We rarely speak about a place unless there are heaps of dishes to discuss. Regularly, the routine is to sink into a few meals worth of content before giving our devoted approval. This time is different.
For years, maybe a decade even, I’ve complained about the lack of a true bread artisan within a reasonable driving distance. Sure, I’m the first one that’s willing to round-up a flock of associates to head out-of-town for good pho, dim sum or a nicely cooked piece of beef. However for bread, well, don’t we all deserve a proper loaf in every city, township and municipality throughout this great land? If you polled Will McAvoy, I’m sure lack of stellar bakeries is one of his most prominent contentions with America being the greatest land of them all. Well, that along with the number of incarcerated citizens per capita, the amount of people who believe umami is real and defensive spending to avert war. None of this is our fault of course, unless you’re the kind of person that believes America is just a place to be – no better and no worse than any other place. The variance is how much room for opportunity we have. We can literally be anything we want to be. You can be an information technology expert, a hydroponic gardener/designer, a baker or all of those combined. Ask Adrian Lucas. He is all that and probably even more. As for his drive to create greatness with his own hands, I doubt we’ve even floured the surface of his potential.
Adrian is the kind of guy who saw a gap and filled it. I recall the conversation we had one morning, standing together waiting for our weekly beignet fix. As always the topic had meandered it’s way toward food and restaurants, what the city needed. I requested a good butcher and charcuterie shop, Robyn from poor porker sounded in from her lofty perched with an order for a tasty cheese monger. Adrian asked us both “What about bread?” I could sense both Robyn and my knees kind of turn to jelly as we went weak realizing both our desires could be filled perfectly with the inclusion of a crusty piece of bread. We must have been part of some sort of secret focus group because not long after, the freaking guy was off to Europe to attend a masters class on artisanal bread making. When he returned, he got to work developing his style with a legitimate small bread oven he brought across the pond. He began putting his practice to good use by selling small quantities of his wares at the market, which is sort of where we stand today. I give a huge tip of the cap to anyone that can master this nearly lost art. I’m honestly scared of yeast. I’m afraid that if I have it in my house, it will activate and form into a Voltron-like character and destroy me while I sleep. So, you can clearly see, someone who has the power to manipulate and harness this unpredictable living being that is a ball of dough and turn it into a slice of edible art, I give a great deal admiration toward.
Don’t let all this talk of bread sway you into thinking that he is limited to a singular focus. There are a few other options, hopefully with more to come. I’d love to see something like a Pithivier. We are the ones that can make it happen if we continuously show support for this tiny, tight-knit group of artisans, until it’s obvious that they’ve filled a noticeable void in the market. They are the custard to the empty profiterole that is our town.
For now, to enjoy a taste of the real life, you can only find his small bicycle drawn cart once a week. Look for a proper charming Brit with rugged good looks and calloused hands meant for baking, sporting the most authentic “Newsies” cap you’ll ever see. Do not delay. As I said before, this operation can only pump out a small sampling of amazing baked treats. He usually pumps his peddles to arrive just before 10 am at the downtown Lakeland curb market Saturday mornings, and from my experience, he will sell out of the pain au chocolat and various country-style bread loaves in less than 30 minutes.