Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on Panaderia Latina Bakery, Vancouver BC

The awesomest part about being a Cake Gumshoe? Discovering totally sweet bakeries all over the world. And, getting sweet tips on new ones to discover from customers and friends.

And here's a sweet tip from CakeSpy Shop customer Charlotte, who recently visited from Vancouver. During her visit she mentioned her love for a sweet spot called Honey, but was kind enough to update me on another favorite:

When I got home I remembered the place right around the corner from my house!! It is a Latin Bakery with some grocery products.

Family run, custard and dulce le leche as far as the eye can see, and huge portions. The apple custard slice is my usual. It could feed two..... The bakery is on Joyce St. in the Collingwood neighbourhood, steps away from the Joyce St. skytrain station.

Well, if you're going to Vancouver, consider this your official tip-off for panaderia paradise!

Panaderia Latina Bakery, 4906 Joyce Street, Vancouver BC.

Panaderia Latina Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sweetness Up North: 50 Most Excellent Moments from a Vancouver, BC Weekend

O, Canada. How buttery and sweet are thee? 

Delightfully, deliciously so, as Mr. Spy and I found on a recent weekend trip to Vancouver (which is part of what I would call Nanaimo Bar Country). And now, you can share our delicious adventures, photographically at least, with a rundown of our 50 sweetest moments in Vancouver, BC:

  1. First Nanaimo Bar of the trip! It was from a chain coffee shop (shame!) but it tasted like heaven.
  2. Slight savory interlude: OMG Eggs Benedict from Seb's Market Cafe. Happiness: they have three types of Hollandaise.
  3. Banana French Toast from Seb's. Yes!
  4. Peanut cake from Anna's Cake House.
  5. Danny, the happiest boy to ever eat Peanut Cake at Anna's Cake House.
  6. Have I mentioned that I'd love to live in a Cake House?
  7. Fresh Gooey Cinnamon Rolls.
  8. The gorgeous pastry spread at Liberty Bakery, which looks like it's been there forever.
  9. In particular, the Eccles cakes...
  10. and the Butter Tarts, which is what we went for.
  11. The World Peace Cookie, a Dorie Greenspan shout-out, at Coco et Olive, an adorable little cafe.
  12. This sign, which kind of describes my life.
  13. Lovely cream-filled chocolates from Rogers' Chocolates. Hazelnut Swirl for Mr. Spy...
  14. ...and Maple for me.
  15. OMG LOVE: The Granville Island Public Market, which is kind of like a mashup between Pike Place Market and the Reading Market in PA.
  16. Intriguing: Orange Nanaimo Bars, Stuart's Bakery, Granville Public Market.
  17. ...Eccles cake and more--including Nieman Marcus Cookies!--at Stuart's Bakery.
  18. ...sweet jams: Cinnamon Pastry Records, Stuart's.
  19. What exactly is a scrumpet? A cross between a scone and a crumpet, found at Muffin Granny, Granville Public Market.
  20. Another Canadian specialty: the Date Square, also spied at Muffin Granny.
  21. Lychee gelato, anyone? From Pizza Pzazz (I know, terrible name), Granville Island Public Market.
  22. Another savory break! Pizza from Pizza Pzazz.
  23. Ooh, rainbow roses! Buy me some, Mr. Spy!
  24. A gorgeous spread at ChocolaTas, Granville Island Public Market.
  25. Tarts!
  26. Slabs of decadent caramel from Olde World Fudge.
  27. Also, a sweet spread of handmade lollipops with Halloween themes at Olde World Fudge.
  28. Poppyseed rolls (Canadian rugelach?) from Siegel's Bagels.
  29. Fruit filled bagels, Siegel's Bagels.
  30. A view of my new favorite place ever, Lee's Donuts.
  31. Wisdom from Lee's Donuts.
  32. ...and a cream puff from Lee's, which is what we chose to eat.
  33. Chocolate swirl cheesecake from Luella's Fine Foods.
  34. Bubblegum ice cream from The Milk Man.
  35. Black. Forest. Cake.
  36. Tarts and pies galore! At A la Mode.
  37. Blueberry bread from Terra Breads (I saw this all around town at grocery shops and coffee shops too).
  38. Pause for a sweet self-photo. Fact: we cannot stop looking good.
  39. Turtle cheesecake!
  40. Halloween-hued macarons from La Baguette Bakery.
  41. Croissants from La Baguette. Le Yum.
  42. Spying Butter's marshmallows at Whole Foods! Sweet!
  43. Vanilla salt cookies by Kreation, as spied at Whole Foods.
  44. New Hat! Doesn't cover the dopey expression, though!
  45. NRG Orbs: what are they? They're very heavy, whatever they are.
  46. Question: Does Mona Lisa like sushi? The answer is yes.
  47. What we chose from Butter: the Maple Snickerdoodle sandwich.
  48. It gets another number to show you the innards. Like, whoa!
  49. The raspberry-rhubarb pie from Savary Island Pie Co., not beautiful but very delicious.
  50. The peanut butter crispy Nanaimo bar from Savary Island Pie Co. - I will be dreaming of this.

