“You can get your chocolate from the Bald Man, or you can get it from the Hot Man,” says Kelly Smith, the founder of Chocolateria San Churro, as she stares up admirably at her long-haired hunk of a mascot who she obviously thinks stands up well to competing chocolatier Max Brenner’s icon. Indeed, from his menu perch, the long-haired, chin-bearded San Churro does have a pretty face, which Kelly admits may have gotten a bit of embellishment and inspiration from a dancer in a J-Lo video. As you do.
I’m not sure if they sex up churros like this in Spain, but in any case it’s a welcome sight to see a fair dinkum Spanish doughnut in Sydney. Until recently, I could only get questionably fresh churros from Cafe Hernandez (a far cry from their excellent coffee), with the worst part being a stubborn lack of dipping chocolate. Then I finally found the real deal at Newtown’s Madame Fling Flong last month, but it’s an aside to the cocktails and funky grooves, whereas there is a full-scale churro assault going on at San Churro.
Here they’re putting serious bucks behind their churros, expanding from their four original outlets in Melbourne to open this initial Sydney outpost in Glebe, with Miranda and a forthcoming Chatswood store hot on the heels. I arrive at the Glebe doors at 7pm-ish for the opening night party, held a mere four weeks after the doors first opened. (Isn’t Glebe such the hot foodie hub at the moment?) The place looks so Northern Hemisphere with its wintery black-painted wood exterior. Inside, the wooden floor is packed with journos, locals, staff and distinguished guests and is soon filled with the frenetic strumming of flamenco guitarist Jorge Campano, joined by the stomping and spinning of two flamenco dancers.
The churros are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside – one fellow food journo finds them a bit too dense, but I’m pleasantly happy – and come with any of three thick-chocolate dippings: milk, white or dark. A peak over the counter unveils the churros being fried up in large oil vat in the corner. There are also plenty of other chocolatey diversions to tempt the hardcore ‘holics: eight types of hot chocolate, an abundance of Spanish truffles for couverture chocolate, milkshakes, ice-cream, sundaes and more.
When the speeches start, we get a bit of a history lesson. Apparently, cocoa was absconded from the Aztecs by Cortes in the 1500s, who then brought the beans back to Spain and delivered them to the king. For about 100 years, chocolate was a tightly held secret by Spanish monks until, wouldn’ja know, San Churro let the choc out of the bag.
Little would San the Hot Man have guessed that half a millennia later, someone would roll his unveiled state secret in a ball, cover it in a textured substance and immerse it in a cauldron of bubbling oil. Which is exactly what the Choclateria San Churro does with its deep-friend chocolate truffles (‘trufas fritas’), and they are the crowing achievement here. The crisp exterior gives way to an oozing, hot, gooey chocolate centre, and it is a masterful way of spoiling one’s appetite before dinner.
As for the churros, they do the trick and should give the Bald Man a run for his money… even if I do miss enjoying mine slouched in a cushy vintage couch at Madame Fling Flong.
San Churro Chocolateria, 47 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe, NSW, (02) 9692 0119.