Category Archives: Bakeries

More Quebec Cheese — and Other Food Finds

The last two days of my whirlwind trip around Quebec were spent in the Charlevoix area, northeast of Quebec City. Canada is huge. The Province of Quebec is huge. Even the Charlevoix area is sizable, stretching something like 230 kilometers (about 140 miles) along the St. Lawrence River. The region has devised symbols for attractions of particular interest — a chef’s toque for places of culinary or food production interest, and an artist’s palette for studios and galleries. It’s difficult to put in much mileage when those two tempting signs beckon. Here are some foodie highlights along Charlevoi’s Flavor Trail:

  • One such sign indicates the Maison d’affinage Maurice Dufour, one of those 400 to 500 Quebec cheeseries that has branched out, which I wrote about in my immediately previous post. Founded in 1994, this artisanal cheesery introduced its signature La Migneron de Charlevoix washed-rind, semi-soft cheese (left) the following year. In 2002, it was named not only Canada’s best washed-rind cheese but also Canada’s best cheese. Two other cheeses have followed: a mild blue cheese called Le Ciel de Charlevoix and Le Deo Gratias, Maurice Dufour’s first sheep’s milk cheese (the other two are cow’s milk), which is a bit feta-like in taste but features a brie-like rind. If you’re in the area, stop by to buy some cheese, to have some lunch and definitely to enjoy a free tour of the cheesemaking process. The cheesery is located at 1339 Boulevard Mgr. de Laval, Baie St.-Paul.
  • Good cheese calls for good bread, and you’ll find some of the best at Eric Levoi’s Boulangerie Remy, a restored 19th century bakery and flour mill. In a pair of brick ovens, he bakes baguettes, loaves and a a characteristic Quebecois bread shape called pain-fesse. The bread is shaped into conjoined loaves, resembling the human backside. It is no surprise that fesse means buttocks, but as a website explaining Quebec expressions points out, the Brits bake buns. When the day’s bread baking is completed, Levoi puts in small hand-shaped pizzas. The bakery is at 235 Terrasse La Remy, Baie St.-Paul.
  • If you’ve ever been curious about where all that foie gras and duck breast that you find on restaurant menus comes from, take a tour ($4) of La Ferme Basque de Charlevoix, run by Isabelle Mihura (originally from the French Basque country) and Jean-Jacques Etcheberrigaray (from the French Riviera, near Italy). The couple raises 250 ducks at a time, from age one day when they come from the hatchery to age four months when they are sent to the abbatoir. A butcher disassembles the carcasses, which are processed into a variety scrumptious products at the farm. Nothing goes to waste. Like many foodies, I find foie gras fabulous but have had serious misgivings about force feeding an animal to fatten the liver. Isabelle’s matter-of-fact tour makes me feel a little less guilty, though the free-range, gain-fed quackers at La Ferme Basque probably have it better than most ducks and geese raised for their foie gras potential. If anyone is interested in what I learned, I’ll happily share it on a subsequent post. 813 Rue St.-Edouard, St.-Urbain.
  • Did you know that people eat emu? I didn’t. These larger birds raised at the nearby Centre de l’Emeu Charlevoix not only provide oils, creams and salves for health, healing and beauty, but meat as well. This dense and healthy poultry that comes from the big bird’s legs can be prepared much like beef. It is possible to buy emu Chateaubriand, emu carpaccio, smoked emu, emu medallions, pate, sausages and more at the emu farm. Take a tour ($4) or stock up on any of the many emu products. The dinner menu at Auberge La Grande Maison that evening listed emu tartare as one of the appetizers. The emu farm is at 706 St.-Edmonde, St.-Urbain.

