Monday, February 2, 2009

COBS vs Terra Breads

Vancouver's most well known bakeries are COBS and Terra Breads. I must admit, even though there were COBS on the island, I've never tried it until I came to Vancouver. COBS started in Vancouver in 2003 and has stores all over Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the first store in the States opened in 2007, located in Bellevue, WA. Of all the different types of bread I've tried from COBS, I love Cape Seed the best! When Ryan and I go out to Kits to get groceries, we always stop by COBS to pick up some Cape Seed Loaves. The smell of the sesames and poppy seeds always lured us into eating slices on the bus. Like all breads, they are best eaten fresh. Just last months, we tried their scones. I think the one with chives is really good. During the Christmas holiday, my family bought one with jalapenos in it. My parents are huge fans of jalapenos so they absolutely loved it. 

It was recently that I've come across Terra Breads. I have always heard about it and have been told that I would like it better than COBS. I guess it is because I take the 99 B-line more often than the 4 so I don't go down to 4th avenue very often, which is where the closest Terra Bread is located. When I finally went down there, I was blown away by the huge selection of baked goods they have. I didn't even know where to begin. I didn't know which one to try first!

One of Terra Breads' characteristics is that they use the method of sourdough culture. It is defined as "a mixture of flour and water which attracts the natural yeast from the air and from the flour" (Terra Breads). This makes the dough rise slowly and eventually the bread will have a beautiful crust and be moist inside. When I saw the different types of bread they have, all the loaves looked super hard on the outside. The lady at the store told me that a crisp crust with the inside being soft and moist is the most preferable. I guess I just had bad experiences with really really hard crust. 

The first loaf I bought at Terra Breads was the green olive loaf. It's delectable. I preferred it over the Pane di Casa Olive Loaf from COBS, which was made with black olives. I don't know if it is because black olives are saltier than green olives but the Pane di Casa Olive loaf was a little too salty for me. I was astonished by the amount of olive used in the bread though. I haven't tried enough of the loaves from Terra Breads to be 100% certain of my preference of the two bakeries. Right now I'm still leaning towards the buying loaves from COBS - probably because of my hesitance with hard/crisp crust. However, Terra Breads is the winner of the two for pastries!!

I went to Terra Breads with my mum earlier this week and we bought three baked goods: Peach tart, apricot oatmeal cookie, and their most popular blueberry (with chunks of white chocolate) bread. We had them for dessert that night when we had dinner at Ryan's. We all loved the blueberry bread. I've had similar ones from Blue Chip Cookies from the SUB at UBC. The one from Blue Chip is called the fruit scone and had all sorts of different types of fruits on top with little chunks of, I think, cream cheese. Don't get me wrong, the fruit scone from Blue Chip is quite good but after trying the blueberry bread from Terra Bread, the difference is significantly noticeable. The dough is absolutely to die for. It's chewy. It's moist. It's Wow. 

The day after I've tried the blueberry bread, I wanted to try the grape bread that I've been eyeing. Mama and I went to Granville Island the next day because she needed to go to Maiwa, which is a crafts store that sells yarns, knitting tools, dyes etc. PS. My mum weaves and is recently very interested in dying yarns. Anyway, we were at the public market where another Terra Breads store is located. I took the opportunity and purchased the grape bread. It is absolutely amazing, I think I like it even better than the blueberry bread! I love grapes. 

I told my friend Alexis about it and she found it weird to use grapes in baked goods. I encouraged her to try it because a lot of times we are used to what we like that we are hesitant to try things that sound strange to us. An example would be zucchini bread, which is one of my favourite things to make. 

Terra Breads also sells homemade granola. I ate it yesterday with vanilla yogurt (it was also the first time I've eaten granola with yogurt; I usually eat it with soy milk) and I have to say that it was the best granola I've ever had! I could really taste the honey in the granola and the taste of all the nuts was deliciously present. There are so many ingredients in the mix that I was completely satisfied after eating it. Terra Breads uses organic ingredients in most of of their breads, as well as in the granola. Terra Breads first opened in 1993 and has been a peanut-free bakery since 1996.

Both COBS and Terra Breads do not sell day-old breads. At the end of the day, they give their leftover breads to charity and community kitchens. 

I will continue to go to both bakeries because both are equally superb. Terra Breads originated in Vancouver as well and has three locations:
Kitsilano Bakery and Cafe (the original location) - 2380 West 4th Avenue
False Creek Bakery and Cafe - 53 West 5th Avenue
Granville Island Bakery - Public Market

As for COBS, which stands for Canada's Own Bread Store, it is everywhere. The closest ones to UBC are located at:
2837 West Broadway
2320 West 4th Avenue (just a couple of stores down from Terra Breads)

Images via COBS et Terra Breads

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