Maison Kayser, Wheelock Place… What a shame

I really love the baked goods of Maison Kayser, and I have one particular favourite which I give myself a treat to on-and-off, the Pain aux Noix (walnut bread). I enjoy breads that are not too soft, and that contain nuts or grains because the added texture and chewiness makes eating more fun in a way, not to mention that they also give more dimension to the taste.

This evening, after my class was over, I thought I’d try my luck at the Wheelock Place outlet to check if they are still open, and if so I’d buy a Pain aux Noix, or maybe just something, for breakfast tomorrow. My class is supposed to end at 9:45pm but my teacher usually makes us stay a little longer because there’s just too much to cover. But it was still before 10pm when I got there, and was slightly dismayed that the lights in the display cases were already off, signalling that they were closed for the day. But I saw that there were still loaves being displayed in the darkened cases, and there was a staff milling behind them, so a shimmer of hope raised in me.

I approached the counter and tried with a few “Excuse Me”s that got ignored, until the female staff member looked up from what she was doing and saw me. She was in the midst of emptying the baskets of breads into a large trash bag, so I asked “Are you closed?” to which she responded “Yes” and continued with her action, despite that I was actually interested to buy something. Right in front of my eyes, with Pain aux Noix still available, she took them all and threw all the contents of the trays into the trash bag.

I was really disappointed and angry that they would rather throw away food items that are still edible and good and could be sold to me. I know they have already closed the till for the day, but they could always just make a sale and put it into the next day’s takings, couldn’t they? Or she could have offered a more polite decline instead a curt “Yes” before trashing the loaves. To look at this in a positive way, she was probably sticking to rules and procedures to not sell anything after the cashier has been closed, and that she did not take the chance to sell something and pocket the money since it isn’t recorded (but to these youngsters these days, $3.40 probably isn’t worth their effort to pilfer anyway), but it was just in extremely bad taste and poor customer service.

As much as I really enjoy Maison Kayser’s breads, I have only ever encountered very limited instances of good customer service from their staff manning the takeaway counters. In the service line, or F&B for that matter, it doesn’t matter if it is a $3.40 bun that someone is buying or a $10 sandwich, you still accord them the same service, don’t you? I don’t know if it’s attributable to the lack of proper training or the transient nature of such jobs that are usually staffed by part-timers who do not give a damn about building a good brand image to which customer service is a fundamental building block. But the sad state of customer service in Singapore is something that just never seem to change, although there are some places that do indeed serve up good customer experience, such as for instance, Starbucks.

Gardenia Country Loaf

My relentless love for bread and the neverending quest to try more breads that are available in Singapore (subject to a lack of procrastination), I veered away from buying the usual Gardenia bread loaves that we usually see in stores, the type that comes in a squarish block wrapped in plastic denoted with different colours for the various varieties. Gardenia actually boasts a varied offering of products, from sandwich breads (the aforementioned ones), speciality breads, fruit loaves, variety buns, filled buns, frozen gourmet breads and country loaves! So far, aside from the sandwich breads, I have only tried the bread stick (filed under the category of speciality breads) which I don’t personally fancy, as it feels too soft to the bite. So I thought to check out and try their country loaves, since the range includes types like multi-grain and walnut.

I have tried the Multigrain Country Loaf and for this week, decided to pick up the Walnut Country Loaf, and I really like both of them because they are baked with real tangible grains in them! It isn’t like some wholemeal or multigrain breads where it is made with wholemeal/multigrain flour blend where there is no grain texture at all, so this tastes fantastic if you are like me and enjoy chewing on your breads for a longer period of time.   20131016-085351.jpg

For the Walnut country loaf, you can see the walnut pieces that have been baked into the loaf, and the top of it is sprinkled with an assortment of grains that provides extra bite and taste. I love the smell of baked bread and each time I open the plastic wrap or sit near where the bread is stored, the aroma just permeates its surrounding and gives me a nice feeling of a crisp morning.   20131016-085403.jpg

Yes, I know maybe three slices is a bit much for a mid-morning snack, but I couldn’t help it when it’s so delicious and goes perfectly well with a coffee!20131016-085414.jpg

My next item on the list to try would be the Cranberry Fruity Loaf, which I hope won’t be too sweet. If not, I always have the Multigrain or the Walnut loaves to rely on! At a price of S$3.20 (for the Walnut Loaf) or S$3.40 (I think, for the Multigrain Loaf), it costs slightly more than the usual sandwich breads, but I think this is all for good reason, and at least it lasts me for a much longer time as compared to the BreadTalk loaves or Maison Kayser Pain aux Noix that I allow myself to have as occasional treats (e.g. 4 slices of Chia Seed Toast costs S$3.60 and one Walnut bun from Maison Kayser costs S$3.40!). Yay to bread-y goodness. 🙂

Five Loaves bread

When I first came across this brand of bread in Cold Storage I was thinking about its name and if it bore any biblical references. But that aside, one day I finally decided to give my usual breads a miss i.e. Gardenia, Sunshine, BreadTalk, Maison Kayser, and try this out. Usually, I am not so enthusiastic about channelling my exploratory mood through because sometimes loaves tend to be too much for me to consume within their expiry/sell-by dates. I could offer to share them with my family now that everyone also seemed to have jumped onto the eat clean/healthy bandwagon, but my brother buys his own bread too in addition. Maybe when we’ve come to some agreement on the breads that we are buying, we can be on the way to discovering and trying out more different kinds of breads!20130924-140332.jpg

Despite that this is hailed as “Free of Preservatives” on its packaging, I don’t know how true it is, because even past its expiry, the bread was still edible and hadn’t gone bad. They suggested to keep the loaf chilled or refrigerated if it’s intended to be consumed past its use-by date, which is what I did, pop it into the fridge on the last day, and I didn’t spot any visible mould sprouting on it or taste/smell any sourness in it for a few days afterward. Anyway, I will try to consume everything within its freshness period, who knows what could happen by ingesting too much of these things that have past their best before dates, a classic example of which would be chocolates in my fridge.

I love this because of its size. Although it is a fairly large loaf, the individual slices are much smaller than the usual slice of bread, probably about 60-70% of the typical. And the combination of bread and walnuts is a winner for me; this is like the alternative to the Pain aux Noix from Maison Kayser for me, of course, the latter being way better in terms of its texture and chewiness and being less crumbly, but price-wise, this is definitely more economical. One Pain aux Noix, which I was split into two, at most three servings, costs S$3.40; this loaf costs S$3.50, so there you go.

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I couldn’t find too much information about this online as their website doesn’t have much information other than its addresses. Supposedly, this bread is sold in Cold Storage and NTUC Finest, but I tend to find it in Cold Storage, and just selected ones. They have other varieties, an Organic Sandwich Loaf that costs more (S$5.90) and some other types of scones/rolls, etc., but this will do for me for now.