Armando and I were elated when Bake49 opened in Yaletown. Could these cheese tarts that were being sold in downtown Vancouver, Canada be as good as the ones that unexpectedly set foot in our lives a couple years back when Armando and I travelled to Japan?
I remember that moment like it was yesterday. After all, it was those tarts that had an uncontrollable power over Armando that caused him to falter and lie in our marriage.
Flashback to Japan
We were wandering through a department store in Osaka that day. More so, we were on the market floor, exploring all the unique foods that were for sale. We were mesmerized by the unusually cute, unique desserts and treats that were displayed. One stall caught our attention. There was a long lineup of people at their counter. What were they selling that created such a crowd?
We were curious and peeked over the crowd where we noticed yellow tarts. That was it. Nothing else. No electrifying colour palette like the cookie stall, no creative designs like the chocolate stall and no whimsical shapes like the mochi dessert stall. Just plain, yellow tarts. Had there not been a lineup, I would not have given more than a second glance to this stall.
Clearly these people knew something that we did not. Our humble, curiosity allowed us to put some weight on this crowd like a 5-star review on Yelp so we made our way to the back of the line. Before we could plant our feet down in our lineup spot, a gentleman asked if we were wanting to join the lineup. We replied yes, only to learn that this was the end of the lineup that the department store allowed inside and that they would have to take us to the actual end of the lineup. As we followed the man, we soon discovered the broken line up continued outside the department store.
We were not sure if we should be frustrated with the long wait or beyond excited that we may have just discovered the best dessert in all of Japan.
We soon learned that this stall was called “BAKE” and this chain was supposedly known as the store that created the cheese tart craze. I would describe the tart shell as a cross between a flaky pie crust and a crumbly cookie with a cream cheese, custardy-mousse filling. The soft, airy texture of the filling that melted in our mouths was rather unexpected, which perhaps added to our conclusion that these tarts were absolutely divine.
But, when we reached the counter, we were still unaware of what we were about to experience so we only ordered 4. The box could hold 6 but if we didn’t like them, 6 would be too much. If we did like them, 2 would be too little. Four was a good compromise. Of course, after Armando and I each bit into our first tart, our eyes bugged out as we stared each other down. Immediate disappointment was shared without words spoken. We should have bought 6.
After the blissful last bite and with our willpower in check, we agreed to enjoy the other two tarts later in the hotel. So with Armando holding the tart box with the 2 tarts, he heading off to a nearby coffee shop to wait while I did some power souvenir shopping at Don Quijote. But the tart story does not end there.
After we met up, we headed back to the hotel room. All I could think about was my second tart in the box. Within seconds of kicking off my shoes and throwing my purse on the bed, I beelined it to the box Armando had set down on the table. I opened the box and had to do a double-take. No, my eyes were not deceiving me. Instead of 2 tarts there were….
I know you are thinking that there were none left, and that was what I was worried about. After all, Armando was alone and out of my sight with that box for over an hour. But the tarts were still there. In fact, there were four tarts that stared back at me. Four. I turned to my husband with hands on my hips, “Armandito!” was all I had to say and a guilty look crept over him. But a slight smirk surfaced.
Instead of hanging out at the coffee shop, Armando made his way back to the department store, waited in line and bought more cheese tarts. How many additional tarts did he buy? And how many did he eat while I was busy souvenir shopping? Well, to this day he will not divulge that information. All I know is that there were now 4 tarts in the box and that I now had two tarts to enjoy instead of one. I determined that this was a lie in our marriage that I could live with. 🙂
Present Day: Vancouver
For anyone who is wondering if the cheese tarts at Bake49 in Vancouver were comparable, I am happy to report that they bring back memories of the ones we had in Tokyo. And with Bake49 located near my husband’s office, I know better than to ask him how many times he has stopped there on his coffee breaks. As I learned in Japan, he is willing to lie for his love of Japanese Cheese Tarts.