Tiong Bahru Bakery. World-building.
Artisan bakeries have followed in the wake of the Third Wave specialty coffee movement. Representing the Kiwis, Dean Brettschneider’s Baker & Cook, with most of the rest being either French (Paul Bakery), French-Japanese (Maison Kayser), Japanese (Pullman Bakery, DONQ Bakery (facebook)), or French-inspired (The French Bakery, plus some German – Nick Vina, plus “old world technique” – The Bread Project (facebook)). Bread recipes seem to take to the Singapore humidity badly, so foreign bakers have had a tough time putting a rise on quality levels.
Regardless, all these new entrants are great for carb-fiends.
The most recent opening has been Gontran Cherrier’s modestly-named Tiong Bahru Bakery (56 Eng Hoon Street, facebook), another good trend-read by Cynthia Chua and her Spa Esprit Group F&B arm, Food Collective.
Between The Hunger Games (which i had to watch for research purposes – a terrible waste of money and a great disservice to the book(s)) and some messing about with cocktails before meeting The Avengers (why did Tony Stark have the best lines? We loved the silly wisecracks and slapstick so much we kept repeating the one-liners through the night, enough that any mother within earshot would have smacked us), hoofed it to Tiong Bahru for some sustenance.
The main door would be fantastic for a gongfu movie involving clueless baddies standing too near two-way doors, but generally not so good for clueless innocent bystanders lining up past the Synesso machine. Loads of natural light, big bold flower arrangement, requisite retro furniture (+ tables with sharpened legs), IKEA? wooden bowl lampshades, well-trained friendly staff.
Even the toilet was note-worthy, gushed the lady at the next table, insisting that we take a look. The blue glass panes and the biscuit tins as bins were a nice touch.
A good range of breads, viennoiseries, and pastries: olive bread, croissant (plain, chocolate, almond with chocolate), brioche, kouign aman [sic], raisin bun, apple crumble, brownie, tarts, baguette (plain, cereal, curry), squid ink bread, rye and red miso boules.
Croissant was a winner – crunchy without shattering to little pieces that disappear into your windpipe. Slight butter taste but not lip-balm replacement oily, enhanced by the good butter, Alain Milliat jams and Les Comptoirs de Saint-Malo‘s Caramalo Cafe caramel au beurre salé (oh man!) available on the sideboard.
The croissant chocolat was similarly crisp with chewy interior and well-placed melted chocolate bits. The almond chocolate croissant was apparently quite standout stuff too.
Other viennoiserie (“raisin roll”, “kouign aman”) similarly excellent.
Other breads (eg. “Vienna Chocolate”, “Brioche”) were a bit dry on the inside.
Couldn’t quite appreciate the flan vanilla nor the chocolate mendiant (similar to what one usually expects of confections bearing this name, there’s chocolate and mixed fruit and nuts, but in a tartlet shell).
This was not going to be a destination for coffee, but 40 Hands trained the baristas sufficiently that they didn’t ruin a good brunch/lunch/tea.
Unfortunately, my hair was such a mess that the nice lady at the next table politely enquired if i lived nearby.
No idea how M John Harrison, only one of my favourite authors, keeps his long hair quite so neat because on the best of days, i look like Hagrid…on a bad hair day. But of greater interest, Mike’s views on world-building. My quarrel with movie adaptations of books is precisely that in order to bring them into being, word-building is necessary.
In some sense, it would be like the folly of Jorge Luis Borges’ (another favourite) On Exactitude In Science, itself allegedly based on Lewis Carroll’s Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, in which there is an empire where the study of cartography is so exact that a map of the empire is the size of the empire, and coincides point for point with it.
So it is also my quarrel with those who dismiss the Bible because it does not contain the world. Yes, it does not even contain information that could be found in an encyclopaedia nor a list of answers to FAQs (like: “If God created everything and knows everything before they happen, then why did he create the serpent?” or “Why did God create us if he knew that he would have to send his Son to die for the sins of the world?”), because that is not its nature. The nature of the Scriptures is that of a message, a rather lengthy note; it tells us the danger we are in and how to be saved from this danger; it is both a warning and an offer.
I would not find issue with a Caution sign or an instruction manual just because they failed to mention the existence of dinosaurs (itself a theory we have come to believe, ironically in this context, as gospel truth!).