My favorite thing about my apartment is that it is right next to a coffee shop/bakery, the realization of a dream I've had since I was fifteen. I recently happened upon an audiobook I listened to a few years ago, Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling Upon Happiness - a book, by the way, I'd highly recommend to anyone. In the introduction, Gilbert goes through the cliche of asking the reader to imagine what she'd do if she knew she only had 10 more minutes to live (as part of a much more interesting point - don't worry, it's not one of those kinds of books).
I'm proud of myself that my first thoughts were actually of the calls I would make to loved ones and not food, but my second thoughts was that I would also dash down to Canto No. 6 (Jamaica Plain) and order a double espresso and whichever pastry looked best that day plus a salted chocolate chunk cookie. And, yes, this would be my choice partly because it's the only good option close to me, but I'm extremely fortunate that this is what's available for a last meal.
|About a fourth of the pastry case|
The only problem is that everything looks and smells amazing, and I'd probably waste at least a minute or two paralyzed with indecision. I'm on the way to trying every single thing at this wonderful place though, and so if this death day ever comes, I will perhaps know what the very best thing to put into my mouth will be.
I've tried just about everything they've made for the past two years. I'll give one or two examples of the best stuff they do:
Cookies - $2:
|The Cowboy Cookie - coconut, oats, chocolate chunks and peanuts - This one gives the salted chocolate chunk a run for its money. Holy crap it's good.|
|Just look at all that good stuff in there.|
Croissant Squares - $3:
|Brown butter, Brussels sprouts, farmers cheese, pecorino and herb square croissant|
|Pink Lady Apples, Roasted Leeks, Goat Cheese|
Once I learned that, despite my lactose intolerance, I could have goat cheese without any problems (or needing to take any pills), I went on a bit of a goat milk spree, eating goat cheese or goat cream cheese on everything, eating my cereal with goat milk, drinking iced goat's milk lattes (I do not recommend this - it's just too damned rich and pungent), and eating goat's milk ice cream. I got goat-ed out. It's really easy for goat cheese to dominate every other flavor swirling around in your mouth, and, once it lost its novelty, I broke up with goats for a bit because they were just too domineering and I needed some time apart.
This has all been to say that Canto 6 has rekindled my feelings for goat's milk. When I only see the goats every so often and with a few other partners involved, we have a delightful party in my mouth. Not everyone can organize the proper orgy of proportions and dynamics when goats are involved, but at Canto they know how to set up a beautiful event.
|Feta, Dill, Broccoli Rabe and Olive Quiche|
|Fiddlehead, caramelized onions, goat cheese, etc. quiche|
This is the first year I've tried fiddleheads. They showed up in this quiche, my roommate bought some from a farm, and we're selling them at Trader Joe's for at least a minute. They pretty much taste like grass, which can be kind of nice in a fresh way, but it's mostly a, "Huh, cool. Life list:
At the zen center I used to go to, some buddhist acquaintances of mine mentioned their opinion that Canto 6 has the best croissants in Boston. Obviously, I needed to try those next. As luck would have it, the next time I went down for a pastry, they had, for the only time I've seen this happen so far, a chocolate bacon croissant!
|Chocolate Bacon Croissant|
|They have "To Stay" espresso cups now!|
My only criticism would be that it would've been better to have the bacon strip (or indeed, perhaps TWO bacon strips) all inside the croissant, so that more of it mixed with the chocolate, instead of it coming out of either end.
|Chocolate oozing out in the middle of the chocolate bacon croissant|
You know how sometimes you drank too much the night before, and the only places you live close enough to that serve good food have pastries but no beef, and you really need greasy meat deliciousness for this kind of job, but you also want something awesome from the bakery, and you happen to half a half pound of 75%/25% beef that some roommate from god-knows-how-many-roommate-rotations ago left in the freezer that you've been meaning to use for something, and so you make yourself a lemon poppy seed turkey donut burger or, in this case, a chocolate croissant cheeseburger?
|Ham and Cheddar Croissant - $3 - I got this one fresh out of the oven, so it was so warm and flaky and soft and wonderful. But I still prefer chocolate!|
|Chocolate Almond Croissant|
|Get in there.|
|Almond Twist - This is like the almond croissant but with less of that crazy delicious sugary filling, so you feel less like you'll go into a diabetic coma after eating it. Plus, the shape means you get to feel like you're at a state fair!|
|Cranberry Apple Puff Pastry|
|Into the fruit|
Considering my anti-cranberry leanings, I was surprised by how much I liked this thing. It was strangely bigger than it looks, so that helped, as did, I'm sure, the powdered sugar on top of Canto's famous pastry goodness. I'm just looking forward to when they switch this flavor out for one more to my taste, like blueberry + anything but cranberries.
|Nutella Puff Pastry|
Yes! So good! Obviously this will always be my favorite from now on. I <3 hyper-indulgent Nutella pastries.
