Montreal-style bagels come to Maine

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Lucky are the people of North Yarmouth. In a former video store on the corner of routes 9 and 115, the comforting, yeasty waft of bagels, made French Canadian style in a wood-fired grill, will soon fill the air.

Chef Krista Kern Desjarlais, whose Portland bistro Bresca was a culinary hothouse before it closed in 2013, bought the small cottage locals call The Purple House. And that’s what Desjarlais is calling her next endeavor.

“I passed by the property every day. I thought it was super cute and would probably make a nice bakery,” she said.

When it opens in January The Purple House will boast a wood-fired oven built by the same artisan who created infernos for Fore Street, Cafe Miranda and the Black Crow Bakery.

“It’s a very niche thing,” said Desjarlais, a pastry chef for 20 years in Las Vegas and New York.

Though originally planning to open a Quebecois bistro in Lewiston, she scaled back her plans to spend more time with her family. The New Gloucester resident is remodeling the tiny cottage and plans to have seating for 8 to 10 inside and a patio and raised gardens beds in the summer.

“I think people are excited that I am not going to turn it into a gas station or Starbucks,” she said. “I baked and worked with wood ovens my entire life. It feels really great that I am building an oven and am a few months away from firing this thing up,” she said.

Desjarlais, who also runs the seasonal Bresca And The Honey Bee At Outlet Beach in New Gloucester, has a destination in the works. Montreal bagels, a denser, chewiery version of New York City bagels, boiled in honey water and baked under wood heat, will be in heavy rotation. Miche and levain breads made with Maine Grains will be another daily offering. Expect a few pastries, but nothing “fragile and fancy.”

Her famed brown butter almond cake and pannacotta (Bresca holdovers) will be house signatures. Homemade ice cream, which she is known for, will also be in the mix.

Because where there is bread, there is coffee, a dual caffeine program is under development. To keep foodies and locals happy The Purple House will have a two-pronged approach: Cuban coffee made fast and affordable and a pourover bar featuring a yet-to-be-determined craft roaster. “We have a lot of tradespeople around here who don’t want to wait for a pourover.”

But wait, there’s more. Because you can’t take the chef out of the baker, dinner will be served one night a month. “People will reserve tickets and it will be all inclusive, seven to 10 courses,” said the chef. “It’s a chance for me to be fancy again.”

And a reason for us to drive to North Yarmouth.

 

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.