Nathalie Gautier, the effervescent owner of A l’Epi de Blé, a small, bustling French bakery in the heart of West Kildonan, is passionate about butter. And she makes no apologies for it.
"Everything here is made with butter. There is no margarine, no shortening," she laughs. "No, it is ‘French’ French baking and it is made with butter."
Gautier and her husband, Gilles, are new Canadians who arrived in Winnipeg 18 months ago from Avignon, in the south of France. How they ended up opening shop at the corner of Main Street and Hartford Avenue is a story 20 years in the making.
When Gautier was younger, she was a nanny for a family in Toronto. Since then, she dreamed of coming back to Canada, eventually convincing her husband to move. As second generation bakers from Provence, they choose Winnipeg in which to open a traditional French boulangerie due to a large Francophone population. And today, A l’Epi de Blé occupies the former Hartford Bakery.
"There is a traditional French bakery in St. Boniface, but we really felt that there was space for another," recalls Gautier. "We wanted to bring a little of the red, white and blue to Canada."
What the means is a focus on traditional methods and the best quality ingredients. Whipping cream is purely whipping cream. Fruit preserves are just that: fruit preserves without flavour enhancements. Bread is simply flour, water, salt, yeast and the hands of a skilled baker.
While you will find French bakery staples such as baguettes, croissants, brioche and Pain au Chocolat at A l’Epi de Blé, there are also savoury meat pies and other lunch items.
Gautier is ecstatic with the reception that bakery has received in this community, noting that clients have been incredibly supportive and come from all over town. And with the bakery’s first anniversary just around the corner, Gautier says there will surely be a fitting fete. With French Champagne, of course. Vive la France!
A l’Epi de Blé is located at 1757 Main St. The bakery is closed Sundays and Mondays.
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L.A. Dance Academy will host free dance workshops in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop at its annual open house Thurs., Aug. 23. Children aged three to nine years can try a variety of dance classes from 6 to 8 p.m. at 1840 Main St. For more information, call 204-334-0080.
Gabriela Klimes is a community correspondent for West Kildonan. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.