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Automne Boulangerie

5 Dec

Every neighbourhood needs a good bakery. Walking into a space with that lovely fresh baked goods smell just brings a smile to my face every time. Once you find a good bakery, you never go back to grocery store bread. Heck, I moved neighbourhood last year but still go to Mile End every week because I still love Hof Kelsten’s Rye above all else. I still enjoy trying new bakeries however especially when the buzz is strong. Most recently, there were rumblings about a new bakery opening up in Rosemont Petite-Patrie that had quite the reputation behind it. Automne Boulangerie opened up one month with a emphasis on producing baked goods with local agricultural producers. Started by Seth Gabrielse – former chef at SAT Foodlab and Laloux – and Julien Roy – former bakery at Pain dans les Voiles, Automne certainly has the right bloodlines to success at its stated goal. With my girlfriend taking a class in the area, we stopped by recently to see what they had to offer.

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The space is fairly basic but very bright and cherry. All-white walls with accent use of wood and copper. Behind the counter of tempting viennoiseries and other goods, you can see the baking area with the crew working on around the oven.

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A couple of viennoiseries to start. My girlfriend went with the Croissant d’Automne. Topped with almonds and powdered sugar and filled with almond paste, this croissant was rich, decadent and flaky. A little denser than your typical croissant by the use of the almond paste but oh so good….

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I went with the roulé d’Automne. The roll looks like a upside-down popover covered with caramel and some walnuts. Once you bit into it, the obvious comparison is a cinnamon roll. The texture and taste were very similar. The nice part was the lack of that stickiness which makes it easier to deal with as a take-home.

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This is a bakery after all so of course I wanted to try one of their breads. I decided to go with their Batard Moulin des Cedres – which as an aside, Moulin des Cedres belongs to the family of a high school classmate of mine. They do great work in biological agriculture and transformation in Les Cedres. Amazing products on top of their flour. Anyway, back to the bread at hand… The bread is wonderful. Simple but so good. Great crunch to the crust but yet soft and chewy inside. A little yeasty in flavour but not overwhelmingly so. Beautiful bread all-around.

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Wonderful pastries, great bread and an emphasis on local producers. Automne Boulangerie certainly has a great concept to work on. Given I visit that area regularly, Automne will certainly be a regular visit for me. Hopefully the neighbourhood gravitates to it as much as it deserves. Just follow the smell of freshly baked bread.

Cheers!

Automne Boulangerie
6500 Christophe-Colomb
514 274 8111

Automne Boulangerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Boulangerie Guillaume

17 Aug

When Hof Kelsten is closed for vacation, I need to find my bread fix somehow. For this summer, I decided to use the opportunity to try the other popular bakery close by to see how it stacks up, so I found myself at Boulangerie Guillaume a little further down the Main to try some different bread and goodies for a couple of weeks. The popular bakery, originally located on Fairmount, moved to a bigger location on St-Laurent and recently also took over the space next door where La Cucina used to be.

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The bakery is very modern and sleek in look with a huge display wall and a small seating area upstairs. They have also turned the old Cucina terrasse next door into a public outdoor space to sit and relax in. As with every bakery, the wonderful smell of fresh baked goods provides a wonderful fragrance as you wait to make your selections.

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Boulangerie Guillaume is very much a French bakery in nature and has a variety of breads and pastries available each day. Over the course of two weeks, I tried a few of their goods to get a sense of what they offer. First up, the first bread I tried – their demi-miche or country bread. A great crust on the outside. The interior was fluffy and nicely chewy. The rise was such that the air pockets were not too big. The bread had some heft to it with a slightly salty taste. Excellent bread.

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On my first visit, I also grabbed a few pastries. First was the white chocolate and vanilla champignon. Compared to the bread, this was more dense and rich while keeping the fluffy texture. The notes of vanilla and white chocolate were subtle but present.

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Second was a lemon and poppy mini-cake. Again a nice crust and a dense but fluffy interior. The lemon flavour came via pieces of confit lemon zest. As such, the flavour was nice when you bit into a piece of the zest but otherwise the cake felt bland.

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The following week, I tried a few different things. First a heavenly swiss cheese croissant roulé. The croissant itself was wonderfully flaky and buttery – everything that is good and bad (diet-wise anyway..) about croissants. The addition of the swiss cheese added a little sharpness.

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The apple turnover was also another hit. More flaky goodness from the turnover itself. The apple filling was smooth and sweet. I would have loved a little more inside given the size of the pastry personally.

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I also went for a different bread for round 2. I decided to try their sourdough bâtard, or torpedo loaf. Very similar texture wise to the country bread which would makes being also a sourdough. The torpedo loaf struck me as more sour in flavour though. Excellent bread once again.

