Fol Epi, an organic bakery (whose chewy loaf I'm still enjoying for toast 5 days later), has a lot to offer: bread, sandwiches (I had the smoked albacore--nice big chunks, a light spread of mayo, lettuce), pizzas, various shortbread cookies (the candied orange peel was a favorite), macarons, strudel (rhubarb when I was there--what a treat), and eclairs.
If that wasn't enough, they also have vanilla soft serve ice cream. That might not sound exciting. But the ice cream was delicious, and they have a nice selection of toppings. Including caramel sauce and nuts. I went with the fruit sauce, which happened to be, you guessed it, rhubarb.
Those chunks of rhubarb were perfectly cooked, not at all mushy. And the juices were just sweet enough.
But what I especially liked was the cone. I had to hold it very carefully, lest it shatter. No showing it who was boss. It was a happy surprise. So often cones have an odd taste to me. I notice the smell when I walk into ice cream stores, and I've never figured out if it's the vanilla that's used, or the smell of a mix. But the cones at Fol Epi are just fragile wafers, exactly as they should be.
My other discovery was Cold Comfort. What a great name. I came across them the way I usually find ice cream in a new town. By googling 'ice cream' first thing upon my arrival. Their website helpfully lists stores that sell their ice cream sandwiches. As I was mainly on foot last week, I figured out that Niagara Grocery in James Bay was the place to get my ice cream.
Niagara Grocery is about halfway between the Empress Hotel and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Or, about halfway between gazing at the Olympic Mountains and my cup of tea and book back at the hotel. In other words, perfectly located. And it turned out to be a shop I wish was around the corner from my house. A place where you can pick up a quart of milk, some local produce, maybe a nice piece of cheese. And an ice cream sandwich from Cold Comfort.
Or a pint of ice cream. I looked over the choices, which that day included salted caramel and others I've forgotten. (for an idea of what you may find, check the list of flavors on their blog--I'm pretty broken up about missing salmiak) I went, unsurprisingly, with the fennel, star anise, and pear, on a snickerdoodle-like cookie. I was pleased. The flavors all balanced nicely. A perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
Always hating missing out on one last ice cream (and feeling sorry for Pavel who missed out on the first sandwich), we made one last stop on our way to the ferry.
The woman who helped me at Niagara had said that Cold Comfort has a staff of two. Or maybe three. But you get the idea--small. So small that you can't buy scoops. They only sell sandwiches and pints, out of a small chest freezer in Lone Tree Bakery. The bakery, incidentally, had some nice looking treats, too. But I only had eyes for ice cream.
Pavel did enjoy a Nanaimo bar, and was a little surprised later to learn that Nanaimo bars (which he has liked for some time) are a Canadian treat--from a town not far from Victoria. Clearly he spends less time perusing maps and dessert books than I do.
In the end, I had the lemon ice cream and hazelnut dacquoise sandwhich. I could have done without the caramelized white chocolate drizzle on the outside of the bar, it didn't seem necessary, or to add anything. But using dacquoise for the sandwich was perfect, and the lemon ice cream was bright and tart. Pavel had the balsamic blackberry and juniper (he was probably sorry he'd skipped a martini the night before) sorbet. I barely got a taste. So you can come to your own conclusions about how good he thought it was.
I'm looking forward to the coming ice cream months--the ones when the rest of the world seems ready to join me in eating ice cream, and, therefore, the ice cream eating opportunities multiply!