There are lots of things to love about Paris, but for me, nothing topped the bread. Although it has been years since I last enjoyed one, I often get the craving for an authentic Parisian baguette, with its crisp exterior and soft, chewy, almost sensual interior. Slather on some of that rich butter that doesn’t seem to exist on this side of the world, and you have the perfect food for morning, noon, or night.
After my first visit to Paris at the turn of the century, I scoured Ottawa looking for something similar. I tried all the usual suspects in town, and was always disappointed by the results. While the French Baker’s croissants brought back memories of eating breakfast in a courtyard at l’Hôtel des Grandes Ecoles, even its bread fell far short of what I was looking for.
Then last year, I heard about a new place called True Loaf. A husband and wife team who apprenticed at Le Fromentier in Montreal had moved to Ottawa and opened up a new bakery. Within a few weeks of it opening, I began hearing stories about this new place that was making the best bread in Ottawa.
Over the past year, I’ve visited it many times, and it’s always the same – perfect. The baguette is as close as I’ve come to my Parisian experiences, and I rarely make it home without biting the end off. They also sell an assortment of other breads, including decadent buns studded with chocolate and ginger and a few versions of fougasse.
A baguette from True Loaf is $3.25, and it would be a steal at twice the price. If you haven’t checked it out yet, go…now. You can find them at 573 Gladstone, just east of Bronson. I believe they open at 7:00 am (closed Sunday & Monday), and while they close at 1:00 pm, you may be able to find their bread at the Red Apron next door later in the day.