Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!
“Let them eat cake!”
You have to say this with a stuffy French-accented plum in your mouth, your nose firmly implanted in the clouds and a dismissive wave of your hand to get the right effect. Of course you’re impersonating Marie Antoinette, hinted at by Rousseau in his Confessions. ‘The peasants have no bread, so [flick of the hand] why not give them brioche,’ but there’s no record that poor Marie ever uttered those belittling words.
It’s true that some areas of the Gold Coast are more generously endowed with restaurants than others. It’s easy to head to the Nobby Beach restaurant strip for a night out, but Nerang? It’s hardly the dining mecca of the coast. Do we ever hear, ‘Let’s meet at Nerang for a meal’?
But you can’t write off a suburb with the sweep of a hand. Hidden away in its backstreets are some undiscovered gems, especially in the cake department; more cake shops than at Nobbys! Let’s take a look at four of them:
SaaMarias Continental Bakery
2/16 Hilldon Crt., Nerang Ph. 5596 7004 Open: Mon – Sat 7am – 2pm
Sammy, Maria, Antonia and Tony (hence SaaMarias) have been operating their shop on the Gold Coast for over 14 years, matriarch Maria Georgii tells me. It’s an Italian deli, bakery, cake and smallgoods shop which provides both wholesale and retail service to the Gold Coast. The fridges and freezers are stacked with homemade sauces and pastas (which you can also buy made to order to eat in or take away), cheeses, meats and specialty goods such as baccala. In the bakery visible through a doorway Italian bread and pizza is baked daily, and the shelves are packed with too many grocery items to name.
Look at the cakes and biscuits: Crostili, Cannoli, Pasti di Mandoria, Biscotti Almond bread, Rum Baba and Tiramisu…some of the great delights of an Italian bakery plus other specialties such as Almond Crescents and Viennese biscuits! Antonia tells me I must have a Cannoli with my coffee, so I have to oblige. I’ve only had one other as good, made by a cane farmer’s wife in Cairns! I leave with a large Puttanesca to go, a Ciabatta tucked under my arm, as well as a couple of cakes for dessert. Dinner sorted! SaaMarias really is an Italian food lover’s paradise!
Foods of the World
1/16 Hilldon Court, Nerang Ph 5596 5030 Open Mon – Fri 9am – 3pm
Just in front of SaaMarias is Norm Hagan’s bakery, Foods of the World. Norm is best known for his preservative-free and gluten free baked goods (biscuits, bread and cakes). It’s all scratch baking (everything made by hand, no premix), and there’s also a range of dips available. Mainly wholesale at present, Norm has plans to expand the retail facility of his shop. Catch him at the shop if you’re on the way past, or you’ll see his stall at the weekend markets (Marina Mirage, Palm Beach Currumbin, and Bundall Racecourse Farmers Markets).
La Petite Fête
6 Lavelle St., Nerang Ph: 5502 2898 Open Mon – Sat 11am – 5pm; Sun 7.30am – 1pm
New kids on the block, partners Michelle, Michael and Steve are Chinese and Japanese chefs who have just moved to the Gold Coast. Leaving aside the delicious Asian soup (made on a 12 hour stock) we tried here, and the hamburgers on homemade brioche, there’s a limited range of cakes which are exquisite. The shop provides a place of experimentation for Michael, and a place for Michelle, a Cordon Bleu chef who works at a major hotel on the coast, to show off their considerable patisserie skills. “We wanted to bring fine dining quality food to the coast at a takeaway price,” Michael tells me. “Most cakes are bought in from factories elsewhere, but we make our own on site. It’s very time consuming work, but at the first bite you can tell the difference!” With desserts selling for $4.50, these works of art are a steal!
Montmartre French Patisserie
2/52 Spencer Rd., Nerang Ph: 5596 2350 Open: Mon – Fri 7am – 5pm; Sat 7am – 1.30pm
I’d made the mistake of judging Montmartre by its goods on display at our local farmers’ market, but a trip to the shop showed me so much more! Situated within viewing distance of the highway, it’s a little taste of France in the industrial side of Nerang. Owned by Christine and Olivier Labeyrie, Montmartre is a Gold Coast institution. Everything is freshly made, the vibrant colours of the cake display showing off glazed fruit toppings and rich chocolate delights: Paris Brest, Trianon, Opéra, Truffle Cake, Bavaroise…
“Everything in moderation,” Giselle tells me, but where to start? Making a choice is so difficult with this fabulous display! This is the place to buy your birthday or wedding Croquemboche made to order! Eat a real French sandwich: a pâté and cornichon filling on a house made baguette, or choose French goodies from the shelves to take away.
Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast