I’ve said it before – Canada is full of surprises, but the last thing I expected to see in a small shop on the chic streets of Montreal was a jar full of lamingtons. I was having a divinely chocolate based day in Montreal, with visits to some of the best chocolatiers in the city. At the end of the morning my Tourisme Montreal friend, Hugo, announced that he had one more little surprise venue to show me. Tucked back just a little on Avenue du Parc is an unobtrusive, single-fronted store with the cryptic sign “Ta” out the front.
A cunning play on words, “ta” is not only Australian slang for “thanks”, but also short for “Tourtière Australienne” – or Australian Pies. Ta bakery and pie shop was created by New Zealand-born/Australian resident chef Don Hudson and his Quebecoise/Australian wife Melanie. Don moved to Montreal in 2008, but pined for some of his favourite foods from home. Of course there are pies in North America, but (up until the recent spate of ‘hand-pies’ I’ve noticed on Pinterest) they are generally a full sized family dish, not the individual meal in a bag we are used to here down-under.
Don and Melanie decided that the antipodean culinary culture had something to offer the stylish Quebecoise and opened their store in 2010, offering a decidedly up-market, gourmet, single-serve pie. They produce a range which includes butter chicken, rogan josh, steak and mushroom or the Ned Kelly, all served hot with a big squirt of tomato sauce. For locals of more delicate sensibilities they also provide their range in family sizes and frozen for more decorous consumption in the privacy of their own home.
Not wanting to limit the Aussie experience just to main course, Don also produces rum balls, pavlovas, trifle and Anzacs for dessert. Homesick Australian and New Zealand tourists will be thrilled to know that they can also source familiar treats such as Milo, Cherry Ripe bars, Tim Tams, Vegemite and Marmite (shudder) at Ta, too. (Quite frankly, I can’t imagine searching out Tim Tams with all of the other gourmet treats available in Montreal, but there you go – there’s horses for courses.)
And – credit where it’s due – with beautifully flaky pastry on top and rich, generous fillings I can see how these pies have romanced the locals. They aren’t half bad. For a Kiwi baker. 😉