Food Tour in Honolulu

What’s the best way for a foodie to visit a city? With foodie friends, of course, who know the best local gems. Truth be told, you don’t need a local to recommend fancy, award-winning restaurants. Hotel concierges are happy to do that. But the little family-owned restaurants and shops and the ethnic markets — in short, the low-cost, low-key eateries and shops where the food and atmosphere are authentic — are not on any concierge’s radar screen. The need for local input is especially acute in Honolulu, where a massive tourism industry has created excessive culinary predictability. How depressing is it to see a line for the Cheesecake Factory spilling onto the sidewalk when Chinatown, Liliha and other ethnic neighborhoods, just a few miles away and adequately covered in few guidebooks, give visitors a glimpse of the real Honolulu.

So what a joy to find Hawaii Food Tours, run by Matthew Gray, a trained chef and former local newspaper critic, and his partner, Keira Nagai. They pick up guests from the Waikiki strip in their van, but then, for those on their day-time Hole in the Wall Tour, it’s off westward to explore local food treasures. Along the way, they’ll point out and/or mention other places they’ve eaten, food-shopped and recommend. You could, of course, visit every place on their tour independently, but it takes a special “in” to enter the kitchen of the Indian restaurant to peer into the tandoor or go behind the counter to the back-room steam ovens of the noodle factory.

Below are a few highlights:

Matthew (above left) at the door of the Royal Kitchen, a takeout place on the edge of Chinatown that is known for several varieties distinctive filled buns that are baked rather than steamed. Because all buns look alike when they come out of the oven, each variety bears a distinctive red chop. A circle is for char siu (Chinese pork). A circle with a smiley face means vegetarian filling. Three dots signify sweet potato — not the orange kind but the purple variety so popular in Hawaii.

Zaffron serves the foods of northern India, a culinary tradition preserved by the family of owner Farad Khan even when they were brought from Punjab to work on plantations in Fiji. He and his family emigrated from Fiji to Hawaii when he was a boy. The photo on the right is the view looking down into a tandoor oven. The white mass stuck against the tandoor’s wall, on the right, is a disk of dough that in just a few minutes becomes naan, a staple bread of the region.

Market stalls are full of temptation, including both ordinary and uncommon produce (left) and exquisitely fresh, sushi-grade fish (center). All fish is not exquisite, however. A showcase at one stand contained plastic bags of fish parts with a crudely hand-lettered sign: “No Clean. No Chop. $5.00 Bag.” I’m guessing it would make a great soup in the manner of a cioppino or bouillabaisse.

Nam Fong is known for roasted meats. Various cuts of poultry and pork are chopped to order on a large round wooden block that is actually a tree trunk. When it needs cleaning, they shave off the top.

Hawaiians seem to like their sweets, and Leonard’s Bakery is where they go for malasadas, the islands’ version of donuts that originated in Portugal. The chocolate filling that I tried was rich, pudding-like and as tasty as everything else on this ideal foodie day.

In addition to the Hole in the Wall Tour ($99), Hawaii Food Tours also offers two evening tours. The Hawaiian Feast ($149) features local specialties served in one selected restaurant. The Gourmet Trilogy ($199) is a progressive dinner visiting three fine-dining restaurants. For me, however, the Hole in the Wall was the perfect option. And when we got out of the van at the end of the tour, I felt as if Matthew and Keira were indeed my local foodie friends who piloted me through Honolulu’s true treasures. The numbers are 808-926-FOOD (926-3663) and 800-715-2468 if you want taste your way through the real Honolulu too.

Culinary Molokai

The Classic Moloka’i Food Experience
The Kanemitsu Bakery in the heart of Kaunakakai is legendary. This large, simple space with the old-fashioned glass pastry cases and a few plain, Formica-topped tables in the cafe portion turns out some of the best bread and pastries in all of Hawaii — as it has for 85 years. You can buy round loaves of bread (plain white, plain wheat, Hawaiian sweet and a couple of flavored loaves) and other baked treats beginning at 5:30 a.m., but the real local tradition is to gather at the bakery’s back door at 10:30 p.m. for “hot bread.” 79 Ala Malama St., Kaunakakai; 808-553-5855.

