If you’re a regular reader of this column, then you know I’m a fan of bakeries. Even if you only read occasionally, it must be clear that the magic combination of flour, butter, and sugar mixed with fruit, nuts, or chocolate sets my heart aflutter.
I like to keep in touch with the local bakery scene, but I must confess that the pandemic has put me behind the curve on new developments. With Fairfield County a light pink instead of deep red on the Covid map, it was time to get back out there,
At Kneads in Westport, the husband and wife owners, Daniel and Brittany Moreno, are the chef and baker. Both graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, they worked their way through some of the best restaurants and bakeries in the world. Their paths crossed at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Chef Dan Barber’s legendary farm-to-table restaurant in Tarrytown, where Daniel was the sous chef and Brittany was the pastry sous chef.
Both Daniel and Brittany are very serious about ingredients, preferring local when possible, prowling the local farmers markets for fruit and produce. They work directly with farmers who source organic grain for flour that is ground with a traditional stone mill for maximum flavor, freshness, and nutrition.
The seductive menus evolve with the seasons. On a recent visit, chef Moreno recommended a hazelnut plum bar with streusel topping for a seasonal sweet. The slice we took to the table, a hearty crust with a thick spread of sweet-tart plums all under a good half inch of streusel, was magically half eaten before our sandwiches arrived. (Eat dessert first!)
From the breakfast-all-day menu, Marsha ordered the Catskill Smoked Salmon Sandwich — New York potatoes, chervil, gribiche, and lemon layered on thick slices of their flagship whole-grain sourdough Levain ($18, prices include service). It was creative, delicious and more than enough for two. We were inspired to get a Levain to take home (10).
A Vietnamese-style Bahn Mi Sandwich with chicken pâté, pickled vegetables, and cilantro on an individual baguette was my pick (19). The tangy and spicy vegetables were a perfect foil for the rich pâté. A little messy to eat, it was well worth a few extra napkins. The house-made potato chips alone are worth the trip.
We could have just as easily ordered the Sweet Corn and Chorizo Hash, Stone Fruit French Toast, Fig and Prosciutto Sandwich, or a Grilled Peach and Burrata Salad, all prepared in the open kitchen. It’s a creative and tempting menu that deserves repeat visits.
The cookies, croissant, pies, and bread pudding are all delicious, just right for breakfast, dessert, or for fortification between meals. Seating is at outside tables along the storefront or in the Saugatuck room with the barista in the corner.
Look into the display case at the Patisserie Salzburg on Elm Street in New Canaan and, for a moment, you might think you’ve stepped into the Konditorei Schatz on the Getreidegasse near Mozart’s birthplace. The colorful confections and cakes are lined up in orderly rows, as though to say, “Pick me!” Unless you’re ordering for a crowd, like the customer ahead of us, there’s no way to sample everything that appeals.
We settled on a raspberry-topped torte to sample a dessert and a raisin-cinnamon pinwheel for a taste of their croissant-style pastry.
An excellent snappy crust was filled with tender cake, topped with a slick of jam and perfect raspberries. We bargained over the last bite. The finely layered cinnamon Danish had crisp edges and a soft center, just as hoped for.
In addition to beautiful cakes, tempting cookies, and colorful macarons the Salzburg has a cooked-to-order breakfast menu, and plenty of choice for sandwiches and salads. There is some seating in the pink and white store, but (for now) the best tables are outside under the awning, where you can watch New Canaan parade by. Salzburg is open from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM daily.
The Dolce Italian Cafe across Elm Street and up a block specializes in Italian coffee drinks and gelato. In addition there is a limited selection of croissants, biscotti, cannoli, and muffins as well as an extensive menu of breakfast, panini, crêpes, salads, cakes and gelato.
There are lots of shaded tables outside. Inside the cozy coffee-themed seating area is decorated with colorful posters and Italian food brands. It’s fun to stand and watch the barista make complicated coffee drinks. I’m definitely coming back for an affogato.
The local bakery café world continues to expand. It’s amazing how each café expresses a unique personality — reflecting the owner’s heritage and favorite foods. I’ve got a few more new places to track down, and then I better revisit some of the established favorites. What I won’t be doing is getting on the scale.
Frank Whitman can be reached at NotBreadAloneFW@gmail.com.