It’s quite… unpatriotic of me to say so, but I generally find a dearth of culinary treasures in Calgary. I know there are SOME, and I know the situation is improving every year, but in general many things that are raved about here are rather mediocre. Part of that is our short growing season necessitating expensive and unripe imports of produce and part of it are just basic lack of sophistication of the local palates despite all the traveling of the citizens. For instance, it’s well known that there’s a comparative lack of good asian food here. The stuff in some greasy spoon in Vancouver will rival any of our respected establishments. There is one, ONE count ‘em, decent Mexican restaurant in town. We can’t get a good Montreal smoked meat shop going despite many attempts. Yes, some are edible, but none are fantastic. And many of our high end restaurants are rather laughable with their prices and pretentiousness and still a persistent lack of quality and consistency. With that in mind, I would like to talk about a few items I’ve discovered that really stand out. Whether for their quality of food, the awesome value or regional uniqueness in an area of decent homogenization.
A great place to start is A Ladybug Organic Foods and Belgian Bakery. They do have a tiny café at the Currie Barracks Market, but given a choice I usually opt to go visit them at their relatively new store on Aspen Stone Blvd. I’ll be honest, I can’t write an enormous amount about their offerings for two reasons. First, I can’t ever get up early enough to visit them before they’re entirely sold out of most of their breads and croissants. And people, I’m not talking about rolling out of bed by noon and arriving at the market in the afternoon. I mean they sell out by ten thirty or sooner and despite my best efforts that’s about as early as I’ve ever made it.
A second reason for my lack of experience with their amazing products is the fact that what I have bought so far has garnered such loyalty in my mind and house that I can’t wean myself off my regular purchases to try much new stuff. At the Currie Barracks location I adore both their sweet and savory crepes I tend to buy at the very least a whole grain baguette, a gorgeous, salty focaccia which is amazing as a fodder for sandwiches, a rye bread, perhaps some frozen croissants or pain du chocolat and at least two of their phenomenal lemon tarts.
The lemon tarts have been called legendary with good reason. I don’t have the world’s biggest sweet tooth and my experience with lemony desserts left a great deal to be desired, but if I could marry this lemon tart and have its tartlets I’d seriously consider it. The crust is perfect – crumbly, buttery, rich and the perfect foil for the heavenly filling. Aaaah the filling. It’s almost transcendentally good with a creamy and bright flavor, silky smooth texture, a perfect little circle of caramelized sugar and is too good for words. Legendary indeed.
At their new location they serve coffee, tea and lunch which I’m sad to say I haven’t tried yet. The sandwiches and paninis all look great though and I trust them to not mess up the sandwiches, waffles or salads they offer. I did have a café Americano served in a cute French press and found it had the right richness, flavor and strength. Overall I respect A Ladybug for their commitment to freshness, organic foods and above all else quality. If you’ve been there tell me your favorites and if you haven’t, run don’t go to the best little bakery in town.
A Ladybug Organic Foods & Belgium Bakery
2132, 10 Aspen Stone Blvd. S.W. 403-249-5530