From the beginning of the bakery tour, I’ve wanted to head over to the “other end of town”, otherwise known as the west end, specifically Little Portugal. I had been waiting it out to see if hot temps were going to cool their jets, but alas, Felix and I gave in to the realization that this summer just isn’t going to get any cooler, and plans were made. A few weeks ago, the two of us packaged ourselves onto a reasonably breezy and somewhat empty street car, and were on our way to Brazil Bakery & Pastry Ltd.
Brazil Bakery & Pastry Ltd is actually a tiny bit further west of Little Portugal, in the Dundas West neighborhood. But I’d heard it was the real-Portugal-deal despite the Brazil nameplate, so it seemed a good choice.
Now I’m no expert in Portugeuse culture, but I have been to Portugal and Spain and definitely spent a decent amount of time in cafes and bakeries while there. As Felix and I walk through the door of Brazil Bakery, it’s like walking back into my travels all those years ago.
We immediately come face to face with an oval coffee bar in the centre of the shop with several older men leaning on the bar, espresso cups scattered around, discussing what I’m guessing to be very important life topics (I’m guessing because I don’t speak Portuguese and every conversation around me is indeed in Portuguese). To the right of the coffee bar is the “bakery” section, and to the left is a dining area.
Since it’s close to lunch time, and I see a sandwich press hiding in the corner of the bar, I ask the girl behind the counter to make me a ham and cheese sandwich. She nods, and without a word, gets busy with the press and preparing a plate with various pickled items. When the sandwich slides across the bar toward me, I ask for an espresso and she points to the dining room and says she’ll bring it over.
The sandwich is simple, but oh so delicious. The pickles just about blow my head off they’re so full of vinegar, so other than the one tester, they remain on the plate. (I almost want to pass one off to Felix in the hope of a really funny photo op, but that would be WRONG!!;) The espresso arrives shortly after I sit down, and it’s lovely.
After our little lunch break, Felix and I head back over the bakery side of things, and try not to get overwhelmed by the choice. So many little cakes and tarts, donuts, buns….what to do?
Luckily the weather helps me narrow things down. So many items contain cream or chocolate and I know there’s no way they’ll survive the outdoor temps, so I keep it simple: Almond tart, egg tart and, get this, a BEER tart?! Beer tart? I ask the girl behind the counter a second time. She feigns drinking from a bottle, “yes, beer”. One beer tart is added to my little take-out box.
Later on that evening, when we’re home safe, sound and sufficiently cooled, the hubby and I give things a try. Here’ the scoop:
I sort of realized during my china-town experience a few months ago that I’m not a huge egg-tart fan, but I always like to give things a second try, just in case my taste buds (or the pastries!) weren’t at their best that particular day. The crust of the egg tart is flaky and thick, the filling rich, creamy, sweet and…egg-like. I feel like it’s something I should like, that I want to like, but I just don’t. Hubby’s not a fan either. It’s just too rich for us.
The almond tart is next in line, and a welcome relief to the egger, however I can’t detect any almond in the filling. Perhaps it’s the scattering of slivered almonds on top that justifies the “almond” title, but for me, a little ground almond or almond essence in the body of the tart would be needed to seal the deal for me.
And finally, it’s the dessert my hubby declares has taken way too long to grace our dinner table: the beer tart. Unfortunately, it almost ended in tears when neither of us could taste the beer! The filling was sweet, had a nice texture, not too rich, but we really couldn’t sense a taste of beer. Booooo! I was wondering how it would be possible to maintain a hops-y flavour in baking, and turns out the Brazilian bakery hasn’t figured it out either. Too bad!
So although I didn’t love the three tarts I brought home, I would definitely go back to this place for a sandwich and coffee, and I have a sneaky suspicion their many varieties of bread would be mighty tasty:
I suspect their cakes are tasty as well, at least they looked the part, so I would go back and try a little something different before I right this place off for desserts, particularly because the prices are so reasonable – the tarts, for example, are approx. $0.90 per – amazing for Toronto.
For a little taste of southern Europe, give this one a go: