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A fter training as a chef at Ottawa’s Algonquin College, Stephanie French moved to Vancouver in 2007 to pursue painting and ceramics at Emily Carr University. Andrea, also a professional baker and cook, soon joined her sister on the West Coast.
But even in Vancouver’s thriving food scene, they missed one thing from back home in Ottawa: the artisanal bakeries of nearby Gatineau, Quebec. So when a 310-square-foot Chinatown retail nook came vacant last December, the two pounced.
In only nine days, the French sisters, along with a few design-minded friends, transformed the whitewashed storefront into a buzzing little bakery, a great addition to a burgeoning food hub that includes Harvest Community Foods, The Union, and The Parker.
WHAT TO BUY
Fresh-baked, organic pie and coffee roasted in-house are all you’ll find at The Pie Shoppe (721 Gore Ave. Thepieshoppe.ca. Menu Tweets around 10 a.m. daily: @thepieshoppe).
The sisters scout the Klippers Organic Acres booth at farmers markets for local peaches, plums, and nectarines. Word to the wise: “Don’t squish the fruit!” It only bruises the flesh for the next shopper. A better approach: “Treat them like eggs.”
HOW TO COOK
“If we were hippies, we would leave the skin on,” says Andrea. But prepping doesn’t have to mean a lot of labour with the paring knife: slice an X into the bottom of stone fruits and blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds-the skin then slips off easily.
If the peaches and plums are still too firm on baking day, the pair recommend chopping them, then macerating the pieces in sugar (or better yet, bourbon-vanilla syrup) for a few hours, and they’ll be oven-ready.