Posts Tagged ‘croissants’

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.

Bakesgiving for United Appeal

Wow!  That’s all I have to say about this years bake-fest to benefit United Appeal of Athens County. I am so thankful for all the people who came out from 5:30 a.m. until noon to buy our bread products.  By our unofficial count, Avalanche Pizza raised over $2500 from the people of Athens on Thanksgiving day.

John Dillon, (left), United Appeal Board member and AFSCME Union President, came in at 3 a.m. and formed a monstrous amount of spelt rolls. Randy Davis (right) became adept at forming ciabatta, egg-washing croissants, proofing ciabatta and together, he and John even made some pizzas.

Aaron Thomas, United Appeal Board President, did the dirtiest job of washing hundreds of trays that had piled up over the night. He took time away from his business, Class A Sounds, to help in this great cause.

Even got the sheriff’s department came by to show their support. Is it me, or does Aaron (middle) look like he’s been cuffed?

Joel Fair, Patty Nally and Danny McVicker volunteered to work through the night to produce some great baked goods. Patty nailed her fabulous croissants and even the stuffed croissants filled with nutella, pecans and bananas. Joel and Patty did a great job making croissants, baguettes, ciabatta and baking over 500 loaves.

A special shout out goes to Chris and Angie Pyle, who donated coffee for us, and to Constantine Faller, who donated cheese to be sold. Robin Barnes of Power 105 F.M. was spectacular for getting the word out, along with all the fine folks at the Athens News. Starline Organics donated vegetables. We used Harmony Hollow ham in some of the fougasse.

If you see this man, hold him (please use bailing wire.) He is my dad, Tom Gutekanst. He played a major role in what he called “testing the product,” which entailed consuming at least 17 cheese-topped croissants while exclaiming “This better be imported Brie!”  Then he ran off through the darkness.

Here are a few sights of this year’s bake for United Appeal of Athens County. Here’s a video of a burnt out middle aged freak who, despite his goonish appearance and spacy presentation, can still handle baking all night (barely).

See you next year!