cakes to their menu.

Now, my morning latte is often accompanied by a blueberry, raspberry or passionfruit melting moment or moist pecan maple or coconut and raspberry friand.
The delicious creations are made by self-confessed baking tragic Jenny Pitarch, who enjoys adapting recipes for her coeliac mother.
Next stop on the tour is the Palace Pantry run by Erich and Takako Fasolin. The 131-year-old corner store at 49 Palace Street offers a selection of GF cakes and slices made by pastry chef Takako. Takako developed her skill working at Rowie’s Cakes in nearby Marrickville and for Adriano Zumbo of MasterChef fame at his Balmain patisserie. 
Using her own flour mix of rice, tapioca and potato flour with GF baking powder, Takako’s philosophy is to create simple cakes made with quality ingredients.
Her four GF options – mixed berry friand, orange and almond cake, caramel round and chocolate brownie – are mouth-watering treats after a dip at the nearby Fanny Durack Pool named in honour of the 1910 Olympic gold medallist and one-time local resident. The pool is in historic Petersham Park where 18-year-old Don Bradman scored 110 in his first, grade cricket appearance in 1926.

Takako also sells her cakes at five inner-west cafes – Kelby’s and Free Pour in Marrickville, Hoochie Mamma in Newtown, and Mollycoddle and Paper Cup in Stanmore.
Crossing the bridge over Petersham Station, our tour moves into the area known as ‘Little Portugal’ – home to many Portuguese restaurants, cafes, butchers and delicatessens.  In the heart of the strip at 35c New Canterbury Road is Sweet Belem, run by husband and wife team, Lina Correia and John De Almedia.

Here you can taste traditional Portuguese cakes like orange roulade made with polenta. Other GF options are raspberry and lemon roulade, flourless orange and chocolate cakes, coconut and mango blackberry fool, orange jaffa and chocolate truffle and crème caramel.
“A lot of people come in and are surprised at the variety we have,” says Lina, whose ‘cake boutique’ is named after Lisbon’s Belem district, the area where she and John were married nearly 20 years ago.
The final stop on our tour is Big Brekky at 316 Stanmore Road, just around the corner from the art deco Petersham Town Hall featured in Baz Lurhmann’s 1992 film Strictly Ballroom.
As you sip on your coffee you can enjoy a GF chocolate brownie and gaze at the artwork on the walls, on loan from the nearby Wood Paper Silk’ gallery at 348 Stanmore Road.
As the Portuguese say, bom apetite!


  1. I can see why you won that hamper. Really mouthwatering article. So, when do we do the cafe walk?

  2. Thanks Jen. It was enjoyable tasting all the sweet treats although not very good for the waistline. We will have to go on the Petersham cafe crawl soon.