Edmonton Tourist: Café Linnea

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Do you see that empty chair? That was where my brunch companion was supposed to sit. She arrived eventually but this happened during the -40C cold snap. (The cold snap that lasted 10 days.) The world was moving slow. I even arrived later than I wanted to because Café Linnea is usually packed with Edmontonians wanting to eat the delicious food they serve. This is what it looked like 9:00 a.m. Me and that couple in the corner. My server brought endless coffee and I sat with my book and just enjoyed the peace until Rena arrived. I had been here before and wrote about it here. Being my second visit, I was hoping the food was as amazing as it was last time – in case you are curious, the answer is “you betcha!”

 

 

We spent two hours catching up and devouring the food. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw the special, schnitzel and spaetzle. Um, yes, please!

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The last time I had really good schnitzel I was in Freudenstadt, Germany 

Just looking at this photo makes me want to have it for dinner. This was as good as I remember it should taste. I wish it was a regular menu item because I would be back tonight. Except the celery salad. (?!?!!?) I’d be okay if I never ate that again. I’d rather just munch on celery sticks thanks.

My brunch companion had the Farmer’s Breakfast.

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Look at those beautiful eggs! We both had the juice of the day, grapefruit and something with something else. Freshly squeezed juice is always delicious so I didn’t pay attention. Their coffee was good and hot and always filled in my cup. I usually have the latte but decided on the old school cuppa so I could have lots. I love holding the hot cup in my hands on such a cold day.

As the morning progressed, the placed filled to capacity. We continued to chat and were never rushed so we ordered dessert.

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I was still feeling the Euro vibe, so I had a lemon crepe. It was light and perfect. My partner ate the chocolate rosemary ganache and loved it except she could tell there was rosemary which was the reason she ordered it. I don’t have a photo because we were hyper-focused on eating. Don’t judge, just wait until you go there, you will understand.

By the end of the meal and my 200th cup of coffee, I decided I needed to bring the famjam home a loaf of their amazing sourdough bread. I chose the darker crust because I like a chewy texture. It did not disappoint.

You can find it in the garment district by Donut Party and the Omnivore. I recommend both those places too! There may be a wait, but it is always worth it.

LOCATION & PARKING

Café Linnea is located in Holland Plaza at 10932 119 Street NW, Edmonton, AB, Canada. There is free parking in the lot directly in front of our restaurant (east-facing), or at the side (north facing), both of which are accessible from 119 Street.

Get out there and explore your city!

Edmonton Tourist: The Moth Cafe

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I had a date with one of my favourite humans. We get together sporadically and explore the city. Our plan was to visit the art walls of Edmonton that are popping up all over the place but first, we needed (?) wanted (?) desired coffee.

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The Moth is a plant-based cafe located at 9449 Jasper Ave. It has a smallish parking lot but there is street parking all over the place downtown. I had never been, but I had seen it all over Instagram from my vegetarian friends. There was even a post from a friend who was laying in a hammock that resided in the cafe’s corner. Sadly the hammock is gone to make way for more tables. Thankfully for us, the extra table gave us a place to sit on the stage because this place was packed. To be fair, it was Sunday morning and all kinds of people are at great cafes on a Sunday morning for brunch.

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There was lots to choose from but only one real choice for me.

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I had an almond milk latte and a piece of pumpkin pie because pumpkin pie is the BEST! My friend had a coconut milk latte and a peanut butter chocolate cupcake.

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The coffee was fine but the pie was the best thing I have ever eaten and I think of it often. Thoughts like….what was that secret ingredient that made it taste so good? cream cheese? lemon? silken tofu? I have no idea, but I wish I was Chris Morocco and could recreate it.  I love it so much, I think I will call them and order a whole pie for the weekend’s non-thanksgiving dinner. My friend’s cupcake was fine but she loved her coffee. Overall I hear great things about the food in this place and I would definitely go back.

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Edmonton is a foodie’s paradise. The Moth Cafe is another great place to sit, eat and visit on a Sunday morning. I am sure you will find me there on another day. Come by and say hi, bring a fork so we can share.

