November 15, 2011

Some Secrets Are Worth Sharing: It's to Die For Banana Bread

Before you read anything about this Vancouver secret, please ask yourself the following very important crucial questions:
Do you like banana bread?
Do you like chocolate - the really reallllly good kind?
Do you like a little salt here and there?
Do you like macadamia nuts?
Do all these things sound great together?

If you answered yes to any of these (especially the last one), it means you will most likely love Erin Ireland's Banana Bread. Just take a look at the photo below...

Believe me now?

Although her bread might not be a surprise to some, I am always blown away when someone says they haven't heard of it. Why? Because it really is the world's best - or as Erin says: It's to die for. Don't believe me? Ask the lucky person who got the Vancouver Canucks signed banana bread. Or how about world famous chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten?? No joke.

Canuck signed banana bread

I met Erin over Twitter last fall and was obsessed with her suggestions about food places in Vancouver. I had moved here that summer and had NO idea where to start looking. Turns out that if you send her a Tweet asking "What's a good place for brunch?" she'll answer with a place and why she loves it (you can also see the fabulous go-to list here). The girl knows food without a doubt. After a few months past, I started hearing little rumors around town about her banana bread and how it's full of great (and healthy) ingredients. Over time, her bread was finally being sold at the Commune Cafe - which is how I finally met Erin and, of course, her bread.

Sadly I missed the official launch of the bread, but had the chance to meet her the following day and also delivered some macarons (she actually took the photo for Chanel & Caviar's banner). To say the least, Erin is incredibly kind, thoughtful, and so easy to talk to you would think you've known her forever. Throw in some of her bread and you would not want to leave her side - promise!

The bread is something of what I like to call "a special combination." Something about the salt and chocolate, and the softness that makes this bread amazing - small confession, I never went out of my way for banana bread before I had hers.

Another reason I wanted to feature the bread is because of how Erin has managed to get it into the hands of just about anyone in all kinds of forms! What about in a smoothie? Yup! You can have that too... and boy, is it good! On top of that, for every smoothie sold from The Juice Truck, $1 will be donated to Movember Canada. Smoothie + Banana Bread + Movember... Who knew the three would work so well together?
In addition, Erin entered the contest "Recipe to Riches" not too long ago and had a chance to showcase the famous bread. The contest was for the next President's Choice product and the winner would receive $250,000 and mass distribution of the product. Although she didn't make it to the finals in Toronto, Erin agrees that this maybe wasn't the best way to get her bread out into the world since it doesn't exactly fit the brand. Her ingredients are expensive and the winner would lose all rights to the recipe. "It's definitely more of a 'Whole Foods' or 'Choices Markets' kind of product." she says.

Urban Rush interview about Recipe to Riches

I think the best way to fully understand just how great this bread is, is to read the next 2 questions I asked Erin. She's a pro when it comes to explaining just how good this bread is without just saying "nom nom nom!!"

How did you start and who on earth would think of adding macadamia nuts to banana bread?!
Erin: This whole unplanned whirlwind of banana bread began a year ago when I started giving loaves to friends and coworkers as thank you gifts (baking was pretty much the only option back in the day as a starving broadcaster!). One of the recipients told me they loved it so much, they'd buy it for $100. Similar 'extreme' compliments ensued, which made me wonder if I was onto something special.

Banana bread turned out to be a pretty hot topic online. Social media single-handedly propelled this product into a public stratosphere. Demand for the BB steadily increased, so as a stunt, I decided to hold a bake sale. On a Monday, I posted an order form to my website, planning to take orders for the week. On Tuesday night, I removed the order form from my site. I'd received over 30 orders in the two days and at that stage, didn't quite have the capacity to make so much BB.
Very positive meetings with Whole Foods and Choices Markets had me realize that the opportunity was real and that I had to start a business. 'It's To Die For Foods' was born. Since then, life has never been busier as I prepare the banana bread for retail and increased distribution.

As for the macadamia nuts, I'm a huge believer in the simple principle that fat tastes great! I also consider macadamia nuts to be some of the most delicious things on the planet. Fortunately, my recipe doesn't need much of the -- the BB's calorie and fat content are not bad at all: 160 cals and 8g of fat per serving.

Who loves your bread the most?
Erin: I think I do! You're looking at the worst saleswoman in the world -- and I absolutely hate to push anything on anyone. There's no way I could 'sell' my product unless I truly believed it's amazing. That said, my marketing skills are not traditional -- I simply love having fun with the product and getting it out there in as wild 'n crazy a way as possible. I think people can tell that the growth of ITDF BB is completely natural. Others who love it: my boyfriend (although he hates having it around the house because he can't stop eating it when he starts), my grandma, and my mom. 

Cory Schneider doing an official taste test

So, you can see why I was delighted when she said she would do this feature. If you haven't tried her bread yet (which by the way, she currently makes each loaf herself), you can get your very own at the following places:
Commune Cafe
Ethical Bean Coffee Roastery Cafe (Kootenay St. location)
Milano Coffee Roasters (Gastown)

The Dirty Apron Delicatessen

If you are looking for something different to bring to those holiday dinners, may I be ever so bold to recommend bringing some It's to Die For Banana Bread? xoxo

1 comment:

Mary Desprez said...

After reading the Q & A, not only do I want the BB, but I want to meet Erin - what a sweetie (!). Please bring some BB next visit : )