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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!

Beaucoup Bakery

3 Jan

2150 Fir Street
Vancouver, BC
V6J 3B5

T: 604 732 4222
www.beaucoupbakery.com

Brief Description: A small, chic bakery located at Fir and West 6th that offers freshly baked exquisite pastries, such as croissants, chocolate éclairs, and chausson aux pommes. Don’t bother monitoring calories here.

Whilst almost everyone that I know spent December waiting for Christmas, I spent December patiently waiting for the opening of a new bakery in town, Beaucoup Bakery. And finally, on December 21st, with permits approved, Beaucoup opened its doors and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’ve made it pretty clear that I love bakeries and baked goods so of course I was excited to finally get to sample some of the products that I have seen Beaucoup’s owner, Jackie Ellis, tweeting over the past few months. Tantalizing images of treats like cinnamon scrolls, Valrhona chocolate chip cookies, pine nut praline croissant,  and salted caramel brownies have been filling my Twitter feed for months so I was there as fast as I could to devour some calories!

As with any bakery, I’d suggest getting there early. By doing so, you won’t miss out on items that sell out fast and the pastries are fresher having just come out of the oven. Seating inside the small café is quite limited and it is a tight spot but if you can grab a seat inside, I’d recommend it. Alternatively, you can get your pastries to-go. The space is in a convenient location for those that live on the west side – it is close to South Granville, Granville Island, and West 4th Avenue. The interior has been carefully decorated by Jackie who, with her graphic design background, has kept it minimal but stylish. Baskets of freshly baked pastries and loaves of brioche line the wall behind the counter, whilst a big chalkboard that prompts pastry-lovers to write their bucket-list goals, and some elegant plates, act as art work along other walls.

Jackie’s story is inspirational to a baker like myself. She started baking for fun years ago and sold her goodies at local bakers markets. She then moved to Paris to attend pastry school (jealous!) before travelling through France and Italy sampling different desserts and pastries (double jealous!). She then returned to Vancouver to launch Beaucoup.

P1060888Kouign Amann (a new pastry to me that Jackie described as “impregnated with caramel”, finished with sea salt.

P1060797

Chocolate Éclair
P1060800

Pain au Raisin

P1060886Butter Croissant

P1060883 Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie

P1060891 Latte

And thank goodness she did return to start up this little gem. Beaucoup is one of my new favourite spots. Everything that I have ordered has been decadent  and well-executed. It is now my plan to get through the rest of the menu. Prices are a little high but Jackie really does value quality (evident in her food suppliers, such as Oyama Sausage and Benton Brothers Fine Cheeses) so you get what you pay for.

Final Thoughts: My taste buds welcome Beaucoup Bakery with much fervour, but my thighs and butts are fearful that this could be their demise. Pack a few extra pennies, forget about the calories, and enjoy what Beaucoup has to offer.

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