We've seen cruffins come and go, witnessed the rise and rise of Lune croissants and fallen in and out of love with macarons. But throughout it all, our love for Peter Gilmore's cult dessert, the snow egg, has endured. And now it's breaking up with us.
On 1 April, Sydney restaurant Quay will send out its last snow egg before closing temporarily for renovations and a menu reboot under Gilmore. And no, it's not an April Fools' Day stunt. The dessert - composed of a meringue "egg" filled with ice-cream and wrapped in a maltose tuile, which sits atop a base of fool and granita - has become one of Australia's most well-known fine-dining dishes since its début at Quay 10 years ago. It's been on the menu ever since, appearing in more than 20 different guises including the original strawberry guava, white nectarine and, at Christmas time, a cherry version, as well as gracing five magazine covers. Gilmore estimates the restaurant has served more than 500,000 snow eggs in that time, with that number rising sharply after an appearance on the 2010 MasterChef finale. After the episode, crowds queued at Quay in the hope of buying snow eggs to take away and the restaurant's website crashed.
"I think it was like a perfect storm," Gilmore says. "That episode was one of the most watched programs on Australian TV and the dessert just caught people's imaginations."
The restaurant still plates an average of almost 850 eggs each week in the Riedel O glasses that Gilmore's used since day one. So why retire it?
"Sometimes you have to completely abandon the past to be able to move forward," the chef says. "We've come to that time where we're refitting Quay and redoing everything. The restaurant will be completely transformed."
That transformation means a whole new kitchen, a new-look dining room and, of course, a new menu. But devotees of Gilmore's classics over his 16-year tenure at the restaurant can try them all in one sitting at a one-off dinner on 28 March. As well as a new snow egg flavour of pear, custard apple and mangosteen, Gilmore will also be serving other signatures including the sea pearls dish, chicken with truffle and mud crab congee with matched wines by Amanda Yallop.
As for what will replace the snow egg, Gilmore is yet to start work on his next masterpiece.
"It's time to address the next thing that's on the horizon and I don't know what that will be yet. It's an exciting time."
Sydney will be covered in Snow Egg/No Egg posters between now and Quay's last service, so if you show up to the restaurant when it reopens in July expecting to close your meal with the famous dessert, don't say you haven't been warned. And for true fans who are missing the layers of granita, crisp meringue and rich custard, the snow egg recipe is always waiting for you.
Quay, Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, NSW, (02) 9251 5600, quay.com.au.