Sunday, 20 October 2019


In my tiny freezer I’ve a large brown pan and a sourdough loaf from Griffin's Bakery, which closed its doors for the last time a few weeks ago.

The longer the loaves sit there, the drier and less bouncy they become, but driven by a sad desire for delayed gratification, they sit there still.

My reaction is not so much about the bread, but my attachment to Griffin’s. Fans of David Chase’s masterpiece, The Sopranos, will understand when I say I’m coming over all Bobby Baccalieri.

Realised by actor Steve Schirripa, Robert Baccalieri Jr. was a shy, comparatively gentle mobster, who was at his happiest playing with model trains.

Bobby had several nicknames,  (’BaccalĂ ’, ’Calzone on Legs’ and ’Burger Boy’), all celebrating the way his waistline crossed several time zones.

When his wife Karen died in a car crash, Bobby focused on looking after his two young children, Sophia and Bobby III.

Unfortunately, Karen’s death caught the attention of Mob Boss Tony Soprano’s machiavellian sister, Janice, who used all her malign talents to inveigle her way into Bobby’s home.

Karen’s last baked ziti sat like a holy relic in Bobby’s freezer. He saw it as a vital final sensory link to his wife.

Driven demented by Bobby’s refusal to embrace her as his new saviour, Janice cooked up a vile scheme, which involved abusing Bobby’s kids’ grief with an ouija board.

Bobby arrived home to find his children terrified, while Janice played a manipulative blinder, telling Bobby that she’d heard them talk about Karen’s ghost earlier, but worried she’d be overstepping her bounds if she intervened.

Faced with his freaked out kids, Bobby finally caved in to Janice’s pleas to move on from Karen, allowing her to cook his wife's last ziti.

Janice’s victory was so complete that by the time they ate the ziti together, it was in honour of their engagement.

Thankfully my life is far from gangsters, but I do have two Griffin’s loaves in my freezer, for purely sentimental reasons.

We all have our little routes when we head into town, and for decades mine always included Griffin’s bakery.

Their large brown pan was a thing of beauty. Unsliced, that loaf would stay fresh and last me a week. It was real bread: the stuff of life.

No more.

There’s no shortage of O’Hehirs Bakeries. Offering lovely bread, gooey cakes, and a nice little social scene, where locals can enjoy a cuppa and a chat, they’re a great chain, so what’s my problem?

Grumpy Old Man Syndrome is what we’re dealing with here. If I walk into O’Hehirs and ask for a large brown pan, sure as orders are orders, the server will ask:

“Only one?”

because if you buy two, you’ll save on the unit cost. Small thing, I know, but if I wanted to buy two loaves of bread, I’d ask for two loaves of bread.

Just around the corner from Griffin's there’s fancy fresh bread available at Le Petit Delice, but their small loaves would survive no more than a couple of days in my home.

There used to be order in my Galway cakery-bakery connection.
If I wanted bread I went to Griffin’s.

For a good cake, I’d go to Goya’s and buy their chocolate fudge cake. If I needed a mind-blowingly wonderful cake, I’d go to Goya’s and order their chocolate mousse cake.

For scrummy shmancy patisserie, you can’t beat Le Petit Delice. Many a ‘tea and buns’ session with Dalooney is enjoyed while sharing a slice of their Black Forest Gateau and a strawberry tartlet.

It may sound strange to you that I miss a shop, but I grew up in retail, with both my parents running shops, as has my sister all her life. I’ve managed several myself, and worked in many others, so doubtless that influences my emotions, but also there were personal connections.

For several years I had the pleasure of living a few doors down from Anthony and Eithne Griffin, and it was impossible not to enjoy their company.

In 2008 the business was bought by their son Jimmy, the fourth generation to run the bakery. In 2012, Jimmy made an incredibly generous gesture towards me, that unfortunately - some might say tragically - missed its mark.

In this colyoom’s 2012 DV Awards, Griffin's Bakery were awarded the More Rare Than An Honest Banker Lifetime Achievement DV for decades of consistently superb bread, the best sausage rolls ever and several inches on my waistline.”

Jimmy Griffin responded to this honour by sending boxes of hot sausage rolls over to the Connacht Tribune building.

Trouble is, I work from home, popping into the newsroom once every couple of weeks, so it said a lot about Griffin’s sausage rolls, that days later everyone still had satisfied smiles on their faces, as they teased me in wistful tones of the treat I had missed.

In Connacht we’re lucky to have loads of great places selling spectacular baked goods - loud shout out to Galway’s Gourmet Tart Company! - but I’m yet to find a bakery that simply sells me a large unsliced wholemeal pan, if I walk in and ask for one.

All colyoomista suggestions gratefully received - as long as they’re about bread!
Meanwhile I’ve still two Griffin’s loaves in my freezer.

Get a grip, Adley.
Defrost ‘em, eat ‘em and move on.

One last time, for the record: thanks, Griffin’s, for the bread; the cakes; the sausage rolls; the consistency and reliability; the charm and the chat.

We will miss all that.

© Charlie Adley

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