Posts Tagged ‘artisan bread’

Some Psycho-licious Fougasse

I always looked forward to Sunday nights when I was young. That was when Public Television hosted a few hours of the best British shows of all time. These shows taught me that another, more cultured civilization existed across the great ocean as our big Magnavox with faux wood trim beamed Benny Hill and Monty Python’s Flying Circus  into our packed living room. I never understood Benny Hill’s humor but because I was at the height of puberty AND his show always featured a quick shot of a woman taking her blouse off, I was riveted. Monty Python on the other hand, was just downright outrageous. The part I enjoyed the most was when John Kleese announced “AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!”


This summer Chef Nally and myself have been using local, organic ingredients to make some killer schiacciata as well as pizza and bread like the “Triple Pork Paradise,” (above left) featuring imported pancetta, Harmony Hollow Farms pork belly and King Family bacon paired with fresh spinach from Rich Organics, provolone, local maple syrup and Blackberries from Vest Berries. On the right is our Tuscan Schiacciata with mozzarella, provolone, fresh Amish Basil from Chesterhill, fresh mozzarella and small heirloom tomatoes, (that taste like candy,) from Cowdery Farms in Longbottom Ohio.

And now for something else completely different… All apologies blokes, but this entry is about fougasse. It’s a bread made famous in the south of France, essentially a flatbread formed in the shape of a leaf or wheatstalk.


Today I have two styles that I sold this week; a boomerang-shaped fougasse with pearl onion, King Family bacon and Cowdery Farms pablano peppers, (Right picture.) and a sunburst fougasse with basil, La Quercia lardo, blueberries and pistachio nuts, (Left picture.) Optimally, lardo is the fat from the back of a pig that has been fed only acorns and apples the last three to six months of his/her fantastic life, but the best Italian lardo is from pigs that also are allowed to watch cable reruns of Mr. Ed and Green Acres for at least six months!

Here is also an insightful trip into the nocturnal activities of a pizza madman and his outrageous breads. This is another reason for you to stay in school, get a degree and stay away from really hot ovens.




Thank you for hanging out with me. I promise next time I won’t use the term “Glorious,” (I get carried away.)

Niall Bowen, Old Town Bakery, Key West

The most annoying aspect of living with me is that anywhere we vacation, I always seek out the most popular artisan pizzeria or bakery. While we were staying at Billy’s Blue Heaven in Key West Florida, I didn’t have to look far to find the best bakery, it’s on the corner of Eaton and Grinnell and it’s called Old Town Bakery.

In between hurrican Debbie, and a trip to the emergency room, we were lucky enough to get one of the last baguettes that my two ravenous baguette-end-eaters promptly gnarled before I had time to take a picture.

Niall Bown and his wonderful wife Elzbieta Krysztofiak run this rustic place whose doors never seem to stay still. In fact, customers line up all day to get a crack at some of the best baguettes, croissant and pastries in the nation. (I kid you not.)


That’s because Niall knows his Plugra…er his stuff (Plugra is a Europeon style butter and contains higher butterfat and less water than most butter and, because of expense, only used by consumate, dedicated bakers.)


Check out the fantastic crumb on this Baguette. No wonder everyone in Key West told me to eat breakfast and lunch here.

He didn’t admit it but his bakery is run the old school  way. It wasn’t just the fact that Niall and his wife greet all customers,  roast all the meats on premises, make the croissants and pastries by hand and mix the fabulous pesto’s, it’s reflected in the little things like the old scale that they use and the monster Hobart mixer that Niall rescued from the last big hurricane but most of all in the welcoming way they treat everyone,  even an invasive pizza goon with the 3rd degree sun burn.


The second best thing for me when meeting Niall was his Boston accent, (even though he never said “wicked.”) The first best was eating the croissants on the way back to Ohio. He graduated from Johnson and Wales and worked as a chef baker his whole life so Niall is a perfect fit for Key West.


Thank you Elzbieta and Niall for giving me a perfect reason to head back to Key West!

Here is a video of Chef Bowen talking about his time in the keys while he rolls some killer croissant.