Wild yeasts and fluffy ciabattas have found a haven in north Liverpool – at the recently opened Emma’s Artisan Bakery, on Walton’s County Road. The bakery’s the latest venture from city bakers, partners Emma Crotty and Chris Brownlow. The pair have moved closer into town from their previous Formby store (and, before that, a bakery in Southport). The route into the city might be as slow and measured as a good sourdough, but their intentions are obvious: to bring real food to the city’s northern edges.
“Some people thought it would be difficult to sell artisan breads here,” Chris says, “but, in all honesty, people are more responsive, and supportive here than they were in Formby. People really appreciate what we’re trying to do.”
With its sage green walls, wooden bread baskets piled with floury bloomers, pancettas and baguettes, and its coffee bar, Emma’s Artisan Bakery is a real vote of confidence for the tenacious County Road community.
After living (and baking) in Italy, Chris is determined to bring a little Mediterranean thinking to the Mersey: “why does even the smallest Italian town have squares lined with local producers, and Liverpool can’t even manage a decent food market?” he asks. “Every community deserves good food, and north Liverpool more than most.”
As we speak, Chris and Emma’s sourdough starter is bubbling away back stage (Sourdough loaves will be added to the bakery’s product line all in good time), while we wait, there’s plenty of tempting multi-seeds and organic oaty whites to choose from. And plenty of customers coming in to grab one of the bakery’s filling pies for lunch. But over our shoulders looms the red, white and blue standard of Tesco Metro…
“Tesco might make food cheaper, but it’s unrealistic,” Chris says, “The only way they can sell milk that cheap is if 80 farmers go out of business each week.”
It’s a race to the bottom that’s seen many city cafes compete on price, too: the result “they cut corners, buy the lowest priced ingredients, and make our relationship with food purely economic. Good food costs more, and we have to understand that it’s about value, even if that means paying an extra 50p for a loaf,” Chris says.
We’ve just finished our chicken piri-piri ciabatta (I know, way too early) and we can confirm: we’ve just found our new favourite North Liverpool food spot.
Emma’s Artisan Bakery
County Road (opposite Tesco)