Dean & DeLuca's Louis Volle is one of New York's most creative bakers. Although they're rooted in French tradition, his loaves explore culinary traditions from around the world. If you hurry, you can sample two loaves from his late summer menu: a slightly sweet blue corn sourdough (Mexico) and a halvah ciabatta (New York) made with sesame seeds, cacao nibs, and tahini. But if you want to taste a truly remarkable bread, try his new Beaujolais Bread ($11), the first of his fall seasonal specialty loaves.
Louis's inspiration for this bread was the annual release of Beaujolais nouveau on the third Thursday in November. In France, bakers sometimes celebrate the arrival of the new wine by adding a little of it to the water used in the dough. However, Louis wanted to produce a more ambitious, and savory, loaf. He decided to add chunks of dried Genoa salami, Gruyère cheese, and roasted hazelnuts to a strongly flavored rye starter. And instead of using wine-flavored water, Louis mixed straight Beaujolais into the dough. This added technical challenges, because the starter didn't thrive in wine, and the alcohol evaporated during mixing, drying out the dough. After he finally perfected the recipe, Louis decided to cap each loaf with a cork specially printed with the Dean & Deluca logo.
Pop this cork now, because the result is one of the most delicious savory breads available in a city filled with great loaves. After you cut into it, you first smell the delicate aroma of fresh wine. The crumb is light purple-gray and soft, but with a good chew. You can taste the notes of the salami, Gruyère, and hazelnuts, all backed by the wine, but none of them overpower. The flavors make such a perfectly harmonious whole that you consider, then reject, topping a slice with cheese or cured meat. The only accompaniment to enjoy with this perfect bread is a glass of young red wine.
The price of the loaf may give you sticker shock, but consider the difference in cost between baking with wine and water. And it's so good you won't need to buy any toppings or spreads. You can find the bread at these locations below.
Dean & DeLuca
560 Broadway, New York, NY 10012 (map )
About the author: Andrew Coe is the only reporter covering the city's bread beat.