REMEMBER the days when coffee and bread weren’t trendy?
A mug of Nescafé and a slice of Tip Top was about as fancy as it got.
Now I regularly encounter grown men babbling on about cherry sourdough loaves and coffee made from beans exhumed from monkey poo.
There has certainly been a mini explosion of bakeries in Greater Fremantle including Everyday Bread in Willagee and Big Loaf Factory Bakery in O’Connor.
I find the search for coffee nirvana pretentious, but I’ve always loved bread.
So I was intrigued when my wife brought home a delicious sourdough loaf and some raisin and pecan pastries for lunch.
Turns out she got them from Hunter Bread in Bicton – a tiny independent bakery open from Thursday to Sunday until 3pm or “sold out”.
So I decided to get the jalopy fired up and head down there.
Situated in the Bicton Central Shopping Centre, a few doors down from Princi Butchers, Hunter Bread didn’t appear to have any signage or eye-catching colours and it looked like an empty shopfront from a distance.
This spartan approach continued inside with a basic counter, wooden shelves and some wire racks, where the bread was proudly displayed in all its rustic glory. It was a bit like a farmhouse door in Margaret River, minus all the pretension and annoying American tourists.
The boutique bakery mainly do sourdough loaves including long, wholemeal and spelt, as well some other breads like rye caraway, and on certain days sundries like ham and cheese croissants and pecan pastries.
There was also some deli-style provisions on the shelves, cheese and the odd bottle of housemade juice.
The very polite and pleasant staff were all wearing Geppetto-style overalls, giving the place a European, artisan feel.
I was keen to try the ficelle, a sort of skinny, super long baguette (it’s about the size of a mini javelin so get ready for some curious looks when you carry this bad boy home).
I also got some buche d’affinois (cow’s milk cheese) and a long sourdough loaf.
There was also jam available and dainty bottles filled with fresh grapefruit juice, which I couldn’t resist. The juice had a lovely tart kick and was super refreshing, getting my taste buds zinging for the main event.
First off, the aromas wafting out the bread as I sliced it open were next level – a sort of sensory bliss.
Although skinnier than a baguette, the ficelle crust was crunchier and the inside more chewy and filling.
But it was a pleasant chewiness and when paired with the cow’s milk cheese – subtle, slightly buttery with the consistency of camembert – it was perfect for lunch.
I got a plain and a sesame seed ficelle and my favourite was the sesame, but there wasn’t much in it. The long sourdough loaf was exceptional – lovely aroma, tasty crust and a super soft filling that didn’t leave you feeling bagged up.
I can’t help compare Hunter Bread to Everyday Bread, another bijou bakery which does more adventurous fare.
To use a music analogy, Everyday Bread is prog while Hunter Bread is a bit more traditional and classical in its approach. Both have their own merits and fanbase.
258 Canning Hwy, Bicton
by STEPHEN POLLOCK