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Guillaume certainly knows his bread. Both loafs were excellent and worthy of all the praise I had heard previously. The pastry were a little more hit and meh but you can see the quality there. Given the variety available, I would hesitate to try some others in the future. I am very envious of my old Plateau neighbourhood for having such amazing bakeries to enjoy. Just gives me more reasons to keep re-visiting!

Cheers!

Boulangerie Guillaume
5134 St-Laurent
514 507 3199

Boulangerie Guillaume Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

San Gennaro

7 Aug

There is a certain vibe I love about Little Italy in Montreal. The real communal vibe – the way people seem to just come together to sit and enjoy a coffee and a chat. The little cafes and shops around that area cater to that really well. I don’t visit the area as much anymore but when I do, I really try to enjoy that experience. San Gennaro on St-Zotique is a place I have heard much about since it opened a few years ago now. A hybrid pizzeria, bakery, coffee shop, grocery and gelato shop, it tries to cover lots of ground but given its heritage – San Gennaro was started by the same group that gave us restaurants Bottega and Hosteria in Little Italy – it definitely has a good chance.

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First up, I tried one of their arancinis. A solid version all-around. There was a nice crunch on the exterior and the interior is a great mix of veal, green peas, mozzarella and parmigiano. Nothing to complain about here.

But truthfully, we are here to talk about their pizza. Coming from the group that brought us Bottega pizza just next door, there are certainly expectations even if we are dealing with Pizza al Taglio, not the napoletana-style they serve at Bottega. Pizza al taglio is baked in large rectangular trays and served by the slice. As such, crust-wise, we are not talking about thin-crust anymore. This is a thicker, more chewy pizza – the common version we have all had would be the tomato pizza often served in buffets or at children’s parties. Thankfully, this is much better than that. This pizza has a great crunch to its crust while still being nice and chewy.

I tried a host of different pizzas over a few visits. The first one was a potato and andouille sausage pizza. The inclusion of potato was something I had never tried before. It makes the pizza a little more dense and a little drier especially without any tomato sauce. The real kicker though was the sausage whose spiciness really came out.

I then tried the standard Margherita pizza. Their tomato sauce has a nice smoothness to it and a nice sweetness but acidic taste. Top it with some mozzarella and you have a solid classic. On a follow-up visit, I tried the same pizza but with salami added to it. Same great taste with some meaty goodness.

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A more unique offering is their breakfast pizza. Topped with a egg, some cherry tomatoes and some pork salume, you have a nice mixture of the richness and spiciness. The egg is cooked just enough to not leak all over the pizza which makes it easier to enjoy as a single slice. A nice change-up for a morning snack.

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The final one I tried was another potato pizza – this time without the sausage, just with some smoked cheese. I was curious how the potato would work without the spicy sausage. Another hit – the smoked cheese created just enough of a contrast with the potato to help lighten the feeling.

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As I was sitting outside of the terrasse on my last visit, I couldn’t help but observe the table of elderly Italian men visiting there simply having a coffee and chatting. Their level of comfort on the terrasse chatting with the waitress as she passed by as they were enjoying the weather. It speaks to how San Gennaro has fit into the neighbourhood and the vibe they have achieved. Good food, a nice atmosphere and a great terrasse – all a good combination for when you are passing by Little Italy.

Cheers!

San Gennaro
69 St-Zotique Est
514 273 6868

San Gennaro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Patrice Patissier

9 Mar

Anyone who knows me knows that I love sweets. And frankly, when it comes to sweets right now in Montreal, there is no better area than the Sud-Ouest. Already home to Leche Desserts and Rustique (my favorite doughnut and pie shops), it is only perfect that Patrice Demers, formally of Les 400 Coups in the old port, decided to set up his new venture, Patrice Patissier, in the area as well. His boutique opened up about 3 weeks ago now and I went on the opening weekend to see what he had in store.

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Having taking over the old video rental store on Notre-Dame Ouest just down the block from the Joe Beef empire, the space is divided into a takeout bakery, a wine bar/seating space and a back room for eventual cooking classes. The kitchen is visible to all when you walk in, allowing us to see what comes on behind the scenes. The space is modern, clean and relaxed – touches of wood and nice lighting makes the room inviting to sit and grab a quick tea (or coffee for those of you are inclined to such a beverage).

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Now, for this first visit, I stuck to the bakery because that was my main interest and also because it was the only part of the boutique open at that point. Patrice Patissier offers quite an assortment of items – pastries, cakes, “petit pots” and cream puffs. I had a dinner in the evening and was responsible for the dessert portion of our meal – I figured a nice variety of everything they had at that moment would be appropriate. Ironically enough, at the time I arrived that early afternoon, there wasn’t all that much left as clearly their opening weekend was going better than they had planned. Great for them, not so much for us as patrons but hey, it just means I would need to come back to try what I missed out on.

