Thursday, 27 October 2011

Au Pain Dore

 I'm hungry.
Since I can't do anything about it because lunch isn't for another two hours- I'm just going to write about food to stave off my hunger. I know, that doesn't work and talking about food usually makes people more hungry- but somehow it makes me me feel more satiated. Weird I know. Its like I get full off of my food memories.

I love, love good bread, and cheese. I know,  I'm walking on the road to obesity (God forbid) - but I could live on that stuff. Bread, cheese and olives. I remember Provigo used to have the best white bread loaf- hard, crusty exterior, but soooooo soft from the inside. I'd ending up digging a well out of it.Really. I believe I got a lot of people hooked on just plain bread with nothing. Its through this great love I have for  bread that I found a home in Au Pain Dore and  discovered Choco-Amandes.

Au Pain Dore is a boulangerie chain and one of Canada's greatest treasures.No kidding. Although its not available all over Canada, just Montreal and the greater Quebec region, I still think its one of Canada's greatest national assets. Like if it were up to me, I'd put the logo on a coin or the flip side of the flag.
It specializes in the art of french bread making and has hands down the best variety of breads. The greatest thing about them is that they try different techniques, different ingredients and combinations for their breads. Like sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and green olives focaccia in a cinnamon bun  shaped roll. Its fantastic, and oh the smell when you enter the shop. So good.So warm. So friendly. The olive focaccia would literally melt in your mouth. I don't think I've ever experienced a bread so rich in flavors. To be honest, that wasn't really  a bread. You could very easily heat it up and have it for dinner. Just that. Just look at it.

Looks great na? One day, while waiting to pay for my little piece of heaven , I tried what seemed like a croissant-ish thing on their tester plate. Tasted good.Took another little sliver. Tasted real, real good. I asked the salesgirl to give me one of whatever that  was. While paying, I asked  her what the tester thingy was (by this time I had had like 4-5 tester thingies), she said "Choco-Amandes" .I was horrified.Disgusted at my ability to actually like something that had almond in it (amande=almond). Now I don't hate almonds,  I actually like having them on their own, but I just don't think they have a place in my meetha. I payed and left. While walking home I made up my mind to throw the choco-amande crap away and to not consume any of it. I must be mistaken. The salesgirl must be mistaken. I can't like anything almondy. I fished out the paper bag containing the choco-amande croissant and took a bite. Heaven . Buttery croissant, with bitter chocolate and a warm ,sweet syrup that oozed out with every bite.It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before and it was absolutely amazing. I couldn't throw it away. Within the two blocks between Au Pain Dore and my apartment I had finished almost all of it-if I ate it fast enough I could make myself forget that it ever happened. It was a one time thing. I'd never venture back into the dark ,dark hole of choco-amandes.How could I be associated with almond breakfast pastries? I didn't even like fruit danishes.
In my world it was the greatest crime ever committed.
But I couldn't stop fantasizing about the taste of it long after I had finished it.It was a bit like love at first sight. Or bite. I confessed to my sister that very night that I had tasted something spectacular that had almond paste in it. She ridiculed me at first, but I was quick to remind her that she too, loved pecan pie - which again was a nut family meetha. I made her try it the very next day. She loved it, I think, or she grew to love it. The last time we were in Montreal she antagonized me for not getting them everyday, and questioned the authenticity of my love for them.I made my friends try it- they professed that they had never expected something so good to come out of something consisting of almonds. I guess we all learned that we should let our guard down a bit more. Try new things, new people.A spiritual epiphany in the shape of a croissant. That's how good it was. Now I try to be not so quick to judge because it made me realize that I have no idea what I may grow to like.Or love.

Every time that I have been to Montreal after that, I have one everyday (almost) for breakfast- I don't care about how fattening it is, because there is nowhere else in the word I'd be able to have it. If anybody goes to Montreal, you must try it. Its in various locations all over. The easiest one for tourists would be the downtown location- on Peel and Catherine, right behind American Eagle. You will thank me.

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