Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Field Trip LA! - Bezian bakery stall

series of posts from visiting interesting little (and large) cafes, food-related establishments and other places of inspiration.

Next up, the baking bits of my LA trip. Starting off at the Wednesday Santa Monica farmers market which was just around the corner from our hotel, I sought out the Bezian Bakery sourdough bread stand. I had come across a few very enthusiastic articles on Bezian bread a little while ago as well as noting the wildly varied warnings and endorsements on Bezian's Yelp listing, and so I was interested to try the bread for myself and see what a sourdough that generates this much love and hate tastes like.

Like many people I'm resistant to evangelism (video of Jack explaining his opinions) and the harder someone tries to convince me of a particular message the more skeptical I feel I become. So I wasn't sure what to make of all the emphatic and underlined statements on placards around the stall such as "most people who have a wheat intolerance do well with our 'well bred' bread" and "Plant protein damages your intestines meaning the more you eat the sooner you're dead". What was clear is that Bezian is keenly dedicated to his cause and has a lot of information to share - he's there to talk to at the stall. Whether you agree with what he says is up to you.

I bought a plain sourdough boule and a multi-grain sourdough. The first thing I noticed was how soft the crust is for a sourdough, they are also all quite pale and none of the loaves had expanded much along the slashes in the oven. I'm guessing the lack of oven spring and paleness is a product of the very long fermentation that Bezian Bakery say they use in order to get the nutritional results they are after, and I'm guessing from the soft crust and colour that the oven temperature might be lower than most bakeries use. They were much easier to slice than other sourdoughs I've had (not so chewy - again possibly to do with the long fermentation breaking down the gluten more than other sourdoughs), and were markedly sour in taste and fragrance.

That evening we did a little taste test with the two Bezian sours and a french stick, and if I'm honest I found I do prefer a crustier loaf - though to be fair it does appear that his priority in making the bread is more about health as opposed to taste. It did also occur to me that my conflicted feelings about the various messages behind the bread may have spoiled my chances of enjoying it with a clear head!

I packed up the rest of the loaves to try them again back in Japan but unfortunately they went moldy quickly in the Tokyo humidity and so we didn't get a second try. Hopefully we'll get another chance to try his breads and work out how we feel about it all a bit more fully.

Apparently it's possible that Bezian Bakery will lose their spot at the Santa Monica market shortly, but with such an enthusiastic following I'm sure there will continue to be a way to get his bread.

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