ALBANO: MARCHÉ ST. GEORGE IN VANCOUVER
Running through the enclave of Mount Pleasant on the south-eastern fringe of downtown Vancouver, Main Street is one of those long suburban arterial roads that is an evolving patchwork of bookstores, cafés, organic grocery stores, alternative medicine clinics, and stores selling vintage furniture and clothing. Set on a quiet and pretty tree lined residential cross street ‘Le Marché St George’ is a most handsome of corner stores in the real old fashioned sense of the word, and more. More village than suburb, there is an obvious air of the south of France inside Le Marché that is part café, part grocery and part home accessories store.
It is obvious that this is a venture built with the love and passion of the owners. The intimate interior seats only a few but the seating spills to the outdoors and I’ve spent many a glorious sunny afternoon on the bench skirting the store window with book, tea pot and pastry at hand. Fellow outdoor diners often include a good looking dog or two from the neighbourhood. On every visit I’ve been greeted by the friendly, knowledgeable and most charming young staff.
A large corner of the store is devoted to a wonderful collection of home accessories and dry goods – table linens, blankets, shawls, towels, rustic bread boards [from a local Canadian mill] and other serving ware sit alongside quality soaps, teas, tinned food stuffs and olive oils. Perhaps not the best place for the modern-day hunter-gatherer to stop for an afternoon tea – there’s always something on display asking to be taken home. I came away one overcast Vancouver afternoon with the loveliest king sized Turkish fringed linen towel that is perfect for home or beach. Another day it was bath soap from Portugal.
From what I can tell, much, if not all, of the varied fresh food produce on sale is locally sourced in British Columbia – refrigerators filled with cheeses, yogurt and sausages, and timber crates filled with colorful heirloom vegetables.
Oh and then there are the pastries! Perfectly crisp croissant [both sweet or savory filled with ham and cheese], pain au chocolat and one of the best pain aux amandes I’ve ever had outside of Paris. Tea is served in little pots and mismatched bone china cups reminding you of an afternoon at a loved aunt’s home. Though not a serious coffee drinker myself, friends have commented on the sterling quality of the beans on offer here.
Le Marché has a unique personality all of it’s own – thankfully as far away as possible in concept and content from the chain coffee store that seems to have invaded the world in the past decade. I’m hoping for more hours spent here over tea and cake.
Albano is a very talented and accomplished architect, interior and furniture designer. His work speaks for itself: detail oriented, holistic and elegant design. His taste level is probably the most refined i’ve ever seen. Based in Singapore, Albano has a love affair with Paris, London and Antwerp, visiting every museum, designer store, bookstore (and bakery) he can. So i’m more than happy to have him part of Monsieur Jerome. He’ll be presenting his favorite products every now and then. You can see his work here: www.studiodaminato.com.
Credit photo: Marché St. George