Friday, February 22, 2013

A gift to NYC from Israel - Breads Bakery

The idea that the Atkins diet, or any other diet for that matter, or that the gluten free movement would mean the end of bread was always, and remains, silly. Bread has been a staple food for centuries. How do we know Passover is almost upon us? Boxes of Matzoh start appearing on supermarket shelves. The most recognizable symbol for Passover, the Matzoh, exists because the Jews didn't have time for their dough to rise. Stupid Pharaoh. That is how much we love bread, and how upset we get when we can't find a crusty loaf.


Baguettes at Breads Bakery

One of the many benefits of the rise of food culture is the bounty and availability of great bread. Here in NYC trendsetters like Amy's Bread and Sullivan Street have been joined by new comers like Bien Cuit and Greenmarket standouts such as Bread Alone and Hot Bread Kitchen to offer a diverse and delicious array of bread. But lest ye think the market has been glutted, a master of leavened dough has opened a bakery on 16th Street, right off Union Square, and you should part the Red Sea to get there.

OK, enough of the Passover references. But it is around the corner, and they go over better then Purim jokes. The new Bakery on 16th Street is Breads Bakery. It is the first US outpost from Uri Scheft, the renowned baker and owner of Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv. Judging by the crowds at the three week old store, this will be the first of many Breads Bakery outposts here.



The front counter and offerings at Breads Bakery



Breads Bakery's large selections of breads includes Mr Scheft's signature walnut bread, baguettes, olive loafs and a dense, delicious sourdough. Breads Bakery also has savory treats like cheese straws and bourekas and delectable sweets like brownies, cookies, croissants and rugelach.



Sweets and savories at Breads Kitchen

Breads Bakery features a cafe in back and seating for a quick bite or cup of coffee. Mr Scheft grew up in Denmark so a number of smorrebrod, Danish open faced sandwiches, are also available.


Drinks and Sandwiches at Breads Bakery




The Cafe at Breads Bakery



Seating at Breads Bakery


There is a nice touch that Breads Bakery does that makes it all the more welcoming. You can sample just about everything. In the front of the store there is a big cutting board in the middle of the room. Invariably, there is an employee cutting up various examples of their breads and other wares. I was in yesterday and I sampled a walnut cranberry bread, an olive bread, the sourdough and a carrot cake. I am not sure why other bakeries don't do this. All the breads were wonderful. The carrot cake was heavenly. I wanted to buy everything I tasted. It reminded me of the first time I was in the store.

On my first visit I was at the counter getting ready to pay. I looked in the case and saw some overgrown rugelach that looked more like a mini chocolate croissant. I asked the gentleman helping me what flavor they were. "Nutella," was the response. (Yeah, that's right. Nutella rugelach.)  He saw my eyes widen and asked me if I had tired them yet. I let him know I had not and grabbed one and handed it to me saying,"Here, you have got to try one." He was right. I bought a bag full. This is customer service, and they way to sell more rugelach. It is just like the scene in "High Fidelity" when John Cusack says "I will now sell five copies of the three EPs by the Beta Band." He puts the Beta Band CD on the store stereo, leans back and waits. All the patrons start nodding along, and the CDs sell. Hand someone a free sample of Nutella rugelach and they will buy more.



Nutella rugelach


Purim is this weekend. Breads Bakery has hamtaschen: traditional poppy seed, chocolate, vanilla and apple. Their babka would make even Haman smile. Yes, they sell challah. But don't worry, even if you are not one of the Chosen Ones, Breads Bakery will make you feel like you are.






Breads Bakery - 18 East 16th Street, near Union Square. 212-633-2253

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