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Mar 21, 2009 04:46 PM

Hot cross buns and my issues with chain bakeries

So, although I cannot claim to have tried an overwhelming number of hot cross buns around the city - today I found the ones that will make me stop looking. I stopped by Le Fournil on Victoria and bought 2. Good thing I didn't buy more. They are dense, raisiney, perfumed with just the right amount of spice - in my opinion HEAVEN - and they are darker in colour than most hot cross buns I've seen which makes me think they're made with a healthier flour? Who cares. They also have none of that white insipid "icing" which really does nothing for me anyways. YUM. Their breads also looked very tempting and it took all the reason the angel on my right shoulder could muster to convince the devil on my left not to buy some.

As I was in the area, and the husband loves all things things dark chocolate, I decided to buy him some chocolates and truffles at Patiesserie De Gascogne (Sherbrooke just East of Victoria). So, besides waiting for an eternity to be served (there were no other customers at the chocolate counter or the pastry counter), then being served by someone who "couldn't" serve me chocolates (well, ummm, that's why I'm standing in front of the chocolate case!), I finally get someone who can help, and find out that I can get a box of "truffles" or I can get a box of "chocolates" - but I can't get a box with a bit of each. Ummm, what? In this day and age and economy, do we not want to make the customer happy? Maybe I am too service oriented as a self employed person, but I think my clients appreciate the extra mile. I can tell you that I certainly don't appreciate that kind of attitude. How hard is it to write down or keep a tally of what is being put in the box and just charge me? They do sell chocolates "a l'unite" so WHAT is the big deal? And, to boot, it's not like they had an astounding variety of "truffles". I recently got chocolates at Marius et Fanny for him for his birthday and valentine's day, and they will give you what you want, how you want it.

Needless to say, I left without buying anything, telling the girl that their way of doing business is "Trop complique" for me.

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  1. Maisonbistro, I don't think you missed anything special by leaving. I like Gascogne very much, but their chocolates and truffles are good, but not particularly exciting. They'll do in a pinch, but I don' go out of my way to buy them.

    1. Not a fan of De Gascogne, ever since they made us a piss-poor wedding cake almost 10 years ago. Sitll haven't forgiven them. I ASKED for lemon, and I got blandblanddland. Let's not even start on the icing.

      And your post just sustains that bad impression.

      4 Replies
      1. re: TheSnowpea

        Well, the impression left on me was CRAP and I won't be going back there any time soon, as opposed to Premiere Moisson, about who I carp a lot, but will still buy bread and viennoiseries from occasionally. I'm not going to cut off my nose to spite my face when they really do make some good breads.

        1. re: maisonbistro

          I refuse to go into that place. When they started out in Cartierville back in the (cough) 60s, they were THE go-to pastry shop in Montreal. I've been in the Westmount branch a few times, and have found their service atrocious, to say the least, as if they're doing you a favour by serving you. They make the people at Nancy look charming, and that's saying something!

          1. re: bomobob

            Cough- I remember the only outlet being in Cartierville. My mom used to be a microbiologist at Ayerst - so some Fridays after visiting her in the lab- she'd take me there. I also remember going there after a day at Belmont Park. Those were the days.....

            1. re: maisonbistro

              Didn't you just love the swans they made? I used to look forward to biting their little heads off.
              We lived across the bridge in Laval, so it was impossible not to pass by quite often. One of my most ingrained childhood memories is still the screams of kids and the roar of the big wooden roller coaster as it rumbled by next to the fence.

      2. There are those of us who grew up with bread truck hot cross buns in the fifties and loved them for lack of knowing anything different. Then again, for the kid who rode shotgun in the bread truck, on Saturdays the delicacies of Wonder Bakery packaged goods were all a real this day the coconut cookies have never changed. There are also those of us who grew up with the Cartierville edition of Gascogne before the original owners sold it off....I mean, what would you expect, that was almost fifty years ago. I have fond memories of their pastry cheese sticks which we popped in the oven when got home to warm them up...delicious....but no match for the wonderful cold pizza squares. They were so good cold that it would almost be sacreligious to warm them up. They sure were a lot better that what we tend to get today. I moved west in 1966 to Calgary, came back to Montreal in 1969 and on to Toronto in 1972 following all the job opportunities, so I have been here for 37 years but during that time for a ten year period I also spent a week per month in Montreal. I have to admit that I stopped at Gascoyne sometimes too.....on my way to look at the changing Saraguay.....But then again, I was one of the first people to go to Mister Donut opposite Norgate Shopping Center. For the crew from Saraguay who hung together, 3 donuts was the only count and no one even knew what calories were then...just imagine, 27 different donuts with sweet fillings, I can still fondly remember every one of them that I ate. Today when I go into Tim Hortons, I only ever order a diet coffee.....when asked if I meant Decaf Coffee, my reply is always, "No. I said Diet Coffee? Then they step over the threshold and ask the fatal question...."what is a diet coffee?" I always reply the same way and suck them right in..., "It's a large black coffee with no donuts." Should have started ordering that back when I was thirteen.....come to think of it. I wasn't inot coffee yet......Oh...but all that wonderful pastry that has gone into my mouth over the past 60 years...I have really lived.....but I also have always remember the DIE makes up the first three letters of the word someone trying to tell this old fat guy something.....afraid so.....but it was a fun ride while it lasted....."Diet Coffee, please.".