Gourmet Croissant – Canmore, AB


Gourmet Croissant
101-1205 Bow Valley Tr.
Canmore, AB
(403) 609-4410

I often dream of moving to the mountains, especially to the gorgeous town of Canmore.  I am one of those people who will go out of my way to extend any trip home from Calgary with a jaunt through the Icefields parkway.  Usually it is to take in the serenity of the views, or to make time for a quick hike, but on this particular trip – we made the trip out to Canmore specifically for a Gourmet Croissant.

I first visited this cafe a few years ago while on vacation.  Luckily, we found it early in the week – and made it part of our daily routine while in town.

It has since changed hands, but thankfully there was no noticeable change in quality.  On this particular visit – we noticed a ‘for sale’ sign (best-wishes to the current owners, but my fingers are crossed that it remains the same).  There also seems to be a few other vacancies in the building since our last visit – but we didn’t inquire, assuming the current economy isn’t boding well for tourism worldwide.

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Eclair de Lune Bakery – Calgary, AB


Eclair de Lune Bakery
1049 40 Avenue Northwest
Calgary, AB
(403) 398-8803

I first caught wind of Eclair de Lune when I went to Debra’s Chocolates for the first time (Debra’s is now Epiphanie Chocolate on 11th Street SW).  I didn’t realize there was a bakery on Northmount – in fact, I didnt even realize Northmount Drive intersected with 40th Avenue (they both run east-west except for this one stretch). It boggled the mind a bit, but i finally found it. A small, north facing bakery with a simple sign – Eclair de Lune.

The interior of Eclair de Lune is small – barely fits their displays. A cooler, a coffee station, and a few display cases. Most of the space is filled to the brim with pastries and baked goods. There are constantly people baking in the back. Facilities look tight, but they make due.

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Simply French Café – Vancouver, BC


Simply French Café
3742 10th Avenue West
Vancouver, BC
(604) 568-6180

Saturday mornings and quiet times in cafés are becoming a combination that I’ve come to appreciate more and more of late.  Perhaps its the dreary winter season, but the mixture of powerful aromas and hot liquids and heart warming foods to start my weekend is something that can’t be beat by much else these days.  Any of our readers feeling the same way?

I had noticed this new café being established in a building along 10th Ave W, just before the Alma intersection.  I believe it had previously housed an antique shop.  The exterior signage is bold and noticeable when passing by, thus I was drawn in after I found out renovations were completed.  It has the simple, airy feel of a European hangout, complete with an assortment of various shaped wooden chairs and tables, a long counter at the back where food and drinks are prepared, and even a wall with various French food products for sale.  Its not the typical interior that one finds in coffee houses in this part of the city, so it was a refreshing change of pace for me.  Not sure about most of you, but the cookie cutter designs that dominate the chains and even independent coffee houses in town are starting to all look alike to me, with their use of stone, modern lines and earthy color tones.

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What a Bakery – Toronto, ON


What a Bakery
875 Milner Ave
Toronto, ON

Once upon a time, my wife worked at a bakery to help out a friend.  Waking up at 2am to GO to work was absolutely mind-boggling, but I sure enjoyed waking up to a fresh loaf of bread, and the occasional treat.  As we started our journey out of Toronto, we turned off the highway for a coffee in the suburb of Scarborough – and happened to come across this bakery.

whatabakery_storefront

I’ve written in the past about my love of cornbread, and this cornbread muffin ranks as one my favorites.  My second choice for the road, was the cinnamon twist (figured it would be easy to eat while driving).  Both were superb.

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Coco et Olive – Vancouver, BC


Coco et Olive Fine Foods & Café
3476 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 736 7080

Coco Et Olive on Urbanspoon

As I heard from my Alberta-based friends over the weekend complaining about the snow on the ground and the ongoing colder weather, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them as I strolled outside in nice sunny weather this past week along West Broadway in over 10 degrees Celsius weather.   With a clam breeze in the air, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to stop into a little café and grab something warm to drink as well as a bite to eat.

Coco et Olive is probably best known among those who live in this end of Vancouver.  And by end, I truly mean that.  It really is far from the hustle and bustle of the more central and thus busier sections of this strip.  In the daytime on weekends, and lunch hours during the week, its filled with people from the neighborhood who clearly have more than their share of free time.

My assumption of this is based on the fact that a) there’s a lot of older folks who probably don’t have to work for a living anymore due to age, and b) younger uppity people who look like they are well off and don’t need to work.  Ah, I wish I could be one of the latter… minus the attitude of course!

With an eclectic arrangement of furniture as seating, and an airy bistro feel, its really easy to feel at home and want to lounge about alone with a cup of coffee (they serve Intelligentsia) or with friends sharing any number of sweets and sandwiches on the menu.  But with a full house and nary a seat to take, I chose an order to go.  [The associated pictures you see here are just simple plated shots once I was back in my kitchen]

The ordering process is straight forward, as the cashier will jot down your order on a notepad and go through the motions of pulling it from the case and if the line is busy, another staffer will handle the grilling.  As simple as that is, I sensed a lack of flow among the staff.  Some confusion among orders despite the written list, an absence of speed as there clearly is not enough space under the griller when more than a few sandwiches are on deck, were just some of the amateurish things I picked up on the service front.

On this day, there were about twelve different sandwiches on board, though some had nothing next to the name plates in the refrigerated case next to the ordering counter.  I did notice as time passed that re-fills from the back kitchen soon made their way into the display area.  The casual feel must pervade from the back, as people would walk in and out from the hidden room to the entrance door.  They seemed like staff, or perhaps friends of the owners (heard a lot of French flying back and forth), but they all seemed to be treating the place as if it were someone’s home, and not really concerned they were cutting in front of paying customers who were scanning the sandwich offerings.

Making your mind from the tantalizing choices is an exercise in both judgment and restraint.  After pacing in front of the case, I ended up picking the Lemon and Herb Chicken ($6.99), as well as a White Tuna Panini.  One of which was chosen as a sandwich & soup combo – an added $3 to the price – and the selection was a Moroccan Lentils soup.

Being handmade, you could immediately see the hodgepodge of sizes for the same kind of sandwich.  Overall, the paninis, of which I preferred the softer texture of the tuna spread as well as the flavor combination, were fairly good, though I wouldn’t go as far as to say they were outstanding or the best paninis I’ve ever tasted.

As a sweet dessert to round out the pair of meals that I was taking back home, I asked for two of the Almond Croissants.  They just seemed to beckon me, sitting on top of the sandwich display case, as I waited for my paninis to be grilled in the press.  I must say, they were absolutely fantastic.  A perfectly light flaky and crispy crust, and an oozy centre of almond cream, with an ample spread of sliced almonds on top.  I will definitely be back for these, and to try out some of the other cookies, scones, cakes, tarts, and brownies that are made in-house…

Coco Et Olive on Urbanspoon