Archive for the tag 'bakeries'

One of the varieties of Russian black bread. (Photo by Bacon And Tofu / Flickr)

THE BITE: Many things can be said about the Russian community of Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, but you can’t take away their authenticity. If you don’t get hit by a stroller overflowing with groceries, you’re doing something wrong.

There are over 20 fruit and vegetable stores within a 10-block radius, and that’s a scary thought. Politics and personal opinions about this aside, one of the most unique foods these places offer is a fresh baked hunk of chorniy hleb. 

You may know it as rye or pumpernickel, but I assure you, it’s infinitely more complex. Just google a recipe for “Russian black bread” and the ingredient list will surprise you. Fennel, caraway seeds, espresso, cocoa powder, and it doesn’t stop there. Hmm, that’s exactly why I prefer to buy the golden brown crack, er, bread, already made, sliced and ready for me to slather with salo; but more on that later.

There are many varieties, the two most common being Borodinsky and Litovsky. Where the names come from is a bit of a hard case to crack, as much of the available information is just urban legend.

Borodinsky is possibly named after the battle of Borodino, when the Russians fought against Napolean Bonaparte in 1812. It has a strong coriander scent and is sweetened with molasses. Litovsky hleb (bread) is much denser and usually darker. It is chewy and significantly sweet.

Black bread is to a Russian child what I imagine Wonder Bread is to a tot growing up in the states, except it remains flavorful, even as an adult. You better believe the little ones weren’t smothering the fermented sourdough with peanut butter and jelly. Although it’s delicious when eaten warm and adorned with a slick of butter, there are several classic toppings that ring bells in the minds and hearts of former USSR citizens.

Sandwiches are always open-faced, not unlike a Parisian tartine. Hungarian salami is a typical household cold cut, and brings back funny memories for me personally. In elementary school, all the kids who brought butterbrodi (open faced sandwiches) would stink up the classroom upon lunchbox retrieval. Instantaneously, the space could have been confused for an eastern European smoke shop.

Shproti are also a cherished “treat” from the motherland, delicately smoked and drizzled with sunflower seed oil. In case you aren’t familiar, shproti are smoked sardines (which is why I put treat in quotation marks). Traditionally, thin slices of toasted black bread are cloaked with slices of refreshing cucumbers and meaty sardines. It’s an acquired taste.

I’ve saved the best for last. You’ve probably seen it, heard of it, maybe even tried it. I’m referring to salo, a dieter’s paradise. Just kidding, it’s actually a nightmare for anyone trying to watch their cholesterol and/or general health.

Salo is cured pork that is sliced thin and served uber-cold over the chorniy hleb with a pungent scallion to cut through the fattiness. This butterbrod is as Ukrainian as it gets. If you’re not feeling ambitious enough to go and buy the counterparts, head over to your favorite Russian market or restaurant and place your order.

When you feel like getting creative in the kitchen, try making your favorite sandwich and discover all the new flavors that pop out because of this flavorful dough. I recommend a gluttonous corned beef sandwich with cheddar and brown mustard.

Here’s where to go to buy black bread:

  • Brighton Bazaar, 1007 Brighton Beach Avenue
  • Cherry Hill Gourmet Market, 1901 Emmons Avenue
  • Net Cost Market, 2257 East 16th Street
  • Sheepshead Bay Fruit & Vegetables Market, 1717 Avenue Z

Until next time, dasvidaniya!

Jane Poretsky is a Sheepshead Bay resident and lover of all things edible. She blogs about her own food creations at Caramelized Sarcasm.

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

THE BITE: What’s more Brooklyn than cheesecake? How about a New York-style cheesecake baked by immigrants, topped with Oreos? Did you know that the Oreo was invented by NABISCO in New York City in 1912 and originally came in two flavors? One version came with the cream you know and love, the other with lemon meringue. Did you know that Oreos are kosher? I wonder if they still are when placed on a cheesecake.

Brooklyn Bloom (1607 Avenue U, between East 16th Street and East 17th Street) offers up an interesting take on the traditional New York style cheesecake for $3.50 a slice. Baked to about three inches high, this golden crust cake is built on a nest of ground graham crackers and topped with whole Oreos. Why do I say interesting take? Well, this cheesecake is lighter than most. While still creamy, this cake somehow manages to avoid the heaviness of the cheesecakes we’re more familiar with – Junior’s, I’m looking at you.

