EAT THIS: Strawberries, sausages, pizza, and homegrown vegetables — a guide to good eats in Aylmer, Quebec
Last Saturday morning I was on a quest for fresh local strawberries and my research led me to Alymer, Quebec. I live in Ottawa’s west end so it was as easy as crossing the Champlain Bridge and hanging a left. I was in Alymer within minutes. Who knew there would be so many wonderful foodie surprises? Here’s a whistle-stop tour of three great food finds in Vieux Aylmer, that are right on the way to the pick-your-own berry farm.
STOP#1: Boulangerie Aux Deux Frères (146, rue Principale) is an artisanal bakery run by brothers Etienne and Emmanuel Lavoie. Bread baking apparently runs in the family — their father is Alain, the now-retired former owner of Boulangerie Pain d’Alain in Hull. It was breakfast time so I bought a warm walnut sourdough and some buttery French pastries to take home. After chatting with a few regulars, I discovered that the magic hour for this bakery is 11:30 a.m. when huge slabs of pizza topped with tons of chunky fresh vegetables emerge from the ovens. I peeked in the kitchen and saw the impressive pans of pizza being prepared. Walnuts, spinach, red onion, and cranberries were being heaped onto a crust made with the same long-fermented dough as their baguettes. I already had lunch plans but I will definitely be back. I’ve got my eye on the pissaladière. The bakery is closed Mondays and Tuesdays; Wed-Fri 9am-6pm; Sat-Sun 9am- 5pm.
STOP #2: You’ve heard of the 100-km diet, how about the 2-km diet? That’s the dream of Anne Janssen, who calls herself an urban farmer. She is the mastermind behind Aylmer Backyard Farms a volunteer-run operation dedicated to growing organic vegetables, herbs, and plants in three Aylmer yards, all plots totaling about ¼ of an acre. In 2010 she launched a community project that includes a CSA (this year she feeds 16 “shareholders” with weekly baskets of homegrown goodies) and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 1 pm, Janssen sells vegetables on the porch of Boulangerie Aux Deux Freres, less than 2 km from where everything is grown. She also sells mason jars of Andrew’s Granola (Andrew is her husband), a wonderful sesame-studded blend of organic oats, nuts, and seeds made with local sunflower oil and local honey. A one-litre mason jar costs $8.75.