Since returning from France I’ve been obsessed with trying to find a good croissant in Toronto. I know that they’re out there but there are few and far between. I have come to realize that a large part of this is because the flour and butter that they use in France is different that what we use in Canada. I can easily count the number of places that sell a good croissant on one hand. Nadege is one of the places that makes a good croissant (equivalent to that found in Paris) and today I discovered that so does La Gourmand. La Gourmand is one of my favourite cafes/coffee shop. It’s a charming cafe that sells pastries, coffee, salads, sandwiches and a selection of imported products from France and Italy. This morning I was in the neighbourhood and stopped by for a coffee and when I saw the flaky croissants that they had in the display case, I just had to try one (I have since developed an eye for a good croissant, it must look crisp, full and flaky otherwise I don’t bother buying it).
This croissant was also very good. I would say as good as the one I had a Nadege. Because I know that good croissants are a rarity in this city, I felt compelled to ask the person behind the counter if they make their croissants in-house or if they have them brought in from another bakery. The answer: they get them brought in frozen but they bake them off on the premises. When I asked which company they bring them in from, none of the counter staff knew. They even asked the guy working in the kitchen and he didn’t know either *sigh*. This is an indication of the way we perceive food here – there just isn’t the same respect and level of commitment to food. However, I’m sure it was an obscure question for them, I mean how often do they get a customer asking them where they get their croissants from? I’m sure most people take it for granted or don’t stop to really appreciate the rarity of a good croissant. And for me, if I can find out where the good croissants come from, it eliminates a lot of the guess work for me. Ah well. It was the weekend. Perhaps I will have better luck if I visit on a weekday afternoon.
Interestingly enough, a friend if mine just came back from a recent visit from Montreal and was commenting about how easy it was to find good croissants there. There is a chain coffee shop called Le pain d’or and there were good mass produced croissants being sold in those stores every 5 blocks. Why is this? I spoke to a Montreal resident and it turns out that they import their butter from France! Mais oui! That explains a lot. European butter has a higher fat content compared to North American butter and that extra fat is critical to developing a delicate, flaky crust. That’s one mystery solved. Now I just need to find out where Le Gourmand gets their croissants from.
Could it be from one of the following bakeries that are on this list? My croissant search just got a whole lot easier!