We believe in 118. This slogan adorns the windows of countless businesses along Edmonton's avenue of ill-repute: 118th. Businesses - and their patrons - believe in 118 because this is a veritable mosaic of cafes, stores, restaurants and so forth. A unique melting pot, as it were. The 118 ave area is slowing being regentrified as young families scoop up real estate and new construction replaces decades-old eyesores. 118 ave, you've come a long way baby, but there are yet miles to go.
We walked past several ladies of the night and other sketchy-looking characters on an impulse trip to Handy Bakery (8660 118 ave), but our yen for Portuguese baking tempered any undercurrent of unease. Handy Bakery specializes in buns, bread and pastries and also retails Portuguese dry goods.
I ogled the well-lit, glassed-in pastry counter, transfixed by custard and whipped cream-filled creations. We selected several cream horns, which were filled with vanilla custard instead of cream. Each bite was a symphony of crispy pastry and smooth custard. Handy Bakery, to my knowledge, is the only place in town that makes swan eclairs. These chocolate-dipped, cream-filled morsels sport gracefully curved swan necks. They are almost too cute to eat. Almost, but not quite.
The "avenue" is yet a mix of the best and worst that society has to offer, but it is worth the trip for swan pastries alone.