Icing, Sprinkles and Cake, Oh My!
Experience of a cupcake is the visual delight in the design, the feeling of the
icing against your tongue, the sprinkles covering your lips after a big bite,
the softness of the cake melting in your mouth; it is the glory of one minute
in sweet heaven. In Montreal City, where the culture is diverse and the food
must suit all pallets, two cupcake shops stand out as the best. Cocoa Locale
and Les Glaceurs each strive to be the best, but each has something different
to offer cupcake fanatics and casual eaters. A perfect cupcake shop is based on
the quality of three factors: the location, the shop interior, and the
cupcakes. A perfect cupcake is based on two factors: the icing design and the
cake base. The cupcake shops, Les Glaceurs and Cocoa Locale each fulfill these
five important factors in unique and varying ways.
Glaceurs is an eye-popping dessert shop, a stylish shop in a stylish location,
is its main draw to customers. It is situated on 453 Rue Saint Sulpice, in a
highly tourist heavy neighborhood. People come to sample the culture of
Montreal, by visiting the Notre Dame Basilica and the restaurant Olive and
Gourmando (famously known for its popularity with celebrities). During the
winter, the area is lit up with Christmas lights. It is extremely picturesque,
and will very much give the impression of a "winter wonderland". During the
summer the hot and sweaty traveler will be grateful for the small oasis of an air-conditioned
cupcake shop. Les Glaceurs is brightly painted in neon colors of pink and green.
The colorful décor compliments the artful cupcakes, gelato and macaroons on
display. For customers it has several tables and chairs, a mini bar with
stools, and stuffed chaises near the window. It has a very youthful atmosphere,
with young employees behind the counter. It is the exact ideal of how a cupcake
business should look and feel. Les Glaceurs takes the cupcake industry
seriously, but it is a business and lacks a personal touch, which is important
for a bakery.
Cocoa Locale is a one-woman bakery, which is infused with her personal touch from the subdued design of the shop to the humbly created desserts, popular with customers due to its homey and comfortable atmosphere. Cocoa Locale is situated along 4807 Park Avenue, in a quaint Outremont neighborhood. It is near more than a few family restaurants, trendy cafes, and parks (specifically Mont-Royale). On a warm sunny summer's day, where picnics are a must, it is a wonderful place to explore with friends and family. Walking, talking, relaxing and eating gooey cupcakes, that is a piece of euphoria. Stepping into Cocoa Locale is like being transported to a fifties era Hollywood movie. Its quiet design is reminiscent of a grandmother's kitchen. There are no tables or chairs or any luxuries for a customer to sit. There is a bench and a customer will be privileged to sit and have a conversation with the owner herself. The owner, Miss Reema Singh, is very kind and sociable. She is easy to talk to and even a shy person will feel her warmth. She bakes all her cakes in an open kitchen, for the most part in plain sight of her customers. She usually has displayed: her three-cupcake creations, along with her cheesecakes, pies, and crumbles. A cupcake fanatic might be disappointed with the humble and small selection of cupcakes.
Glaceurs has about two dozen beautiful cupcake flavors; on looks and quantity
it could be considered the best. They have regular chocolate (Choco Choco),
they have a chocolate orange flavor (Orange Choco), a brownie cupcake (Brownie Avalanche),
they have their most popular cupcake (Red Velvet) as well as many others. Each
cupcake has a mountain of artistically put together frosting and candies. Some
very photogenic cakes, their icing decorations are remarkable. They are a model
for how a cupcake should look, but looks alone are never enough. With a single
bite of one, the eater will get a mouthful of dry, flavorless cake and an equal
amount of overly sweet icing. It leaves the eater feeling bereft and
dissatisfied. Often the cupcakes with chocolate, such as Choco Choco and Choco
Orange, have a bland chocolate base with the barest hint of flavor. The Brownie
Avalanche is delightfully designed, with little squares of real brownies on top
of cream icing with a chocolate dusting, but it also suffers from the bland
chocolate base. Only the Red Velvet lives up to its hype. The icing is made of
pink cream cheese, with little candies on top. The cake is a striking red but
is soft and moist. Though the cake is moist it has no real discernible flavor.
It tastes like "red" and that is all. The cake part is probably the most
underrated and ignored, factor in a good cupcake. However, it will provide the
main taste of a cupcake so it must be delicious.
Locale seamlessly combines sweet icing and a scrumptious cake, to create the
best tasting cupcakes in Montreal. It only sells three different flavors:
Chocolate Chai, Vanilla and Lemon. These three cupcakes are very simple in
their design. There are no fancy icing ornaments and the only a hint of decoration
is a real flower petal, fully edible and different for each cupcake. They are
so simply done that at first glance they look very unremarkable. That
assumption is so grave an error it is almost embarrassing. For these cupcakes
are the diamond in the ruff, the pearl in the oyster, the treasure at the end
of the rainbow, they are that good. With one bite, you will be transported to a
frothy, smooth and sweet land. The cake is so soft, tasty and packed with
flavor, so scrumptious that it would be worth the money even without the icing.
The Chocolate Chai is a perfect combination of yummy chocolate with just a hint
of spice, which creates a good contrast to the natural sweetness of cocoa. The
Lemon cupcake is so light and delicate it would be perfect for teatime in the
spring, where the smell of warm food and fresh flowers mingle together in
harmony. Cocoa Locale is a small place, lacking any glitz and glamour, but
eating there is an experience of the tastes.
Two cupcake shops, each with different takes on the experience of a cupcake. Les Glaceurs is a hip place with a design, a location and cakes that are so stylish it could have come out of a movie. Cocoa Locale is a bakery with cupcakes that are delicious for the tongue, ecstasy for the nose, a delight for the eyes, a satisfaction for the stomach and a metamorphosis of the concept of dessert. The comparison of these two shops is perfect example of the famous question: "Is it better to be beautiful on the outside or beautiful on the inside?" Les Glaceurs has all the style and Cocoa Locale has all the taste.