The fresh taste of Lebanon, right here in Aylmer
Thanks to the hard work of Aylmer’s Abboudy family, most of Aylmer’s grocery stores carry the only fresh pita bread made in the Outaouais, Beyrouth Pita. The delightfully light, tasty bread is baked daily in their ovens and sent out to many customers throughout Ottawa and Gatineau, including regional grocery stores and Costco in Gatineau and Ottawa. Aylmer shoppers can find it at IGA, Marché Laflamme, Maxi, Metro, Provigo/Loblaws, and most recently, Giant Tiger. Without exception, Aylmer’s shawarma restaurants use Beyrouth Pita. Many other restaurant owners in the Outaouais and in Ottawa have heard about Aylmer’s best-kept secret; now they, too, serve only Beyrouth Pita.
Beyrouth Pita bread is also available at a little bakery in Hull, Boulangerie Beirut, at 269 Laramée (at the centre circle intersection with Boulevard des Allumettières) where it all started. The demand for the pita bread quickly outgrew the Hull store’s baking capacity, so the Abboudy family moved their operation, dedicated to producing pita bread, to a much larger facility in Gatineau. They installed brand-new equipment, vastly increasing their production capacity. “Before, it was challenging to meet all of the demand, but now, we can serve more customers, including grocery stores.”
The operation is a real family affair. Issam Abboudy and his son Mazen run the daily operations, while his wife Bahia and his other sons, Fadi and Bassel, help when they can. “It feels great to work with your own family,” says Mazen. “You know that by working hard, you are contributing to your family’s well-being.” Mazen and his siblings are second-generation Canadians; the family originally came from a little village in the picturesque Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. In honour of their heritage, they named their business after their native country’s capital.
“Pita bread is a part of everyday life for us,” explains Mazen. “We eat it with everything, eggs, sandwiches, rice, and especially with dips. Restaurants in Lebanon, especially in rural areas, serve buffet-style dinners, with a huge assortment of appetizers, like souvlaki and other meat, and plenty of dips, like pressed yogurt, baba ghanoush, and hummus. Pita bread is great for dips because there is no dense interior, so it picks up the flavour of the food.” He especially likes Beyrouth’s mini pitas, because they can be stuffed with an amazing variety of foods like cured meats and cheeses, chicken, tuna or egg salads, or even sweets, for appetizer trays and special occasions. “You can elevate finger food to a whole new level.”
Of course, the pita bread itself tastes delicious, and that’s because it is made in the traditional way, with basic flour, yeast, sugar and salt that creates dough of a different texture and one that, if baked correctly, puffs up, leaving an empty centre perfect for sandwich fixings. Fortunately, the state-of-the art oven means that the Abboudy family can produce pita bread far more quickly than traditional baking. “The dough goes in one side and drops on to a belt that’s about three metres long. The machine cuts, flattens and then bakes it within minutes. And we’re always there to check the quality.” That speed means more delicious bread on more Aylmer shelves.
Aylmer supports its local pita bread!
Once people try Beyrouth pita bread, they find it much tastier than any other brand, because Beyrouth is delivered fresh, daily. “We were actually approached by the manager in charge of the bakery products in all the Loblaws stores throughout Quebec, who was directed to us by the Aylmer Loblaws’ employees,” explains Mazen. “The employees loved our bread so much, they were bringing it in from outside for their lunch!” He is grateful to fans of his family’s bread, adding, “The Aylmer community has really supported us from the start.”
Mazen explains that Beyrouth Pita can satisfy orders large and small, from all kinds of purchasers; the company even supplies an Ottawa school. “Small orders are actually good, because it stays fresh on the shelves.” Those interested in having a taste of Lebanon freshly delivered to them should contact the family at 819-246-7770.