Oh, and there's a bonus! The week after my Vancouver trip, I had a surprise visitor in the shop -- Miss Kickpleat herself! And she brought me a muffin. Totally sweet!

Thanks, Canada, for the memories! For more photos, visit my Flickr page! 

Happy Overload: Peanut Butter Crispy Nanaimo Bar from Savary Island Pie, West Vancouver, BC

If the subject of Canada comes up in conversation, chances are you're going to hear all about my deep and undying love for the Nanaimo Bar

If you don't know what a Nanaimo Bar is, then clearly you've been wasting your life up until today. It's a no-bake bar composed of three layers of pure pleasure: base of graham cracker crumb, cocoa, coconut and nuts all held together with butter, a middle layer of rich, buttercream custard, and a top layer of firm chocolate. They're messy, they're hella buttery, and they are pretty much the most delicious and decadent thing you could dream of eating.

And while I've embraced variations in the past, recently I came across one that stopped me in my tracks: the one at the Savary Island Pie Company (not a typo; pronounced the same as "savory" or, you know, since they're in Canada, "savoury") in West Vancouver.

What we thought was a Nanaimo Bar was actually referred to as a peanut bar--because you see, the bottom layer was not the chocolate crumb mixture, but instead it was like a peanut butter cereal treat.

It does bring up the important question: is it ok to mess with the perfect balance of a classic?

In this case, when you're doing a sort of scotcheroo-meets-Special K bar-meets-rice-krispie-treat-Nanaimo Bar-mashup, it's so, so very OK.

The crispy crunch of the base adds a wonderful texture contrast to all the soft creaminess on top, and the peanut butter offers a satisfyingly savory dimension to the flavor. 

All things considered? A successful riff on a sweet treat that I wouldn't dream of sharing with Mr. Spy (though he was quite satisfied with his raspberry rhubarb pie).

You can find this magic at the Savary Island Pie Company, 1533 West Marine Drive, West Vancouver, BC.

Savary Island Pie Company on Urbanspoon

Sweet Love: A Bakery Crush on Coco Cake, Vancouver BC

Photos by Lyndsay Sung and Amy Pelletier

If it were legal to marry a cupcake business, I'd probably propose to Coco Cake in Vancouver.

Why? Well, if you have to ask, you've clearly never checked out the website. Why not go there now?

Probably now you have an idea of why Coco Cake ought to be adored, but just for fun, let's talk about some of the reasons why it's a CakeSpy pick.

Coco Cake is totally sweet: The operation is run by Lyndsay Sung, an "artist and fun-loving baker" whose sense of whimsy is matched by a slight dark humor (bloody hand cupcakes to raise awareness for workplace safety, anyone?) that makes for simply irresistible cakes.

Coco Cake is thoughtful: When asked the open-ended question "why cupcakes?" baker Lyndsay had a thoughtful and thought-provoking response: "I think in an aesthetic sense, cupcakes appeal to me, especially when done artfully and with care and a nice sense of design. I also love vintage-look cakes, old school buttercream techniques, anything well-designed. I hate it when you go into a shop and you can tell someone has frosted their cupcakes so sloppily with no regard or real caring. I really do care about my cupcakes and think about them often on their journeys out into the world!"

Coco Cake is inventive: You've heard of Red Velvet...but how about Brown Velour? It's a Coco Cake original--in Lyndsay's words, "it's a play on the idea of the Red Velvet, because ... don't murder me, world-- but I'm not a fan of the cake part of a red velvet cake, but I love the creamcheese frosting. So Brown Velour is a dark chocolate cupcake topped with vanilla creamcheese frosting. More what I would hope to bite into rather than the bland weird red muffin taste of some red velvet cakes. The name Brown Velour also makes me think of an old lady with lavender hair boogying it up on a dancefloor in a brown velour tracksuit...!

Coco Cake enjoys life balance: Baker Lyndsay makes an adorably sweet cupcake burger. But in truth, she's just as passionate about the savory versions! "I actually love regular burgers and hot dogs as much as I love the cake versions!" she says, adding a tip for visitors to Vancouver: "We have this awesome hot dog stand in Vancouver called Japadog. Japanese style hot dogs, with nori, Japanese mayo, miso, all sorts of yummy/crazy sauces." Life is about balance, and Coco Cake embraces all of the major food groups!

For more, visit cococake.com or keep updated via the Coco Cake blog!