Brisa Do Liz Bakery
Brisa Do Liz Bakery is one of those well-established community hubs. Across the street from a school, right by a subway station, and amidst lots of homes and businesses, there are always people bustling in and out of the shop. And Brisa is only growing with age--literally. Just last year the bakery took over the space next door, using that area for baking and expanding seating in its existing location. Plus some recent renovations and facelifts, and even after 15 years, Brisa is showing no signs of slowing down.
I walked into the bakery at Bloor and Dufferin around 4 p.m., a little past the after-school-rush but still early enough to catch the activity. Two of middle-aged men were sipping coffees at a table, while some kids peered at the treats behind the counter. Despite its name, Brisa Do Liz Bakery is much more than a bakery. It has its daily-made loaves, buns, and pastries, of course, but Brisa also offers hot fare such as soup ($2.75/bowl), various salads, even lunch and dinner meals including whole rotisserie chickens ($6.95) and a hamburger, fries, and pop combo ($5).
"Lots of kids come in for the hamburger deal during lunchtime," manager Clara tells me. "And bagels, sandwiches, and other things." The bakery has a cook who prepares all the meals, as well as bakers who make the breads and pastries in the same way the have been for 15 years. Originally a family business, the shop changed hands a few years ago after the owner died but still maintains loyalty to original Portuguese recipes. So naturally, I ask Clara about their custard tarts.
"I find some bakeries in this city don't make them quite right," she says. "They aren't flakey enough. If the cup isn't right it just doesn't work. Ours are made really well."
Bypassing the tart I decided to have a slice of cheesecake ($3.00), which is also one of the more popular items in the store. It was good in that I could taste the ingredients--the fresh cheese--in the slice. A little sweet for me, as I generally prefer my cheesecake to be a little richer, but very tasty all the same.
The door never stayed shut for more than a few minutes while I was at the bakery, and Clara--impressively--seemed to know everyone's name. Next time when I pop in for a Portuguese custard tart, we'll see if she remembers mine.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak