Never met a vegetable – or a loaf of bread – I didn’t like.

Spring. One of the best times to visit Granville Island. It’s produce heaven!

Organic Heirloom Tomatos:

Hmmm, asparagus. I love asparagus.

asparagus

 

And a sourdough epi from Terra Breads. What, you mean this isn’t a vegetable?! No way! Oh well. It took me a couple of hours, but I ate the whole thing in one sitting anyway. Seriously, no bread is safe with me. MWAHAHA!

Sourdough Epi

Battle of the Sourdough: Terra Breads vs Cobs Bread

Readers of this blog might probably have figured out by now that I have a fascination with bread. Bread to me is magical. Bread can be simple: Simple breads come from as few ingredients as yeast, flour, and salt. Which can yield a beautiful French baguette. Bread can be fancy: You can throw just about anything in it – from olives to Asiago, from pumpkin to saffron. Elaborate, and delicious.

A loaf of plain sourdough bread comes from few modest ingredients, and yet it is tremendously complex. It is easy to find very bad, mass-produced, supermarket so-called “sourdough” – way too sour, or not sour enough, or made with commercial yeast. Sourdough bread to me is one of those simple pleasures in life, yet a good tasting loaf, made authentically with a natural starter, is hard to make and find.

Everybody’s tastebuds are different… maybe my palatte has strange preferences for some people. But whatever. The following is a pretty damn close battle of sourdough breads from two Vancouver bakeries: Terra Breads and Cobs Bread. Both consider themselves “artisan” bakeries, both bake very fresh bread. Terra Breads use organic ingredients, hearth-baking, wild yeast, and no preservatives. Cobs also don’t use preservatives, and deliver a wide range of breads. Cobs is a chain under the Baker’s Delight franchise, and can be considered “the Starbucks of Bread.” Terra Breads is a local “chain” with 3 locations in Vancouver, but they also deliver to “organic” stores like Choice’s Markets.

Terra Bread’s “Organic Sourdough Baguette”:
Terra Breads Sourdough Baguette

It has a good, hard crust – crispy and chewy, but not too too thick. The crumb was also chewy, but not too dense. The sourness was evident, but not too strong. All in all a pretty good balance. I liked this better than La Baguette and L’Echalotte’s sourdough baguette. Terra Bread’s was so good that I wolfed down one demi baguette in one sitting, then went back and bought a whole one.
Sourdough Baguette

Cobs “San Francisco Sourdough”:
 cobs

Cobs don’t make baguettes; their sourdough are either round boules or large batard-shaped. I was a bit intrigued that it is a “San Francisco Sourdough” – I wondered whether they used real wild Lacto bacillus San Francisco in the starter. (Unfortunately I never tried sourdough from San Francisco the last time I was there, so I cannot tell what the authetic San Franciscan taste is.) This crust is crispier than Terra Bread’s, and quite thin. The crumb is soft and a bit less chewy. (Attributes likely affected by the fact that it is not baguette-shaped?) Cobs sourdough is tangy, much more so than Terra Bread’s, but it doesn’t have an artificial or nose-hurting taste to it. This is a great sourdough, which, coming from a large chain bakery, was very surprising to me. Compared to another boule-shaped sourdough, it is better than the one at Pane e Formaggio on West 10th. I ate two-thirds of in one sitting.
Cobs San Francisco Sourdough

Close call! Both bakeries make great sourdough, and I like them both for quite different characteristics. I prefer the slightly more sour taste of Cobs’ – but that is a personal preference. Terra Bread’s sourdough baguette is so well made, and to me it is definitely one of the best out there. Tie!


Terra Breads – Kits, False Creek, and Granville Island
Cob’s Breads – wherever. (over 30 locations in Greater Vancouver)

Related posts:
La Baguette and L’Echalotte’s sourdough baguette.
Pane e Formaggio’s sourdough boule

La Baguette et L’Echalotte Bakery, Granville Island

Saturday was one of those rare, beautiful Vancouver fall days that I so love: sunny, blue skies, crisp but not windy or cold. Yellow and orange foliage. Quite the calm before the storm, which came hard last night and knocked down trees and power every where. Anyway, such wonderful weather called for a little trip down to Granville Island, where pretty much everybody else headed to enjoy the view too:

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 And buy fruits and vegetables and meat and fish and everything else at the Public Market:

Public Market

I was already on a mission to buy something – anything – from La Baguette et L’Echalotte. I think it is one of the best artisan bakeries in town:

La Baguette

People and baguettes everywhere! And all that beautiful looking, artisanal bread! Of course, being the pig that I am, the first thing I did was to dig into every single one of their sample baskets. At least twice. The breads they had for sampling that day were cranberry and pecan, whole grain Spelt, a dark German rye, and this really sweet brioche… My favorite was the cheese sourdough. Hmmmmmm.

Breads!

Bought a sourdough baguette and tore into it immediately after leaving the store:

Baguette

Their baguette has a very tough, thick and chewy crust. The crumb is slightly moist and not too dense. The sourness is subtle, both taste and aroma-wise. Personally, I prefer softer crumb and crust that is less tough and a bit more crunchy. Otherwise it’s pretty good sourdough, and has a nice chewiness to it, if you prefer chewy.

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La Baguette et L’Echalotte Bakery

1680 Johnston Street, Granville Island, Vancouver

Pane e Formaggio | Sourdough

Pane e Formaggio

Pane e Formaggio (“Bread and Cheese”) is an Italian artisan bakery on West 10th’s Point Grey village, near UBC. It’s a small shop, tucked between that noodle place and grocery store, but it’s hard to miss its comparatively classy facade. You can come here for a nice lunch; they have various panini’s, spreads, and their many, many, creative pastries – all look absolutely irresistable:

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The people here are friendly, and quick with helping you out. There is a cozy seating area of about 20 (it is always full), and they also sell things like olive oils, crackers, a lot of imported and local cheeses. The camembert they featured today was excellent, but I forgot the exact name and who made it. 

Their breads look pretty good; I ate almost half a loaf of their sourdough in a sitting:

Sourdough Loaf

 

Excellent soft crumb, very chewy crust. Not too sour. Sourdough awakens something in me like no other bread. I mean, I love bread in general, but sourdough? I am such a sucker for sourdough.

Sourdough Crumb

 

Pane e Formaggio

4532 W 10th Ave, Vancouver (in the Point Grey Village near UBC, between Tolmie and Sasamat)