Kärlekens Trädgård: The Viking Bread Reconquista in El Porvenir

Categories: Tijuana Sí!

swedishsign.JPG
Dave Lieberman
Of all the flags I see flying in the Valle de Guadalupe--the tricolor bandera nacional, the red, white and black emblem of the fútbol champion Xolos, and more political flags than I care to think about--the last one I expected ever to see was a gold Scandinavian cross on blue background, the Swedish flag.

Said Swedish flag was accompanied by a sign that said "SWEDISH BAKERY" in large, friendly, English letters, which caused me to make an unbelievably dangerous left turn off the El Tigre-El Porvenir highway and park under a Persian mulberry tree. A Swedish bakery--an English-speaking Swedish bakery--in the middle of the Valle de Guadalupe?


caroline-and-jaime-garcia.JPG
Dave Lieberman
Caroline and Jaime García and their daughter. Not pictured: their energetic young son, who was busy saving the world with his truck.
Yes! Kärlekens Trädgård, Swedish for the Garden of Love, is run by Caroline García, a native of Halland province on the west coast between Helsingborg and Göteborg, and her Mexican husband, Jaime. Caroline is as rubia y zarca (blonde-haired and blue-eyed) as St. Lucia, and from her recipes and the outdoor brick oven Jaime built for her comes Swedish baking in the most un-Swedish of locations.

Their flagship product is three kinds of bread: white "Bulgarian" bread; pan molocano, a dark bread named for the Molokans, the Russian equivalent to our Puritans, an anti-Orthodox religious group who were the original winemakers (including the Bibayoffs) in Baja California; and an anise- and fennel-tinged sweet bread with dried fruit tucked inside that goes perfectly with the queso añejo from Rancho Cortés. They're all made by hand.

"Made by hand" is more literal than you know: one day at a party after they moved, Caroline mused aloud at how she'd like to make Swedish bread, but she couldn't find any rye. The party was at Rancho Cortés--you know, the place we wrote about with the great olive oil and cheese--and one of the Cortés family mentioned that they had planted some rye. A deal was struck, and hyper-local bread was born.

Serendipity? Or the hand of some long-obsolete Viking god? The Garcías may buy the rye from the Cortés family, but they mill it into flour themselves--literally, themselves, with a manual mill, while Jaime searches out stones to make a larger stone mill to allow for larger batches and more production.

karlekens-tradgard.JPG
Dave Lieberman
Meanwhile, though, there are candied peanuts and cinnamon rolls in the morning and energy "balls" rolled in sweetened coconut. They make wine, too, a creditable but sweet Zinfandel and an excellent vino de granada--pomegranate wine.

We spent hours there, talking and exchanging recipes (here's hoping Persian mulberry jam ends up on the shelves) and talking in an unholy mixture of Swedish, English and Spanish. They're just beginning production--they opened two months ago--and have hired a man to help them with their sweets, including pastries. Look for the menu to expand.

The bread is delicious, and the nice surprise is the price: in a place where chemical-laden pan Bimbo that sticks behind your teeth costs 30 pesos a loaf, the Garcías' big, rustic loaves cost 40 pesos--a little over $3.

Kärlekens Trädgård--say "chair-le-kens trade-gord"--is located at Blvd. Emiliano Zapata s/n, Ejido El Porvenir, Baja California. It is in the town of El Porvenir, on the main highway that leads from Francisco Zarco to the free road at La Misión, between 3rd and 4th Streets, near Tienda Martina. The telephone number is (646) 191-29-88. The bakery is open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or until they run out of bread), with plans to expand hours to Wednesday and Thursday.

Follow Stick a Fork In It on Twitter @ocweeklyfood or on Facebook! And don't forget to download our free Best Of App here!


My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

Do you have bread with no dairy, eggs or honey in it? 

Oldschool Rocker
Oldschool Rocker

Would anyone eat @ a Mexican Restaurant if the food was cooked by Chinese?

Jose Bermudez
Jose Bermudez

Most of those Chinese restaurants with Mexican cooks are usually just making American/Chinese food anyway. This Swedish bakery sounds like the real McCoy.

Oldschool Rocker
Oldschool Rocker

Oh Yeah! Well what's the big deal? What about all the Chinese restaurants that have Mexicans cooking the food?

Ruben Guzman
Ruben Guzman

Good story,my name is Ruben Guzman and I approve of this Bakery.

Elsa Covarrubias
Elsa Covarrubias

Great read, primo Dave! "Chemical-laden pan Bimbo that sticks behind your teeth.", love it!

Dave_Lieberman
Dave_Lieberman

@vegandawg23 I don't think she's reading this (I could be wrong), but next time I go down I'll stop in and ask. I didn't taste any honey in the "regular" bread, and normally rye breads have no dairy or eggs in them, but I'll ask for sure.

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@Oldschool Rocker Why not? Plenty of good french cooks aren't french. Vegan burritos and tacos at au lac are much better than anything you'll find in Santa Ana. 

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...