Tuesday, June 8, 2010

the fork & knife life, round one: falling in love with bread

New column alert!

Each week, via one of the publications I write for, Tri-County Record, I will delve deep in her own edible adventures, journeying amongst topics of craft breweries, finer dining experiences, amateur attempts at being a chef, and as seen below, sweet successes of artisan baking.

Here's this week's The Fork & Knife Life:

I fell in love over bread.

The loaf—larger than my the width and height of my petite head, and baked in a building without electricity—was pumped with whole grains and coated with a powdery, delicate firm crust. Delicious and organic, the bread had traveled over five hours to get me to, from Northampton, Massachusetts, and I gushed over every last bite as I devoured it entirely at my Berks County residence.

Before this, I had never met a comparable loaf of dough, never one as beautifully-crafted with the extreme appreciation as that of the artisan breadmaking of the Hungry Ghost Bread Bakery. The old-world, loaf-crafters of environmentally-friendly bake shop in Northampton, Massachusetts daily produce small doses of their inventory, in an amazing wood-burning brick oven.

Redefining ancient bread traditions into modernized masterpieces, the crew at HGB sculpt a multitude of flavors from simple recipes for varieties like French, potato, rye, local wheat, thyme fougasse, semolina fennel, 8-grain pumped with chocolate, and even, a crunchy concoction of a flat bread that is pumped with local wheat, beets and squash.

The proprietors of the New England bakery, Jonathan Stevens and Cheryl Maffei, not only hand-crafted their fine breads to be eccentric easily within themselves, but the structure and representation of their cottage-like setting is additionally, very interesting.

Most likely on a visit up north, music of John Coltrane of Bob Dylan will be flooding through their airy space, and on their weekly bread schedule's handout, Stevens, who acts as the lead baker, typically prints a handwritten poem on its printed back.

Beginning last June for my birthday and now held as a special treat annually, I traveled to New England to experience firsthand my beloved bread and bakery. It's always refreshing stepping foot into any baking haven, especially this one being the country's best baked bread, with flour smeared generously inside the petite shop's walls, and bearded young men eagerly rolling huge piles of dough that will anxiously be plopped inside the warmed bricks.

There's no denying it—I fell in love at first bite.

While, at some times, it seems far, far fetched, the bakery of Hungry Ghost Bread has inspired me to set an ultimate life goal to someday own a place like theirs, taking what I dearly love from their established place and transforming it deliciously into something of our own.

Previously wrote of Hungry Ghost Bread similarly in a post here.