Sometimes, one thing leads to another which leads to yet another. I had intended to see the Ann Hamilton exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory, but there was a line that stretched way too far down the block, resulting in a wait time much longer than I was willing to endure. Instead, I decided to hop back on the train for a quick ride down to 14th St. to pick up some Cayuga beans at the Union Square Farmers’ Market as a gift for a friend. I would have missed the rye bread altogether – the very last stand in the long line of stands that ends at the north-east corner of the park – if I hadn’t had to make a detour to go to the bank for some cash. Rounding the corner, there I spied the Finnish rye bread people, whose bread I’ve been meaning to try for what seems like forever (it seems I’m never at the market on the same day they are). My friend Lada, a Finn, has positively raved about the amazingness of this bread, insisting I must try it. I imagined I knew what it would taste like: hearty and tasty though, I must admit, a bit dull and dry. Then I took a taste of the sample that was offered me at the stand and lo, every preconceived notion I had dissolved into thin air.
This bread was maybe a hundred – or fifty hundred! – times more incredible than I imagined possible. The interior is as moist as a molasses cake, with large air pockets, and the crust is dense and chewy. Toothsome and satisfying and delicious with what I’ve topped it with thus far (plain, unsalted butter and raspberry butter), it was just as delectable eaten plain. So many different flavors happening in one bite of this complex bread.
The scent of sourdough wafted up towards my face from the brown paper bag that sat on my lap during the subway ride home, a wonderful tangy and doughy aroma that spelled hunger. It’s hard to believe it’s made of just three ingredients: rye, sourdough starter and salt.
I bought a half-dozen of the small, puck-shaped loaves (rolls, loafettes?), which I’ve placed in the freezer as was recommended to me for maintaining optimal freshness (with instructions to run it through the toaster for a quick revival when ready to eat). Oh happy day.