Yesterday I wrote about the Kamouraska restaurant Pizza Mag as part of a Serious Eats story about our recent Quebec road trip. Pizza Mag was heartily recommended to us by David McMillan, the owner of Montreal restaurant Joe Beef, who grew up in Kamouraska. (He also mentions Mag in Food + Wine).
McMillan also tipped us off to the spectacular Boulangerie Niemand, which is adored province-wide for its nutty, complex German breads, golden croissants, and small-batch organic preserves. I know people who regularly make the five-hour drive to Niemand over the summer just to stock up on their pain au chocolat! (Adam, actually, had already heard about the bakery because he’s pals with Kamouraska chef and farmer Kim Côté, who he wrote about, along with the Joe Beef guys, for Gourmet magazine — in its last-ever print issue!)
Even though the bakery was closed for the off-season (like many restaurants in the tiny town of Kamouraska, it doesn’t open until the summer tourist season begins), the wonderful, generous owners opened their home just for us! It was such a special and sweet gesture, and everything about our breakfast with them I will remember forever. We sampled the buttery, caramelized brioche, which was laced with a tangy marmalade and nubs of dried fruit, and the seed-crusted, dense brown breads, which are made from ancient German recipes. We both freaked out over Nathalie’s smooth, rich boudin blanc (which I happily ate again, a week later, at the Foodlab!), as well as a few of her other Fou de Cochon products, like the lean, smooth porc creton and addictive dried salami.
Their beautiful Victorian-era house, which was built right on the Saint Lawrence River (that means they get to gaze at the wide, blue river every day at work!), contains both the commercial bakery as well as the home where they lived (and where we ate). They make absolutely everything from scratch — even their flour! — and only use natural grains, grown without any chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. After we finished brunch, the family gave us a tour of the grounds, including the cellar, where their mill stone grinds small batches of the whole wheat flour that they use for their products, and their backyard wood-fired oven, where they make pizzas in the summer! Yeah, it was kiiiiind of my dream house.
The Niemand crew are some of the most generous, fun-loving, and kind people ever. The entire morning was full of smiles and laughter — it was such a nice way to end our trip. I can honestly say that there is nothing close to Boulangerie Niemand in Montreal. You would think that a big city would have something just as good, but if living in Ithaca for seven years has taught me anything, it’s that often small towns are just as special as the big, busy cities.