Monday, January 28, 2013

Week 90

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor ice....We had to close our South Durham Farmer's Market stall this weekend, but we, along with Monuts and Porchetta, braved the sub-par roads and sidewalks to bring you our best at the Central Market on Hunt Street.  Those customers that did come out were super-appreciative, and the daring conditions put everyone in a jovial mood.

On the product side, Chef Matt's Split Pea Soup was possibly one of the best I've had -- hearty with a hint of lemon for brightness.

Our awesome customers: JCD, Marybeth and Allen, Frank S., Yulya.

Always photogenic JCD

Da Crew: Many shouts to our crew: Chef Matt, Val, Andy, Sara and Jeff, Jamie and Jay.  Extra props to Jamie and Jay for doing the deliveries to Watts-Hillandale and Old West -- I heard there was much skating on the iced walkways and front steps.

Sara and Jeff.  Aww....

Track of the Week (selected by Chef Matt):

This Week: Spicy Pickled Daikon; King Cake.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Durham Farmer's Market Application Is In

Our 2013 Durham Farmer's Market Application is in!  We have applied for all three available slots - Wednesdays, Winter Saturdays, and Peak Season Saturdays.  If you know anyone on the DFM Board, please let them know how our unique bakestand would be a great complement to the existing vendors.  I even included the concession in our application to focus on our sweet breads, bialys, and vegan hand pies so as not to draw dollars away from Loaf or Scratch.  Also, I imagine Chicken Bridge Bakery and Farmer's Daughter from Carrboro will apply for the Saturday market as they were admitted to the Wednesday market last year.  We feel that we can compete with both these vendors in terms of quality, and our breads are baked less than a mile away from the Market!  We have enjoyed selling from the corner on Hunt Street for the last two years, but we know that the number of people that would be drawn to the stand would expand significantly if we were under the big tent.  Let's go!

New Orleans

How they do:
Via LS

Another Sliding Scale Panera Opens

Via BE

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spotted at the Daily Grind (UNC)


Minimalism: Pecadillo

I went to Pecadillo the other weekend in Carrboro.  The minimal signage and decor combined with quality drinks, bartending, service, and bar snacks definitely made an impression (the only mixed drinks on the sans-serif menu are martinis, manhattans, and negronis).  For this Durhamite, it was certainly worth the trip.  Can someone tell me why though both bartenders look like Young Mister Burns?

Week 89

I was out of town this weekend so the crew took over the stand's production and selling.  Hats off to the whole crew and especially to Chef Matt who took the reins.  If you have not tried Chef Matt's cooking during the week at Ninth Street Bakery, he does the (vegan) specials there most every weekday, and we are soon to collaborate on a Pop-up Ramen Shop (more later).  I can't say enough about his creativity and dedication to cooking.  Here is the weekend breakdown from Matt:

Berenbaum's: The Vegan Edition

Chef Matt here reporting from Berenbaum's secret underground headquarters. With Ari out of town this weekend I got the chance to do things my way food wise... thus, we had the first ever all-vegan week at the bakestand! We brought back the BBQ Tofu Savory Vegan Handpies (this time I slowly reduced the sauce by about 25% more which really brought out quite a bit more flavor and depth, especially in the smokey and sweet departments -- I will definitely do it this way from now on), the Sweet Caramel Apple Handpies, Ginger Carrot Soup and last but not least...the one item that I feared doing again...the ever elusive Vegan Rice Crispy Treat. If you'll remember, I made these many months ago and it was a train-wreck. Since we had hit all the health-food buzzwords already (vegan, gluten-free, organic, etc.) I made the mistake of using the Whole Foods-brand puffed rice cereal instead of generic Krispies. While I liked the flavor, the result was neither crispy nor a treat. It was a crumbly mess. This time I used the Whole Foods brand 'Crispy Brown Rice' cereal and it worked out great. Sticky, sweet, and crunchy with just the slightest hint of vanilla...It really came together exactly how I wanted. That's gotta be one of my favorite things about the Berenbaum's crew...We strive to bring the realness even if it means acknowledging that our original ideas were kind of ill-conceived.  Shout out to the always dedicated team: Andy, Val, Stu, Jamie, Jay, and the new trainee Claire (and Ari -- we totally missed you and your sage-like guidance)! We come together like a culinary Wu-Tang Clan so suckas betta watch out...

