La Boulangerie’s Baguette
The French love their bakers. Next to firemen, bakers get the most votes in French public-opinion polls asking people about those they esteem most. Maybe that’s why Brittany-born François Danielo left his career as a mechanical engineer to open a boulangerie in bread-starved Forest Hills. (Mechanical engineers do not rank high in public-opinion polls.) He made the right choice. Since its July opening, his modest shop has been like Macy’s on Black Friday. What’s all the fuss about? Croissants, pains au chocolat, naturally leavened boules, but most of all Danielo’s classic baguettes. These sticks are light, airy, fragrant, toasty, creamy, crackly—in short, everything a baguette should be. Now Danielo is a local hero, and Forest Hills firemen are all atwitter.
109-01 72nd Rd., Forest Hills; 347-644-5606.
Vandaag’s Red Ale Pumpernickel
They don’t play it up; in fact, you practically have to interrogate the staff before someone will admit it, but this East Village restaurant sells delicious, trippy, vaguely Scandinavian breads to the persistent retail customer. The in-house baker Nathan Berg is a second-generation bread man (his father, Norman, recently co-authored the terrific Inside the Jewish Bakery), and everything he puts in his bread basket can be purchased by the loaf. There’s hay-smoked country white, seaweed focaccia, and a nice honey-wheat. Our favorite, though, is the red-ale pumpernickel made from a mix of upstate flours. It’s a crisp-crusted, chestnut-hued loaf with a pleasantly boozy, mushroomy aroma. They say that beer is liquid bread; this is edible ale.
103 Second Ave., at 6th St.; 212-253-0470.
Orwasher’s Ultimate Whole Wheat
If you associate multigrain with the words leaden, bricklike, and hardtack, this seed-studded boule will prove you wrong. It’s a newish addition to the pumpernickely old-world repertoire at Orwasher’s, the Yorkville institution bought four years ago by Keith Cohen, a baker who’s been known to capture wild yeasts from South Fork wine grapes, among other locally inspired larks. The Ultimate is Cohen’s airy, springy showcase for organic whole-wheat flour milled from hard red winter wheat by the Finger Lakes collective Farmer Ground Flour, which counts Cayuga Pure Organics as a partner. That’s why you’ll also find the bread, a bulk-aisle cornucopia of rye, millet, flax seeds, oats, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds, at Cayuga’s Greenmarket stand, and why the Ultimate just might be the edible symbol of New York’s locally grown-and-milled-flour movement.
308 E. 78th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-288-6569.