The best wake up call: come on, he says, let’s go to Ambrosia.
It’s become a Saturday morning tradition. Sometimes, it’s just the two of us wandering down sidewalks and over trails to its storefront with the cheerful blue awning just off the Spur Line Trail at Roger Street. Sometimes, it’s the first stop for a carful of folks before hitting the 401 en route to Escarpment hiking trails. Watching our friends’ faces light up as they try Ambrosia Pastry Co’s kouign-amann is delightful.
As it should be – the kouign-amann (at right) is a delight. Referred to by chef Dominique Ansel as a “caramelized croissant,” like the more famous croissant, its dough is laminated, which means the dough is layered with butter, folded, and rolled out. This is repeated until there are hundreds [!] of layers, but in the kouign-amann’s case, sugar is added to the layers of butter, which is what gives this pastry its signature decadence.
I’d tried kouign-amann a couple of times while living in San Francisco, first falling in love with it at b.patisserie, and Ambrosia’s can hold its ground with the best of them. The pastry is impossibly flaky: crisper outer layers melt to a fluffy interior that is sweet but never saccharine. My favorite part is the bottom of the pastry, where the caramelization is most pronounced.
Today, however, the menu featured danishes with pear, ginger, and almonds: how could I resist? M smiled at my excitement, as once he finds something he loves, he’s not as easily distracted. He dove into his croissant joyfully as I snapped a photo or two.
The danish was a fantastic choice. The combination of poached pair and candied ginger is understated but delightful: the pear’s soft sweetness contrasts well with the bright, sweet-hot ginger slices that studded it, and the pastry it’s nestled into (tweaked, I overheard, from last week’s recipe to great effect) was buttery and flaky. I didn’t pick up on strong almond notes (almond paste?), but was too happy over the perfectly poached pear to mind. That said, show up early if this special’s on your list; we arrived an hour or so after Ambrosia opened, and I snagged the second-last danish of the day.
It’s also worth noting that although Ambrosia’s brick-and-mortar is only open from 10-3 on Saturdays, you can find their bean-to-bar chocolate at shops around KW, or order it online. Additionally, I’ve spotted their liège waffles in the freezer at Dana Shortt Gourmet, if you’re looking to make the world’s best ice cream sandwich…