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Croissant Crusade!

13 Feb

Let me unbutton my jeans whilst I write this post…

Over the past week I’ve been spending my mornings researching a post that I’ve been intending to write for some time – a croissant crusade. I’ve undertaken the incredibly hideous task (ahem) of visiting local patisseries and bakeries in search of Vancouver’s “best” croissants. I have sacrificed myself (mostly my thighs and ass) so that you, dear reader, may enjoy some of the wonderful croissants that Vancouver has to offer. For consistency, I sampled the croissants around the same time every day (about 11am) and only on weekdays. Whilst most of the places also offered other types of croissants, such as almond croissants, I was only interested in researching the traditional butter croissants.

I sampled five different croissants from five different places; Beaucoup Bakery, Ganache Patisserie, Cadeaux Bakery, Thomas Haas, and Faubourg.

Beaucoup Bakery:
Where: Fairview
Cost: $3
Alternative orders: Anything!

Beaucoup’s offering is probably my favourite croissant (tied with Ganache) that I tried over the week. The reasons for this are:

  • It is smaller than the others that I sampled so it didn’t get the doughy insides that some of the others fell victim to.
  • It was slightly crunchy and shattered into flakes when I ate it. This is how I prefer my croissants.
  • The crunch gave way to a tapestry of pastry layers inside.
  • It was buttery and at times you could smell the butter on each bite.
  • There were very obvious thin layers of flaking pastry, as evident by the photograph.

Ganache Patisserie:
Where: Yaletown
Cost: $2.25
Alternative orders: Their beautiful individual-sized cakes.

Ganache was the dark horse of the race and I wasn’t expecting that from a place that I don’t hear much about. Ganache, and the croissant from Beaucoup, would be tied as the “best” for me. It was different to Beaucoup’s in a few ways:

  • It was much darker than the rest that I sampled but this didn’t take away from the taste.
  • It had a good amount of crunch, particularly on the bottom, but not necessarily flaky.
  • The pastry seemed almost sweet once you reached the inside.
  • The inside of the croissant had many layers and had a light and airy honeycomb-like structure (check it out in the pic below)

Cadeaux Bakery:
Where: Gastown
Cost: $2.75
Alternative orders: The bacon twist croissants!

  • This one was bigger in size than those from Beaucoup and Ganache but it wasn’t unreasonably large.
  • There was a good amount of crunch from the base and the ends.
  • A little buttery on the outside but not too much.
  • Spongy on the inside but then gave away to too much dough towards the middle, which I don’t like.
  • The flakey layers were satisfactory on the outside but I would have like to have seen more fluffiness and chew on the inside.

Thomas Haas:
Where: Kitsilano
Cost: $2.50
Alternative orders: I’ve been told that the almond croissants from Thomas Haas are da bomb!

Thomas Haas is well-known for his croissants so I was a little disappointed with the one that I ordered as I know that I’ve had better from Thomas Haas in the past. Unfortunately I have to review it on the one that I ordered so it was:

  • Medium sized.
  • Quite flaky on the outside, golden, and shattered slightly (evidence on the plate).
  • The inside was quite moist and slightly dense.
  • I found the inside was similar to Cadeaux’s in that it was too chewy and there was a lot of damp pastry as you moved towards the middle of the croissant, rather than fluffiness.

Faubourg:
Where: Kerrisdale
Cost: $2.75
Alternative orders: Their baguettes are some of the most authentic that I’ve had in the city. The tri-chocolate decadent pastry was also memorable.

This was the furthest that I travelled for a croissant and it was good but that isn’t what I would travel back there for (see “alternative orders”).

  • A little too big for my liking
  • A little dry and it didn’t taste overly fresh, although I’m sure it was baked that day.
  • Minimal flakiness and it lacked obvious pastry layering.
  • The bottom was buttery and toasted, which was a plus in my books.
  • Quite underwhelming.

Boy, am I glad this post is over – no more pastries for me for awhile! I need to get back onto my “avoid wheat” goal but this was fun whilst it lasted. I’m confident that there are other places in the city offering good butter croissants but I went with my instincts and from recommendations. The places that I have listed above are a good place to start to help you find your own favourite croissants. As with anything that I eat, my preferences might not be what you find the “best” so happy hunting!

You can never have too much Thomas Haas…

15 Jan

I have an apology to make. This week I wrote a glowing review of Thomas Haas Chocolates (hell, I ain’t sorry for that!) and I noticed that I taunted you, poor reader. I teased your minds, and your taste buds, with my descriptions of delicately flaky pastries and finely-crafted chocolates but all I left you with was pictures of sandwiches. That wasn’t fair. I kinda left you high and dry, didn’t I? Please consider this offering of tantalizing photos from my visit this morning as a peace-offering. I’m sorry for leading you on…

…I hope you can forgive me…

…how about now?…

…it won’t happen again…

…I promise.

Thomas Haas Chocolates (West Broadway Location)

11 Jan

2539 West Broadway Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6K 2E9

T: 604 736 1848
www.thomashaas.com

Brief Description: A Kitsilano-based patisserie and chocolate store, owned and operated by renowned pastry chef, Thomas Haas. Specialties include creative chocolates, and indulgent pastries and cakes. Prices are above average, but then again, so is the quality. Not open on Sundays or Mondays.

One of the things that I find most impressive about the Vancouver food scene is the amount of passion that the owners of our top food establishments pour into their beloved restaurant or store. It is not uncommon to walk into some of Vancouver’s finest restaurants (Vij’s, Bishop’s, Cioppino’s) and be waited on by the owner. None of this hide-behind-your-name-and-let-others-run-your-business for these guys. They are at the forefront; taking orders, welcoming patrons, working the till. One such establishment (and its owner) is particularly memorable for their service, quality and gratitude. I am speaking of none other than Thomas Haas Chocolates.

Thomas Haas, a European pastry chef from a family of pastry chefs, has an impressive resume and brings his skills to Vancouver in the form of culinary art. You know what I mean, food that looks so good that you almost feel guilty eating it. The café’s display cabinets proudly exhibit handmade chocolates and truffles, elegant cakes, colourful macarons, and delicate pastries. Mercifully, the products are not only beautiful, but they are also delectable. If you prefer something more savoury the gourmet sandwiches, filled with ingredients of superior quality, are also delicious.

Whilst these are all very good reasons to continue to return to Thomas Haas, what really has me returning, week after week, is quite simply that the butter croissants are the best in Vancouver. They are everything that a croissant should be; incredibly buttery and delicately flaky. And, although it’s not something that I personally like, I have also heard similar claims made about the double baked almond croissant.

Do keep in mind that this chic café on West Broadway is always heaving with hungry patrons so it can be quite an achievement to score one of highly sought-after tables. In summer, outdoor seating takes some of the pressure off and you are able to munch your croissant outside in the sunshine, whilst trying to avoid covering yourself in a snowstorm of pastry flakes.

Final Thoughts:  As long as Thomas Haas keeps serving up his treats with the same high standards (and contagious grin) that he is now, I will continue to be a loyal, regular visitor. A Vancouver must-do.

Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie on Urbanspoon

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