Vandaag’s new hay-smoked country white looks something like a race car.
Over the past year, we’ve seen our bread options explode. No longer are there, say, just 15 readily recognizable varieties available, we now have dozens upon dozens of newly created or introduced oddball types of bread. And like pizza, burgers, and franks, bread is in the process of glamorization. The good news is that you’ll find loaves you love that you’ve never seen before. The downside is that bread can run as high as $9 or $10 per loaf.
Some of the bread selections at Landbrot
Roberta’s might have started the phenomenon a couple of years ago. They had a brick oven for making pizzas and someone said, “Why the hell don’t we use it to make bread, too?” And in the subsequent period, other restaurants realized that they could also, with a ball of dough and using equipment they already had, turn about 7 cents of ingredients into a $7 loaf. Fork in the Road loves loaves and found the new products worth it. Here are five memorable breads we’ve recently chomped down on.
1. Hay-Smoked Country White at Vandaag: This Northern European restaurant in the East Village only recently got into the bread business, via a window around the corner on East 5th Street. This bread has a fleecy crumb and a distinctive smoky flavor, so much so that you really can’t enjoy it with just some butter–you have to make it into a toasted-cheese or salami sandwich or some other construction that subordinates the smoke to other flavors. In that context, it’s spectacular, like some mutant barbecue.
2. Mushroom Ciabatta by Bread Alone: This Catskillian country bread maker is always experimenting with its loaves, and a recent appearance at Bread Alone’s Greenmarket stands has been this mushroom-laced bread, which makes excellent eating by itself, with a loamy flavor and almost damp texture. Might be especially good for savory French toast.
3. Multigrain Bread from Landbrot: This German bakery and wursthaus produces some astonishing breads, some said to be common in Deutschland, but almost unknown here. Although multigrain bread by itself is not infrequently seen here, this loaf ups the ante with seeds, all kinds of seeds. See if you can identify them all.
4. Pine Walnut-Cranberry from Vandaag: Perhaps Vandaag’s greatest success is this fruit-and-nut studded bread, grainy and slightly sweet. You’ll be hard pressed to keep a loaf in your kitchen for more than a day. We did, and found the bread stays fresh much longer than other loaves.
5. German Table Bread at Landbrot: When we think of table bread in this country–at least up until a few years ago–it was either country white or whole wheat, with rye being reserved for deli sandwiches and pumpernickel, when you could find it, for who knows what. Now we get a Teutonic take on table bread, a smooth bread made with rye flour, musky and sweet, with no seeds to be seen.
Some of the selections at Landbrot
Check out Fork in the Roads Our 10 Best Loaves of Bread from last year.