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  • Food For Thought? Lol

    Cookie bakers have loyal clientele

    Eric Akis, Times Colonist Published: Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Trying to choose whose cookies my tasting panel would sample was a sweet struggle; numerous Island establishments are doing such a good job making them. In the end I opted for three businesses that, it turned out, offered three quite different styles of cookies. Two were well established and the other a newer one that a few readers said I just had to try. All had a very loyal clientele, always a good sign.

    Joining me for this tasty survey was Stephanie Coombs, Times Colonist night news editor, and Darlene Chase, my neighbour and a dental assistant. Both women are also passionate and talented, let's-make-them-from-scratch cookie bakers with strong opinions on what makes a good cookie.

    The first batch we sampled at my home came from the friendly, we-offer-something-for-everyone, Sidney Bakery.

    "These look like store-bought cookies," said Coombs, when first viewing the uniformity of this bakery's chocolate-chip cookies.

    "That's because when you make your own, you put in two packs of chocolate chips," quipped Chase.

    We all agreed that the chocolate-chip and the oatmeal-raisin cookies sampled were pretty basic and could have used, respectively, more chocolate chips and raisins. If the bakery increased these ingredients, however, it would also have to raise the price from the modest $1.62 a half dozen (27 cents each). That would be fine with us.

    "Nice peanut flavour," said Coombs of this bakery's peanut butter cookies, which I found deliciously bendable and very dunkable into the cup of coffee I enjoyed with them.

    "These fruit bars are the most visually appealing," said Chase, of the moist, spicy cookies baked on a large sheet and cut into diagonal bars. The tasting panel was unanimous in declaring that these were our favourite offering from the Sidney Bakery. They were delightfully chewy and beautifully spiced.

    The next array of cookies we tried came from the much-loved Italian Bakery on Quadra Street in Victoria. I chose five different types from the selection of more than a dozen types of cookies offered.

    "Very attractive, artistically made," said Chase when first glancing at the cookies. Coombs and I agreed that a great deal of finesse was used when making them.

    The first we tried, which turned out to be my favourite, was a dark and flavourful cookie called a raspberry jam tart. It consisted of two thin, dark and rich cookies layered and centred with raspberry jam. Chase could not stop eating hers, even though she knew we still had several other cookies to try.

    "It's very deceiving, this cookie; it looks like it should be dry," said Coombs of the crescent-shaped cornetti cookies we sampled. Instead, this nut-filled cookie was surprisingly moist, and we detected a pleasing hint of citrus. "These would go well with a spicy cup of tea," said Coombs.

    "(The apricot leaf cookie) has a very delicate, pretty shape," said Chase. But she and Coombs found its flavour a little too subtle for their give-me-a-big-flavour cookie taste.

    They said the same about Italian Bakery's oatmeal cookies, which were thin and wide and flecked with finely cut oatmeal, not thick and chewy like the cookies their mothers might have made.

    Ironically, the oatmeal cookie they just described was to be found on the last plate of cookies we tried from the Circle Cafe, which sits beside a traffic circle on the Selkirk Waterfront in Victoria. Coombs's reaction to them was immediate.

    "These look interesting, homemade -- they look like they'd taste good," she said.

    They did!

    "This is what I'd expect an oatmeal cookie to be. Big raisins, big oats, nice spice to them (and) hearty," wrote Coombs in her tasting notes. Chase and I agreed.

    I soon became addicted to Circle Cafe's dark and rich double chocolate cookies -- they seemed to have a big chunk of chocolate in every bite. Chase called them a big satisfaction -- crispy on the outside and moist and luscious in the middle.

    Circle Cafe's peanut butter cookie looked better than it tasted, not having quite enough peanut flavour, but it did have a nice texture. The cafe also makes white chocolate pecan and chocolate chip cookies and, in jumbo cookie format, ginger snaps and trail mix cookies of a very good quality.

    At the end of the tasting, we decided that the Sidney Bakery would be the place to get dependable cookies at a budget-friendly price.

    The all-butter, beautifully prepared cookies from the Italian Bakery would be the place to go if you wanted a stellar selection to serve at a special tea, after a nice dinner or on your own with an awakening shot of espresso. And, for a very delicious, homemade and comforting taste, the Circle Cafe would be place to go. This trio of taste-testers were feeling nostalgic for our mothers' baking, because we chose Circle Cafe as our top cookie maker of the day.

