Popping into a bakery can be a shortcut to exploring a new city. The allure of something sweet has transcontinental appeal, which means locals are bound to surround you, and the baked goods offered reflect the enveloping culture.
In historic Vienna, Austria, where Demel has reigned since 1786, old codgers and young adventurers alike frequent the Baroque-style coffee salon for baked delicacies and confections. No bakery captures San Francisco quite as well as the inventive Tartine Bakery & Cafe, founded a decade ago by a husband-and-wife team. In a cozy neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, James Beard-nominated pastry chef Ken Forkish of Ken's Artisan Bakery bakes his baguettes twice a day.
Given that all bread is made from essentially the same ingredients, what makes some loaves sublime? Time, and quality, but perhaps skill outweighs them both. If you are out for an early walk in the Rose City, you might catch a glimpse of Forkish's flour-dusted hands expertly working the dough in his open kitchen. And though baking styles around the world vary, the end products find their fans. Flour Bakery + Cafe in Boston takes local traditions into decidedly delicious new directions; Vegan Treats in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, breaks with tradition entirely. Either way, all you need to do is dig in.