But, something was sacrificed with the weight. While this was a good cheesecake, it just seemed to miss the mark. There was no trace of vanilla, or any other flavoring agents besides the cream cheese and sugar. While the blandness of the cake allowed the flavors of the graham crackers and Oreo to dominate, I would have preferred the cake itself to be much more assertive. Usually there’s a slight tang that comes from the cream cheese; it didn’t make itself known here. Pity.

The graham cracker crust is thick, almost the same thickness as the Oreos that top the cake. The Oreos themselves suffer from the placement on the cake, with the bottom layer of the cookies becoming very soggy as they melt into the cake batter. The sweetness of the Oreo filling is lost in the sweetness of the cheese cake, and the sudden texture switch is a bit off-putting; give me a plain cheesecake any day.

While this cake has some problems, it still is a good cake. It’s not outstanding, but it is enjoyable if you keep it on the surface. It’s much like the champion feather weight fighter taking on the heavy weight champion of the world. He’s a good fighter in his realm, but no match for the master – Junior’s, I’m still looking at you.

Brooklyn Bloom, 1607 Avenue U, between East 16th Street and East 17th Street, (718) 339-1333.

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.,

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Photo by Erica Sherman

THE BITE: Hey, today, March 19, is St. Joseph’s Day. What better way to celebrate than by eating some St. Joseph zeppole? What’s that you say? What are St. Joseph zeppole?

St. Joseph zeppole, or zeppole di San Giuseppeis, is a classic Italian pastry traditionally made only for the feast day of St. Joseph. In Italy, it’s also their Father’s Day. According to Academia Barilla:

On this day, pastry shops around Italy sell zeppole di San Giuseppe, fritters filled with pastry cream. This tradition dates back to 500 AC and the Latin celebration of Baccanali, which took place on March 17th in honor of Bacchus and Silinus, respectively, the gods of wine and wheat. The Ancient Romans would consume large quantities of wine and wheat-flour fritters to celebrate the two divinities. It should come as no surprise that St. Joseph’s day, which comes two days later, often includes similar customs. The modern-day recipe for zeppole, however, was created fairly recently. It is believed that this type of fritter was invented by a convent of monks at the beginning of the 19th century.

Luckily, we don’t have to travel to Italy to celebrate. Head over to T & D Bakery (2307 Avenue U between East 23rd Street and East 24th Street) for a great Italian-American version of this sacred treat.

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This is a paid announcement from T&D Bakery, located at 2307 Avenue U.

T&D Bakery is celebrating its 30th anniversary tomorrow by rolling back prices to 1983!

This Friday, March 15, from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. you can relive the 80s!

A young Domenico Del Ponte immigrated from Italy, filled with fear and hope, and started this “mom and pop” shop with his wife Immacolata (Tina) by his side. With a lot of hard work and dedication they made the impossible tangible.

T&D Bakery was established in March of 1983 and is still going strong.

Domenico baked and delivered Italian goods to grocery stores throughout Brooklyn. As the business grew, so did their four children: Guiseppina, Angelo, Elmelinda, and Immacolata (little Tina). They instilled their children with the same work ethic and dedication they invested for the past 30 years.

The children are now at the helm of T&D bakery, continuing old traditions for the future. As they work, they raise their own children into T&D Bakery, making three generations of great baking and family tradition a staple for this “one-of-kind” bakery.

Be sure to stop by and sample some of the best baked goods in Brooklyn!

T&D Bakery, located at 2307 Avenue U, (718) 768-2267. Follow T&D Bakery on Facebook

The above is a paid announcement by T&D Bakery. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

THE BITE: The Bite welcomes Sheepshead Bay Road’s newest business, and I think the only new business to open since Superstorm Sandy devastated the area: Georgian Cuisine Apani. Located at 1520 Sheepshead Bay Road, Georgian Cuisine Apani takes over the space recently vacated by Randazzo’s Sandwich Shop. If memory serves, that location has hosted five different food spots in the past five years. Let’s hope they can break the curse.

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Copyright: CareerBreakSecrets.com

THE BITE: This week I’m asking you, the readers of  Sheepshead Bites, for some help. I’m looking for the best bread in the neighborhood. More specifically, I’m looking for the best sliced-to-order, warm-from-the-oven loaf of bread.

