Friday, January 26, 2018

Bakery Review: Manresa Bread

Manresa Bread - visited January 7, 2018
One of the things I love to do - and don't do enough of - is travel. And only another foodie would understand that part of my travel plans are governed by what food my destination is known for, what famous bakeries or restaurants I can go visit while I'm there and, to be perfectly candid, sometimes I decide to go somewhere simply because of a well-renowned bakery or restaurant (usually a bakery, because, hello, it's me) at that location. Yes, my travel plans are governed by my taste buds, stomach and gluttony. What? That's also why I workout 6 days a week.
I even do some serious research. Meaning me and Google spend some time together while I plug in search terms like "top bakeries in the US" or "best cupcakes in (insert geographic area I've thought about visiting)". I go on a virtual gastronomic tour for extended periods of time. I compiled a list of places I wanted to try. Fortunately, it also occurred to me to research what's in my own backyard.
Which led me to stumble on Manresa Bread. You might have heard of David Kinch's Michelin 3-star Manresa restaurant. Yes, Manresa Bread is of that Manresa. I've never been to the restaurant (on my culinary bucket list) but I didn't see why I couldn't just pop on over to Manresa Bread as soon as I discovered its existence.

And pop on over I did, on an early Sunday morning on my way to church. I figured I couldn't finish off a load of bread during its peak freshness period but Manresa Bread offered a host of other choices to drool over.

I ended up getting the individual-sized Monkey Bread, kouign amann (my new favorite ever since I had one from Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho), a pain au chocolat and a whole wheat cookie. Before your eyebrows raise at that plethora of riches, I did share with my parents after church. If I couldn't eat a whole load of bread, I certainly couldn't eat all that but I could try a little of each, right?

Although, true confessions, I did eat the pain au chocolat myself as my breakfast that morning. A pain au chocolat, if you're never had one, is made of croissant dough so it has the same flakiness, shaped as a rectangle and filled with a stick of chocolate. That would be the good chocolate, mind you.

Pain au Chocolat
Manresa's pain au chocolat was delicious. The main drawback was it was almost too flaky. As in totally messy to eat. I think I was half-covered in pastry flakes before I had made my way halfway through it. While the earmark of a good croissant/pain au chocolat is that flakiness, I think I prefer something just slightly less flaky, not just for less mess but I don't like pastry that's too airy. But that's me.

Monkey Bread
The triangle of monkey bread that I sampled was good as well, just a little heavier. I think it tastes better warm.
Kouign Amann

Inside the monkey bread
The kouign amann was, not surprisingly, my favorite. There's something about that caramelized crunchy outer crust that's just spectacular. Next time I'd probably skip the monkey bread, more because I'd already tried it, not that it wasn't good, but I'd double down on the kouign amann.
Inside the kouign amann
The whole wheat cookie was the surprise in that I ended up liking it more than I expected. I'm very, very spoiled when it comes to cookies since I have the luxury of usually eating them while they're still warm from the oven. Manresa's whole wheat cookie not only tasted good but I liked the texture. Not too heavy or dense but satisfyingly chewy.
Whole Wheat Cookies
Overall, Manresa Bread is a highly recommend and I'd go back again. As soon as I work out a lot more.

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