A half dozen of our most talented bakers descended on the New Amsterdam Market last Sunday. The occasion was the third annual Bread Pavilion, featuring loaves made from local grains. Peter Endriss of Runner & Stone curated the event, rounding up the bakeries and presiding over a fund-raising effort to help grain purveyor Cayuga Pure Organics recover from its recent beanery fire. For an afternoon, the bakers escaped from their ovens to meet the public, support a good cause, and show off their loave.
"It's great that everyone ended up using some or all local grains," said Peter Endriss.
The new kid on the block was Suleiman Goods, a start-up making Syrian-style pita bread using Farmer Ground wheat flour and coated with a fragrant layer of Lebanese za'tar. Its owners are Gabriele and Aileen Suleiman, who saw the dire need for quality (non-industrial) pita bread in the city. He's of Iraqi-Jewish descent, while she's a professional baker who's done time at Sullivan Street, Bouchon, and Bakeri. Their pita has a rich flavor and oily but not too heavy texture. Look for them at future New Amsterdam Markets and at the September 14th Sweet Spot Festival in Harlem.
Last year, Keith Cohen of Orwasher's used this event to introduce his excellent Local Levain, perhaps the largest loaf made by any city bakery. Keith brought the Local back this year, but he also used the occasion to inaugurate yet another new loaf, called Summer Wheat. "I think people are looking for a bit of a lighter bread in summertime," he said. The Summer Wheat loaf is an overgrown filone made from local flour and honey and comes out of the oven well-crusted with flour. The crust is softer than the Local Levain, while the crumb is fluffy and faintly honey-flavored—perfect for picnic sandwich bread.
Down the line, Il Buco Alimentari's Kamel Saci wowed the crowds with not one but two new, alkaloid-enhanced breads. I've long been fan of his focaccia, which is probably my favorite in the city. On Sunday, he brought his new Chocolate Bread, made from white flour, sourdough, honey, cocoa powder, and 64% Valrhona chocolate. Unlike many chocolate breads today, Il Buco's loaf isn't an overpowering chocolate bomb—it's mild, not too dense, and not too sweet. Kamel suggest eating a slice with a slab of blue cheese. His second new loaf is an Espresso Bread made from white flour, a poulish starter (two-day ferment), and a shot of La Colombe espresso. The bitterness of the coffee perfectly enhances the faint tang of the crust, further stimulating the salivary glands. Both these loaves will be available weekends at Il Buco Alimentari's Great Jones Street location.
Hot Bread Kitchen is one of the local bakeries most dedicated to using local grains. It brought two of its greatest hits: the city's best bialys and its always delicious whole wheat challah. Next door, Nordic Breads came back to the market with its consistently delicious Finnish Ruis loaves, made from 100% local rye flour, and also a delicious little sunflower Pullman loaf.
Finally, Peter Endriss of Runner & Stone brought back two of my favorites, his Bolzano Rye and Buckwheat Baguette, and also introduced a new sprouted spelt bread. It's made from 65% sprouted spelt flour, covered in oats, and flavored with buckwheat honey. The loaf has rich, nutty spelt flavor and a soft, almost crumbly texture that melts in the mouth—delicious.