Alberta Arts’ Vegan Viand
On a recent rainy morning, I popped into Dovetail Bakery, a small, cozy Alberta Arts space where Morgan Grundstin-Helvey and her lovely staff make all the vegan magic happen. I was greeted by the divine scent of caramelizing onions, as well as a quiet gaggle of ladies elbow-deep in flour and listening to cool indie tunes. A few pairs of customers were chatting over cups of strong Courier coffee or pots of tea and plates of crumbs. Piled up on trays in a glass case next to the register sat an assortment of mostly over-sized vegan cookies, muffins, scones, and cinnamon rolls, all decidedly not healthy-looking in the best possible way. (Which is not to say that they are necessarily unhealthy, of course; it’s just that all too often animal product-free baked goods can look like lumps of coal or piles of sawdust held together with tree sap.)
Sadly, even with a pregnant pastry-tasting partner, I had to limit myself to indulging in only four treats.
The Carrot Millet Muffin with Apricot Jam ($2.75) is both delicious and intriguing. Perfectly moist with tons of shredded carrot and plentiful pie-spices, it doesn’t stray into too-sweet territory, and the millet makes for a surprisingly pleasing crispy crunch throughout. The Winter Pear Darling ($2.50) is delectable as well. Essentially a scone, the Darling has an almost chalky dryness that quickly gives way to the moistness that is consistent in all of Dovetail’s pastries. With slices of juicy pear tucked inside, this scone also avoids overdoing it with the sugar, and, instead, allows you to actually taste the high quality flour and a subtle ginger and spice flavor on the back end. (FYI, they also offer a wheat free scone.)
As for Ms. Grundstin-Helvey’s renderings of classic baked goods, the Blueberry Muffin ($2.75) was fantastic—probably my favorite of the day. Unbelievably soft, it’s hard to place whatever the secret dairy-and-egg-substitute ingredient is; perhaps it’s applesauce or mashed banana, but it tastes exactly like buttermilk. Filled with plump berries and sporting a wonderful crusty top, I would never guess it was vegan. Another highlight: Aunt Miriam’s Sticky Bun ($3.50). The bread is soft with a chewy density, far superior to most “normal” sticky buns and cinnamon rolls I have eaten. I have to admit—sticky buns are one of my favorite things on earth and I do actually miss the butter in the goo, but the toasted pecans and vibrant flavor of toasted sugar and cinnamon are plenty pleasing.
These were tasty tidbits on the day I ventured in, but the offerings are always subject to both season and whimsy. Check out Dovetail’s website for a cheat-sheet on what might be available today, as well as other locations around town where you can gobble up the goods.