After my recent food-scouting mission to Aylmer, I told you about Aux Deux Frères in the old town. On a Saturday morning, the three-year-old bakery had the atmosphere of a community hall; neighbours were gathered on the porch chatting and drinking coffee, swapping tips on planting garlic and chives. A few of them told me to come back at 11:30 a.m. when the pizzas would be coming out of the oven. I peeked inside the kitchen where three young men were tossing around caramelized onions and artichoke hearts with a technique worthy of Jackson Pollack. I had another rendezvous that day so I had to arrange a return trip to Aylmer just for pizza later in the week.
The pizza toppings are all vegetarian, but fully loaded on every slice in a way that makes them behave like meat; hearty and satisfying. Suffice it to say it’s a hungry-person’s slice of pizza — a big thick, chunky rectangular wedge. The long-fermented dough, which is the same kind used to make the bakery’s baguettes, becomes a wonderful thick, dense, chewy crust. More importantly, it’s strong enough to withstand the overload of chunky vegetables and many, many fistfuls of cheese.
There are three or four different kinds of pizza on weekdays and six kinds on Saturdays. I had trouble resisting the spinach and red onion pizza topped with walnuts and sweet dried cranberries, but the flavour didn’t knock my socks off. Thankfully my lunch companion chose the mushroom and pesto pizza and agreed to share it. What a knockout! Tons of meaty mushrooms had been sautéed with garlic and herbs and then loaded onto the crust that had been slathered with a rustic, lip-smacking pesto. There may have been some Gruyere in the mix of the mountain of cheese, but it was tough to tell. Every bite was a pleasing chorus of rich, earthy, nutty flavours and a crusty caramelized contrast of softness and chew.
Boulangerie Aux Deux Frères, 146, rue Principale, Aylmer (Gatineau), Quebec, 819-684-3763.
Hours: Open Wednesday to Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.- 5 p.m; closed Monday and Tuesday. Pizzas are ready at 11:30 a.m. each day.