Breads & Pastries in Palma
These days – with all the COVID related restrictions and many great places around Palma either completely closed or open just a few hours per day for take away – it´s becoming increasingly hard to enthusiastically write about coffees, cakes, chocolates and cavas, which was my initial intention for this column.
Still, one place deifying the current pessimistic climate is Thomas´ Bakeshop in Santa Catalina. Last time I was there, despite a cold Saturday morning, the queue was snaking down the road and around the corner. To quote Thomas, the person behind the brand: “While people can’t eat at a restaurant, they need to eat at home. When they eat at home – they need bread.”
Thomas is an Austrian chef and pastry chef. His career in hotels and dairy industry took him and his Lebanese wife Michelle all over the world, most recently to Vietnam. However, at some point he decided to move “closer to home”. So he looked into Southampton in the UK before settling in in Palma.
Initially he took over an existing bakery in Can Pastilla, catering for the German market, making mostly bread rolls. After a year he wanted a change and decided to try his luck in the increasingly trendy neighbourhood of Santa Catalina. This was five years ago and – at the time – Thomas and Michelle were the first to open a bakery offering something other than typical local breads. Now there are several other international bakeries around town. Thomas sees them all as colleagues and says: “Competition is good, it improves quality!”
Thomas´ Bakeshop is tiny and with the current restrictions can receive only one customer at the time. Still, once you are in, you understand why all those people are patiently queuing up! This place is bursting with some very interesting breads and pastries.
Jhonatan, the charming young man behind the counter, recommends a nice big slice of an apple strudel and I have to say that it was one of the best I have ever tried, with a crispy flaky pastry and generous apple and cinnamon filling. He jokes that he is the couple´s adopted son and that would be easy to believe that considering how well he fits into this set up, working both in the shop and in their bakery in Santa Maria.
Thomas tells me that their most popular product these days is olive bread, which they have been making for about a year now. Another firm favourite is rye bread with figs and nuts, a combination I have not seen anywhere else. As I am a big lover of anything with figs, I could not wait to try this loaf! And I loved it! Their French brioche with almonds and raisins is also very popular and very good.
I particularly love both the taste and the texture of their traditional baguette. May all the French people out there forgive me, but I think that this sweet Austrian man has beaten them at their own game when it comes to the famous stick!
I hear that they used to sell cakes to start with, but over time decided that they were “going to be a real bakery” and only offer sweets that fit with this concept, such as brownies, carrot cakes etc. So they have a classic brownie but also something very unique: a brownie with apple and tahini, with broken rye grains giving it an unusual crunch.
Thomas´s personal favourites are their house bread – a really good rye bread with some spices, usually available on Fridays and Saturdays – and anything with chocolate!
In terms of the best sellers, all their spelt breads are doing really well, especially the one with sesame. Rye bread is also increasingly popular. People seem to have this perception that anything “without wheat” is automatically better and healthier. However, Thomas points out that all their breads are long fermented, meaning that everyone can eat them, even “gluten sensitive” people.
Outside of the shop there is a table with a few chairs where, in happier times, people could sit and chat while waiting their turn. There is also a box of books in several languages, free to take for any curious passer-by – another nod to the community spirit Santa Catalina is known and loved for.
All the goodies sold in Thomas´ Santa Catalina shop are baked in their bakery in Santa Maria. For 2021 Thomas is hoping to open another shop, either near the exiting one or on another side of Palma. Linked to this, he is planning to expand his range to offer sandwiches made with his great range of breads. I am keeping my fingers crossed that both of his plans work out and that we see more and more of Thomas´s tasty products around town in the years to come.
Till next month…
Aside from bringing you a story of one special place each month, I will briefly review a few other places or products that have caught my attention over the previous weeks.
Coffee: One of my favourite places to either hang out with friends or work on my laptop is Arabay coffee on Carrer del Sindicat. Their huge range of great coffees is currently available for take away.
Chocolate: This month I loved Sol Natural´s Matcha and Lemon bio bar sweetened with coconut sugar, a sweetener appreciated for its low GI index. This interestingly flavoured organic, vegan chocolate comes in a 70g tablet form and you can find it Mama Carmen´s store in Santa Catalina.
Cava: I am sorry to say that we will have to wait for some less restrictive days to sip cava on one of the numerous sunny terraces around Palma.
Mia Naprta, e-mail: email@example.com, Instagram: @mianaprta
Photos: Sandra Puric, Instagram: @sandra_puric_photography
Carrer de Annibal 24, Santa Catalina, Palma
Carrer Bartomeu Pasqual 8, Santa Maria Del Camí