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FINDS : Really French Bread

May 02, 1996|CHARLES PERRY

Three years ago, two employees of a multinational corporation living in Zurich found themselves about to be transferred, one of them all the way to Kazakhstan in Central Asia. Around that time they happened on an article on the baking techniques of ultra-traditional Parisian baker Lionel Poila^ne and decided to go into the bread business.

John Chamberlain and Miguel Bermudez settled on Santa Barbara as the location (it beats Kazakhstan), bought a lot of high-class baking equipment (including a huge Tidiletti bread oven with stone baking decks) and hired David Bresard as head baker.

Bresard is a Compagnon Boulanger du Devoir, meaning that he's gone through a traditional six-year apprenticeship as a French baker--and it shows. Santa Barbara was not starving for lack of good bread before Aficionado European Bakery opened, but Aficionado has upped the ante considerably.

The bakery makes white breads with a very light texture and wonderfully flaky crust and also pain au levain, leavened partly with wild yeasts, both in four classic shapes: the thin French-bread loaf baguette and its even skinnier cousin ficelle; the broader, medium-long ba^tard loaf; and the round, rustic boule. Whole-wheat bread (pain complet), a dense, crusty German rye (roggenbrot) and a chewy seven-grain bread are available only in ba^tard and boule loaves.

You can taste the breads in Santa Barbara at the Biltmore Four Seasons or El Encanto, among other places, or go by the bakery itself.

Aficionado European Bakery is at 10 E. Carrillo St., Santa Barbara; (805) 963-8404. Open 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

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