Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Secret Baker

Soon after settling into Patan and meeting people living in the Jawalakhel, Jhamsikhel, and Sanepa neighborhoods, I began hearing about "The Secret Baker." It is a secret not so much because those in the know want to keep others away (though there may be some territorial protectiveness, too) but because the bakery is unmarked and difficult to find -- unless you know the secret.

Multiple people had raved about The Secret Baker's whole wheat loaves, tarts, cookies, and fresh marinara sauce, and I figured that he or she (gender still a mystery!) must be excellent if a business could flourish on word of mouth alone. I wanted to hunt down the bakery, but first I needed directions.

Fortunately, a new friend emailed me very detailed directions using the Nepali landmark method. I took photos to document my route in case others want to seek out The Secret Baker too.

1. Take the "restaurant row" road down to Cinnamon Grill Lounge (note: not "Grill AND Lounge." Just "Grill Lounge"). Check.

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2. Take right at Cinnamon and continue straight until you reach the intersection with the statue. Check.

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3. Continue straight, passing Jazzabell Cafe (Jazzabell Cafe, you screwed me up once before, but I would not let you defeat me again). Check.

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4. Just past Jazzabell, see a small parking lot to your left (generous definition of parking lot here). Check.

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5. If you pass the British School, you have gone too far. Nope, did not pass it.

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6. Just past the parking lot, take a left down a dirt alley. Got it.

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7. A small, squat dog will bark at you. I saw the small, squat dog, but it did not bark. Assumed I was still on course.

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8. Note an ugly new housing development straight ahead. Ugly new housing development, check:

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9. Go through a gate to the left of the housing development. Getting warmer!

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10. Enter first floor of the home. Okay; hoped I was not trespassing here:

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11. You are now in the home of The Secret Baker. Success!

Inside I met Bharat, The Secret Baker himself. We chatted for a bit while he gave me a tour of his daily offerings, which included this spread of cinnamon rolls, cookies, focaccia, croisannt, and calzones:

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And stacks upon stacks of bread loaves:

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Bharat wakes up every day between 2AM and 3AM to do his baking in a wood-fired oven:

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Although Bharat used to supply several restaurants around town, his business is mainly a retail one now. He supplements the sales from his home by selling baked goods at the twice weekly farmers' market at the Summit Hotel in nearby Sanepa.

I bought a jar of his fresh marinara sauce, which I promptly ate (I would like to say that I did not eat it straight out of the jar but instead warmed it and incorporated it in a proper meal, but I would be lying).

I will definitely be going back to see Bharat, and now you can find him too.

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