Friday, June 22, 2007
Friday is kupuna night at the Hotel Molokai. Hawaiian traditionalists — some on in years, others not so — gather on the shaded oceanside patio with their ukuleles, their looseleaf binders of traditional tunes and start playing and singing. The music that sounds so hokey when it plays at you as soon as you get off a plane is natural and beautiful here, especially at sunset when gentle music, gentle breezes and welcoming people conspire to make a most congenial evening. At the hotel’s Hula Shores Restaurant, the drinks flowed (the mai-tais are really good at this hotel) and the pupu arrived too. The potstickers were soft inside and slightly crusty on the outside. They were a bit saltier than I prefer, but that was a small flaw in a good appetizer offering. I don’t normally care for coconut shrimp, but this version was fantastic. The shrimp was fresh. The batter was sublty coconutty. The poke (right) was equally good. The jewel-red mullet hadn’t been out of the water long, and the crisp bits of onion and cabbage provided a nice crunchy contrast to the soft, yielding fish. After these first-rate appetizers and the delightful music, the dinner itself was a real letdown. Barbecued ribs and a chunk of some kind of white-fleshed fish shared the plate. The ribs were a lot better than fish that was overcooked to unidentifability. Also overcooked were the steamed, flavorfree veggies. Other than the saucy ribs, the plain rice was the best part. My counsel? Go for the mai tais, the pupus and especially the music. I was too discouraged by the entree to contemplate dessert. Kamehameha Hwy., Kaunakakai; 808-553-5347.

Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24
Two morning’s breakfasts in the Maunaloa Room of the Lodge at Molokai Ranch provided us with fresh fruit, excellent pastries and a choice of fine breakfast entrees. The Hawaiian French toast is made with thick slabs of local bread. A huge portion of oatmeal comes with thin slices of banana cinammon, a ramekin of brown sugar and a pitcher of milk. Eggs any way come with bacon or sausage, and hasbrowns, taro hash or rice. Sunday dinner on the verandah was a choice of Asian buffet with a choice of stir-fry entrees or a limited menu of dishes, ranging from meatloaf to half a chicken. The buffet was OK, but that was it. The generous slice of meatloaf was so excellent nthat several of the seafood loves who tasted it wished they had ordered it instead. My friends and I were too full for dessert. 100 Maunaloa Hwy., Maunaloa; 808-660-2824 or 888-627-8082.

Saturday, June 23

You don’t bump-ride down the dirt road to Kauoa Beach because the open-air pavilion serves a lavish buffet with the finest roast beef and side dishes you’ve ever tasted. Rather, it’s a modest and very serviceable meal (left), with something for everyone — roast beef, ocean-fresh grilled fish, salad, veggies, starches, bread. You go because the place is so special — a traditional Hawaiian gathering place where music, language, dance and no-denominational spirituality converge. In this beautiful seaside spread, Aloha Music Camp takes place, drawing acolytes of Hawaiian instruments and dance. Want to learn to dance the hula, make a ukulele or play the slack string guitar? Here’s where to go. Dinner was secondary during our visit to the camp that included informal BYOB buffet. Prime was a chance to meet knowledgeable locals and admiring visitors, and to be part of a Hawaiian ceremony of blessing, welcome and friendship conducted by the legendary Anakala Pilipo — “Uncle Phillip” — a noted guardian of music, ritual and tradition. Dessert was a tasty, moist carrot cake. I had seconds. Mailing address for the camp is 847 Waine’e St., #F5, Ste. 685; Lahaina, HI 96761-1685; 808-270 3090.

Boulder’s Best Bake Sale

No lopsided cupcakes, overbaked brownies, cakes made from mixes or pie fillings leaking though rubbery crusts at the bake sale at Boulder’s Culinary School of the Rockies on Friday, May 25, from 11:30 a.m. until the last item is sold. The bakers are students — almost-professional bakers really — attending the school’s Pastry Arts program. They will create a wide assortment of delicious and gorgeous pastries and breads. The sale benefits a good culinary cause, with 100 percent of proceeds directly benefiting CSR’s student scholarships.

For the spring bake sale, the students will make :

French Pastries
Fancy Cookies
Layered Cakes
Cream Puffs
Sticky Buns
Fruit Tarts
Artisan Breads
Pain au Chocolate

The school is located at 637 South Broadway (west side of the building). For more information, call 303-494-7988.

Boulder Weekly’s "Best Of" Picks

The current Boulder Weekly offers up its annual “Best of Boulder County” issue. Here is the long list of the paper’s staff and readers’ picks — and mine too (sometimes instead of an sometimes in addition to the Weekly‘s selections):

Staff and Readers: The Mediterranean Restaurant (“The Med”)
Runner-Up: The Kitchen
Honorable Mention: DeGabi Cucina
Claire’s Pick: Zolo Grill, Tahona Tequila Bistro

Staff and Readers: Moe’s Broadway Bagel
Runner-Up: Einstein Brothers Bagels
Honorable Mention: Big Daddy’s Bagels
Claire’s Pick: No contender this side of the Hudson River; Moe’s all the way

Staff and Readers: Lucile’s
Runner-Up: Walnut Cafe and Walnut Cafe/South Side
Honorable Mention: Dot’s Diner, Turley’s
Claire’s Pick: Foolish Craig’s

Staff and Readers: Breadworks
Runner-Up: Great Harvest Bread Company
Honorable Mention: None
Claire’s Pick: Breadworks and Whole Foods for breads; Spruce Confections and Breadworks for pastries

Staff and Readers: Mountain Sun and Southern Sun
Runner-Up: Tom’s Tavern
Honorable Mention: Dark Horse; V.G. Burgers
Claire’s Pick: Jill’s at the St. Julien

Staff and Readers: Illegal Pete’s
Runner-Up: Chipotle
Honorable Mention: Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
Claire’s Pick: Mina’s Latin Restaurant (Erie)

Business Lunch
Staff and Readers: The Kitchen
Runner-Up: Brasserie Ten Ten
Honorable Mention: Prima Ristorante
Claire’s Pick: Jill’s at the St. Julien, Q’s at the Boulderado, The Boulder Cork

Staff and Readers: Glacier Home-Made Ice Cream
Runner-Up: Spruce Confections
Honorable Mention: Belvedere Belgian Chocolate Shop
Claire’s Pick: The Flagstaff House, Q’s at the Boulderado
*In my opinion, the paper combined “Dessert” and ” Miscellaneous Sweet Stuff” here. “Dessert” in this context should have been limited to the dessert course in a restaurant. An ice cream dipping store, a bakery and a chocolate retail shop — no matter how worthy — do not fit into this category. Anyone editing this newspaper?

Happy Hour
Staff and Readers: The Mediterranean
Runner-Up: Triology Wine Bar & Lounge
Honorable Mention: Mountain Sun/Southern Sun
Claire’s Pick: Tahona Tequila Bistro, Redfish, El Centro

Fine Dining
Staff and Readers: The Flagstaff House
Runner-Up: Frasca Food and Wine
Honorable Mention: Sunflower
Claire’s Pick: The F-team, Flagstaff and Frasca, get high votes from me too. So do The Kitchen, Q’s at the Boulderado, L’Atelier

Staff and Readers: The Golden Lotus
Runner-Up: Moongate Asian Bistro
Honorable Mention: Orchid Pavilion
Claire’s Pick: China Gourmet (casual), Spice China (Louisville, fancier)

Ice Cream
Staff and Readers: Glacier Homemade Ice Cream
Runner-Up: Ben & Jerry’s
Honorable Mention: Boulder Ice Cream, Bliss Organic Ice Cream
Claire’s Pick: Hatton Creamery

Readers: Trident Booksellers and Cafe
Staff: Laughing Goat Coffee House
Runner-Up: Vic’s Coffee
Honorable Mention: Amante Coffee, Bookend Cafe
Claire’s Pick: Bookend Cafe

Staff and Readers: Taj Restaurant
Runner-Up: Tandoori Grill
Honorable Mention: Sherpa’s
Claire’s Pick: Same three

