Sure, it’s inspiring and downright idyllic to come home to the smell of freshly baked bread. But between work and any attempt at a social life, most of us barely have time to eat the stuff, let alone bake it at home. Still, your elementary “Wonder” days are long behind you and today’s refined tastes lean artisanal. Here are the city’s top spots to drop your dough, on dough.
Now with four locations — Kitsilano, Fifth Avenue, Granville Island and the newest, at the Village on False Creek — Terra Breads [pictured] crafts loaves in flavours from black olive to pecan and fruit. Using traditional methods, natural starters and stone-hearth ovens, the bread is baked fresh more than just once daily. Also check out head baker and owner Mary Mackay’s rustic pastries, fresh sandwiches, soup and salads and freshly baked pizzas at the Village location. Top loaves there: Rosemary-Olive Oil and Walnut. 4 locations, see “Contact” webpage.
For authentic Italian baking, Commercial Drive’s Fratelli gets top votes for its delicious treats. Owner Marco Cornale turns out fresh Foccacia and an assortment of Filone, the classic Italian breads. Known for Canolis, amaretti and biscotti, the bakery is also capable of moving beyond its Old World roots and into wedding cakes, cheesecake and pie. Located in the Italian part of town, offering extra authenticity, this neighbourhood spot has been a fixture since 1997. Must try: Roasted garlic and cheese filone. 1795 Commercial Drive, 604-255-8926.
La Baguette and L’Echalote
This Granville Island-based bakery has offered the best baguettes in town for thirty years. Owners Louise Turgeon and Mario Armitano leave their breads to rise for two days with wild yeasts, to develop the unique flavour that keeps customers coming back. Also selling prepared meals, frozen bake-at-home croissants, the macarons that crowds are currently wild for, and delectable pâtés, this bakery is deservedly known for much more than just the baguettes. Nonetheless, best loaf: Baguette! 1680 Johnston Street (Granville Island), 604-684-1351.
Mix the Bakery
Best friends Thuy Kelp and Rose Concepcion opened this Point Grey treasure in 2003. Top Vancouver restaurants order Mix the Bakery’s loaves to appease hungry diners, but the bakery itself is also a top neighbourhood lunch choice, offering fresh soup and sandwiches daily. The team also mixes up some of the tastiest jams and jellies made from local fruit, and their muffins, scones and coffee cakes make doing brunch at your place a cinch. Loaf to brunch on: White chocolate apricot. 4430 West 10th Avenue, 604-221-4145.
All-natural baking and healthy eats is the theme for this Vancouver bakery, which has been producing whole-grain breads and honey-sweetened goodies for over 30 years (they exclusively use honey and molasses, rather than sugar, to sweeten). Bakers start at 3 a.m. to bring muffins, scones and croissants to your breakfast plate. At lunch, the place buzzes with those hungry for wraps, homemade pizza-by-the-slice, samosas and Jamaican patties. Salt Spring Coffee Company provides the joe-jolt to Uprising, ensuring fresh, locally roasted beans. Bread to grab: Cracked wheat and sunflower. 1697 Venables Street, 3066 West Broadway, 604-254-5635.
Image courtesy of Brian Harris Photography.