    "If you're looking for homemade cookies -- cookies that look and taste like you made them -- these are them," said Coombs.

    © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006
    Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 10-04-2006, 01:02 PM.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  • #2
    And if that wasnt enough, just a little more from the same source.....

    The Best of the Island cookies

    The homemade-style cookies at Debbie Donnelly's Circle Cafe on Jutland Road were a hit with Eric's tasting panel.

    Photograph by : Darren Stone, Times Colonist

    Eric Akis, Times Colonist Published: Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    You'd need a cookie jar the size of an oil drum to store the wide variety of cookies nominated in our latest Best of the Island poll. After the counting was done, Sally Bun, a small cafe on Fort Street in Victoria, rolled its way to the top of the pile, securing just enough votes to take the cookie crown.

    - - -

    "Sally Bun on Fort Street makes the best cookies! It's hard to say whether the chocolate chip or ginger cookie is best -- they are both great," says Times Colonist reader Christina Peacock. "They taste just like something a great mother would have ready for kids when they get home from school (certainly not something my kids have experienced!). The cookies are always fresh, and often still warm from the oven."

    Joy Green concurred with Peacock on the freshness of Sally Bun's cookies and praised them for the ample amount and quality of the ingredients used.

    "My favourite is the oatmeal chocolate chip. They are made fresh each day, and with the very best ingredients. Todd (co-owner) is very generous with the chocolate chips," says Green. "They are always perfectly done, crisp on the edges, but soft and tender inside. They are very delicious!"

    Finishing a close second in the reader's poll was Rheinland Bakery, also on Fort Street. The bakery makes a variety of cookies including seasonal specialties.

    "My favourites are the lace cookies, baked only at Halloween, Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas," says Carol Dohan, noting that they cut them into shapes and decorate them to suit the occasion, such as pumpkins, hearts, Easter eggs and bells. "You will be able to try the Halloween ones, which began production (quite early) last week -- perhaps there is a cookie goddess after all."

    Another youthful reader also liked the bakery's themed cookies and said that eating Rheinland's cookies inspires her to get active.

    "I love the shortbread type of cookie and the white chocolate icing and, perhaps this is childish, but I like the different themes, too," says Gwendoline Gold. "It is nice that one can buy a whole slew of them in one package and hurry out, or just buy two or three on the way to the "Y" to make oneself feel the need for a workout."

    Finishing third in the readers' poll was an establishment in Victoria that specializes in one cookie, and they must have the recipe right.

    "I'd say the Broughton Street Deli in downtown Victoria makes the best peanut butter cookies I've ever had," e-mailed Wendy Sullivan. "Soft, full of flavour and fresh -- these gems come in two sizes. In this day of rising obesity concerns it's great to find a place that produces a "regular" sized cookie, the size our mothers used to make."

    Never mind local recognition, reader Stefanie Borowski wrote to say that this deli's cookies could win national acclaim.

    "The best cookies in Victoria, and quite possibly in Canada, are the peanut butter cookies at the Broughton Street Deli," says Borowski. "Extreme peanut butter flavour. They are made with natural peanut butter, no sugar added."

    Chewing its way into the fourth spot in the readers' poll was a cafe that takes dietary concerns into consideration when making some of their cookies.

    "My favourite establishment for cookies is Cha Ch'a Java in Parksville. I have two favorites: the diabetic chocolate chip and chewy oatmeal raisin," says Kathy King.

    "They are truly the best -- chewiest and freshest -- cookies I've ever purchased. I stop in there every trip through Parksville. Sometimes my friends and I will make a special trip there for their great coffee and cookies."

    Rounding out the top five in the poll was a bakery/cafe making a cookie perfect for autumn.

    "Without question, the best cookies (in my not so humble opinion) are the pumpkin spice at Pure Vanilla (Bakery & Cafe in Victoria). They've found the right combination of flavours so that they're not too sweet, light, and the combination of body and frosting is the perfect balance," says Stan Olsen.

    "Not only all of that, if you choose to spread this 'cookie delicacy' over a couple of days, they don't harden or go stale quickly, (impressive) considering they've no preservatives."


