Whatever your race or nationality, bread in some form or other is usually a staple to the cuisine you grew up with. In my early years in Malaysia, we didn’t have an abundance of sourdough or many varieties of on-the-shelf loaves beyond Gardenia white or wholemeal. What we did have though were hawker centres with their steam drawers filled with any flavour – sweet or savoury – steamed buns. What we did have was more mamak stalls than you can count serving freshly tossed roti or pillowy garlic naan. What we did have was the roti man, who’d drive down our streets honking, the back of his motorbike piled high with all of his wares especially the elusive roti benggali. Also having lived in Australia for the past seven years, I’ve been spoiled to a mixture of both artisan sourdough types and Asian bakeries like BreadTop and The Dough Collective. Heck you may recall that I’ve even tried my hand at baking all sorts of bread since being given a mixer for my 21st (see my Instagram for more baking adventures). Which is why it’s only just a little bit embarrassing that I’ve never in all my life thought about where my wheat came from.
Paddock-to-plate principles isn’t a new concept, many restaurants in Australia are touting honest to goodness food using only fresh and real produce straight from a farm. The “if I can’t pronounce it, I won’t eat it” saying is a rejection towards the supposed preservatives and chemicals that plague even raw ingredients – watch twenty minutes of Food Inc. and you’ll see why. And whether you love or hate fad diets, it’s an example of how consumers are getting more skeptical of what exactly it is that they’re putting into their mouths. But the shift isn’t about rising against corporations, it’s simply about advocating for more transparency in knowing how our food is sourced. It’s comforting to know that consumers aren’t alone in this fight and that suppliers and intermediaries are just as vested in producing wholesome and good quality offerings from reputable sources. Here in Australia, Brasserie Bread is leading the charge for wheat, having produced the first Australian single origin bread. Both their Single Origin Sourdough and Single Origin Sprouted Wheat are made with flour milled from wheat grown only in the Southern Flinders Ranges of South Australia.
The Brasserie Bread Single Origin launch event has us guests spoiled all night with a variety of bread-based (naturally) food including sliders, pizza and canapés. I’m here with Jeff and we both remark that knowing our carb-loving inviter Sarah and the theme of this event, we’re surprised there isn’t a bread-based beverage like sourdough milkshake or brioche cocktail. Nevertheless an open bar does more than suffice the poison-drinkers in our midst and helpful waitstaff keep the two of us happy with unlimited refills of sparkling water.
These sliders are the biggest hit of the night. Unlike your standard mini-burger that comes with brioche, these are Brasserie Bread milk buns made with a tangzhong starter. The fillings are pull-apart lamb that’s been spit roasted as in the first photo above – two whole lambs feed us tonight – and either a raddichio or fennel slaw.
Pizza is made fresh throughout the night by Matt and the door to the kitchen usually shut, bar cooking classes, is hung wide open for guests to mill through and have a peep or sneak in a bite before the crowds get any. This pizza bianca is about as basic as it gets yet also screams Sarah vs Carbs, we’re talking carbs on top of carbs with a generous amount of fat on top. As a side note, I’ve never truly understood the appeal of supreme pizzas, or any pizza with more than three or four ingredients. In fact my favourite pizza is probably quattro formaggi which is, as it’s name indicates, cheese on cheese on cheese on cheese.
This pizza was christened with the sanctity of vanella buffalo mozzarella. Having arrived from the depths of an industrial oven only moments ago, the cheese and sauce ooze all over the plate as I take my first virgin bite. It was a margherita pizza to ruin all pizzas, I almost wept.
Soon enough the clock hits half-past eight and Michael Klausen and Andrew Byerlee (co-founder of Brasserie Bread and one of the three farmers behind Flinders Ranges Premium Grain respectively) take the bench to tell us a bit more about what we’ve been eating. I find out that the bread I’ve basically inhaled in seconds all night took Klausen five years to perfect, from finding the perfect farmer straight to being there for the harvest. Byerlee’s delivery that night was impeccably honest, I actually recorded almost all of it, unfortunately missing the few seconds where he made a Freudian slip. He talks about many things, but most notable of all is his high regard for soil as living and breathing, as the game changer for good wheat and to that extent, good bread. He also talks about the symbiotic relationship of farmer to supplier to customers (with a mossy rock produced from his pocket for visual measure), and how the wheat industry rests on us all to thrive.
Ending this post on a high, that is the high I got from chugging down as many chunks of sourdough topped with Pecora sheep’s curd and Kangaroo Island honey. For the first time I’m here at an event where bread isn’t relegated to the side plate, it’s the entreé, the main dish and the dessert. The quality of the bread speaks for itself but as someone who usually zones out of commemorative speeches, I truly enjoyed hearing first-hand from one of the farmers how much wheat meant to him. At the door we got given goodie bags comprising of two loaves of the single origin bread, each double the size of my head. After a series of other events I got home around midnight and my family was ready to devour the bread I brought, slathered simply with butter. I woke up the next morning with a serious case of carb sweats but holy toast was it worth it.
Samanthawxlow attended Brasserie Bread’s single origin bread launch as a guest of the organisers Sarah Han/Brasserie Bread