Baker, I love thee…
Man cannot live on bread alone, the saying goes. Well, I have a pretty good stab at it.
For me it is a bit like a Class A drug – dangerously moorish. When on a health kick or training period I always say to myself “no more bread” or “less bread”. But when I go shopping after work a cheese-topped demi-baton always finds its way into my basket.
It shouldn’t be a surprise when a baker actually sells bread. But sadly and surprisingly it is.
There are very few bakers in any case and while a lot of them are good, very few, in my small experience, actually seem to sell bread any more. I can think of several independent bakers in my home city and one doesn’t sell bread by the loaf at all. It sells freshly made sandwiches and pasties, for the lunchtime market. The other does sell bread, but it is brought-in ready sliced pap that I wouldn’t buy if it was on sale in the supermarket. Which is all fine – they have identified the market that they believe will make them the most money. That is the time-starved office worker.
But perhaps it is one of the ways that the supermarkets have gained a large measure of control, having in-store bakeries that dish out decent loaves and baps on an almost daily basis. But there is something intrinsically nice about walking out the house to a local baker, whose shop smells of fresh-baked bread, buying a loaf and then going home, cutting a couple of doorsteps yourself and then toasting it.
Which is what I managed to do the other day. back in Bristol to pester my girlfriend. After a few weeks of living there, she realised she lived about 100 yards from the Redland Village Bakery. And promptly dispatched me to pick up some bread. And a chocolate croissant.
Having been to bakeries in Plymouth, I was prepared for the worst – some baps perhaps, and some nice sweet pastries. But I was in for a pleasant surprise. I walked into the unassuming shop on a back street and was confronted by bread. It was a half-retail, half-industrial set up, with what looked like a counter wheeled in front of the bakery where they actually, get read for it, baked bread.
Yes, the counter was filled with a variety of sweet things, but what caught the eye was shelves of different types of bread – white, wholemeal, granary, spelt, soda, Polish loaves, too many to remember without having actually written it down. All industrially presented on a wheeled metal shelving stack that looks like it spent most of the day ou the way up against the wall. I loved it.
The bread to was affordable – more than a supermarket I’ll admit, but only just. I bought a nice little spelt loaf for £1.50, an acceptable price for weekend breakfast bread in my opinion.
The friendly staff also offered to slice the loaf for me, which leads me to my only bugbear. It is not a criticism of the Redland Village Bakery alone. Why do all slicing machines slice bread too thin? I love a good doorstep, smeared in butter. But maybe that means I should be less of a lazy bugger and slice it myself.
But it is Valentine’s Day and I have better things to do. And on that note adieu.