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Upper Crust

Gourmands and calorie-conscious eaters alike have been turning down the bread basket ever since low-carb and gluten-free diets (once limited to those with celiac disease) became rampant in Hollywood and around the world. Now, behind the scenes, a bread revolution is in the works.

Why the return to the humble loaf? In banishing all wheat, we forfeit an important source of fiber and essential nutrients such as the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. Without them, we end up in the same situation that we might hope to avoid in banishing bread – bloated and sluggish from poor digestion, and cranky to boot (since carbs boost feel-good serotonin in our brains).

But not all loaves are created equal. The latest and greatest are non-processed varieties created with organic ingredients and age-old fermentation methods (which make bread easier to digest, better for gut health, and less likely to spike blood sugar). Google searches for the term “sourdough” have skyrocketed over the past couple of years. In New York, amateur bakers can attend University of Bread workshops given by Jim Lahey, the man behind some of the city’s best bread (he’s supplied Jean-Georges for decades). Chef and food scientist Nathan Myhrvold recently published Modernist Bread, a $560 “bread bible” that details the art of the perfect loaf.

Foodies in Los Angeles have been making the trek to Fillmore,
California, where recently opened Roan Mills Bakery makes talk-of-the-town sandwiches and ready-made loaves with heirloom grains and flour milled in-house (also available at LA farmers’ markets for baking bread at home). In the Philippines, Manila’s Panaderya Toyo is a modern twist on a traditional Filipino bakery that serves preservative-free varieties – many of which are fermented for a couple of days – available by the loaf or by the slice to enjoy with toppings like scrambled eggs, crispy fish and tomatoes. And in Montreal, Canada, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth’s new Marché Artisans is an 8,000-square-foot urban food market that’s been drawing in guests and locals alike. The specialty bakery, which hosts a hip, carb-loving scene during lunch, offers sandwiches and loaves in varieties like sourdough, olive and multigrain, no kneading (or guilt) required. 


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