As announced, I’m starting a new style of articles on the site. “Taste to Go” will feature foodstuffs from my favourite purveyors.
This past Sunday, S and I were feeling particularly virtuous after spending our Saturday devoted to packing up our apartment. And so, when Sunday dawned clear and bright, we decided we deserved a little treat – namely, brunch. What is more luxurious than to start the morning with a leisurely meal of favourites, light conversation and laughter, all enjoyed with the knowledge that the day stretches out full possibility ahead of you?
Heading to Burlington, Ontario’s lakefront area, I’d already scouted out our destination. Evidently, I my stomach had overruled my brain, and during my scouting I had researched the menu, the musician who would be providing entertainment and our seating options. My brain, however had neglected to notice their hours of operation for the restaurant I had chosen. Shows you where my priorities lay.
Arriving half an hour before opening, S and were left to wander the area for a distraction – seizing upon the opportunity to shop for food, I suggested we head over to Pane Fresco by Marc Bakery Café. This small bakery specializes in artisan breads, an ever-changing selection of pastries and is well known for their gorgeous pizzas and sandwiches at lunch. Weekends offer decadent looking Belgian waffles as a special.
With its open kitchen, I cannot help but grin when I walk into this store, the air is thick with the smell of freshly baked bread. Their staff is gracious and knowledgeable, cheerful and chatty with customers. Trying to reign in my ever-increasing appetite as we still planned to keep our brunch plans, I steered myself away from the delectable assortment of treats – but not without first admiring the array of perfect croissants, individual butterscotch bread puddings and savoury cheese-crusted breadsticks.
I knew I had to have one of their focaccia, choosing between the classically flavoured rosemary, the summer perfect pomodoro, or the caramelized onion with goat’s cheese. Eyeing the latter variety, glistening and fragrant, practically groaning under the weight of creamy pillows of cheese and striped with umber strings of sticky-sweet onion, my choice was made – and not one of the adorable piccolo muffin shaped loaves, I wanted a slab. Airy and dense all at the same time, the rich bread was perfect on its own.
Armed with my purchase, I could not help but think that with such offerings before me, a single loaf would be blasphemy. Faced with the decision between beautifully golden French epis, the tempting ciabatta and expertly formed boules of sourdough I knew I was over my head.
Asking the counter staff for a recommendation proved a godsend, as I was steered towards the Fig, Walnut and Date bread; a dark oval shaped loaf artistically slashed lengthwise and dusted with flour. Bearing a slightly chewy crust that was toothsome but still crispy, and a well-formed crumb studded with succulent bits of fig and date, this bread was simply delicious. I detected a bit of spice that seemed reminiscent of hot cross buns, but it could have been the intensely flavoured fruit that was leading me astray. The walnuts added a depth and underlying richness, brought out even more by a light toasting (and a slathering of sweet butter).
For anyone who is in the area,I cannot recommend Pane Fresco highly enough. Though I should mention that I personally found their baguette was not as outstanding as their other loaves. The enthusiastic staff adds to the bustling atmosphere, with a small indoor eating area and patio for café items. My apologies for lack of a photo for Fig and Walnut and Date bread. It was immediately packed up as a gift. Next time, I promise.
Pane Fresco by Marc Bakery Café
414 Locust Street
7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.