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
James Beard (1903-1985)

I agree with Mr. Beard. Sometimes a good loaf  of bread with fresh butter is all you need and all that will satisfy. I want to experience that bread again.

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This photograph of a Panera Bread's interior is here to remind you that your living room sucks.

When most people think of Panera Bread – the “upscale” chain coffee-house and bakery – they think of strip malls in wealthy suburbs, or nice, flashy downtown locations. Or maybe a quiet corner spot in some quaint town somewhere.

I really doubt, though, that they think Kings Plaza. I mean, isn’t that where class goes to die? And then have its corpse rolled around in feces? And then disposed of with an unceremonious kick into the questionable waters of Mill Basin?

Maybe that’s a little harsh; a memory of the Kings Plaza of yesteryear, before all the renovations and the increase in coveted retailers like H&M, Armani Exchange and, um, Quizno’s. Now the place is all ritzed up. It’s ready for some spotlight. It’s ready for some class.

It’s ready, at long last, for a Panera Bread.

Brooklyn’s first Panera Bread is slated to open on Monday, October 31, in Kings Plaza at the mall’s Flatbush Avenue entrance near Best Buy. The bakery-cafe will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. The location will offer free wi-fi, and boasts about its “healthy” eating options, including no trans fats, antibiotic-free chicken and organic kids choices. With no Panera options in Brooklyn, fans of the chain’s paninis, pastries and breads would have to travel to Queens (blegh!), Long Island (blarghh!) or, ugh, Staten Island (blarlegghh!), so this is certainly good news for them.

But wait, there’s more! To celebrate its Halloween Day grand opening, Panera Bread is baking hundreds of pumpkin-shaped shortbread cookies and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. children age 12 and under can stop by to decorate and eat their own special treat while supplies last.

And though I may have written this all full of snark – and a dose of contempt for Kings Plaza – I will say there is one great thing about this news. Panera Bread is looking to hire 120 employees for the Kings Plaza location, in an area where jobs continue to be in short supply. So, sarcasm aside, kudos to Panera for putting people back to work in a hard economy.

It’s always a heart-breaker for me when an establishment has been around so long that it becomes part of the landscape, then closes before I get around to that promise I made to myself to stop in and try it. Moscow on Hudson at 1920 Avenue U is one of those places.

I used to spend a lot of time on this stretch of Avenue U when I was in high school or visiting from college, and I’d always pass this Eastern European deli and bakery. I knew it was one of the oldest in the neighborhood – certainly one of the first Eastern European places I saw on Avenue U or in Sheepshead Bay generally – establishing itself at its small storefront much earlier than the later bazaars that serve up larger selections on plots with much larger square footage (see: Net Cost Market, Cherry Hill Gourmet, et cetera). I had planned to stop in for some pirozhki or salads or maybe smoked salmon, which I heard they had the freshest in the area.

But, alas, that will not happen. When I walked by last week – fully prepared to keep walking and visit it another day – some construction caught my eye and dragged the storefront out of the landscape and into focus. The gates were down, the innards were out. Moscow on Hudson is no more.

Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

Avenue U west of Ocean Avenue has a reputation among the foodies of NYC as being Brooklyn’s “Mini China Town.”  Only Sunset Park’s “China Town” surpasses our neighborhood in size, but I believe our restaurants and markets are much better. Maybe I’m biased?

Stroll along the avenue and you’ll find Chinese bakeries, markets, stores and restaurants. Many of the store signs are in Chinese, leaving this guilo wondering what wonders await inside.

Today I followed my nose and stepped into L & U Cafe for a quick bite – a Cha Siu Baau or BBQ Pork Bun. Hmm, did someone say BBQ?

BBQ Pork – Who could ask for more?

Vitos Bakery Ave U Sheepshead Bay Ave U

Photo by Laura Fernandez

Welcome to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we’ll be exploring a different food item from one of the many culturally diverse restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers of our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

Readers, it’s time we put some Italian honey balls in our mouths. And, of course, we’re talking about struffoli from Vito’s  Bakery & Grocery on Avenue U.

I was first introduced to struffoli by a little Italian grandmother soon after I moved to Sheepshead Bay over 20 years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Nona moved away years ago, taking her recipe with her, but I was lucky enough to discover Vito’s Bakery. Struffoli just like grandma used to make.

Keep reading about struffoli from Vito’s Bakery on Avenue U.

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