The first few times I walked past Pasteleria Barreda, the windows were steamy and I couldn't see what was going on inside. But then, I wasn't thinking about bakeries, probably coming from Fiesta Farms or going to Loblaws or the twenty-four hour Sobeys . All three reside in a half-mile radius, making Christie and Dupont a kind of grocery store paradise (making Barreda's a charming miracle in its quiet co-existence).
A few weeks after moving into the area I had baked goods on my mind again. Loblaws wasn't going anywhere and the windows at Barreda's had cleared up, revealing a tiny bakery front. Inside, I found mounds of
empanadas and trays of identical alfajores . I return more than once over the next few weeks. They are usually sold out of the spinach so I try in succession the beef, chicken and cheese empanadas. The ground beef variation is oddly addictive and comforting, like home cooking. I can't stop thinking about it.
When I drop in this week, the elusive spinach empanada is there in abundance ($2.50). A friend of mine orders the beef and we sit at the only (lacy white-clothed) table inside, warming our bellies with the stuffed pastries. We split an alfajor (at $1.75 it's a quality steal, perfectly layered, crumbly and rich) while Osvaldo Barreda tells us about the bakery he runs with his wife, Leonor. They came to Canada from Chile thirty years ago and have been in business for twelve. They bake two hundred empanadas a day and deliver them all over the city, including a place inside Islington subway station. They also offer a variety of Chilean breads. Mr. Barreda recommends a bun made with extra shortening ($0.40) so it is dense, almost sweet, heaven with some butter.
Bread, cookies and mounds of empanadas: the simplicity of Barreda's is refreshing. They do a few things exceptionally well, an anomaly in this grocery store paradise.
Photos by Alyssa Bistonath