Can't tell a shop by its front
A few weeks ago I spent some time in a modern Pompeian bakery, Esposito's, learning about modern bread making techniques (the reasons for acquiring this skill will be revealed in due course).
It was, in all kinds of ways, fascinating -- from the different kinds of grain you would use for different sorts of bread, to the techniques of kneading ... to the interior decor of the bakery (complete with its holy pictures etc ).
We all had a great time. I was a pretty slow pupil, but my teacher -- the excellent Carmine of the bakery -- gave me a heart shaped bread at the end of my lesson. So I felt flattered and rewarded (he must have been half my age.. ). And we had a great pizza and fizzy South Italian red wine at the end, to celebrate my (non-)learning of the bread-making techniques.
But the interesting point (for me) is that, if it hadn't been set up, I wouldn't have gone into this bakery -- not even to buy a panino. The hoardings made it look quite awful... Big Mac on the Bay of Naples.
How wrong can you get?
The bread at the Esposito bakery was superb (go buy some if you are ever in new Pompeii).
I would have been very put off going in there if I didnt know it... just from the outside (as you see at the top of this post). This shop front is pure, expensive, and vulgar South Italy; if I hadn't known about its great bread, it would really have been a turn off (it's the photos of the stuff they sell which just looks like all those awful Mediterranean tourist restaurants with their ghastly pics of the food -- for a rip off; not just Big Mac but worse).
I then of course castigated myself for my austere Britishness.
But, more than that, it made me think of all those other shops that I wouldn't go into, if I didnt know what lay within. Maybe we could think about the shops that hide their wonders.. suggestions please??
I have discovered a great shop in Boston Lincs..where they have splendid American macs you can't get elsewhere in the UK (doesnt look all that exciting from the outside.. but go in and wow); and then there was that shoe shop in Elgin where I got my great red German shoes (Andrew Begg).
More suggestions welcome -- great shops with unlikely or off-putting fronts.