A couple of tables and chairs arranged on the sidewalk is the first sign you’ll see of Artisan Backerei, an unassuming little bakery-cum-café in Candolim. Located on the main road, opposite Baskin Robbins and Curves Boutique, it stands almost invisible in the midst of chaos on Goa’s most popular tourist belt, with honking traffic, busy shoppers and chattering holiday makers galore.
But step in and the noise fades away almost as instantly as the smell of warm, freshly baked bread envelopes you. Inside, framed drawings on coloured parchments hang on dark walls – baking equipment drawn with scientific precision. On the other side is a shelf of books above a work platform on which loaves of freshly baked bread stand, still hot and yet to be packed – the source of the aroma.
Artisan Backerei, a bakery near Calangute bakes fresh, artisanal breads and pastries from scratch using high quality ingredients. Not only do they bake their own bread right there, but they use it for handcrafted sandwiches and make their own savouries out of it as well. Pastry chef Vijay Nagpal, the man behind the baking, happens to step out of the back room right then. A chef trained in Germany, he has over 50 years of experience in the craft. Upon pointing out the bakery’s different offerings to me, he states that no refined sugar is used in their products.
My brother and I visited Artisan Backerei right after Sunday Mass, and my tummy, already teased by the aromas, started was to rumble louder. We wasted no time and ordered some savouries to start with. The Quiche Lorraine, I was told, is their bestseller and it is deserving! A breakfast in itself, this French tart was stuffed with Gruyere cheese, egg and bacon, wonderfully light and wobbly. The last Quiche Lorraine I had elsewhere was as dense as a baked omelette and I was thrilled to find one as flawless as this. A real treat for a weekend brunch!
Next, we went for the Classic Ham and Smoked Gouda Cheese Croissant. At first bite, I knew it was baked to brown, flaky perfection – and then I got a taste of sweet, caramelized onions, ham and cheese. It’s the right kind of messy and really hits the spot.
One thing you should know about Artisan Backerei is that when it comes to their desserts, you’ll find more than lavishly decorated cakes. Every cake has its roots in a different part of the globe and each has a story to tell through recipes dating back to 400 years ago. So you’ll find an Austrian Sachertorte, A Dobos Torte from Hungary, Devil’s Chocolate Cake from 20th century America, a Sicilian Casata… and the list goes on!
I tried two of their moist cakes – one, from the Caribbean coast of Jamaica. Known as the ‘Hummingbird,’ the key ingredients are bananas and pineapples; and you’ll find hints of nutmeg, walnut and cinnamon. After hearing such an unusual name, I was curious to learn more about it and did a Google search right then and there, whilst eating the cake. Turns out that the cake is named after the bird because it is as sweet as nectar, the food of hummingbirds. Another theory states that eating a cake as delicious as this would makes you ‘hum’ with happiness!
I cheated on this Jamaican spiced cake with another sweet treat on the side. The Esterhazy Torte is from Hungary and is named after Prince Paul III, a member of the Esterhazy Dynasty and was once the most famous cakes from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This one tasted just as brilliant – with its buttercream, spiced with cognac alongside layers of almond meringue.
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One thing I noticed, that I feel is important to share, is that there were no steep price tags attached to any of the offerings here – everything hovered between Rs. 60 to Rs. 180! How refreshing, considering that baking with such expertise, using fine ingredients and in-keeping with age-old traditions are all factors that warrant a high price.
Go on and make breakfasts more interesting with bread like Paris Brest, Relingiuse Au Chocolat and perhaps one of their interesting muffings – Oatmeal and Prune, Marmalade and Chocolate or Berry and Cheese! Dry cookies, Pies and Tarts, cheesecakes, cream cakes, even tea cakes and meringue based treats beg you to take them home with you. Browse Artisan Backerei’s entire menu here!
If you’re heading to Candolim soon or are looking for a quick snack at any time of the day, this is a worthwhile place to go!
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See ya soon!
Note – I was a guest at Artisan Backerei, however views, as always, are my own.