One of the reasons I find food interesting is that the people behind food can be so engrossing. And there is the added bonus that they are a lot more accessible than say a gallery curator or fashion designer. With food as a subject, a conversation with a stranger can erupt and gallop away with an afternoon. Where you come from – where they come from, it doesn’t matter. You are speaking the same language (even if some of the time you don’t speak the same language).
Initially I walk right past them because it simply says Forn de Pa in old-fashioned lettering. I double back and take a closer look at the window display, it’s obvious then that this is what I am looking for. Tonatiuh (one of the bakers at Cloudstreet), with whom I have an instant affinity, explains that they bought the bakery from the original owner. The former owner is in his 70’s now and was born in a small room over the 100-year-old wood burning ovens that Cloudstreet have gratefully inherited.
“You want to know more?” Tonatiuh asks me. Taking me into the kitchen to take a look. He starts to open different sized oven doors and explains to me the importance of air flow. A quick glance at my face makes him (correctly) believe that he is losing me “which is why” he summarizes “you can not burn fire while you are baking bread.” Meaning that they are baking with residual heat and that (along with the natural fermentation and the longer proving times they employ) makes for a very particular type of bread. “And also” he quickly adds “the baking floor is fixed – not rotating as in other bakeries.” he is referring to Baluard not in a malicious way but full of pride that they are carrying out a more laboured and nuanced kind of baking.
This artisanal approach extends to the kind of flour they use for their traditional Catalan Pages bread. It comes from France and costs about €1,000 a ton compared to the €200 flour other bakers use. For their spelt bread, they have found a local supplier called La Garbiana that is reclaiming land and returning it to organic farming methods.
They use La Garbiana’s spelt flour in a lot of their loaves. Loaves of which there are not a tremendous amounts because it is only a small place that has only recently started wholesaling to three restaurants in Barcelona. As I am leaving, I joke with Tonatiuh that they* should open up a coffee shop in Barcelona because right now there are only a handful which are not centrally located nor do they have realistic opening times. I am not sure he’s convinced.
*The people behind Cloudstreet are the same ones who opened Federal Cafe in Barcelona and Madrid (they’ve sold the one in Barcelona), they then went on to open the hand-made candy stores Papabubble and most recently Cloudstreet.
See this and find more addresses on my Foodie in Barcelona Map