Bread is bought daily in Barcelona, practically every block has its own bakery. The bread is “fresh” meaning it has come out of the oven on the day but with the feats of modern food production, that hardly seems like a laudable point. A lot is par-baked or frozen and simply slipped into ovens to complete. This kind of bread makes me sad. It dissolves in my mouth before I’ve even started to chew and sticks with such ferocity to my gums that I have to run my finger along to dislodge it.
Good bread though, I will go out of my way to buy it.
Enter Mayer bakery in Gràcia opened by baker Eran Mayer, his wife Michal and their business partner Théo Heller. On the day I visit, the bakery has received some large equipment and there is much commotion as they try to set it up. It’s not hard to spot Eran: the man in charge. His movements are the most decisive of the lot. He turns out to be a man of few words keen to return to his atelier. When I pepper him with questions, he directs me to his LinkedIn profile. It makes me laugh. The bakery is 4 days into its life but I have a feeling that in Eran’s head, he is months in. Like a horse that is used to galloping and is being held back to a slow saunter. Previous to this bakery, he was the owner and baker at 6 (six!) locations in Singapore (Artisan Boulangerie Co).
The counter is laid out with examples of his handiwork. Tapering baguettes plain or with sesame or poppy seeds. Braided challah, glossy and plump. Loaves along the back wall. Then an army of Viennoiserie lined up like soldiers. There seems to already be a favourite amongst the customers coming in, the almond croissant. Which I enjoy later on with a coffee from http://syra.coffeeSyra.
Michal comes into the shop with Thèo, no sooner do they go into the back when Eran ushers them back out.
“They are better at explaining,” he says.
Indeed they are. Thèo tells me how he met Eran via a Viron flour mill in Chartres. Michal tells me about her husband. About a particular puff pastry, he makes for the French tradition of the Galette de Roix in January (in Spain we have the Roscon de Reyes). Instead of folding the butter inside the dough, as is typical, he envelops the dough in the butter and rolls it that way.
“What!” I exclaim. “Why?!” puff pastry and even worse, the yeasted laminated pastry is nerve-wracking. What’s more, it’s time-consuming. And at any stage in the (long) process, the butter can pierce through and destroy the layers making the whole exercise futile.
“Because it’s exquisite. It’s the most delicious Galette de Roix you will ever try. But you have to wait until January.” she smiles.
The plan, Thèo tells me, is to make this bakery for everybody. It is not a luxury bakery but a very good neighborhood bakery.
C/ Diluví 11