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On the pastry front, I got their Kouign Amann and a maple Financier. Now I had never heard of a Kouign Amann before this – it is a Breton cake, kind of a sweetened puff pastry. Sweet and flaky, this was a nice new discovery. The maple financier was great as well – a moist banana bread or sponge cake-like consistency with the added sweetness of maple syrup.

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The one cake they had left was a chocolate and cafe St-Henri cake. A deliciously chocolatey treat with just a slight hint of coffee which, for me, as a coffee hater, is a good thing.

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Both varieties of their “petit pots” were available – lemon, camomille, Anicet honey and yogourt, pineapple, muesli. Both are served in actual mini pots to take home. In both cases, great combinations of flavour and texture. The sweet pineapple, the fresh yogourt and the crunch of the granola or the bite of the lemon with the sweetness of honey and the spongy meringues – I really enjoyed these. The presentation as well is a nice creative touch from Patrice and his team.

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The final dessert was their cream puff which is done to order. The day I was there the cream filling was Bahibe chocolate, caramel and banana. A great combination of bitterness and sweetness in a wonderfully rich cream filling. Top notch dessert and probably the biggest hit amongst my dining group that evening.

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As a first impression, Patrice Patissier hit some very strong notes. All of the desserts were wonderful – not a single dud in the bunch. Once the wine bar aspect of the space gets really going, I will definitely be checking it out. Now my biggest challenge dessert-wise here is not coming home with a dozen different pastries next time I stop by and believe me, I will definitely be stopping by again and you believe you should do the same.

Cheers!

Patrice Patissier
2360 Notre-Dame Ouest
514 439 5434

Patrice Pâtissier on Urbanspoon

Hof Kelsten

12 Dec

Over the past few months, I had heard plenty about a bakery right on the edge of Mile End. A place started by a chef who, turns out, sells bread to many of the best restaurants in the city – Joe Beef, Toqué! and Nora Gray to name a few – something that I had never known and that completely blew my mind. The fact that all of these places look to Chef Jeff Finklestein for bread speaks volume about the quality of his product. His new bakery Hof Kelsten now allows us common folk to get a fresh loaf for ourselves.

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Hof Kelsten is located just off the corner of Saint-Laurent and Mont Royal in what I recalled being an old super club Videotron which was confirmed when I noticed that the overnight return slot in still present with the sticker above it. There is no sign outside and the interior is relatively sparse – unfinished wood counters, a white tile wall, concrete floor and a few spot to sit down. The only indication of the name is the green fluorescent lights shaped into Hof Kelsten above the counter. Behind the bread wall, you can see the large kitchen where all the work is done.

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Hof Kelsten offers a variety of bread and pastries with a few weekly specials such as Challah only available on Fridays. For my initial visit, I went with a loaf of their sourdough. Now I love sourdough bread – it is pretty much the only bread I eat when in the States as it is readily available there. I have never been able to find good sourdough to bring home here until now. This bread was great – beautiful crust, great flavour and perfect texture. I finally have sourdough bread in Montreal. Thank the heavens!

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For the bread alone, I will be coming back quite often from here on out but there is even more. They also have a sandwich menu and a number of other items with a strong Jewish influence. Grabbing lunch, I went with the brisket sandwich with a half portion of Matzo ball soup and some latkes. The brisket is served warm with sliced apples, red cabbage and beet slaw with what appeared to be a homemade thousand island dressing all on the house rye. Just a wonderful sandwich. I never would have thought of apples and thousand island dressing with brisket but the combination works extremely well.

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The Matzo soup was wonderful as well – great depth of flavour in the stock (and surprisingly not as salty as I expected), generous amount of chicken and vegetables in the soup and the matzo balls themselves were great. A perfect addition on a cold December as it was.

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The last item was the latkes – quite large individually. Great crust on them while maintaining a nice texture inside. The surprising plus was the dipping sauce – a nice sweet addition that offset the lack of actual apple sauce to use instead (Note that I’ve always been a apple sauce over sour cream guy).

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All in all, Hof Kelsten is a great bakery that lived up to all the praise I’ve heard and then some. The fact that I am only a quick bike or drive (or longish walk) away means that I have found my new “neighbourhood” bakery. Getting restaurant caliber bread on a weekly basis will be a beautiful thing and something that everyone near and far should run over for as quickly as they can.

Cheers!

Hof Kelsten
4524 Saint-Laurent

Hof Kelsten on Urbanspoon

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