This loaf of bread might not look special but if you could smell it and taste it, you’d realise that it wasn’t like other loaves of bread. It’s special because it’s real bread and it’s special because you can only get it on a Thursday at one place in Maidenhead. This bread is the reason that I’m celebrating Palmieri’s as one of my local food heroes. As part of the Real Bread Campaign Italian cafe Palmieri’s in Maidenhead make fresh bread made on-site every Thursday. Available only after midday and prepared by Roberto Palmieri, it is without a doubt the best bread I’ve eaten since I’ve been in the UK. While personally I am partial to the open, moist texture of ciabatta, and I usually prefer a bit more crunch on my crust, I cannot ignore the superior flavour of the Palmieri’s white loaf. It’s worth buying for the smell alone. The texture is soft like a milk loaf, the crust is crisp but not too crunchy, and it tastes like – well, bread; the sort of bread you notice, the sort of bread that would make you look twice if it was walking down the street. And that’s because it’s made with simple, natural ingredients.
Some of the exciting things that can end up in store-bought bread are E481 (sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate), E472e (mono- and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids), E920 (l-cysteine), E282 (calcium propionate), E220 (potassium sorbate), E300 (ascorbic acid), E260 (acetic acid) soya flour, vegetable fat and dextrose. As part of the Real Bread campaign, it’s required that the loaf is “made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives” which pretty much means the bread must be made from flour, salt, yeast and water.
Even if I put the bread aside for one moment, Palmieri’s is my local food hero this week because they are a fine example of a family run local business, with a passion for their food and an enviable rapport with their customers. Run by Roberto Palmieri from Naples, the cafe started out as a delicatessen in 2004, and quickly grew to become a restaurant and catering business specialising in Italian cuisine. Palmieri’s food is all made on site, by hand and with quality ingredients. On their menu you’ll find Italian classics like lasagne, carbonara and bolognese, and a huge selection of traditional breakfast and lunch time fare. They serve wine, they serve coffee – possibly one of the best cups of coffee you’ll get in Maidenhead, and they provide catering for local businesses and events along with a specialty range of tray-aways, which is their home-made pasta prepared in a foil tray ready for you to pop in the oven at home.
Hat’s off to Roberto and the team. I will see you on Thursday to pick up another loaf of your real bread. xoxo
Palmieri’s Italian Cafe, 52 Furze Platt Rd, Maidenhead, SL6 7NN. Open Monday to Saturday. www.eatatpalmieris.co.uk