Photo by Ian McCausland
Sweet delicacies are having a moment in the sun, but for Nathalie Gautier and her husband Gilles, Instagram-worthy desserts are not a fleeting trend but a representation of years of hard work spent mastering time honoured techniques. At bustling Main Street bakery, A L’Epi de Ble, these French ex-pats bring a slice of Provence to the prairies. Loaves are made with the traditional process—no preservatives, dairy, or gelatin, and never shortening—and the pastry case holds treasures like colourful macarons and eclairs stuffed with rich pastry cream. With her broad smile and lilting French accent, Nathalie herself is part of this cozy nook’s charm. 1757 Main St, 204‑334‑2526
Photo: Courtesy of the Fairmont Banff Springs
By Where Staff
New on Banff’s Dining Scene
The newest restaurant at the Fairmont Banff Springs is 1888 Chop House. The trendy chop house concept is juxtaposed with elements from the past such as railway artifacts and a name that evokes the hotel’s opening year. Before your meal, take a seat at the cocktail bar that overlooks the Castle in the Rockies’ lobby.
Second generation restaurateur Beth Grubert is a Paris-trained baker with a hands-on management approach and exquisite attention to detail. Her Osborne Village eatery Baked Expectations been drawing locals to a fabulous display case of mile-high cakes, tortes and pies for three decades. Choices can be tough here, where decadent strawberry pecan torte covered in glistening chocolate ganache competes with rich peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake for a coveted place on your plate. A menu of short-order favourites that stars a triple decker grilled cheese with bacon is equally grand. Let them eat cake!
161 Osborne St, 204-452-5176.
Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, a cookbook by Alice Medrich
May 6 and 7
Don’t know your rolling pin from your pastry brush? Don’t worry. Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan Press; $29.95) is filled with foolproof recipes grouped under enticing headings such as Pudding Pleasure, Lickety-Split Cakes, and Sweet Bites. Beginners and experts alike will be baking up a storm in no time. Meet the “First Lady of Chocolate” at two events at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks: Alice’s Tea Party on May 6 and Alice in Dessertland on May 7.—Sheri Radford
Sitting in a classroom may be the last thing anyone wants to do while on holiday, but Le Dolci is not your typical school. At owner Lisa Sanguedolce’s “food education studio,” students of all ages and skill levels can learn to decorate cupcakes using buttercream icing and fondant. Each two-hour session ($80 per person) is a hands-on experience with lessons on tinting icing, creating swirls with different piping techniques, or making fondant flowers. Here, you’ll not only acquire a new skill, you’ll also leave with a dozen decorated cupcakes. A special session in honour of the Toronto International Film Festival takes place on September 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. At this “Red Carpet Cupcakes” class, guests are invited to don their finest attire and create movie-inspired decorations like film reels and even a profile of George Clooney!