Just by looking at the photo, it's as if you can almost smell that intoxicating aroma of freshly baked baguettes and croissants, traces of butter and sugar floating in the air. A sniff of the potent stuff--that all too familiar scent of freshly baked bread--may just be one of the sexiest olfactory pleasures, and one that is absolutely appetite inducing. If it's not the spread of bread displayed on the shelves of Eric Kayser that hooks you in, then it's going to be the mouthwatering aroma going in for the kill.
"Just push the bread in your face, and smell," Eric Kayser, the famous French master baker himself, told everyone at the grand launch of Eric Kayser Philippines in February. Kayser flew in from Paris to share his passion for bread, and to highlight the best way to create them: with natural liquid leaven, a traditional long and natural fermentation process, and baked in small production sizes to ensure the best of quality to his customers.
Eric Kayser’s first store in the country is located in Power Plant Mall in Makati. The take-away shop for breads and pastries is conveniently located beside Marketplace by Rustan's. "First of all, we really believed in the brand when we tried the product," Christopher Tiu shares at the same event, "I think the fact that the brand was able to succeed in so many markets all over the world such as Russia, Africa, the US, and other parts of Asia. It goes to show the quality of the products." Tiu is part of Designer Boulanger Philippines Corporation, the partner of Eric Kayser for its Philippine operations.
Baguettes are the clear best seller at Erik Kayser, and absolutely the best when consumed fresh and hot from the oven: crisp on the outside, then soft on the inside. They are available in two sizes, Baguette Monge (P100) and Mini Baguette Monge (P80), the latter being a popular choice for a quick bread fix -- just grab and go and bite away into its bready goodness (or create a sandwich for a more filling meal). A tip from the friendly bakers at Power Plant: make a beeline towards their store upon opening, when these French crusty bakes have just been brought in, and also after lunch at about 1pm, when a new batch of baguettes have been delivered.
I was also advised by the bakers at Eric Kayser that a baguette is at its utmost best for a day--two days, at most--so eat these French breads once you've bought them or pop them in the oven as soon as you get home to still get that delicious signature crunch in every bite. If you intend to keep your breads a little longer at home, remember that the enemy of bread is the air's moisture, so it is recommended to freeze the breads then heat in the oven when you plan to consume them.
Let not this yellowish color of the Curcuma Noissette (P90) keep you from buying because it will reveal to your palate an interesting medley of textures and flavors. It is one of their local baker's personal pick among their bevy of breads, so I bought one for myself to enjoy at home. Crusty and hard on the outside, its soft and lightly spiced body is dotted with hazelnut. Freshly reheated from the oven, it is absolutely awesome slathered with butter, and makes for a wonderful sandwich bread for any meaty filling. Délice!
Meanwhile, Ekmek (P65), a Turkish honey bread, is the top pick if you prefer your bread to be soft, airy and sweet. It is commonly baked as a flatbread, while Erik Kayser makes them puffy, in a size and shape comparable to a burger bun.
If the words golden, sweet, and buttery are your idea of perfect bread for desserts and snacks, then Eric Kayser's selection of treats from their viennoiserie and pâtisserie line will not disappoint your sweet tooth. The traditional Croissant (P75) is an easy pick and a crowd favorite, its golden brown crescent of crisp, chew, flake, rolls, and folds made extra special with butter. This light and flaky delight is an absolute tummy pleaser, and its Almond (P100) and Chocolate (P85) variants are equally delicious. My croissant of choice would have to be the Chocolate Almond Croissant (P110), intertwining the sweetness of chocolate and the crisp of the nuts, with echoes of sugar and butter in every bite.
Addicted to salty-sweet combos? Try their take on the Kouign Amann (P120), which I prefer over the still quite popular 'cronut.' A combination of caramel and salted butter in between pressed layers of sugary bread, it's flaky and crusty like the croissant, yet more compact and ever so decadent, glossy with its caramelized skin. As you sink your teeth into the Kouign Amann, a realization will dawn upon you (perhaps accompanied by your contented smile): some things in life are just truly better with lots of butter. Pair the kouign amann with coffee, and your afternoon is made.
For a sweet and fruity fix, Eric Kayser boasts a line of Tarts, priced P215 to P245 each. Tarte Monge is a signature flavor, filled with berries and with a yogurt base. Try also their Danish (P85 to P95 each), which comes in chocolate, raisin, apricot, pineapple, and apple. Other things to satisfy your sweet tooth in the store come in the form of éclairs, chocolate cookies, and small cakes like madeleines and financiers.
Make beautiful bread your takeaway treat for today at Eric Kayser's first Manila store. Soon, fans of of the French brand can enjoy even more specialties along with pastries and savory items, when their bakery-café opens in Greenhills Promenade within the year.
Like their official Facebook page (/Eric-Kayser-Philippines) to get updates. Follow Eric Kayser Philippines on Instagram (@erickayserph).
Additional photos courtesy of Eric Kayser Philippines.