It was about a week ago that I discovered the magical universe that is De farine & d’eau fraîche and fell in love with it. I went in to take a look and ended up spending a couple of hours there chatting with the owner while munching on the very tasty pastries.
Marilu Gunji, owner and pastry maker extraordinaire, in her ultra modern kitchen
The first thing you notice when you walk in is the display of amazingly intricate miniature wedding cakes. As the lovely and charming owner Marilu Gunji pointed out though, you don’t have to get married to get one! Marilu is half Japanese and half Guatemalan; she attended culinary school for 3 years in Japan before moving to Toronto at the young age of 18 to learn English. After a spell at the Cordon Bleu in Ottawa led her to focus her energy on pastry making, she moved to Montreal where she worked in some of the city’s top restaurants, including the now defunct Anise on Laurier, before deciding to finally pursue her dream of owning her own pastry shop.
Everything in her shop, from the decor to the furniture details to the pastries, is meticulously thought out and constructed but always with a whimsical touch. Her husband - who is a cabinet-maker - has built all the dark wood tables and branded them with the store’s logo, a heart containing the initials DF + EF (De farine & d’eau fraîche). Marilu “makes” her own cake stands by finding antique candle holders or wine glasses and pairing them with English porcelain plates. All these little touches add so much to the whole atmosphere of the place that it makes you want to linger there for a few hours.
The excellent organic coffee served there is another reason to linger. There is also a great array of organic teas and juices. Marilu uses organic products whenever possible while making her pastries, including the chocolate used to make the chocolate syrup for the mochas and hot chocolates.
I was so enchanted with with the whole atmosphere that I had to try almost every pastry contained in the display case that day. There were a few savoury ones like the bacon and corn bread and the ham and cheese bread and a few savoury sweet ones like the corn and cheddar muffin. And of course, there were the sweet ones, my favourites, especially the chocolate ball filled with custard that is the house specialty. The display case also contained an array of cookies, home made Pocky, truffles, flavoured caramels and cute little cakes, including a heart-shaped tea and rose one that caught my eye.
There’s a saying in french that the pastry shop’s name is based on and it is that one could live on love and fresh water alone, d’amour et d’eau fraîche. If I lived closer to this fine pastry shop, I wouldn’t need anything but “flour and fresh water”… or those chocolate custard-filled pastries.
Note: De farine & d’eau fraîche just started serving lunch. On the menu this week: soup, organic salad and 3 types of panini (jambon bernois, brie, honey and Asian pear is just one example). Stop by for a delicious bite and say hi to Marilu from me!
De farine & d’eau fraîche
1701 rue Amherst, Montreal
514 522 2777
Closed on Sundays
All pastries tasted were between $2.75 to $3.25