I’ve written about my favourite sugar highs before, but that was never going to be the end of the story. Given the amount of sweets I eat (in the name of research of course) there was always going to be a follow up. And a follow up of the follow up. The sweetest series of them all.
I’ve had Mado Café on my radar since the days I worked at foodie magazine Australian Table (sadly now closed). I mentally bookmarked a feature about Mado and its unique Turkish ice cream and it only took me a dozen years or so to actually make it to Auburn in Sydney’s west to give it a whirl.
Stepping into Mado is like stepping into a souk; carpets, antiques and trinkets drape every surface. The unassuming ice cream display is right at the front and belies the exotic flavours within. Dad and I stop here for lunch and order some dips and meat but what we’re really after is the famous stretchy ice cream made from wild orchid tubers known as salep and mastic resin. Its Turkish name is dondurma and the café gets its name from this word combined with Maras, the city where the ice cream originated.
The white maras ice cream is the signature. Made on site it’s thick (thanks to the salep) and stretchy (due to the mastic) with a slight vanilla flavour. The thick texture means it doesn’t melt and can be eaten with a knife and fork, although habit saw me eat it with a spoon. The sour cherry and pomegranate flavours are imported from Turkey and come in vibrant crimson shades with a delicious tang to them. These flavours work a treat with the intensity of a black Turkish coffee.
There is a long cabinet filled with unusual sweets but it’s the kazandibi that catches my eye. Slabs of this Turkish milk pudding are lined up and oozing with a creamy mass. Kazandibi means “burnt bottom of the pot”, referring to the charred and caramelised crust that appears in the base of the pot during cooking. This sweet is like a stretchy rice pudding (sans rice), thickened with salep. It’s served sprinkled with pistachios and cinnamon and incredibly moreish.
One of my all-time favourite desserts actually does contain rice and that’s coconut sticky rice with mango or khao niaow ma muang. This ubiquitous northern Thai dessert tastes good just about anywhere but especially when you’re enjoying it at a roadside stand in the depths of Chiang Mai. It’s also delicious when made with black sticky rice and contrasts beautifully with the vibrant orange of the fresh mango.
That’s the last time that fruit will appear in this post. Everything from here is on shamelessly decadent. Like the churros I enjoyed (several times) in Mexico City. I know you can now order churros just about anywhere but I think they taste best in the countries that revere them and Mexico is definitely at the top of that list.
It’s fascinating to watch them being made at El Moro. Dough is piped through a star shaped nozzle into massive coils, deep fried whole, cut into strips and then dipped into cinnamon sugar. The result is a light-as-air, perfectly crispy churro, begging to be dipped into the accompanying thick dark hot chocolate. The Mexicans also love to fill their churros with dulche de leche but this is the one time I say hold the caramel.
However you absolutely can’t hold the caramel when it comes to crêpes au caramel beurre salé from Brittany because their life depends on it. Adding salt to butter was once regarded as a Bretonne oddity but it wasn’t long before the rest of the world caught onto the deliciousness of salted caramel. I am yet to try one in its original home but the version I had in Les Deux Alpes was pretty spectacular. I washed mine down with a Bretagne cider, served in the traditional ceramic cup which looks uncannily like a teacup.
Tea and crêpes, doesn’t sound so evil after all does it? : )