|Country white sourdough batard at Sonoma Baking Company HQ, |
Birmingham Street, Alexandria
Sonoma Bakery Café, Alexandria
In just the second weekend of opening, the tables were full at the Alexandria outpost of Sonoma Bakery Café.
Attached alongside Sonoma's new 2,800 square metre factory headquarters - where one of this season's more interesting MasterChef team challenges was hosted - Sonoma Single Origin coffee and gorgeous bread-oriented breakfasts and lunches have brought new life to a very industrial back street.
|Cappuccino at Sonoma Bakery Café, Birmingham Street, Alexandria|
At least the brief but enticing menu is easy to navigate and a good, strong cappuccino starts us off well.
|Poached eggs with veal sausages and Sonoma toast|
The toast is Sonoma's wholewheat sourdough, served with a triangle of butter and two not-the-most-perfectly-formed poached eggs - a little more like what I attempt at home than I'm used to seeing out.
But most importantly, they had perfectly oozing yolks, which the toast mopped up and that sauced the two little veal sausages, which were impressively tasty and left us wanting a lot more.
|Buckwheat crumpets with strawberry and vanilla compote|
Instead, these were almost like a thick but light pancake; its buckwheat flour batter filled with spice flavours that were most compatible with the syrupy compote. The darker grilled of the two crumpets had an exciting crunch, even doused in the sweet sauce of stewed strawberries.
Already quite dessert-like for my brunching taste, a little scoop of ice cream would totally tip this over into naughty dessert breakfast territory.
As the chocolate hazelnut tart and berry brioche fought for my attention, I decided to takeaway one of the latter there and then, even before the meal - just in case they ran out.
What a reward - pillowy, buttery brioche that wasn't too rich; the crunch of almond flakes; icing sugar and sugar crystals for added sweetness; gorgeous, bursting fresh berries and custard hidden beneath in the sunken centre. It was all too good and disappeared all too quickly.
Sonoma Alexandria HQ launch and bakery tour
I'd come to know about Sonoma Baking Company's HQ and new Alexandria café - almost around the corner from me - thanks to an invitation to the launch party a few weeks back in June.
In its tenth year in Sydney, it's truly amazing what Sonoma Baking Company has achieved from its humble beginnings in Bellata, north west NSW; having moved factories from Arncliffe to Waterloo and now to its sprawling new home in Alexandria.
The fact that Sonoma's sourdough starter mix consists of some of an unknown age (possibly more than a hundred years) smuggled in from San Francisco where Sonoma Baking Company founder Andrew Connole learnt the art of leavened sourdoughs just adds to the story.
|Donny GoodMac wines at the Sonoma Alexandria HQ launch party|
On offer was the likes of hearty mini confit duck pies with beetroot jam; gorgeously buttery puff pastry tarts of balsamic poached pear, gorgonzola and pecan; chicken, walnut and tarragon finger sandwiches on wholewheat Sonoma bread; and Sonoma sourdough bruschetta with wild mushroom, pesto and goats cheese.
There was a crowd concentrated at the end of the café where one large window looks directly into the Sonoma factory, where the baking was well and truly happening. The bakery operations go into the early hours of every morning to supply Sonoma cafés, retailers and restaurants; of which many chefs were in attendance.
|Sonoma Alexandria HQ launch party|
In groups, we were also taken on tours of the factory, which I think was a one-off treat for the launch party (sorry), with the necessary hair nets, hand sanitising routine before entering.
|Inside Sonoma HQ factory|
Not that everything in there was edible, but this was the (rather large and oversized) machinery that produces several thousands of those gorgeous sourdough loaves and other breads.
|The dough mixer is taller than me (in heels)|
|Flour storage (all organic; gets pumped in directly from a truck)|
|Conveyor belt sends the proved batard loaves to the oven|
|Proved dough (and there's a machine that turns these big portions into perfect,|
consistent dinner rolls - seen behind)
|Baskets for shaping the bread|
Like all good things, it still takes time.
|Stacks of tin loaves|
|Bread dough proving|
|Bread coming out of the rotating oven|
|Country white batard|
|Kamut tin loaf|
|Country white baguettes and olive baguette (centre, I think)|
|Seeded rye tin loaf|
|Soy and linseed batard|
|Country white dinner rolls|
|More dinner rolls|
|Packaging and packing bread|
|Freshly baked madeleines|
|Almond topped madeleines|
As the evening and crowd petered out, and as goodie bags went satisfyingly out the door, a whole lot of baguettes seemed to appear out of nowhere, with Sonoma staff handing them out to anyone who would take them.
This is how I came to have my bread supply for the week well and truly sorted (and slathered with locally-made Pepe Saya cultured butter, it is eye-rollingly divine). But then again, I really don't think I'll have any problems stocking up of bread and pastries from here on - I just need to get around the corner to my new local bakery.
Food, booze and shoes attended the Sonoma Baking Company HQ launch with thanks to Liquid Ideas.