As my friends can attest, I've been sucking custard for years. But custard has never tasted so luscious, as a chocolate and maple glazed Bismarck from Tulip Pastry Shop in St. Johns. Cool, invigorating custard, wrapped inside a pastry so sweet 'n good, it tastes like a super model made it with her own buttery breasts!

Priced at a dollar (for what must be nearly a pound of sweet stuff), a Tulip Bismarck puts every bakery in the world to shame. Bite one, suck out the custard, and use the pastry to wipe the sugar off your ears. If that's all the Tulip offered, they'd have it made, so to speak. But the Tulip offers a mind numbing variety of pastries, breads, and pies.

How could a relatively unknown bakery create such world class delicacies? According to owner Art Gilbert, it's a family thing.

Starting out in British Columbia in the late 1930s, Art's wife's parents started with a small chain of bakeries called Hostess (no relation). The family packed it up and moved south for good, opening the Tulip at its current location in 1950. Art and his wife Katherine have kept things going ever since.

"We still use all her dad's old recipes," Art boasts, "Everything's made from scratch, even our fruit fillings. We make everything ourselves. Nothing we use is pre-made or instant."

Art estimates the Tulip creates about a hundred fruit, cream, and custard pies weekly, made fresh daily.

"I love it all, but there are certain things like the turnovers made with puff pastry--those are exceptional. These donuts with the maple and chocolate, those have butter cream icing in the middle. We usually have six to eight different breads, too: fruit breads, multi-grains, and your basic butter-tops."

So... with all the hard work over the years, is the family still sweet on St. Johns?

"I love St. Johns," says Art. "St. Johns is a hard working blue-collar neighborhood. It feels like home to me." JD

Tulip Pastry Shop, 8322 N Lombard