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St. Val’s bites…

by Archives February 10, 2009

Love it or hate it, cynic or romantic, whatever your take on Valentine’s Day may be, if you’ve got a Valentine, chances are they’ll be expecting a little something this Feb. 14. Of course of all the years to splurge, this is probably not the best one. Which is why I recommend treating your special someone to a delicious dessert. After all, isn’t food the gateway to one’s heart?
No Valentine this year? No problem. Desserts go great with any violent slasher film.

Itsi Bitsi
2621 Notre Dame West,
514-509-3926.
Major cards accepted.

Regular-sized cupcake:
$2.85 tax inc., box specials available. Custom order minis $1+ (minimum 12 per order).

Cupcakes have made one of the greatest comebacks in dessert history. As if overnight, they have shed their tacky “sixth birthday party” image and emerged as the “it” dessert de jour. Now, everywhere you look you see cupcakes. From cupcake wedding cakes, to bring your own cupcake parties, these little wonders are on pace to take over the world. Despite the recent cupcake bonanza, I never understood people’s fascination with them. Is it a muffin? Is it a cake? However, all that changed last November. A victim of peer pressure, I gave in and tried a cupcake from Montreal’s first cupcake boutique, Itsi Bitsi at a friend’s birthday party. A passenger on the cupcake bandwagon, she custom ordered a cupcake birthday cake from the tiny Montreal bakery that opened its doors back in 2006. It was love at first bite. I remembered cupcakes as those sugary things you threw out after licking off the stale blue icing and picking at the pink sprinkles, but this icing was ultra creamy, and the cake part was perfectly moist. It really was a cup-sized cake! Recently I went to the actual boutique and picked up a chocolate, lemon and mochacino cupcake to try. They were phenomenal. For this Valentines Day, get your special somebody Itsi Bitsi’s Valentine’s Day cupcake box which includes six different flavored cupcakes all decorated with hearts. Itsi Bitsi can also make custom order cupcakes for any other occasion. Check out www.itsi-bitsi.com for more information.

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Cocoa Locale
4807 Parc Avenue,
514-271-7162.
Cash only.

Cakes:
$8-$10 (small), $15-$17 (medium), $24 (bundt) plus tax.

Call me crazy, but if I’m giving or receiving a Valentine’s Day dessert, I like it to look like it’s been made with love, and not mass-produced in an industrial-sized kitchen. I mean, technically speaking Valentine’s Day is the day of love, whether that love is a boyfriend/girlfriend or a favourite cousin (I mean that in the least incestuous way). So for those of us who can’t bake (myself included), our only option is to buy a dessert that someone else has made with love. That person is Reema Singh, the woman behind the funky Mile-End bakery known as Cocoa Locale. Singh is the owner, and sole baker at Cocoa Locale, and if you step into her pint-size shop, you can catch a glimpse of the eclectic chef working in the kitchen. I don’t know what it is about Singh’s creations that scream “love,” but I’m telling you, you’ll notice it as soon as you walk in. Maybe it’s the flower petals atop every cake, or the mere fact the desserts manage to look beautiful but imperfect all at once. The bakery’s aura may also have something to do with it. From the mismatched teacups, and the colorful clothes hanging on a clothesline in the window, to Singh herself, this place radiates love. The desserts change daily, but I would suggest indulging in one of the Valrhona chocolate cakes, or the spicy chocolate brownies made with ginger and cayenne pepper. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t spicy food an aphrodisiac? From what I sampled, the cupcakes were the only disappointment. The icing was a tad oily and the cake part a bit too crumbly. Otherwise, eat your heart out.

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Nocochi
2156 Mackay,
514-989-7514.
Major cards accepted.

Mains: $7.50-$11.95
Pastries: Based on weight.

There’s nothing wrong with a traditional box of chocolates, but a box of miniature Persian biscuits has a much nicer ring to it don’t you think? If you agree, then I suggest you head on over to Nocochi, located just a few steps from Concordia’s Hall building. With its white walls, white floors, white tables and bright red chairs, Nocochi is a super sleek café and pastry shop that prides itself in their Mediterranean sandwiches and salads, gourmet coffee, and of course their huge selection of bite-size Persian delights. Displayed in a beautiful glass counter near the cash, these pastries are made with ingredients like pistachio, walnut, apricot jam, dates, and less traditional flavours like roasted chickpea powder and cardamom. Try 15 of them for $6.95, or buy your honey a small box for $16.95. They’re simply too cute to resist! I sampled a bunch of different ones, and while I’m a chocolate gal all the way, they were quite tasty, and they’re perfect for when you’re craving a little something sweet following a heavy meal. If you come for lunch, skip the tuna melt, but get the Nochochi Salad with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, cherry tomato, mixed greens, buffalo mozzarella and Parmesan. Come here for lunch with friends followed by tea and biscuits or bring your laptop and come study if you’re tired of the Starbucks scene. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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