06 May 2013

Bakery 1 and Bakery 2

At the very bottom of our street is Bakery 1, Sonho de Búzios. It’s unpretentious, badly decorated, and poorly lit by ugly fluorescent lights. It sells beer, cigarettes and batteries alongside bakery products, offers a few precarious tables with uncomfortable plastic chairs, and always has an old TV with bad reception nattering away in the background. Bakery 1 sits behind a bus stop at an extremely busy intersection, and enjoys both a steady walk-in traffic and a solid stream of neighborhood regulars. When Mark and I first started using it, it was just to buy the Sunday edition of O Globo, Rio’s New York Times. And I wouldn’t stay longer than was needed to make the purchase. The place was just too creepy. But little by little, with the familiarity bred by routine, we started to stay for a cup of coffee, or some fresh-from-the-oven rolls heated up on the greasy grill and slathered with butter. We got to know Angela and Beto, the siblings who run the place, and whenever we feel like a simple breakfast you can be sure Bakery 1 is now our first choice.

biscoitos champanhe
And we have discovered that they are not without some excellent baked goods. At 3:30 every day they put out about a dozen cheese baguettes, which have nothing to do with real baguettes, but are marvelously tasty, cheesy breads. Sometimes there’s nothing like a pão na chapa com queijo minas, a grilled cheese sandwich on a fresh-baked roll, and using a very good quality cheese from the state of Minas Gerais. And if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, but don’t want something too sickly sweet, their cookies are perfect, particularly their cavaca, which balances its sweetness with herbs, and what they call biscoito champanhe, a personal favorite that reminds me of ladyfingers.

A mere five-minute walk from Sonho de Búzios is Bakery 2, Golden Bread. This is a bakery firmly set in the first world, straight out of Soho or the Left Bank. The decor is shabby chic demolition, the music low and jazzy, and the smells wafting from the kitchen guarantee high quality baguettes and croissants. This bakery even has its own Facebook page! No question but that Golden Bread has become the place to meet and greet, to see and be seen, to shake hands and do deals, or just to sit and pass the time with friends. Golden Bread is in the lovely Porto da Barra complex of restaurants and galleries and stores, and delivers consistent quality with lots of style. When I go there of an afternoon and order "the usual," it’s a sandwich of smoked salmon with a warmed caper sauce. Between my sandwich, a sinfully rich chocolate dessert and Billie Holiday on the sound system, Bakery 2 serves up my kind of heaven.

It has always been said that Búzios is a place where rich people go to play at being poor, and poor people go to play at being rich. This is indeed the irony of Bakery 1 and Bakery 2. While lots of newly upper-middle-class and rich folks flock to Golden Bread, perceiving it as the "rich people’s bakery," take a good look at the clientele of the hole-in-the-wall Sonho de Búzios. You may not know them, but some of those guys hanging out in their torn shirts and dirty sandals are multi-millionaires and billionaires. Not wanting to choose sides, Mark and I keep a foot in both bakeries.

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