The phone rings at Fry’s Red Wheat Bread and Jordan Barry picks it up.
After listening to the potential customer’s inquiry, he turns to owner Byron Fry and asks when the next batch of sourdough sandwich loafs will emerge from the shop’s custom-made brick oven.
It’s a question the staff at the Craigflower Road bakery in Vic West get asked frequently over the course of their work week.
“On Saturdays, there’s a lineup before we even get all the loaves on the shelves,” Barry says.
“It’s kind of like the holy grail of sandwich bread,” adds Fry, who opened the bakery in the fall of 2012.
Baking runs in Fry’s blood, with the trade going back five generations on his father’s side and at least two in his mother’s family.
The bakery’s sourdough sandwich bread and whole wheat country – both are baked daily, where most of Fry’s’ other breads alternate days – are the anchors of this small operation’s product line. Every loaf comes out of the oven looking slightly different, Fry says. On the cooling shelf, finished loaves of whole wheat country are gnarly and dark brown, perfect examples of homemade bread.
“Some people are daunted if it’s not the same shape they’re used to,” he says.
These yeast-free loaves, like virtually all of his organically made breads, rise naturally. For the bread lover, the finished product is the ultimate sandwich bread.
“We’ve converted a lot of people,” Fry says. “They bite into it and there’s so much flavour.”
Part of that flavour comes from using butter in the pans, as opposed to synthetic coatings, he says.
As he’s shaping croissants out of dough, Barry raves to Fry about an amazing fried chicken sandwich he got at Chorizo and Co., a Spanish delicatessen and tapas café on Fort St.
Not only was the chicken delicious, with a marmalade spread, cheese and lettuce, Barry says, the bread was amazing.
“You realize that’s our bread, don’t you?” Fry asks with a grin.
Fry’s breads are also available at Chiarelli’s on Foul Bay Road in Oak Bay, but Fry says selling wholesale is not a focus of their business.
He compares artisan breadmaking to craft beer brewing. “We’re more into just getting people to try the breads.”
Find out more about Fry’s journey at travelingbaker.tumblr.com.
By Don Descoteau