Over the last year or so, we saw several new patisseries and boulangeries coming up in Singapore. International names like Paul and Maison Kayser made it to our shores and yet, we also saw several local establishments like Antoinette bloom. The latest new kid on the block is of course Laduree. But the one which garnered the most raves and truly worthy of the limelight is undoubtedly Tiong Bahru Bakery.
Yet another F&B venture after their incredibly successful Tippling Club and Skinny Pizza, the folks behind Food Collective under the Spa Esprit Group flew in the suave and dynamic Parisian boulanger Gontran Cherrier to helm this establishment. Born into a family of bakers and patissiers who passed down the know-hows of the trade from generation to generation, Cherrier subsequently received his professional training at l’Ecole Ferrandi, and then l’Ecole de Boulangerie et de Pâtisserie de Paris. Stints at l’Arpège alongside Alain Passard and later Lucas Carton with Alain Senderen, as well as the growing up experience in a family-owned boulangerie by generations of traditional bread makers help to shape and sharpen Cherrier to become what he is today. Yet interestingly, the bakery did not bear the “GC” label, umlike those in Paris as well as Tokyo. “Tiong Bahru Bakery” with a name unassuming and reminiscent of an old school confectionery which many of us here in Singapore may affectionately remember was thus born. But being rustic and nostalgic are hardly the hues and tones this artisan bakery exudes. Those who come in search of traditional kaya toast and egg tarts would be surprised… pleasantly surprised…
Having made a rustic bread like the focaccia, I needed a stew to go along with it. A simple italian fare like Pollo alla Cacciatora couldn’t have been a more apt choice.
When it comes to breads, I’d always have a bias for crusty breads to the spongy soft ones. Not that I don’t like the latter of course. Just that to me, the hearty and somewhat earthy qualities, together with the robust textures of a rustic bread have some kinda appeal which soft loaves lack. Its like an entirely different animal together. And of course, the major plus point for a soup and stew lover like me, is how well these breads go with the liquids, lapping up the flavours with ease and soaking in all the goodness with great relish!
Focaccia is one of those rustic breads which has so much character on its own, exuding the heady perfumes of rosemary and garlic infused olive oil. And what more, its a simple and fuss-free bread to make. And here’s a very forgiving recipe for all who are interested to try!