By Vicky Litska
Situated in the heart of the city center, in the area of Agias Sofias, Blé, one of the most prestigious pastry shops in Thessaloniki, is here to stay.
Influenced by traditional Greek pastry cuisine as well as wider international cooking trends, it has complete respect for natural ingredients and a modern tendency toward more healthy food options.
Blé will capture you when gazing over their wide variety of desserts, appetizers and snacks, bread and baked goods that are displayed across its multiple glass counters. And inside the modern designed building, there is a 12-metre wood oven, the tallest in Europe, which stands out in pride and brings back to the local's images and aromas of authentic Yiayia-style cooking from the village, as there are fresh homemade dishes and bread made here every day.
Bread is actually a much loved Greek good, which Blé' is proud of. The specially selected varieties of wheat, barley, wholegrain groat, rye, zea, cultivated varieties in natural sourdough, yoghurt and grape to which Blé shows special preference, just indicate a step forward in Greek baking, since the people here are accustomed to looking for the best quality ingredients not only in Greece but also in other countries in order to offer the ultimate in taste.
The bread dough in Blé are all hand kneaded, left to rest and then baked in stove ovens just like the old times in Greek villages where Yiayia's tasteful loaf was the most anticipated baked food. Among the most popular ones we can tell you are the agioritico, agerino, mana, Basle’sand Crete’s.
For me, the Schwarzbrot Früchte bread, made of rye flour and groats and filled with nuts and dry fruits was a total surprise that changed my whole theory about bread and how delicious it can be away from commercialized flavors and additives that can only harm its original taste.
Along with the bread you can also try some traditional Greek pastry treats with reference to traditional Greek baked treats such as kaltsounia, barley dry bread, shepherd’s herd pies, all stuffed with natural herbs, vegetables, and mushrooms, cultivated outside Thessaloniki and according to the most state of the art techniques in crop farming introduced by the American Farm of Thessaloniki.
I remember myself in Athens some years ago wandering inside the shop of Mr Parliaros in Kolonaki where an employee referred to Blé with the greatest of words when I mentioned that I come from Thessaloniki.
“You are so lucky to have such fine chocolate tastes,” I told him. “Yes and you are lucky to have Ble,” he answered back. It was then that I decided I must get back here to have a better insight to some of Blé’s most popular pastries such as the very special profiterole with the velvet cocoa chocolate cream and the freshly made choux that immediately became one of my top choices, the shiny looking éclair stuffed with the finest Belgian chocolate and the chocolate Belgian mousse based on French tarts with Cuban rum and banana slices on top.
Monte Cristo will also steal your heart, a tart based on German dough with freshly made marmalade on top, spread as a thin layer and very intense in flavor.
For those who have a sweet tooth, the impressively modern designed pound cakes covered with different kinds of chocolate and based on Italian and French recipes are also a must. Famous pastry chefs Mino Allegrini and Stratos Moisekos have paved the way for the special sweet dishes accompanied by ganache, fresh mangos, crocan and camarelised nuts, contemporary trends of a more up to date gastronomy that reaffirms the insistence on detail and the high-quality of Blé ’s products.
And for all you icecream lovers don’t forget to taste the special flavors that Blé offers in a great range and quality, made of fresh cow’s and sheep’s milk, Greek strained yoghurt and honey, caramelized sesame, thyme and kroko Kozanis and other special ingredients, away from chemicals and preservatives and always based on pure healthy constituents.
As for the busy daily passengers that cross the central streets of the city at peak hours Blé is also ideal as a place to have a takeaway meal or even better enjoy its self-service restaurant at one of its numerous tables around the corner right in front of Agias Sofia’s Square. Warm food, salads, pasta, healthy cooked vegetables, and savory sandwiches are some of the most loved options here along with their specialty coffee that will perfectly accompany your day.
When I visited Blé the other day in the well preserved neoclassical building which brings the architectural interventions of Claudio Silvestrin and Giullana Salmaso together, I realised why this renovated construction captures the eye of tourists who pass it. I noticed that it is the glass surrounding the edifice that allows direct contact with people who pass by, inviting them in for a short delicious visit, therefore I immediately felt the coziness for which Blé is well known for.
The great vibe here mainly derives from the very professional and polite staff who work nonstop, always smiling and ready to suggest the best.
Dimitra Tseligaki, manager of the store, pointed out to me the basic motto of the company is pure, high-quality ingredients with respect to Greek nature and a healthy lifestyle that more and more people are now choosing to follow. As well as respect to the philosophy of Greek cuisine, which Blé intends to preserve combining it from time to time with high-level gastronomic innovations that keep it a step forward in its field.
I could go on writing for hours since Blé is not just a central meeting point for most of the locals who appreciate good places but also a very successful mirror of what Greek pastry stores have been trying to achieve over the recent years and to emerge from the crisis and show its really good self.
A company is its people they say and Dimitra showed me that their passion and overwhelming hard work is the key to their success.
Leaving this beautifully renovated building, I thought of how lucky we are to have such inspiring places in the city of Thessaloniki with a view to the top, a city with a vast gastronomic past and presence that is inspiring entire Greece and has the prospect to charm at a more international level with its traditional and modern recipes.
If you happen to visit Thessaloniki do not leave until you pay a visit here and check it out for yourselves.
And don't forget, Christmas is coming and Blé will be waiting for you wearing its best to treat you its very tasty tsoureki that sells like hotcakes and many more amazing delights that will satisfy the most demanding food connoisseurs!
A: 19 Agias Sofias, Thessaloniki 54623