Over the past 11 days we have had the great fortune of passing through seven cities, witnessing two incredible weddings, taking ten different modes of transportation, seeing dozens of friends old and new, and eating many, many delicious meals along the way. Since we’ll now be kicking into high gear to get set for our very first day at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market this coming Sunday, October 2nd (come visit us!) we were grateful for this opportunity to relax, recharge, and spend time with people we love.
Our first stop was Martha’s Vineyard for wedding #1. We’d never been there before and really enjoyed getting to explore the island. One lucky discovery while wandering around Edgartown was a sweet little bakery called Rikard’s. We went right in because happily for us, serious business research involves hanging out in bakeries and eating vast quantities of bread.
We paid close attention to their beautiful displays since we’re working on designing our own inviting market stand and are always looking for inspiration, and we picked out a couple different loaves to share with our friends. My personal favorite was a crusty sourdough batard inset generously with whole roasted garlic cloves (in my book, there is no such thing as “too much garlic”).
Our next stop on the trip was Marion, MA to visit our good friends Erin and Nathaniel. While we were there we visited Nathaniel’s parents’ wonderful grocery store/cafe in Mattapoisett. The store is adorably named How on Earth and is devoted to carrying a wide variety of beautiful organic and locally grown produce as well as specialty items from local artisans including treats like honey, jam, cookies, and pies. They also serve breakfast and lunch in their cozy dining room, and offer a CSA program where you can actually come and pick out everything you want for your weekly produce box! The selection was so fantastic and the ambiance so inviting we wished we could have stayed forever, but our Peter Pan bus to Connecticut awaited us.
In New Haven we visited our lovely friend Ariel who recently started at Yale Law School, and while she was in class one morning we had the good fortune of coming across the City Seed Downtown Farmers Market as we wandered around the city. City Seed’s objective is to provide fresh, healthy, and affordable food to the community while supporting sustainable, local agriculture and giving a boost to the local economy, as well. On top of their five farmers markets around the city, they also have a program called “Healthy Eaters and Readers,” which reaches out to preschoolers and their families with a combined lesson on literacy, music, art, and healthy food. Amazing!
Our next and final stop was New York City for wedding #2. Michael and I first met at NYU, where we both studied English and Creative Writing, so it was a pleasure to return to our old stomping grounds for such a happy occasion. We took the opportunity to visit the famed Sullivan Street Bakery (which is actually now located on 47th street, having outgrown its original location) pioneered by one of our bread heroes, Jim Lahey.
I was thrilled that they had two different types of cheese-less pizza…perfect for vegans! We ordered one slice of each and devoured them in approximately ten seconds. We also ordered the last loaf of their Filone and were utterly shocked when they gave it to us – it was the size of a small child! But we didn’t let that intimidate us, we both reached into the bag and started tearing off big hearty hunks of the amazing loaf.
Its nearly black wheat germ-coated crust surrounding a mesmerizing white crumb got us instantly hooked. The store manager overheard us babbling uncontrollably about all the bread we were gobbling down and happened to see Mike’s CA driver’s license when he was at the register, and it turns out she used to live in West Hollywood. We got to talking, and when we mentioned we were bakers ourselves she generously offered to give us a behind-the-scenes tour, which was completely amazing. We learned about their enormous flour silo that holds many thousands of pounds of flour, the specially calibrated equipment that automatically dispenses just the right amount of flour and water into the huge mixers for their various recipes, the system they use for packing and delivering their huge wholesale orders, and how they’ve figured out a way to bake all their breads at the same temperature, maximizing production efficiency.
It was such an unexpected and wonderful opportunity to get a glimpse into the operations of one of the country’s foremost bakeries, and we were so grateful! From our point of view as a small, self-taught operation, seeing a large commercial-scale artisanal bakery in action was incredibly inspirational. Many, many thanks to Michelle for taking the time to show us around.
It was hard to leave such a warm and welcoming place filled with the aromas of baking bread, especially since a torrential downpour had started outside, but we had places to go and people to see so we tore ourselves away. Luckily we managed to protect the rest of our Filone from the rain. I wonder how many New Yorkers have seen a couple of crazy bread enthusiasts painstakingly clutching a huge loaf of bread under an umbrella in a downpour before? What can we say, it was too big to fit in our backpack!
Thanks for the good times, East Coast! We love you and we hope we’ll see you again soon.
Until next time,