Note: This is my annual Christmas list of gifts for the food lover, incredible edibles and a few that aren’t meant to be eaten. As the holidays approach, I hope that you find something here that will gladden the hearts (and stomachs) of the foodies on your gift list, including you.
In this series:
Gift #1: Something with Peanut Butter
Gift #2: Cookies for the Adults
Gift #3: Salads + Spreadable Edibles
Gift #4: A Christmas Bread
Gift #5: Fabulous, Flaky Pastries
Gift #6: Cookies + Milk
Gift #7: Double Dips
Gift #8: The Dessert Comes First book – Signed + FREE Shipping!
Gift #9: A Bounty of Bread
Gift #10: A Chewy Cookie That Stays Chewy
It’s been said that there aren’t too many limitations once you start doing things your way, and that’s exactly what Aldwin Aspillera, together with his girlfriend and business partner, Mich Demavivas, are doing.
After dealing with the challenges of simultaneously running Tito Panadero, their 24-hour bakery and working their respective day jobs, they decided to close shop in the middle of this year. “I also realized that [my] strengths and interests lay in the types of breads I couldn’t sell in the panaderia,” Aldwin explains. “Breads like sourdough, multigrain loaves, baguettes, etc.”
Though the physical bakery has shut down, the couple’s bread business has been given new life and a new name, Crust & Crumb. It’s a most fitting designation for an abundance of bread that fuels my flour-filled fantasies: walnut loaves, rosemary and tomato focaccias, Nutella breads … Like fantasies, the list (lust!) goes on.
Aldwin has demonstrated exceeding skill in making artisanal types of bread, his fascination propelling him to prod at the limits of his medium. “The dough is like a blank canvas to me,” he muses. His creative output exhibits his understanding of the alchemy and artistry that is bread baking. His Sourdough Loaf (above and below; P170) is a beautiful burnished brown proofed in a banneton (baskets or containers used as support for shaping bread dough). This treatment results in an appealing pattern of flour that contrasts dramatically with the single slash mark down the bread’s belly.
The crust crackles in complaint as my bread knife runs through it. Slices slump in submission, baring their open and springy crumb. Toasted just for a memory of warmth, the crust is chewy and to my taste, just tangy enough to be pleasantly so. The bread is a lovely bed for smearing with butter or shamelessly dipping into some good olive oil then topped with grains of salt.
The Sourdough Pandesal meanwhile, (upper right in photo; P100/pack of 8), is the result of some tweaking. Aldwin tinkered with a pandesal recipe to come up with an innovative alternative to a favorite breakfast staple. It’s still a pandesal and still easy to love but it’s nicely complex in flavor. A few of these with a couple of softly-boiled eggs, and my day is golden.
Tito Panadero still lives on in its new incarnation through crowd favorites like the exceptional Spanish Bread, what my merienda dreams are made of. But if there’s one thing you must try from Crust & Crumb, it’s their Cheese Pull-Apart Loaf (bottom left in photo; P180). Languid layers of dough enriched with eggs and milk are mantled by a crust topped with shards of cheddar. I slice the bread thickly and marvel at its cheesy middle; its aroma alone assails my senses and stirs my appetite. My Bin so loves this bread it’s the gift he’s chosen to give his associates and business partners for Christmas.
What’s that they say again about not having too many limitations once you start doing things your way? As far as I’m concerned, as long as I can have all the bread I want from Crust & Crumb, there’s no limit to the fullness of my heart. And stomach.
Crust & Crumb
On Instagram: @crustandcrumbph
0923 803 9467
Pick up points: Makati, Alabang, BF Homes Parañaque