130 W15th St
North Vancouver, BC
North Vancouver’s Laleh Bakery specializes in Persian cookies that you serve to accompany traditional afternoon tea. These melt-in-your-mouth treats pair well with tea drinking. They come in a variety of textures that complement the ritual – often slightly dry, flakey, and grainy – with crunchy punctuation provided by walnuts, or pistachios. Some are sticky sweet, or are covered in powdered sugar.
Butter and semolina lend their richness, and the subtle flavour of cardamon or rosewater permeate many of these confections. Date and fig jams are used as spreads sandwiched between cookie rounds or as fillings. Preserves such as apricot, or berry jam serve to fill thumbprint indentations.
Sciue Italian Bakery
800 W Pender St
A spacious and bright space benefiting from the fantastic natural lighting that floods through the large glass walls, Sciue Italian Bakery is perhaps best known for two items. The first being the Pane Romano, described to me as a crispy flat bread/pizza like slice adorned with various Mediterranean-influenced toppings. The other is the Paninoteca, traditional Italian sandwiches. I’ve seen many a public transit rider carrying one of this place’s branded to-go cups of hot or cold liquids as well over the years.
Several types of the Roman-style pizza were laid out on the counter ready-made. I wasn’t sure if they were to be re-heated slightly upon ordering but apparently mine was not. You can essentially dictate how much you want as a serving, asking the server to cut off as small or as large a piece as you desire. Prices were calculated by weight. Despite the seemingly heavy layering of toppings covering the slices I chose, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they did not soak into the base layer, thus keeping the bottom intact.
Uptown Espresso & Bakery
525 Queen Anne Ave N
Mon-Thu 5am – 10pm, Fri 5am – 11pm, Sat 6am – 11pm, Sun 6am – 10pm
I’ve come to discover that one of the best things of having a base in Vancouver is its close proximity to the United States and a decent sized city that is very much like the one in B.C. In less than three hours, you can be in Seattle, and have a chance to explore new sights and places to eat and drink, and still be able to get home and sleep in your own bed. Can’t say I could do the same living in two major centers in Alberta like I did over the years.
First stop after arriving in town was at a breakfast place, where we got on the waiting list – to be written about later. We then walked down the street for some morning caffeine. It was close and convenient, no pre-planning in effect. A shame I know, given that Seattle is reputed to be a great coffee town.
While the simplest of the day’s standard trio of meals, it is often my favorite time to eat when I’m traveling internationally. Reasons why include its generally easy, I can enjoy it on my own (if I am with others who are not as inclined for morning walkabouts, and the reasonable charges for morning meals makes wonderful meals all the more appreciated (or in the case they bomb, not too hard on the pocketbook, so regrets are tempered).
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that more often than not, something interesting to eat always lurks around the corner not long after the sun has come up and when I’m abroad in unfamiliar surroundings. I look at these impromptu discoveries as my personal reward. For taking the time and effort to traverse a new locale on foot. Meandering down random streets and alleys taking in the native sights, sounds and often smells, in my never-ending quest to learn more about where I am and this beautiful world in which we live.
My usual wandering (aimlessly and map-less) when I explore a new village, town, or city for the first time can lead me to interact with unknown strangers on the street – language and sometimes cultural barriers included. At times they are helpful. Especially with suggestions about what I might enjoy trying to eat. Local, with some variety, and a “what would you have?” are my usual parameters that I try to get across to my sometimes puzzled conversation mates, achieved in part with some physical gestures and drastically simplified English.
Aling Mary’s Filipino Store
2656 Main Street
Pillowy-soft little packets of sweet-savory goodness. That’s my shorthand description of what you can get at Aling Mary’s Store on Main Street in Vancouver, just off the busy Broadway zone. I can still remember the first time I wandered in here randomly and getting engulfed in the fabulous smells that only a fresh bakery can provide, and walking out with two dozen of their popular Pan de Sal. I’ve heard them referred to as Filipino bread rolls, not sure if that’s 100% accurate, but regardless, they are something every Vancouverite should try once in their lifetime.
Honestly, I’ve been back at least a half dozen times since that virgin visit, and even found them being sold in Richmond of all places too. White flour, whole wheat, tried them both. Nothing better though then getting then right out of the oven, timing is important, and I’ve had hits and misses when I’ve gone inside here, depending on their baking schedule and how voracious other customers are in walking out with batches of them. On my last weekend morning stop, I got lucky.
Le Pain Quotidien
922 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY
Artisan breads, sweet pastries and pantry goods like coffee and jams are what you can expect to find in the burgeoning outlets of this chain of bakeries where one can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner items that are carefully prepared with a health conscious outlook. Organic ingredients are incorporated in many of their menu items, as well this ecological philosophy is apparent in their building design and construction as well – loved the reclaimed wood that permeated the interior, giving it a very welcoming and warm touch despite being smack dab in the middle of a concrete jungle, albeit with Central Park only a few short minutes away.
The Le Pain Quotidien empire has now spread out across the United States (mainly on the east and west coasts) as well as places in western Europe and the Middle East. The Canadian outlets seemingly only sprouting up in the Toronto area. I imagine it would be a good fit in the Vancouver area as well given the local climate and penchant for things with a healthy and organic twist.
Panaderia Latina Bakery
4906 Joyce Street
Empanadas. It seems its my “thing” of the past year in terms of something to eat that I’ve deliberately sought out more often than any other food. In doing so, I’ve had a few different takes on it. But in the end, I think I’m really all about the salty, savoury taste that only a delicious melted cheese inside can provide.
As luck would have it, after my takeaway package from Bo Laksa King was ready to go, I popped over next door to see if there was anything worthwhile at Panaderia, and sure enough they had empanadas. I’m sure I’m not alone in doing this double-header of meals on this street corner just up the way from Joyce Skytrain station.