Travelling to Montreal is always a treat, no matter what time of year. The streets are filled with shops, restaurants, and people bustling around, doing their daily errands or heading to work. And although I was on vacation and exempt from the throngs of business men and women in suits and heels, I did spend some time thinking about my job while I was away (as I think many of us do – when we finally have the time to re-evaluate and make decisions). Like many people, I am forever searching for the best work-life equilibrium, and spend my time off imagining ways to turn my passion into my livelihood.
Some people believe that it is a dangerous step to allow your passion to become your daily bread, because through repetition and the stress of making ends meet, you stop enjoying it. For some, this is probably true, but for others, like my friend Reema who lives in Montreal, she does what she loves, does it well, and is hugely popular in the minds, hearts, and mouths of many Montrealers.
A few years after graduating from McGill, Reema opened her own bakery called Cocoa Locale (4807 avenue Du Parc between Villeneuve and St. Joseph). It is a humble place, full of vintage fare, and its charm matches Reema’s effervescent personality, a quality I am certain keeps the customers coming back. A feast for the eyes, the walls of the bake shop are adorned with antiques that resonate with the elements of cooking; there are colourful tea cups in floral pattern, hiding in cake stands; photos of customers revelling in sweet temptation, ready to take a bite of delicious birthday cake. With various shades of pink, turquoise and dark wood accents, it is a picture out of every girl’s dream kitchen.
We reserved a couple of the “cupcake for two” earlier in the day, knowing full well that the shop sells out, especially on the weekends. Like many baked goods, these came in a plain, white box, a complete contrast to the colourful, sweet treats, decorated with simple flower petals inside. We sampled Lemon Coconut, and Vanilla, opting out of the Chocolate Chai flavour this time around, and felt as though we had indeed passed on and gone to cake heaven. Reema’s cakes exemplify the ideal balance between moisture and melt-in-your-mouth goodness, and the icing adds to the delicate equation, giving the perfect sweet finish to each bite. With each foray, where fork met cake, I was more and more convinced that indeed, this baker has found success working in an industry that is both her passion and her talent. She is an inspiration for us all!