For several years, I've been buying Wimberger's rye bread at the local Safeway. It's my all-time favorite bread and the only rye bread I've found in the Springs which actually looks and tastes like rye bread.
I've always known that it's baked here in town (it says so on the label), but I just assumed that Wimberger's was one of those large, impersonal, wholesale operations based out of a warehouse in a remote area of the city.
But this is not the case, as some of you already know. And thanks to my good friends, Dave and Lesley, now I know, too. If it weren't for their willingness to let me in on their secret Sunday morning ritual, I'd still be in the dark -- and very deprived.
Wimberger's is actually a warm, hospitable, neighborhood bakery. And deli. And German specialty foods shop. Family-owned and -operated, Wimberger's has been in the baking business for about 30 years.
The majority of the baking is done on the premises at a rather ungodly hour. And, as with most bakeries, the place opens early in the morning and closes early in the afternoon. But, as I've learned, there is no more decadent way to begin your day than with a loaf of freshly baked bread. And bread they have: Rye, sourdough rye, French baguette and shepherd's, to name a few.
The item that keeps me coming back is their Bavarian pretzel, also known as an Oktoberfest pretzel. You can buy them in bulk or just one at a time. They are set out in something akin to bushel baskets and share space on a table with bushels of other assorted rolls, and -- sometimes -- trays of cinnamon rolls.
Soft on the inside, lightly salted, with just the right amount of a crusty coating, these pretzels are near perfect. After you have one, other pretzels -- like the ones stuck spinning around in their plastic display cases at movie theaters and sporting events -- will forever disappoint you.
Wimberger's pretzels come in two sizes: big and giant. Giant is 12 inches in diameter, weighing in at a whopping six ounces. And if you get there early enough, occasionally you'll find baskets of these wonderful pretzels topped with what I believe is Swiss cheese. This is simple decadence. And just one of these cheese-topped babies will keep you nicely carb-loaded until early afternoon. But beware: after you crash, you will only want more. Thus begins your special affinity for Wimberger's.
It's not just the bread, or the pretzels, or the deli case that makes Wimberger's so special. It's the whole package -- the shelves of fresh baked bread, the bushels of assorted rolls and wonderful pretzels, the trays of cinnamon rolls and strudels, the vast selection of meats and cheeses, the beautiful section of imported candy and chocolate, the shelves of assorted mustards and sauces and soups, the workers yelling back and forth in German, the neighborhood regulars who come for a chat and their daily bread -- all neatly packed into a space about the size of your average West Side living room.
Many of Wimberger's baked goods are available in local stores and restaurants. But not the pretzels. Or the actual Wimberger experience. I probably would have discovered the place on my own eventually, but who knows how much longer that would have taken? Thanks to my pretzel pals, Dave and Lesley, I'm in the know. And now, dear reader, you are, too.