Zane Patisserie & Boulangerie
We go bursting into Zane's in a flurry of cold air, loud with hats and scarves and camera gear that gets dumped on two of only a few metal stools inside. When settled, I finally look around the little bakery and I'm struck by the gentleness that we rudely interrupted. It's as though we just entered some good-humoured church that's happy to have us even though we lack some reverence.
The Shins are playing quietly on the stereo, and a lone customer quietly packs up to go. The depleted bread selection suggests we've come post rush. It's not always so quiet, Zane tells us (Zane, who was actually behind the counter when we arrived, a nice sign I think). On the weekend they bake massive amounts of loaves and croissants, as well as items you can't pick up the rest of the week like quiche.
Piles of bags of pre-made biscotti and tiny cookies (including bags of outstanding chocolate Florentines for $5.00) fill a shelf. The display case holds beautiful and recommended cakes, mostly of mousse and butter cream (from individual $4.35 to large $40).
There are pictures on one wall of Algeria, The Casbah. On the wall opposite are photos of a baby, Zane's nephew, I learn. One featured photo has the tot grinning with a baguette in his hands. Excellent.
The croissants come in small baskets and they taste quite perfect. Alyssa has ham and cheese on a butter croissant ($3.70), with a tiny square of Swiss on top, just barely melted out of shape. I choose butter ($1.60) amongst almond and chocolate.
The only table, a counter, wraps around the mirrored bakery wall, so you are confronted with your own image as you eat. But this is not as jarring (or distracting) as one might expect. I want to sit there, listening to The Shins, peel away at the buttery croissant layers, and...I don't know, self-reflect or something. There is a modest pile of National Geographic on the counter, a nice touch (though untouched, most likely).
Full of croissant, I save the baguette ($2.20) until the next day. But even a day old, warmed up with butter, the baguette is great. If I lived by Zane's, I'd have found a great daily.
The biscotti ($5.00 for a bag of 5) look amazing but I save them too, dunk one into my coffee the next morning. It's chocolate dipped with lots of whole almonds and hidden cranberries that give the biscotti a tart, fruity taste throughout. It sucks up my strong black coffee. It improves my morning.
The thought of going there alone a couple mornings a week, and sitting by the mirrored wall and reading one of those national geographic with another excellent Americano, is an indulgence I can't seem to wrap my head around. I feel undeserving of such a fine moment. (Yes, the Americano. The espresso was excellent, quality beans and technique).
When we leave, Zane wishes us good luck and we wave goodbye, surprised but feeling like we've just been blessed. And we have. With good bread and coffee, of course, among other things.
Photos by Alyssa Bistonath.