Staff and Readers: Jambo Juice
Runner-Up: Berry Best
Honorable Mention: None
Claire’s Pick: Juices Wild, Anjou, Cafe M

Staff and Readers: A Spice of Life
Runner-Up: Whole Foods
Honorable Mention: None
Claire’s Pick: No opinion; I cook

Staff and Readers: The Rio Grande (“The Rio”)
Runner-Up: Zolo Grille
Honorable Mention: None
Claire’s Pick: The Rio for the wallop, Tahona Tequila Bistro for variety and taste

Staff and Readers: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant
Runner-Up: Zolo Grill
Honorable Mention: Rio Grande, Juanita’s Mexican Food and Casa Alvarez
Claire’s Pick: Mina’s Latin Restaurant (Erie)

Staff and Readers: Nick-n-Willy’s Take-and-Bake Pizza
Runner-Up: Abo’s Pizza
Honorable Mention: Proto’s Pizzeria Napoletana
Claire’s Pick: Proto’s, O-Pizza

Place to Bring Kids
Staff and Readers: Red Robin
Runner-Up: Noodles & Company
Honorable Mention: Mountain Sun/Southern Sun
Claire’s Pick: Cafe Gondolier

Place to Eat Outdoors
Staff and Readers: Chautauqua Dining Hall
Runner-Up: Boulder Farmers’ Market
Honorable Mention: Mediterranean Restaurant
Claire’s Pick: All of the above, plus El Centro (which continues the patio from the location’s Rhumba incarnation) and anyplace on the Pearl Street Mall

Late Night
Staff and Readers: Abo’s Pizza
Runner-Up: Hapa Sushi
Honorable Mention: Cosmo’s Pizza, Dark Horse Bar
Claire’s Pick: The Reef (new owners introducing late food service)

New Restaurant
Staff and Readers: V.G. Burgers
Runner-Up: Panera Bread**
Honorable Mention: California Pizza Kitchen, 7 Eurobar***
Claire’s Pick: Black Cat Bistro
**The one on 29th is new, but Panera is not new to Boulder. The former Panera location on the Pearl Steet Mall (and also the one in Louisville) closed in 2004. Paradise Bakery now occupies the Pearl Street Mall space.
***This is now simply called Seven and has been reborn as a Latin/Asian fusion place and no longer is European-influenced.

Overall Restaurant
Staff and Readers: The Kitchen
Runner-Up: Frasca Food and Wine
Honorable Mention: None
Claire’s Pick: Both of those, plus the Flagstaff House and L’Altelier

Staff and Readers: Mountain Sun/Southern Sun
Runner-Up: Walnut Brewery
Honorable Mention: None
Claire’s Pick: Oskar Blue’s (Lyons)

Staff: Japango
Readers: Sushi Zanmai
Runner-Up: Hapa Sushi
Honorable Mention: Sushi Tora
Claire’s Pick: Hapa Sushi

Vegetarian Friendly
Staff and Readers: Sunflower
Runner-Up: Whole Foods
Honorable Mention: V.G. Burgers
Claire’s Pick: Cafe Prasad in the Boulder Cooperative Market for vegans

Staff and Readers: Snarf’s
Runner-Up: Salvaggio’s
Honorable Mention: Deli Zone
Claire’s Pick: Salvaggio’s

Take Out
Staff and Readers: Siamese Plate
Runner-Up: China Gourmet, Jimmy & Drew’s 28th Street Deli
Honorable Mention: Khow Thai
Claire’s Pick: Whole Foods, Nick-n-Willy’s

Staff and Readers: Know Thai Cafe
Runner-Up: Siamese Plate
Honorable Mention: Thai Basil, Chy Thai
Claire’s Pick: Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai Food (Louisville), though I understand that it recently closed. Sad.

