This is going to be a simple post to reflect the food within it. Sometimes you want an explosion of new flavours & unusual ingredients on your plate and sometimes you only want one or two things done really rather well. Good thing then that this breakfast consists of just those very things – bread and jam, both local, both heart-warmingly delicious.
Raabs Bakery is so lovely that I’m almost reluctant to divulge its whereabouts for fear that the next time I step over it’s threshold into the warm, yeasty, comforting air beyond, there may not be room for me…
…but that would be mean.
Besides, I can gloat over the fact that it’s less than 7 minutes from my bed to the bakery door so ok, it’s on Essex Road.
It’s about as traditional a bakery as you’ll find and every morning when I walk past, I have to fight the urge to press my nose up against the window as the shelves are filled with crusty loaves and cream filled cakes. It’s not big, it’s not fancy, it’s not showy but the products are fresh & excellent quality, the service is friendly & quick and the prices are beyond reasonable considering the N1 location and the abundant neighbourhood competition. Think me crazy (probably not for the first time!) but I swear the bread is so much better than a cookie-cutter loaf from the supermarket – you can really taste the love and passion that the people mixing and kneading and baking have for the products and their customers.
Raabs’ walnut & apricot bread was the perfect base for an uncomplicated weekend breakfast and it needed nothing more than something simple & luscious to be spread atop it…cue Newton & Pott’s Caramelised Apple & Rum Jam. The softness of the mere-moments-out-of-the-oven bread was full of flavour from both the fruit that dotted it with colour and the nuts & seeds that had been worked through it.
Newton & Pott is a Hackney based company, created and led by Kiwi native Kylee Newton who produces home-made jams & chutneys, taking traditional flavours and giving them a quirky touch that may surprise but will always delight. Kylee’s products are seasonal, local wherever possible and ethically come by where not; ‘waste not, want not’ is the ethos of both her business and her creations so every scrap of every ingredient is used either in the finished jam-jarred product or in the beginnings of something which will eventually be delicious.
This jam has an apple-saucey texture, not so runny it slides off the bread but not so thick that spreading it becomes more of an upper arm workout than you might have been anticipating. Naturally sweet without tipping into appalling-the-dentist territory, the bordering on toffee apple flavour carries the gentlest hint of rum and pairing it with the bread resulted in a breakfast that would have been equally at home in a Parisian boulangerie as in my petite apartment.
I’ve no qualms about being grateful for the fact that I can enjoy so much international food at so many times of the year and in so many different places but I also love supporting local businesses wherever possible; there’s something rather soothing & comforting about knowing that you’re playing a small part in keeping the talents, ideas and vigour of local companies going.
With so many empty spaces on our streets now, spaces that were once occupied by both chain & independant stores, it’s now more important than ever that we turn to what we have in our own regions and buy from them, promote them and encourage others to do the same. It would be devastating if places and people as gorgeous & gifted as Raabs and Kylee disappeared from the neighbourhoods that are made all the lovelier and more original – and of course more delicious – by their presence.