*This is where Ari shouts out our fantastic customers... but, I totally forgot to write peoples names down. This week we shout out EVERYBODY who bought anything from us or even said 'what's up'. We do it all for y'all and always appreciate the support.
Even my cat Kaya likes the handpies!
And I can't forget the track of the week (These dudes made what was my vegan anthem back in the day. then they started making albums that were terrible and I kinda forgot about them. This track (and album) is dope though!!!):

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week 88

The Product: This week we had Pumpkin Chai Sweet Vegan Hand Pies, Cuban Black Bean Savory Vegan Hand Pies, French Bread, Kimchi, and Roasted Veggie Soup.  The kimchi was slightly different than when AR made it...I'm still refining the recipe.  The main difference was the amount of fermentation (and also the amount of heat).  If you like a lot of sour in your kimchi, leave it out on your counter for a few days or in the fridge for a couple weeks unopened.  I really like a nice combination of sweet fermentation and sour flavor...If you leave the kimchi out a long time before refrigerating it, the rate of fermentation can speed up such that when it does reach the fridge, it is still fermenting quite fast, leaving you with an intensely sour kimchi.  Also, we had one customer who missed AR's fruit kimchi.  Here is a great video on how to make your own pineapple kimchi.

Our crew member SZ has been making pour-over coffees at the South Durham Farmer's Market.  Really good stuff.  Strong with very little bitterness.  The bonus is that you get to watch him operate a mini-camp stove used by his Dad (from 1972) to boil the water.

The Crew: Many thanks to our amazing crew: Chef Matt, Val, Andy, SZ, Sara&Jeff, Nancy.  Your dedication and excitement for our little bakestand leaves me humbled every week.

Our awesome customers: Noellel&Scott; Craig&Jen&Sindri; Susan; Linda; Yulya; JCD; EC et al.

Cafe Update: Just to remind everyone, you can find out savory hand pies during the week now at Joe van Gogh on Broad Street, Respite Cafe, Bean Traders at Homestead Market, the Daily Grind (UNC), and Friends Cafe (UNC).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Week 87

The Product: This week we had Jamaican Jerk Tofu Savory Vegan Hand Pies, Pumpkin Chai Sweet Vegan Hand Pies, Baby It's Cold Outside Roasted Veggie Soup, Cinnamon Raisin Babka, Challah Pan Loaves, Pain au Levain.

Hand Pies behind bars

Our fantastic customer base: Monica, Allen and Marybeth, Heather C. & family, Elena, Allen and Gina, Sara & family, Steve, Viva+1, the Stock-Hoffmans, Margaret F., Amy B.

Giveaway winners Heather C. & family

Jonah and Mike

Many thanks this week to our awesome crew: Val, Andy, Chef Matt, SZ, and Jamie.

Track of the Week (selected by Chef Matt):

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Change It, Make It Right, Never Stop Tweaking

The foodie movement has brought not only better and more diverse foods to the American palate, but also insights into managerial and production science within the food economy.  Most notably, and perhaps closest to my heart is the concept of continuous improvement.  Derived from the Japanese automotive shop-floor (Toyota), continuous improvement (also known as kaizen) refers to a philosophy whereby a production process is iteratively honed to improve quality and reduce production errors.  Recently, I have noticed that as the donut and biscuit shop Rise has opened for business in early December, every week their Facebook has mentioned something regarding system or product improvements (e.g. their ticketed ordering process).  Another great example would be David Chang's Momofuku, which re-invented itself after a limp take-off as a conventional noodle bar (by experimenting with the menu, e.g. headcheese, whole deep-fried chickens), thereby gaining a cult following.  Then Chang totally changed directions again on the concept of his second restaurant, the Ssam Bar (it was originally going to be a fast-food Korean wrap joint until its late-night menu took over).  If you are confident in your vision, but things don't seem to be clicking yet, change it, make it right, never stop tweaking.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mission Accomplished: Tartine Bread

Readers of the blog know that I'm pretty obsessed with Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread.  This vacation, my sisters, MB and KB, traveled to San Francisco and brought me back a loaf of Robertson's signature bread (thanks so much!).  I was impressed with the loaf, especially the crust.  His mixing and baking methods leave the crust with a beautifully dark caramelization.  The interior was also great, with a deep mix of sweet and sour notes.  You could tell that Robertson uses premium flours that are freshly milled.  That said, I did not have the transcendent experience I was expecting.  After such great anticipation, it was likely impossible for the bread to live up to my imagination.  Especially of note, the sour was more pronounced than I expected.  But rather than foster dissapointment, I think this type of experience indicates that our bread (and bread that you might find at Loaf for that matter) is not multiple standard deviations away from what Robertson and his crew produce.  It reminded me of a time in my post-college days when I was reading so much (I was briefly flirting with the life of a writer) that I began to believe I could see into the intentions of the minds of the authors (Hegel, Hemingway), and so took them down from the mantlepiece of idolatry. I saw that their intellectual product, while certainly not within my reach, had been produced by a living organism and not a deity.

I think the thing that struck me most about the Tartine loaf was its handcrafted-ness.  In a food world where every moniker you read these days is small-batch, artisinal, made by hand, dock-to-door, farm-to-fork,  most of these cliches don't signify superior taste, and here was a product whose production method I understood completely as having the highest form of integrity and attention to detail.  The large score across the top was etched by a trained hand.  The highly-hydrated dough was folded with great care.  Holding this two-pound bread in my hands (which had traveled 2,800 miles by plane), I was overcome with a feeling of kinship.

Tartine Bread Crust