A wide assortment of Western food is available in Phnom Penh and, I imagine to a lesser degree, elsewhere in Cambodia. I have been able to find, albeit at elevated prices, almost anything I have wanted.
Although I have located decent bread — much of it is from international chains such as Tous les Jours — including baguettes, breads as chewy and heavy as what I loved in New York eluded me.
With the arrival of two Eric Kayser stores within a 10- or 15-minute walk of my apartment, my search has ended.
In our Manhattan apartment, I often baked my own loaves either in a machine or in the oven, depending on the season. I was particularly fond of that 18-hour bread that the New York Times made famous. But I lack an oven bigger than toaster type where we live and so depend on commercial product.
(While breads from Kayser, which is based in Paris, come quite close, they don’t quite reach the same qualities or variety that I treasure.)
So I happily make do with the numerous breads and pastries that the chain offers, renewing my supply every few days. There are myriad choices, and I am making my way down the possibilities from sourdough to a Japanese version of pain de mis and what Kayser calls Viennoise.
The last time I was there, when I purchased a cheese and a seeded bread termed pavé, each for approximately $2, an employee offered first me a sample of chocolate-chip cookies in a basket that she was taking around. She correctly guessed how vulnerable this customer might be, yet I managed to escape without giving into severe temptation.
She didn’t seem to mind anyway when I passed by her as I exited, purloining yet another little cube of the luscious sweet before passersby could beat me to that second morsel.
Okay, the headline is something of an exaggeration. Still, I can report that the bakery at least has improved my life.