Have you ever wondered if there were specific qualifications for being a food critic? I actually read the Association of Food Journalists (there IS such a thing) Food Critics Guidelines before writing this post, so I can speak with some authority: I am unqualified.
And yet, when I first tasted Don Guerra’s Barrio Bread in Tucson, I began to contemplate a future in which I might repay him for the first truly transcendent bread experience I’ve ever had. (And I was raised Catholic.)
A glowing review in Gourmet magazine seemed an appropriate token of my gratitude until the Association of Food Journalists got in the way. I later toyed with the idea of becoming a food poet until I discovered (because I Google everything) that there is already is one. (No kidding. The Food Poet. Good stuff!)
Blogging seems to be the new cottage industry, so here we are!
When it comes to artisan bread, Don Guerra does not cut corners. He starts with a foundation of locally-grown heritage grains and employs centuries old baking techniques.
His Pan de Kino was my Barrio Bread gateway drug. It’s leavened with a wild yeast culture and baked with a White Sonoran Heritage Wheat brought to the region by Spanish Missionary Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino in the late 1600s. Pan de Kino’s crust has that perfect chew-to-crunch ratio that gives way to a moist, delicate, yet flavorful crumb. With the first bite, you’ll realize that you have a new standard for bread.
The Barrio Baguette was my second experience. (Full disclosure: I did purchase it while hungry.) It was meant for a dinner party, but one minute into my car ride home I was tearing off chunks until half a loaf was gone. The Cranberry-Walnut with pain au levain dough is extraordinary for breakfast or afternoon tea. But my favorite must be the Desert Duram, a long fermentation bread with a nutty flavor.
In 2016, Tucson became the first city in the United States to win UNESCO’s City of Gastronomy designation. The marvelous heritage wheats used by Don Guerra, all grown locally in the oldest continuously farmed landscape in the USA, contributed to winning that title. Guerra represents Tucson while teaching at conferences and workshops worldwide. In 2016, he was selected by Dessert Professionals magazine as one of the Top Ten Bread Bakers in North America.
As time goes on, I will post more on Tucson’s brilliant food culture, but if you visit simply for taste of Barrio Bread, I promise it will be worth the trip!
Barrio Bread / 18 S. Eastbourne Avenue / Tucson, Arizona / 85716 / (520) 327-1292