have you ever wondered why so many bakeries are run by Vietnamese? Bread is not a traditional Asian food, after all. The reason is that the French colonised Vietnam from 1887 until 1954, and while they were there, they introduced the locals to a love of pastries. By the time the French left Vietnam the locals made had made a speciality out of French style baking.
The fusion of French and Asian in Vietnamese cuisine means you can get some spectacular sandwich combos in Vietnamese places, bringing meat, pork especially, and veggies together with herbs like coriander, Vietnamese mint, and daikon and then using European condiments such as mayonnaise.
High St has its fair share of Vietnamese bakeries, Mai Lan Bakery, their window promising ‘Hot Bread’, is one. Go no further for fresh bread or their speciality, Vietnamese pork rolls (Ban Mi Thit). These pork rolls are now so familiar that you forget they are a relatively recent addition to the world of Vietnamese food.
Top Bread is another bakery on High Street, along with Tina’s Hot Bread. For sweeter baked things you’ve got Achilleon Café, L’Après-Midi and Cake World.
And how about La Panella (Australian and Continental Bakery), on High Street, an outright vegan bakery which offers a wide selection of animal product-free breads, cakes and pastries. You can get ‘sausage rolls’ there and their mushroom pies appear to be very popular. They even do vegan hot cross buns at Easter. You can get salads, Vietnamese rolls and rice paper rolls as well. Going by their Facebook reviews, besides the fact that they’re completely vegan, this one’s also a favourite for good and cheap coffees.
Apart from damper, years ago, it was hard to imagine bread being made without yeast or dairy. But these days you can get bread that works for everybody. By the way, it’s easy to make gluten free scones with lemonade; they’re yum. Someone local should start selling those.
If you’re in Preston market and in the market for something yeasty and doughy, at least three bakeries will be able to satisfy any cravings for a fresh bun or a roll. Vincenzo’s, Panetteria No 4 and Publique. The latter is a French artisan bakery offering pastries as well as breads, including amazing almond croissants and those divine little Portuguese tarts. By all accounts they do a mighty walnut sourdough loaf.
Speaking of pastries, you can see Middle Eastern pastries being made by hand at the new El Alam store in the market.
Lucchini cakes and pastries has been in the market for 46 years. The market store is run by the daughter of the High Street café owners.
So, just nipping out for a loaf in Preston Central might mean bringing home some a few surprises.