This story was contributed by our new wellness columnist, Michelle Calarco.
As we approach Valentine’s Day, I have to make a confession about a love affair I’m having….
I can’t stop thinking about him, his scent makes me weak in the knees and he makes others melt.
While I try to be a healthy eater overall, my weakness is undoubtedly a warm piece of (or, if we’re being honest here, a whole loaf of) baguette with soft butter spread all over the top. I don’t know about you, but I am always on the hunt for less guilty versions of guilty pleasures, and so I went in search of “better bread.”
Is there such a thing, you ask? Yes, and these new Fairfield County bread businesses are on a roll!
- Sophie’s Bread, Easton: When we heard Martha Stewart’s niece, Sophie Herbert Slater, was baking organic sourdough croissants right here in Fairfield County we had to learn more. Once the pandemic hit, Sophie’s part-time profession as an art therapist working with seniors came to a halt. Like many parents, she found herself at home with two young kids (then 18 months and 4) and no childcare; therefore, leading virtual therapy was not an option. By summer 2020, although she was enjoying the time with her children, Sophie began yearning for something more – and something that would help with the bills. So, she decided to take a leap and transform her 4-year passion for baking sourdough bread into a business. Once she got into the groove with bread, Sophie tried her hand at sourdough croissants. While the first batch wasn’t quite perfect (a few were misshapen and butter oozed out while rolling the dough), she stuck with it and mastered her croissant method. After attaining her CT Cottage Food Industry License, she forged a collaboration with Easton’s Sport Hill Farm and Patti Popp to set a table up outside their market and sell croissants and pain au chocolat on most Sundays this fall.
As an environmental-minded baker, sourcing ingredients as sustainably as possible is central to Sophie’s Bread. In addition to organic flours, Sophie uses pasture-raised, grass-fed, and/or organic dairy; as well as organic sugar, ethically sourced sea salt, and local or cage-free eggs. The chocolate in the pain au chocolat is organic, fair-trade 70%, and some batches also feature chocolate from the eco-conscious, Weston-based chocolate maker Devil Den’s Confections. Vegan/dairy-free options include a croissant made with oat milk and Miyoko’s creamery butter (made of cultured coconut, cashew, and sunflower oil).
- Pre-order on Instagram @sophieslaterwellness or call or text Sophie at 646-378-8224. Pick-up is in Easton on Tuesdays, Thursdays & some weekends.
- Kneads, Westport: As sous chef and pastry sous chef at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Daniel and Brittany Moreno gained a deeper appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between restaurants and local farmers. Drawing on what they learned working at Blue Hill, the husband and wife duo opened Kneads this September with the mission of bringing wholesome food to Westport and the surrounding communities. A bakery, cafe, and flour mill, the mill serves as the foundation at Kneads as part of its commitment to freshness. All of the grains they source are organic, and most are local from Wild Hive Farm and Gianforte farm, both located in upstate New York. The grains are ground with Kneads’ New American Stone Mill, then mixed and baked into signature loaves and baguettes within a day. While the typical grocery store bread is made with flour from refined grains like white flour (which have been processed to make it last longer on the shelf, thereby reducing its nutritional value), Daniel and Brittany’s process is focused around capturing freshness, not only for flavor but so you get the most nutritional benefits from your bread.
Local and sustainable sourcing are reflected across the menu, with meats from Fleisher’s and organic coffee from Irving Farm. In addition to bread, Kneads features sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries and more.
- Hours of Operation: Mon/Wed/Thurs/Fri 7am-3pm and Sat/Sun 8am-4pm
- Badass Bagels, Norwalk: What started as an experimentation with a pandemic sourdough starter has turned into something pretty badass. When Norwalk’s Sugar & Olives had to close in March 2020, owner Jennifer Balin (and mom of four) turned her attention to baking sourdough bread, mailing it to friends and family as a way to stay connected in the pandemic. That soon led to sourdough bagel making – a daunting process but one that yields something delicious. The dough itself takes several days to make, from achieving the right balance of yeast and bacteria in the starter to creating the levain and proofing for the final rise, followed by hours of bagel shaping and then a long rest, ending with a warm bath and a hot bake. The result is crispy, chewy, tangy and light, the perfect place for a schmear. And with only four ingredients (organic and non-gmo flour, water, local Red Bee Honey from Weston, CT and salt), the only bad with these bagels is in the name.
Badass Bagels come in seven varieties: everything, sesame, poppy, smoked sea salt, caraway-everything, and now pumpernickel. Gluten-free bagels are available as well as house-made cream cheese, gravlax and a selection of sweets.
- Pre-order on the Badass Bagel hotline @ (203) 816-0028; pick-up is Thursday & Saturday at Sugar & Olives, Norwalk.
Beyond Bread….Other Healthy Food News Of Note:
- In addition to debuting its first Connecticut location in Greenwich on Greenwich Avenue, sweetgreen has launched the sg Outpost @ Mike’s Organic in Stamford. Available M-F, guests can simply place their order on the sweetgreen app or online by 11am, and it’ll be waiting on the sweetgreen shelf at Mike’s Organic by 12:15-12:30pm.
- Speaking of Mike’s Organic and food, the new Jenni Kayne location on Greenwich Ave will host “A Taste of Mike’s Organic” on Wednesday, February 17. Call the store for more details or to RSVP @ (203) 717-0499.
- Roost will open a location in Cos Cob in Spring 2021. With a concept similar to its sister brand Ada’s Kitchen + Coffee, Roost will feature fresh scratch-made food and a seasonal menu that changes quarterly and incorporates locally sourced and organic ingredients.
Take A Sip:
Healthy Bread Recipes To Make at Home
Disclosure: Michelle works with the sweetgreen and Mike’s Organic brands
About Michelle Calarco: Michelle is a wellness and communications expert. After honing her storytelling craft in media and television, Michelle went on to elevate the profiles of premier brands across the hospitality, healthy living, and better-for-you food spaces. She has always been passionate about living and eating well and became even more immersed in health when she became a mom. On weekends you can find her squeezing in a barre class (during Paw Patrol) and baking healthyish desserts with her little one. Michelle has a consulting business and resides in Greenwich with her husband and 2-year-old son.
Have an idea for something you want to see in the column? Write to Michelle at email@example.com or follow her @michelle.calarco