Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: La Bamboche

Left: Cassis & Earl Grey Cake  Right: Matcha (Green Tea) & Sesame Cake
I've been known to go bakery-hopping once in a while, and the most number of bakeries I've hit in a go was four.  For a city as large as Toronto, where things are so spread out, it was no easy feat!  Sometimes, I'm on a hunt for something specific -
cupcakes, croissants, cakes - but sometimes, I'll be a little spontaneous and just get whatever looks good.

On one such occasion, I went to La Bamboche, which I'd been wanting to try for a while because their head pastry chef is known for his fusion (Japanese-French) style.  My companion and I each ordered an individual cake, we shared a cold tea, and I ordered an extra chocolate-almond croissant for later.  We didn't order any macarons because neither of us are particularly enthusiastic about them, but my companion did say that the one that came on top of the cake was good. 

If I remember correctly, the cakes were almost $6 apiece, which is not cheap, but on par with most handmade, gourmet, artistic pastries in the city.  They were obviously well-made, with good quality ingredients, so it was worth it.  I wasn't dazzled, but they were quite nice.

The cassis & earl grey is sort of their signature flavour.  I LOVED the earl grey mousse.  The flavour was intense but not overbearing, fragrant but not cloying...it was very, very good.  What I loved less was the cassis.  The cassis flavour was also nice and strong, which was good, but my problem with it is that it was too tart for my taste.  It really was quite sour - which overpowered the amazing earl grey flavour.  And to be honest, I feel like the flavours don't go together that well - I ended up eating the layers of this cake separately.  Both layers were nice, but together...I didn't get it.  I also feel like the chocolate cake layers didn't add much to the overall flavour harmony - I think I might have preferred a regular vanilla cake in this instead.  But that wasn't a huge deal - I was more bothered by the tartness of the cassis.

The matcha & sesame is also another of their popular flavours.  It was nice.  The kind of matcha they used wasn't my favourite kind, but it was a decent quality, with a nice, strong flavour.  The mousse, just like in the other cake, had the most lovely, velvety texture.  The sesame part, however, I felt was weaker.  I couldn't really taste the sesame unless I ate the bottom layer by itself.  So I pretty much felt that it was another case of not pairing up flavours well, because one clearly overpowered the other.  Perhaps if they used a higher concentration of sesame OR a more deeply-roasted black sesame to flavour the mousse, the flavour would have been more apparent and would have held its own against the green tea.  The base was this really crunchy, biscuity business, which was good, but it was a bit of a mess to eat.  All in all, I liked this cake, and my companion preferred it to the other one.

The cold tea that we shared was fantastic!  They had a nice selection of leaves to choose from, and I think we chose some kind of a pearl green tea - jasmine, I believe.  Pearl or dragonball teas are the ones where the leaves come furled into a little ball, and when you steep them, they often uncurl.  Some fancier varieties feature flowers inside that look like they bloom when you steep them.  I love these pearl/ball teas, and I adore all floral teas.  The one we ordered was excellent quality, they didn't skimp on using the leaves so it had a really beautiful, strong flavour, and combined with the ice, it just made for the perfect hot day drink.  We ordered it plain, of course, unsweetened and with no creamer.  It was heaven!  And very reasonably-priced, too, at I think less than $3 for the cup.
Pain au chocolat-amandes (Chocolate & Almond Croissant)
As for the croissant...I have to say, it wasn't great.  It could have used more chocolate inside, and a bit more almond filling too.  It was very buttery and the ingredients were great, but I felt like it was a little heavy - I prefer my croissants airier.  Also, I didn't love the huge mound of slivered almonds on the top - I feel like they got in the way, didn't contribute to the flavour, and there was just too much of it.

I think I would have liked this a lot more if I had it fresh, because as we all know, there's a world of difference between a fresh croissant and one that's been in the display for a while.  But not everyone happens to walk into a bakery right when the croissants are coming out of the oven, so many pastry chefs need to figure out how to make a croissant that will be delicious even after it's gone a little bit stale.  This...didn't wow me at all.  But that's okay, because the tea more than made up for it.

All in all, this was a very successful jaunt.  I enjoyed myself, as did my companion, and I think this bakery is most definitely worth a visit, especially if you like macarons.  They always have a mystery flavour that you can try and guess!

I went to their new location, just off Yonge, at:

La Bamboche
4 Manor Road East
Toronto, Ontario
M4S 1P8

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