Sunday, January 30, 2011

A sweet review

After trying my hand at living in the country in Nova Scotia and failing, I moved back to Vancouver with the idea that I needed some sort of career that would afford me a chance to be creative and actually pay the monthly bills. I've always enjoyed baking and I thought that maybe, if I went to the right school, I could start a career as a pastry chef and merge my desires to create with my hands, eat sinfully good desserts, and be creative.

As I researched the cooking schools I got frustrated by the costs of the tuitions versus the wages that I could be expected to earn after graduating. Another creative job wasn't going to pay the bills?  One day as we drove past a well-known artisanal bakery, on a whim, I asked my husband to stop so that I could go into the bakery and ask them exactly what I needed to work in a place like that. I got to talk to the head of the pastry department and he was very helpful. To my surprise, he asked if I had a resume I would like to leave behind. I had typed up a resume listing all the types of recipes I had done as a home baker and hoped that I could actually hand it out to someone. Here was my chance! I went home pretty happy but I never thought I would receive a call a couple weeks later from that bakery asking me to come in for an interview. Like a dummy, I refused and said that I "wasn't ready" and needed some schooling before working at such a bakery. Luckily, they gave me another call a couple weeks later and I accepted an interview. Well, the interview went well and I was hired with Terra Breads. I stayed with the bakery for about eight years before I found that the job didn't have enough to it to keep me there. I wanted to grow and I felt like I was standing still. This was compounded by the fact that I now had children and I needed more income without having to work more hours. It was time to leave and I'm grateful for everything that I learned while I was there.

Having access to so much great bread and pastries got me accustomed to quality products and quite critical of most baked goods. Now I search out pastry shops and taste-test whenever I can. I always look at the dessert menu to see if there is something on it made in-house. Today I thought I would share some of my findings from a couple new bakeries in Steveston.

 Bell's Bake Shop is new to the area and I saw interest about it's opening as soon as their vinyl sign hit the window. Bell's sells cupcakes in all your favorite flavors with a big swoosh of complimentary icing. Most locals know of Cupcakes and they have been extremely successful here but I was disappointed in their flavor and I could tell that they must use mixes and shortening in their icing. Blah. Beautiful but not tasty. Bell's cupcakes are the real deal. I saw that she uses real eggs and butter, cocoa, carrots, etc. No greasy film on the roof of your mouth with her icing. I've been twice now and the chocolate devils food with chocolate icing is a favorite. I've always gone in while something is still baking and the smell is fantastic. Fresh! Love it. Welcome to Steveston, we're glad you're here.


The other shop is call The Sweet Spot and it's run by two chef's who have already been able to snag some wholesale accounts in the village. The first time I went in I asked to buy five pounds of chocolate not realizing that the shop had changed hands and there was a new sign on the window. Lucky for me they still sold it to me. I have been in since and have seen that they've added a coffee bar and frozen pre-made entrees to take home. Great ideas.
I bought a small box of treats with the family in tow and everyone drooling over the display case. We got a sour cherry and chocolate mousse and a chocolate-banana pie. One of the chefs threw in a lemon madeline and a chocolate cookie to tempt us to come back for those. Another great idea. Well, I must say that these are my kind of desserts. Traditional and sinfully decadent made with top quality ingredients. These are the desserts you should get for your next dinner party. Another welcome goes to you Sweet Spot.
Chocolate mousse

Banana Cream

Phew! I think that's the longest post I've ever done. I love talking about sweets. What about you? Is there a pastry out there that you just can't walk by without drooling? Do you have a special recipe yourself?

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