My search for the perfect Lamington ended this morning. If you don’t know what a Lamington is, you’re not alone. Yes, even I hadn’t heard of one, until a posted a picture of the Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows from The Sweet Life in Paris on my Flickr page and they were mistaken for Lamingtons.
So almost immediately upon landing in Australia I had it in my sights to find a good Lamington, explaining to a group I was with it appealed so much to be because it had my three favorite things stacked into one: chocolate, coconut, and marshmallows. There was only one problem – that’s not what a Lamington is. Was my face red as I sat amongst a group of food-savvy Australians, who quickly corrected me, and set me straight about me what a proper Lamington is.
(I didn’t feel so bad because I often have to set visitors to where I live straight about what a café au lait is, which is not something served in any café in France.)
They started to tell me that it’s not really something that you buy, but more like something you might make at home. Or if you buy one, you get a pre-packaged supermarket version. (Which sounds like an Australian paradox, but is probably similar to what their counterparts said in the United States about cupcakes a decade or so ago.) So when they described a Lamington – spongecake layered with jam, sometimes, and chocolate icing, then topped with shredded coconut – it sounded like something that would be infinitely better than the packaged versions I subsequently saw in grocery stores. (I love going to grocery stores in foreign countries and always tried to hit at least one during any visit.) And yes, I discovered on the supermarket shelves that even Weight Watchers Australia has their own version, too.
Matt Rothman is the cook at Single Origin Roasters and everyone in Sydney pointed me in his direction. And even though my sixth grade teacher told my parents in a pointed note that I was not good at taking direction, I proved her wrong and decided to head over to Surry Hills to check them out. (See? I just needed the right motivation.) So I made a date with Australian food writer Jill Dupleix for a Lamington liaison.
Except I cheated and went to Single Origin the day before and met Matt, and we had a nice chat and he explained all the fresh, vibrant food he was preparing for the modest café next to the coffee bar, or “Sideshow” as they call it. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking “Why doesn’t he come to Paris and do this there?” since I don’t know of any coffee shop (or even a café) that’s making things like savory zucchini blossom and duck egg muffins, a warm croque monsieur proudly stuffed with free range local ham, and pork hock sandwiches served on house-made pretzel rolls – all prepared by his truly, in a kitchen only un peu larger than my puny kitchen in Paris.
So once I get a view of the Seine, he said he’s up for an apartment swap. In the meantime, Sydney is lucky to have him here, and depending on who you talk to, Paris is luc …um—well, let’s just say I’m tolerated.
We tried every kind of coffee they make, from cold-brewed coffee, to splitting a small pot of siphon coffee, made tableside. I can’t say I’m wild about siphon coffee in general – it always reminds me of a coffee version of tea – but the espresso marked with a touch of steamed milk that I enjoyed went nicely with Matt’s Lamington.
Which brings me to the Lamington. I’d bought one a few days before at another café, before I knew I was coming here, and it was just okay. But when I took my first forkful of the Lamington at Single Origin, my quest ended right there, on a Sydney sidewalk. His special touch was mixing homemade jam with chocolate for the filling, which continued the chocolate theme from the glazed exterior right to the center of the matter. A few dried raspberry bits added a colorful touch to the outside, and it was hard not to eat both of the rectangles of cake that he prepared for us. They were great.
I’m not sure what days – or how often – the Lamingtons are available, but if you’re looking for a good one, you can’t do any better than here. And am not sure that if we swapped places and Matt came to Paris, they’d enjoy the success there that macarons seem to be having here in Sydney. But I think if folks in Paris had a choice, his Lamingtons would give a few bakeries a run for their money. So if you ever see Lamingtons in Paris, you’ll have me to thank. And of course, Matt as well.
Single Origin Roasters
60-64 Reservoir Street
Surry Hills (Sydney), Australia
Tel: 02 9211 0665