Sigmund Pretzel Shop, a brand-new bakery in the East Village, offers fat, crusty pretzels in either salted or seeded varieties, as well as unorthodox flavors like cheddar-jalapeno, caramel-pecan, and cinnamon raisin. Sandwiches anchored by the twisty breads are also on offer, including one filled with bresaola and arugula. The shop is the brainchild of Russian-born pastry chef Lina Kulchinsky who learned classic Viennese pastry under Alex Grunert when they were both at Bouley (he’s now at Blue Hill). Kulchinsky says she always had a fascination with German and Austrian confections and breads. “It’s funny, pretzels are everywhere here, but you can’t really have a pretzel,” she says, referring to the leaden street-cart breads. Don’t get her started on those: “Horrible stuff,” she pronounces. “They’re mass-produced, and made to last forever.” Good-quality pretzels, she thought, were a niche that needed to be filled.
Instead of baking traditional Bavarian pretzels, Kulchinsky explains that she’s making pretzels that are in the German style but also “very New York.” That’s because an old-school Bavarian baker would probably balk at flavoring pretzels with ingredients like gruyere and smoked paprika, caramel and pecans, or cheddar and jalapeno, as Kulchinsky does. “It’s a beautiful bread, and very versatile,” she says.
More flavors are coming soon for the holidays, including cranberry-grape and chocolate-dipped.
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