My general bread-buying rule of thumb is the darker the better. Dark breads tend to have more flavor a more pleasing chew and a better nutritional profile. So here's a roundup of some of my favorite dark breads, both old and new.
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Pain d'Avignon is the great New York City bakery hiding in plain sight. It doesn't advertise or otherwise toot its horn. Yet its delicate, crispy rolls fill the breadbaskets at many of the city's top hotels and white tablecloth restaurants. Not bad for three guys from Belgrade who arrived here a little over 20 years ago with only a few dollars in their pockets.
Latvians love their dense, dark rye bread. Latvian-Americans love it so much that they have it shipped over from the old country in loaves weighing over 17 pounds. It goes fast, because it's their staff of life, a necessary accompaniment to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A number of mail order businesses have sprung up to cater to this community. Last year, Baltic Shop teamed up with the famous Laci bakery in Riga to sell their top quality breads in the United States under the Storye ("stor-eye") brand name. They're so good they might even wean Manhattanites from their baguettes.
The scent of drying grain wafts from the door of Coney Island's New York Bread bakery. The aroma emanates from the cooling room, where rack after rack of dark rye and wheat loaves wait to be bagged and shipped. For Brooklyn's Russian community, that smell is the essence of the homeland, of rolling fields of wheat and rye baking in the summer sun.
Today, John Melngailis is a partner in Black Rooster Food, which makes and sells unapologetic Latvian rye just like his mother's. The first thing you notice about his Baltic Rye is that it's heavy and dense. A whole loaf weighs five pounds and is enough to feed a party of 50. Luckily, it's sold in 17-ounce sections that can keep a family in canapés for at least a week. The Baltic Rye's crust is as black as coal but surprisingly not bitter, while the crumb is tightly packed and a bit moist. It's made from 100 percent rye flour, sourdough leavening, rye malt, sugar, salt, and caraway seeds.
One of the Silver Bell Bakery's customers is so addicted that every week he drives 10 hours round-trip from Saratoga Springs just to get his bread. By the end of the summer, Silver Bell is going to move out to the suburbs, following its customer base. So get it while you can.
[Photograph: Jim Kearns] At 17th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, you'll find one of the greatest cocktail concentrations in the city. This one small block is now home to two mixology powerhouses: Raines Law Room, and the recently opened...
Thoughtful dishes and obvious afterthoughts, eight-dollar meals and twelve-dollar bites—Rye is all over the map.
Please don't let this be the end of Red Hook Rye. Photograph by cocktailian LeNell Smothers is "dazed and bitchy beyond normal." The lease on her Wine & Spirit Boutique is up at the end of May, and she...