Hidden Gems: Quince Cafe & Ice Cream

A new series I've started is little hidden gems of goodness.  The first of this series is Quince Cafe & Ice Cream, my new go to coffee shop in Sidney, BC. Working in Sidney for years I have tried all the coffee shops around, however, none have ever impressed me quite like Quince Cafe.  This little cafe has delicious coffees and teas, homemade baked goods that are both traditional but unique in flavours and wonderful small plates perfect for lunch.  Quince Cafe hasn't been open for very long, but it has acquired quite a following already, which isn't always easy for little Sidney. Next time you're in Sidney, be sure to check out Quince Cafe & Ice Cream at the bottom of Beacon Ave. Check out their Facebook page and Instragram: @quinceshop. Anything you order will be delicious, but my personal favourite is their Kale Salad, Oatmeal, Pecan, Raisin Cookies and London Fogs.  

All the delicious baked goods at Quince Cafe & Ice Cream

All the delicious baked goods at Quince Cafe & Ice Cream

I was able to interview the owner of Quince Cafe, Courtney, who is so personable, you'll want to stay and chat with her over your coffee every time you visit! Here's the interview with some photos of her beautifully decorated cafe for the holiday season. 

How did Cafe Quince get started? 

I have always had a dream of owning my own business, but never pursued any of my ideas seriously. When the space became available, my boyfriend and I considered the idea more seriously and decided to go for it. He has a background in business development, whereas my strengths are in baking and customer service. With the help and support of my family, we were able to purchase the business, renovate the space and open within a couple of weeks. 

Was it always a dream of yours to own a cafe? 

I have always loved the idea of being self-employed and creating something that is truly my own. I have long harboured many "romantic notions," as my brother calls them, and running a cafe has always been one of them. I love getting to know our regular customers and providing a space for them which is welcoming and homey.  Starting Quince has seen us navigate a steep learning curve with many challenges and learning opportunities, but at the end of the day, the relationships we have built with customers has made it truly rewarding! 

What did you do before opening the cafe? When did it open? 

Prior to opening Quince I worked as a teacher on call in the Saanich School District. While I miss the students and their antics, for the time being I am remaining at Quince, as it takes all of my time and attention! We opened Quince in June, 2016.  

Do you have any training in baking/cooking? 

I have no formal training in baking or cooking; it's always just been something I enjoy and have learned through practice. Being in the kitchen has always been an enjoyable experience for me. We always kept a large vegetable garden growing up, and I have many memories of wandering out to the garden in the evenings to pick something to cook for dinner. I hope to incorporate more of our homegrown veggies into our recipes next year. 

Where do you find your recipes for your baked goods? Are they passed on through family members? 

Many of the recipes we use at Quince come from my mom's kitchen. She has always been a wonderful and hard worker in the kitchen. As children, we were so fortunate. Every week she used to bake bread and treats for our school lunches. Dinner was always made from scratch. In the summer she canned (and still does) a large amount of produce, which we loved to eat our way through in the winter months. Her work ethic in the kitchen has certainly inspired how I view food, and the importance of making time to cook something homemade for loved ones. That's really what it's about for us at Quince. It's lots of fun, because now my mom is helping with the baking a few mornings. 

Do you have any holiday baking or themed coffees for this wintry season? 

We have a few items that are popular right now, which we are serving over the holiday season. One treat is our homemade Almond Roca, which is a hard candy. Customers are loving it!. It's keeping me busy in the kitchen! It's fun because Almond Roca is a recipe which my mom made for us every year at Christmas. It's fun to share some of the traditions from our home. Another popular treat has been the Vinnetarta, an Icelandic cake, which in our home is always associated with Christmas. It has a prune filling sandwiched between many layers of dough. It's a lovely treat as it is not too sweet, and goes so well with a good cup of tea or coffee. Other holiday baking includes pear mincemeat tarts, scuffles, shortbread and ginger cookies. 

How did you come up with the name for Cafe Quince?

I'm terrible at making decisions, so I knew I had to pick something fairly quickly and not dwell on it! I loved the idea of something natural and real, that comes from the garden. I also liked the simplicity of the name, and I think the name suits the space well.

Photo credit: Some photos were from Quince Cafe & Ice Cream's Facebook page and some were taken by me.