Palmier - $1.95
Galettes - $2.25
|Blueberry Galette - Apple Galette - These are like mini pies, with the added bonus of a higher flaky good stuff to the silly baked fruit inside ratio.|
|And just look at this beautiful blueberry bounty.|
Scones - $2.25:
|Cheddar Apple Scone - A whole layer of cheddar over a sweet apple scone!|
|Maple Apple Walnut Scone|
|Blueberry Honey Almond Scone|
|Ham, Blue Cheese and Baked Onion Biscuit|
This was seriously way more amazing than it even sounded. This is yet one more time when Canto converted me to something I didn't really like much or had tired of (olives and goat cheese, respectively). I'm just not the biggest fan of blue cheese. It's way too strong to me, crowding out all the other flavors in most dishes it's in. Sometimes I can enjoy it to some extent either by itself or when paired with really strong flavors, but usually I still wish it were some other kind of cheese. Not so here. The perfect amount and strength of flavor came through so as to compliment the ham, the onion and the biscuit. I loved it, and I wouldn't have wanted it to be any other kind of cheese. It was so good. Seriously revelatory.
|Just look at it this beauty.|
|Ginger Guinness Bread|
I couldn't really taste the Guinness, as I feared would be the case, but it was still great molassesy gingerbread with smooth ginger flavor as well as occasional pieces of ginger for extra intense bites. The glaze on top is beyond yummy, and I only with there were another layer of it in the middle. I bet if you paired it with a Guinness it would at least seem like you were really gettin' somethin' outta the Guinnessy-ness.
|Chocolate and Walnut Banana Bread - They're quite generous with the chocolate and walnuts in this yummy, dense, not too sweet breakfast treat.|
For Thanksgiving, Canto offers various baked goods to be pre-ordered and picked up the Tuesday or Wednesday beforehand (If you needed to, you could probably order them for another day too since they'll do special orders as long as they can).
|Caramelized Apple Pecan - Have a slice for your Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner breakfast.|
|Pumpkin Hazelnut - Put your Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich on two slices of this bad boy! (Ordered whole for $12.50 or $2.25 for a large slice)|
|Whiskey Chocolate Cake - $2.75|
|Mayhaw Jelly with Brie Brioche - I loved this! Mayhaw jelly is something you only come across at farm stores in The South, so the fact that the Texan who owns the bakery brought mayhaw jelly up to Boston for us and stuck it in a french pastry with brie just makes me smile. Mayhaws are these fruits that tend to grow in the spring time in swamps and river bottoms, which people from East Texas to Georgia take on the challenge of picking, a daring prospect involving wading through the snake-infested, mosquito-ridden types of areas where they grow. So think about that when you decide whether or not to try this. Plus, it was delicious. Mayhaws are sweet and a bit tart. I've heard them described as an enigmatic mixture of apples, peaches and apricots. Do it do it.|
|Rhubarb, Brie, and Orange Syrup Brioche - I enjoyed the sweet orange syrup and, as always the brie. The brioche is the closest thing I get to a donut these days, so that's nice. I didn't really experience the flavor of the rhubarb though, despite picking up a piece of it and eating it by itself. Rhubarb continues to confuse me.|
|Brie, Honey, and Speckled Pear - This has got to be their best one yet.|
Canelé - 1 for $.55 or 3 for $1.15:
The day I ordered this I was originally going to order something else to accompany my scone, abut the people behind me were discussing their love for it enthusiastically, so I switched to this. They also discussed how it was eggy but beyond that they weren't really sure how to describe it, so I'll take it upon myself to do the research for you (i.e. Google/Wikipedia, Copy/Paste
"A canelé is a small French pastry with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. The dessert, which is in the shape of small, striated cylinder approximately two inches in height, is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France but can often be found in Parisian patisseries as well. Made from egg, sugar, milk and flour flavored with rum and vanilla, the custard batter is baked in a mold, giving the canelé a caramelized crust and custard-like inside.)"
Another round little pastry treat that everyone loves at Canto
|Tappo - $1.25|
I was expecting little meltings of chocolate spread throughout a cakey cylinder. I was happily surprised that, not only was the cake dense and delicious itself, there was so much chocolatey goo throughout it that it was like pudding throughout a brownie-cake hybrid. So good.
|Apple Cider Donut Hole - $.75 - So good! Baked! Perfect!|
|All natural ham, fennel slaw, Vermont cheddar, honey mustard, black pepper mayo and arugula on ciabatta|
Normally I don't go for anything this simple, but it's really good. The fennel slaw makes it, and the proportions are perfect, in a way I never have the control to do for myself.
They'll make you a salad out of any of the sandwiches if you ask them nicely:
|The Pondside, as a salad, with a glob of whole grain mustard and a blog of black pepper mayo|
The North End:
|Look at the mayo gooing over my thumb! Ahh, that's the stuff. I should say that even before my modifications, it was still pretty darn delicious. But trust me, throw that shit on the stove for a minute.|
|The Goat in the Garden: Vermont Creamery creamy goat cheese, arugula, celery root slaw, and beets on seven grain bread. It's tasty, it's fresh, it's simple. Sometimes you just crave ya' some beets, yeah? Yeah.|
|Peanut Butter and Raspberry Sandwich - Or a "PBR"|
Mmm... they give a thick, generous portion of their chunky, house ground peanut butter with the same raspberry preserves they use in the raspberry pinwheels. They're currently using up an abundance of raspberry preserves, but one day they'll go back to their housemade blueberry apply jam. If you have a hankering for a damn good PB&J, you could do a lot worse than indulge in this. I love that they put it on their buckwheat walnut bread, just kicking the rib-sticking, nutritious, nutty quality up a couple more notches. Preferably ordered with milk or a heavily milked (or milk-like) drink.