Yet - I feel completely confident in this particular instance. You see - I am an aficionado of brownies, and have tasted hundreds in more places than I can remember. In-fact, earlier this year I was in France for over two months and partook of many truly excellent representatives of the art.
But as good as the Parisian, San Franciscan, and Italian contestants are (and they were each excellent), I'm afraid they all come-in a distant second-place to those found at la Maison Cakao on Montréal's Plateau Mont-Royal. Here, my friends, is the Holy Grail of brownie lovers. Here the art has been understood, and perfected.
The artist behind this delicious piece of pure decadent indulgence (one of my favorite topics) is Edith Gagnon - a graduate of Québec's Hotel and Restaurant Institute.
She imports Barry Chocolate from France - and then applies her considerable talent to turning it into a wide variety of addictive delectables. Truffles of many types, bon-bons, chocolate drops, and on and on. Each and every one truly wonderful.
But it is her brownie that I find to be her piéce de résistance. I think the central element making it so good is that she puts in lots and lots of - wait for it - chocolate. Seems pretty elemental - but many brownie makers just don't seem to grasp this most basic of concepts. Not so at la Maison Cakao.
Biting into one of Ms. Gagnon's creations is to bite into dark, rich, soft and totally swoon-inducing chocolate. The cake part of the experience is light, moist, fresh - and blends with the pure chocolate element seamlessly.
The experience is sensual and transportive. Be prepared to stop whatever you were doing before - for once bitten into, the brownie will become your sole point of attention and concentration for many moments afterward. In a way, I'm glad I don't live in Montréal, as I'm sure I'd blow both my budget and dietary discipline in her shop.
But I'm sure glad that I visit there a lot.