The Macaron Challenge

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When my daughter was 15, she visited Paris for the second time in her life. It was experienced by her best friends from, all of whom were in French Class. Their guide recommended they visit Ladurée because it was known for making the best macarons in the world. Up until that moment, she had never had one. After tasting one, she knew it was the best thing she had ever tasted and had always searched for a similar experience here in Canada. She brought home a small box and would not let any of us try it. They were hers. She has since learned, macarons need to be eaten fresh, the same day they are made or they lose their delightful texture and taste.

I have raised a macaron connoisseur purely by accident.

For her birthday adventure, we wanted to try different macarons available at bakeries or pâtisseries in Edmonton. We were curious to know who had the best ones. We decided on 3 different places.

  1. Bon Ton Bakery because it is my favourite bread and cookie bakery
  2. Dutchess Bake Shop because it is a classic French pâtisserie.
  3. Fan Fan Pâtisserie because it is also a classic pâtisserie.

We began our day in west Edmonton at Bon Ton and worked our way east.

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We had to take a number. I like this, you can then browse and not have to queue up.

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It was busier than it looked, I just waited a long while for an empty shot.

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We chose classic vanilla because we figured that would be the most common flavour. Vanilla is my favourite, it is complex yet fairly neutral.

We bought two and a loaf of cinnamon bread because it is my favourite bread bakery. Their carrot current nut is my favourite but I wasn’t early enough today to procure a loaf.

Macarons $2.25 ea

Total cost: $11.23

Next stop, Dutchess Bake Shop.

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This bakery once was listed at the top 23 bakeries to visit in the world and for good reason. But since that day the Buzz feed article was released, the line-ups have been out the door.

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We arrived at 10:15 am. 15 minutes after opening. By the time we left, the line was around the shop, out the door and down the street.

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Again we selected two classic vanilla macarons, Tart Amelie, L’Amour croissant, Brioche Pepin and two raspberry rose lemonades.

Macarons $2.00 ea

Total cost $28.88

Nest stop Fan Fan Pâtisserie.

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The shop was tiny but smelled like a bakery and the chef came out to greet us. She was friendly and patient because we could not decide on a flavour. Why you ask? She didn’t have the classic vanilla. So we decided on a classic French flavour and chose honey lavender. We purchased two.

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Macarons $2.25 each.

We took our purchases home and set up a taste testing booth.

 

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This package was from Bon Ton, a cute little white paper bag.

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This package was from Dutchess Bake Shop, a non-descript white bag. Other items were packaged in a Dutchess box with a gold and white Dutchess label.

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A lovely branded clear bag with a sticker from Fan Fan Pâtisserie.

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From left to right: Bon Ton, Dutchess, and Fan Fan.

The Bon Ton had vanilla beans on the macaron. First, we smelled the macaron, it was a non-descript cracker type smell. We both bit into it and it was a crunchy texture. The flavour was mild, could barely tell it was vanilla.

We smelled the Dutchess, it was an intense vanilla flavour. Our first bite was surprising. Light and soft with an incredible vanilla taste. If you ever had a vanilla bean vs vanilla extract, you know the difference. The Dutchess had a vanilla bean essence. This macaron was creamy.

We knew the Fan Fan was going to be a different flavour, so we were judging it based on smell and texture. It also had a non-descript smell but the texture was soft and light. It was not as creamy as the Dutchess but it was fantastic. The flavour was bolder than expected for lavender, but it was lovely.

Our favourite was Dutchess. My daughter claims it is not as good as Ladurée but it is a close second. The price is better too. $2 vs 3 euros but Laurée has nicer packaging and they sell them at the airport in France if you are just catching a connection or didn’t make it to central Paris.

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The gal at the Strathcona Farmers market needs to get honourable mention. Her’s are flavourful but not as soft. We didn’t visit her today but have in the past. Her macarons are $1 ea. Easily the best price.

Our favourite was the Dutchess but I don’t always feel like driving that far nor do I think waiting in line is super fun, but I would make the effort to visit Fan Fan Pâtisserie. It is closer, small and located in Old Strathcona. But I would consider taking a class at Dutchess to learn how to make them and they sell the mix for the shells for $20 at their provisions shop. I suspect it is 10% ingredients and 90% technique to make the perfect macaron.

So tell me, where is your favourite macaron?