Red Rose Patisserie
I asked my friend Sona to take us to her favourite Persian bakery in Toronto, so she meets us (picks us up... in a car!) at Finch station and drives us the short distance to Red Rose Patisserie. We arrive really hungry because one of us (who I'll call "Shortbread") gets lost on her way uptown and delays us.
Yonge and Finch is exemplary of a great city, a curious mix of Persian and Korean restaurants and business. Inside Red Rose, customers speak Farsi and snack on freshly baked Persian sweets or take away boxes of imported Iranian chocolates and crystallized sugar to dissolve in coffee and tea. There are also huge containers of nuts and dried fruit available in bulk, a nice extra that I sincerely wish was available in every bakery I visit.
The display case is full to the brim and consists of shirini tar, "moist sweets" with custard and cream, and shirini khoshk "dry sweets" that mostly resemble little cookies. Shortbread goes straight for the cream puff ($3.00), a fresh piece of pastry stuffed with pure whip cream. Alyssa chooses a Neapolitan ($3.50), layered flake pastry with custard, and Sona has her favourite, rollete, a pastry roll with cream and pistachio. (Pistachio abounds inside Red Rose.)
Everything arrives at our table nicely displayed and dusted with icing sugar. I finish off everyone else's dessert and sample the plate of shirini khoshk that Sona chose. My favourite is a soft, moist cookie wrapped around ground figs, very fresh and very sweet. Sona tells me to try a cookie with poppy seeds. "It's interesting," she says. It is very light and practically disintegrates in my mouth.
The most interesting dessert we try is the faloodeh ($3.99), thin starch noodles in rose water sorbet, definitely a new taste for me. (Red Rose also offers saffron ice cream. Given the chance, I would have chosen this instead.) It's really sweet and refreshing, and arrives at the table with bottles of cherry and lemon syrup to pour over top of it. I like the taste of the faloodeh plain, but it looks so nice with the cherry syrup that Alyssa dumps some on anyhow.
Photos by Alyssa Bistonath