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The Battle of the Bakeries

The Battle of the Bakeries

Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes

Eating with Eichholtz

German students in the Netherlands are homesick for two things: Mutti und Brot. The German bread they grew up with has texture, crusts, and distinctive flavours. By comparison, Dutch bread resembles ‘cotton wool' and it all tastes about the same. This is especially true for supermarket bread, but most bakeries don’t fare much better. 

It’s not just students who despise our Dutch ‘cotton-pad bread’. My German colleague Thomas Post has been living in the Netherlands for nine years. When I ask him how often he eats bread here, his answer is clear: “Never.” Over time, he has adopted a diet consisting of a breakfast of muesli and fruit, a hot lunch at the university restaurant, and a hot dinner at home. On holidays he eats German bread and enjoys it twice as much.

Fortunately, there are two bakeries in Maastricht that do get it right. Thomas Post and I went to Le Salonard (Sint Pieterstraat, Rechtstraat) and Koos (Plein 1992) to taste their breads.

Originally a restaurant, Le Salonard gradually turned into a shop selling wine, cheese and bread. Their range of bread is modest, but delicious. They don’t use yeast. Their multigrain and whole-wheat breads are truly great and stay fresh for days. Both are almost even better when toasted or used for cheese toasties. Le Salonard sells nut-and-fig bread and raisin-fennel bread that goes beautifully with French cheese. Their spelt bread is delicious, but it goes stale quickly.

Le Salonard’s only weak point is their undercooked white pain de campagne. It’s a little pale and its crust isn’t very crispy. The solution is to pop it into your own oven at 220 degrees for another ten minutes. Top a piece with peanut butter or aged cheese and you’re in for a treat. Still, it’s a bit odd that a €3.50 loaf has to be finished baking at home.

We tested a few slices of bread. Thomas was particularly happy with Le Salonard’s whole-wheat bread. The taste of their rye bread was a little too pronounced for his liking. While it would go well with strong-flavoured cheese, liverwurst would be completely overpowered by it.

The eye-catcher at bakery Koos is their magnum opus ‘Kobus’. A whole-wheat bread the size of a wagon wheel, Kobus has a delicious crust and a mild sourdough flavour. It pairs phenomenally well with mature cheese and cheese toasties made with this bread are large enough to feed a whole family. If you want to impress your guests while hosting a dinner party, use a loaf of Kobus as a dining table centrepiece.

We tasted three breads that most closely resembled Schwarzbrot from Berlin, the city where Thomas was born and raised. The first bread we tried here was the best bread of the day: their brown pain de campagne. It has an incredibly nice and tasty crust and just the right amount of moistness inside. The texture is fantastic and not too grainy. And although it’s a sourdough, its taste isn’t particularly sour at all, which means it can be combined with a wide variety of spreads and toppings. Thomas also enjoyed their wheat desem and Neubourg whole-wheat.

We finished our bread tour by visiting De Bisschopsmolen, the oldest business in Maastricht. The associated baker has developed an excellent reputation, partly owing to the enthusiastic support of professional cyclists from the region (well-known Dutch road bicycle racer Tom Dumoulin buys his bread here). Indeed, they sell good bread. My German one-man taste panel was much less enthusiastic about De Bisschopsmolen than he was about Le Salonard and Koos, though. The breads we tested here had good crusts, but failed when it came to interior. They were quite tasty, but a little dry and especially rather grainy. They didn’t quite measure up to the breads we tasted at Le Salonard and Koos.

The major disadvantage of these two top-quality bakeries is the price of their goods. Both are (very) expensive; at Koos, too, one loaf of bread will easily cost you three to four euros. This makes sense: you get the quality you pay for. But this can be a problem if you’re living on a student budget. Le Salonard came up with a good solution. Students get a 50 per cent discount on leftover loaves between 5.30 PM and closing time at 6 PM. True bread for the price of supermarket bread – what more could anyone ask for?

Piet Eichholtz

Every three weeks, Professor Piet Eichholtz (Professor of Finance at SBE) trawls the streets of Maastricht in search of good food with a student or colleague and reports on his findings here

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