    1. Sally Bun, 1030 Fort St., Victoria

    2. Rheinland Bakery, 730 Fort St., Victoria

    3. Broughton St. Deli, 648 Broughton St., Victoria

    4. Cha Ch'a Java, 10 -- 198 East Island Hwy., Parksville

    5. Pure Vanilla Bakery & Cafe, 2590 Cadboro Bay Rd., Victoria

    Notables: Bocca Cafe, Nanaimo; Haggis Farm, Saturna Island; Thrifty Foods; Planet Organic, Victoria; Patisserie Daniel, Victoria; Forbidden Pleasures Cafe, Sooke; The Village Patisserie, Oak Bay; Sandcastle Bakery, Parksville.


    1. Circle Cafe, 2960C Jutland Rd., Victoria

    2. Italian Bakery, 3197 Quadra St. in Victoria; 2360 Beacon Ave., Sidney

    3. Sidney Bakery, 2507 Beacon Ave., Sidney

    - - -

    Eric Akis's columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday. The author of the recently published Everyone Can Cook Appetizers (Whitecap Books) can be reached at [email protected]

    © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006
    Attached Files
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


    • #3
      yum yum

      I love a good chocolate macadamea nut cookie but unfortunately cookies are on the list of things I can't have for my diet. I also miss not having a good apple fritter.


      • #4
        Only because it is food related:

        A great job, if it weren't for the customer

        Lyndall Legh, Special to Times Colonist Published: Friday, October 06, 2006

        I really thought a part-time job would be fun. I get to make extra money, I won't be at home with my parents and I love people so why wouldn't it be fun?

        I now work at a fast-food outlet and I generally manage the till; I serve people and I take their money and give them change. The job really isn't that hard at all. I'm fast, I'm generally efficient and the people I work with are great. It's most of the customers I serve that aren't.

        So I slipped on the recently mopped floor and spilled your coffee; it's not a big deal. I'm making you a new one. It has only been a few seconds. But you're in a rush, now you're really angry. I give you a new, fresh coffee, smile and say: "Have a great day!" and you glare at me and walk away.

        Then when you go and get condiments, you leave a mess all over the counter. It's really not that hard just to get some ketchup without wasting the little cups because you crushed the first four and left a mess on the counter that I later have to clean up (and that's only when I get a chance, with all the other customers right behind you).

        I have suddenly realized how rude everyone is to servers. I had never realized how hard it was to keep a smile on your face when all you want to do is scream at this person to clean up that huge mess they made and to suck it up and drink the soda with the ice in it. It's not that much of a difference and refills are free anyways!

        Some people are really annoying. The worst customers are the ones who come through the drive-through, and when they get to the next window to pick up their food they realize they forgot to buy something. It's not so bad when there isn't anyone behind them, but when it's rush hour it's really annoying. We have to run over to an open till (which there might not be at that moment), punch whatever they want in, then run over and tell them the total.

        When they pay in cash it's OK; credit is a little more tedious. I had one car once, and they were really rude. They wanted another burger, and I said OK, that's going to be $1.47. They handed me a DEBIT CARD. I thought they were kidding. You have to be pretty dimwitted to think that you can pull the debit machine over to that window from the front counter. But they weren't kidding. So I gave them my apologies and said that they can't pay by debit here.

        The funniest part of the whole thing? When they told me they didn't have cash, and that they HAD in fact paid for it, I asked them for their receipt. I saw the lady in the passenger seat take out a receipt and look at it, then crumple it up and throw it away. Then the driver told me they

        didn't get a receipt. At that point there was a lineup and I ended up giving it to them for free.

        The last thing I hate that customers do is leaving their trays on the table, especially if they are covered in ketchup and half-eaten burgers. The garbage cans are conveniently located at each of the exits and it's really not hard just to dump them out before you leave.

        If you remember anything from this, just remember to dump out your trays. It helps A LOT.

        Lyndall Legh is a 16-year-old student.

        My View is a column written by middle school students about life and issues that matter to them. If you'd like to contribute, send us 100 words explaining what you would write about and why we should pick you as one of the columnists.

        E-mail to [email protected] (put My View in the subject line), fax to 380-5353 or mail to 2621 Douglas St., V8T 4M2.

        © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006
        If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

        "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

        "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

        Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

        impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

        IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.


        • #5
          one in a million

          This person is intelligent and I am sure will become degreed and get a good paying job but she is the exception. In most cases, at least here, the person at the counter speaks broken English, can't operate a register without pictures on the keys, can't make change if the machine doesn't tell them what to give back, the orders are wrong or short something that was ordered, your feet stick to the floor, the food isn't properly cooked or has been setting under a heat lamp for god knows how long, and the people at the drive through always get served before the walk ins.


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