“Shall I put it in the oven for a minute?” The “it” in question is a croissant. The man who’s just bought it gives a silent but positive response. A minute later, when the pastry is handed back to him, he sniffs it and says, “My god, it’s like I’m in Paris again.”
It’s just the thing Christian Bonne and Kareen Ferrali want to hear. The Sydney newcomers have just opened their first bakery, Lavie & Belle in Surry Hills. “We are all French. There are many bakeries in Australia. If I want to be different from other bakeries my choice is to make entirely French products,” says Bonne, Lavie’s baker and recent graduate from Ecole Française de Boulangerie & Pâtisserie d'Aurillac (a prestigious French baking school). He’s true to his word – there’s no matcha sponges, black-sesame creams or salted caramel in anything here. He’s more interested in making the perfect baguette. “The bread is our signature. It's a long fermentation, 24 to 48 hours. I use French flour with no additives or preservatives and French butter,” he says.
“We need to have the top-quality ingredients.”
The rest of the bakery’s display is typical as to what you’d find in France. The small cake cabinet has crumbly pear amandine tart; a wobbly Parisian flan that, when the season is right, is mottled with prunes; and brittle eclairs with either coffee or chocolate cream fillings. There’s a basket with fougasse, the Southern French roll Bonne covers in ham and cheese, and a tray of miniature assorted croissants. The final thing is the classic French sandwiches (salad, brie and fig; tuna, capsicum, tomato and olive oil; and a croque monsieur), a quiche Lorraine and a few varieties of brioche bun.
The old convenience store site is just a wooden counter with a view of the production and a few stools out on the street. “Initially we were looking for something in the centre or in Bondi, where there are a lot of people,” says Ferrali. “We were driving past and I said, ‘stop the car’. I looked at the shop and I think the business will be here. It was just a feeling,” says Bonne.
Lavie & Belle
100 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills
0431 513 774
Tue to Sun 7am–3pm