Eat Local Challenge: Your daily bread

Half a loaf of Pain au Levain - we couldn't resist nibbling! - from Ma and Pa's Bakery Bread is very important to me. I love it fresh, I love it stale and ready for toasting, l love it with cheese, I love it in particular – fresh or toasted – with good salty butter. I love the way it mops up your plate after you’ve had a particularly tasty tomato pasta dish. I love the yeasty smell from the breadmaker as it cooks yet another loaf of homemade bread. I love making my own Brown Soda Bread and, most importantly, eating it. In short, I can’t fathom a life without bread. That was why it was so important, after I moved to Christchurch – before the coming of the breadmaker – to find a local source of decent bread. The only time I ever use slice pan or a sliced loaf from the supermarket is when I’m temping and need something quick and easy to make my sandwiches for lunch. But it’s not something that I’d chose as part of my normal daily life.

Part of Eating Locally is very supporting the small shops and producers of the area, something which I’ll do as a matter of course – as long as their product is up to scratch. And for a while there, the bread that I was getting from a few bakeries around Christchurch wasn’t much better than the “luxury” bread that you’d pick up at the supermarket. That was, however, before I discovered Ma and Pa’s Bakery. They have a shop at in the Christchurch suburb of Richmond but, even more convenient for me, they have a city centre outlet just off Cathedral Square, on my way to the library. They make a variety of different breads and, even when well stocked, it’s a habit of mine to walk past – just in case there’s one that I might need. We’ve eaten our way through much of their stock at this stage – their nutty and sour Californian Sourdough, the very different Pain au Levain, a dense Rye Loaf, the wholewheat and wholegrain Wild West Grain Loaf, an intensely savoury Parmesan and Red Onion Focaccia, a delicious nigella seed-scattered Turkish Flatbread and, most importantly, their Maori Rewana Bread. A sourdough with a potato starter, the Rewana Bread is a solid loaf which is very happy to be eaten with one of my chunky Vegetable Soups. It’s also a great basis for cheese-on-toast and lasts very well so that there’s never a scrap thrown away.

Another café/bread shop that I’ve recently discovered is Vic’s Café and Bake on Victoria Street. Vic’s puts great emphasis on making all its food with vegetables from an organic supplier and it uses organic free-range eggs for its sumptuous brunch range of French Toast, pancakes and Eggs Benedict. The café is a great place to spend some time in the afternoon with a coffee and something sweetly delicious – and there are many decisions to be made about what loaf of bread should accompany you home. So far I’ve only managed to try their award-winning Wholegrain Bread. The loaf is packed with linseed, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, polenta, oats and rye and is a nutritious meal in itself. Match that with some cheese from the local range stocked by Canterbury Cheesemongers around the corner and you’ve a fantastic locally sourced meal. Is it time for lunch yet?



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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