Staff and Readers: Purple Martini
Runner-Up: Trilogy Lounge & Wine Bar
Honorable Mention: None
Claire’s Pick: The Flagstaff House

Staff and Readers: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
Runner-Up: Pekoe Sip House
Honorable Mention: Celestial Seasonings, Tea Spot
Claire’s Pick: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Staff and Readers: Chez Thuy
Runner-Up: May Wah
Honorable Mention: None
Claire’s Pick: Kim Food to Go

Wine Selection
Staff and Readers: Frasca Food and Wine
Runner-Up: The Flagstaff House
Honorable Mention: Trilogy Wine Bar and Lounge
Claire’s Pick: Those are my top three too

Staff and Readers: Laudisio Ristorante
Runner-Up: Carelli’s
Honorable Mention: DaGabi Cucina
Claire’s Pick: Trattoria on Pearl

Brioche in Boulder and Beyond

I received a message directly from fairly new Boulderite, and since I presume that my correspondent is not the only one around who likes this classic French specialty, I’ll answer here. The question is: “Since moving to the Boulder area a year ago I’ve not found a bakery who makes real Brioche. Any suggestions?”

The first flip answer is, you came too late to enjoy the Continental baked goods at Le Francais and from the Belgian Bakery, respectively at the BaseMar Shopping Center and on 28th Street, south of Iris. I seem to recall having had a wonderful brioche at each at least once, and I’m glad that I did because both, alas, are gone.

Other than those two dearly departed bakeries, the only local place I know about is Breadworks at 2644 North Broadway (the same strip mall with the Boulder Wine Merchant, Moe’s Bagels, etc.; 303-444-5667). when I called to inquire, they told me that they bake brioches daily. When my husband made a Breadworks run, I asked him to pick one up for me. It turns out that they bake brioche bread, not individual brioches like that shown above. When he said that we wanted the smaller individual brioches, the woman behind the counter said, “Oh, you want a popover.” And that’s what he came home with. It’s a good popover, but it’s not a brioche.

You might have more luck elsewhere if you are willing to commute to find the brioche of your dreams. There are other French bakeries around to try. Calling in advance seems to make sense before undertaking an expedition, even if you have another errand in the general vicinity.
I have heard (or perhaps read) really good things about Daniel’s of Paris at 12253 East Iliffe (303-751-6084) in Aurora, especially about their croissants (my particular favorite when they are flakey rather than bread-y), but I don’t specifically know whether they do brioches. Another place is Katherine’s French Bakery (303-695-5000) at 2832 South Havana near Yale, also in Aurora. I’ve never been to either.

In Denver, Cook’s French Market, which recently relocated to 1600 Glenarm Place on the 16th Street Mall (303-893-2277), bakes brioches. I haven’t had them, because I’m never in downtown Denver in the morning, but I’ll bet they are good. Also, Denver’s Trompeau Bakery at 1717 East East Evans (303-698-9682) and Les Delices de Paris at 5303 Leetsdale (303-320-7596) are worth trying. The Denver Post just wrote of Tompeau, “As close as it comes to a neighborhood French bakery in Denver, Trompeau has an ever-present aroma of yeast and flour, and baguettes constantly coming out of the oven.” I wouldn’t be surprised if they both make brioches — and probably good ones too. Both have excellent word-of-mouth reps, but I haven’t been to either. Emogene Patisserie and Cafe at 2415 East Second Avenue in Cherry Creek North (303-388- 7900) is a also possibility. They make to-die-for pastries, but I don’t know about their breakfast goods, although I know that they do serve breakfast.

Babette’s Feast, a lovely little French bakery and cafe in Fort Collins, recently closed their original location, and according to their website, is taking catering orders until it reopens on April 1 at 1200 South College. I am not sure whether there will be a cafe, but you can call 970-223-0172 and ask.

Breadworks is evidently not alone in baking bread with brioche dough. I’ve seen brioche French toast and sandwiches on bread made of brioche dough on the menus of several area restaurants. However, for no reason at all, I assume that you are looking for indvidual breakfast brioches — the kind that resemble cupcakes or muffins in shape but a jaunty topnot. Good luck. Let us know what you discover — and what you thought when you tasted them.