Transilvania Peasant Bread

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Stepping into the interior of Transilvania Peasant Bread is like stepping back two centuries in time. The rustic blond wood interior and almost empty shelves are reminiscent of a more idyllic time when the highlight of the day was a highly unlikely accident involving a rutting goat.

Remember those stories in which the evil king throws the prisoners into the dungeon with instructions that they be fed nothing but bread and water? Well, this is where that king goes shopping. Transilvania Peasant Bread sells nothing but bread and water. Only one kind of bread, and only one kind of water.

Breadoven_1The bread is a traditional Romanian peasant bread, a dense whole wheat bread with a thick, hard crust. It’s the real deal; freshly baked in a hand-built wood-fired oven, in the traditional 2 kg full loaf and 1 kg half-loaf sizes. The loaves are stacked on the shelf on their ends, like particularly crunchy books.

Visiting this store is an educational experience. When you discover that the bread costs $10 for a loaf, and $5 for a half loaf, you understand why the peasants were in poverty (except, presumably, the ones that owned bread stores).

Enough with the talking and on with the eating. I ordered a half a loaf, which was placed on the counter with a solid clunk. I walked home comfortable in the knowledge that if I were to be mugged, I was ready for it – armed, as I were, with a house brick cunningly concealed in a plain brown paper bag. The bread would have been pretty dangerous too.

So what does a $5 half-loaf of bread taste like? Does it live up to the hype? Do angels sing as you take your first bite?

I had to find out. As soon as I got home, I whipped out a bread knife and began to saw hopefully at one end. Two minutes later I finally managed to hack off a piece. I think I need a new bread knife. I closed my eyes and took a cautious bite. There was no singing (thank goodness, it’s been getting annoying lately). The taste was like… well, you’re not going to believe this. It tasted like…

Brown bread. Yep. Plain ‘ol brown bread.

Location: 3474 West Broadway (West Broadway and Collingwood)

Photo courtesy of Roland.

Last modified: February 11, 2006

7 Responses to " Transilvania Peasant Bread "

  1. James says:

    I tried Transilvania Peasant Bread as well and had a pretty similar experience. I loved the shop and its elegant, old-world simplicity. The loaf I bought was still hot from the oven and I could feel the heat radiating from the bag as I lugged it home. But when I sliced in and took my first bite I was a little underwhelmed. Perhaps the purchasing experience had overinflated my expectations? Dunno. The loaf didn’t go quickly at our house, but, in the end, it did make excellent croutons.

  2. High Plains Drifter says:

    “Plain ol’ brown bread”?!? Wow, I want to come over to your house and see what kind of regular brown bread you normally consume!!

    Pretty much the last thing that comes to mind when I eat Peasant Bread is “plain”. This stuff is amazing! Life sustaining! The contrast between crunchy, rustic crust and chewy interior! I just rip off hunks of the stuff and eat it by itself! Have it warm with some butter and I could eat a whole loaf!!

    Okay, I’ve made my point. Do not listen to the two previous reviews! Hop on your bicycle or skateboard NOW and get some of this stuff, you dig?

  3. Christine March says:

    Greetings from Sunny Toronto: Does anyone out there remember Willams Bakery on West Broadway? It’s long gone but I have fond memories and wonder when they closed their doors. I’m curious to know what is now occupying their former space. Any help is greatly appreciated.

  4. My name is Anton and I write you from London, UK says:

    Nicu Constantin was the first owner of Transilvania Peasant Bread. I have a lot of memories since the time when he was working there on West Broadway in Kitsilano. Does anybody have any information about where he could be right now? If you do, please send me an e-mail to:
    anton.butnaru@gmail.com

  5. Pete Quily says:

    Transilvania Peasant Bread has the best bread in town. Bar none.

    It’s worth making the visit there and it’s worth the price. Taste’s much better and much healthier than so may of the other air breads around town. i.e., e 90% air, 10% actual bread.

    you do need a sharp bread knife or you will have a bit of a workout cutting it. compare that to a safeway air/chemical stew bread that you can rip in half in a blink of an eye

  6. We would like to thank Florin for the determination to keep up the name TRANSILVANIA PEASANT BREAD Still on this side of the grass Nick and from heaven Mickey The bread saga keeps going on Romania Country Bred in Steveston Village

  7. We would like to thank Florin for the determination to keep up the name TRANSILVANIA PEASANT BREAD Still on this side of the grass Nick and from heaven Mickey The bread saga keeps going on Romania Country Bread in Steveston Village