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French bliss

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“Gastronomic orgasms” assail unprepared Vue reviewer at French Meadow

Like a post-cosmetic-surgery celebrity, the sun made quite an entrance on
Saturday; hesitant at first, then gradually more cordial, our biggest star
ended up flaunting itself all over town, and Edmonton was transformed by its
radiance. In celebration of this event, my wife, infant daughter and I
emerged from hiding to take our favourite downtown stroll. After a tour of
the Legislature grounds and a saunter through Grandin, hunger started to
overcome us on our way back down Jasper, and we stopped at the French
Meadow Artisan Bakery Café
for a bite.

The scent of freshly baked bread hung heavy in the air, plain wooden shelves
groaning under loads of starchy goodness, the texture of leafy green branches
painted on the walls and wrought-iron fixtures all combined to immerse us
completely in the café’s old-world charms (except, of course,
for the Avril Lavigne being blasted over the stereo, but hey). This oasis of
tranquillity offers a staggering array of sandwiches served on French
Meadow’s signature loaves, plus coffees, bubble tea and ice cream to
tempt your palate. We placed our order at the counter and had hardly made it
to our table when the moccaccinos ($3.35 each) arrived. Hot and
espressolicious, they were crowned with generous dollops of real whipped
cream.

Halfway through our coffees, we had just watched our daughter get lulled to
sleep by the ambiance when the friendly staff delivered our sandwiches. The
wafting aroma immediately eclipsed a spartan first impression of sandwich,
pickle spear and plate. I was distracted from scribbling my notes by the
sounds of my beloved’s ecstatic encounter with her Croque-Monsieur on
sourdough ($6.75). I tried the grilled ham and swiss with a generous slice of
tomato and understood her excitement: it was scrumptious! Crunchy on the
outside, hot and juicy within: does it get any better than this?

Actually, yes. I took a single bite of my grilled Reuben, served on an
olive-and-white-cheddar loaf ($6.95); I took another, then a third before I
had to brace myself against the table as gastronomic orgasms rocked my body.
The hot sauerkraut and tender corned beef melded with provolone cheese in
such a way that stopped me in my tracks. A sip of moccaccino revived me to
renew my assault. It would have been futile (and possibly dangerous) to try
for another bite of my beloved’s Croque-Monsieur.

At some point, unnoticed during our sandwich epiphanies, our desserts
arrived. I would have expected a few more fresh-baked options from an bakery
café, but was satisfied nonetheless: they offered my adored poppycock
squares ($3.25), the epitome of all that is both crunchy and chewy. My eyes
heavy-lidded with pleasure, I let the poppycock wreak havoc on thousands of
dollars’ worth of dental work. My wife was thrilled to discover they
had hazelnut rings ($2.50), her favorite treat from Second Cup. “This
is my manna from heaven,” she murmured through delighted bites.

More likely than not, you’ve enjoyed baked goods from French
Meadow—a number of Edmonton’s restaurants swear by their breads.
I’d have to recommend sampling straight from the source, however, and
pick up a loaf on your way out as well. Get there early, though: it closes at
6 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going
out to buy them some CDs. It’s going to take a lot of Serge Gainsbourg
to kick Avril’s skinny little ass out of my daydream.
V

French Meadow Artisan Bakery Café
11212 Jasper Ave • 414-6089

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