Day 120 Montreal, Quebec: Kouign Amann ? - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

August 28, 2011

Day 120 Montreal, Quebec: Kouign Amann ?

There is a culture, prevalent in North America, where you take your minivan or SUV on the freeway and over to the Costco. There you can pick up a year's supply of frozen waffles, maybe a couple of 3Tb external hardrives to store your videos on, and some reasonably priced whole watermelons, etc. This culture works great, and there is nothing wrong with frozen waffles (if you are hungry enough). And you can't really have a picnic without 3 large watermelons in your SUV. If you choose Walmart over Costco, you can even enjoy shopping at 3 a.m.!

There is another culture in which you get on your bicycle early in the morning and pedal over to the bakery, where fresh breads will still be warm. Hard drives will be scarce and don't try this at 3 a.m., but a fresh croissant or pain au chocolat beats hell out of a frozen waffle!

Bakeries of the type I am ranting about do not live near freeways, and in my mind are tightly associated with bicycles. The actually correct bicycle in this image is a one speed with a wicker basket, but I will settle for anything on two wheels.

Here inside Montreal there are no freeways and many bakeries. There is a bike with panniers tethered behind the house. So that's why I made sure to go out yesterday on the bike for the fresh bagels. Today's target was au "Kouign Amann".

Kouign Amann, according to Wikipedia, is a Breton cake. It is a round crusty cake, made with a dough akin to bread dough with sugar sprinkled between layers. The resulting cake is slowly baked until the butter puffs up the dough (resulting in the layered aspect of it) and the sugar caramelizes. The name derives from the Breton words for cake ("kouign") and butter ("amann"). Kouign-amann is a speciality of the town Douarnenez in Finistère, where it originated in 1865. To me its a croissant like thing with sugar that is sticky and caramelized.

Kouign Amann is great, and an interesting conversation starter, but to fit into my idealized morning bioycle ride in the city you have to be a real "croissant", a bagel, or a baguette. Fortunately the Kouign Amann bakery incidentally makes the best croissants in the city!

So, in advance of the hurricane, we are stocked up on croissants. Stocked up, if you have been following my drift, means two each. The only way to have these croissants tomorrow is to go back tomorrow. And as for Kouign Amann, now at 9:30 you probably have only about a half hour to get there. After that they will be sold out!

Bakery, with bikes
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We had been anxiously watching "Maritime Meander" the blog of Heil Lindquist and Rich Miller. They are in Nova Scotia, 9 days out on a circuit of the Maritime provinces and we assumed hurricane Irene would strike them. Instead the track seems to have veered West enough to spare them much problem. Here in Montreal, though, there has been wind driven rain since mid day. We are snug indoors, a good thing since we are sure our tent would not have survived the winds such as they have been. Here are some tree branches and an umbrella that were not so lucky:

Hurricane Irene brushes by Montreal. No problem, unless you are on a bike or in a tent, or are a tree or an umbrella.
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