New York Post

WOULD YOU PAY $20 FOR THIS BREAD?

New Yorkers are lining up for costly carbs from artisanal bakers — and putting a whole new spin on the ‘upper crust’

- By LAUREN STEUSSY

C ARLOS Arnaiz doesn’t usually carry cash. But to fund his delicious habit, he sure needs it.

Every Saturday morning, the 41-year-old architect ventures to the She Wolf Bakery stand at the Fort Greene Park Greenmarke­t for a weekly fix of artisanal bread. After making his selections, he counts out a fat stack of singles pilfered from his wife’s wallet (and sometimes his kids’ allowance stash, he admits). Last Saturday, he chose three small half loaves — and parted with a whopping $17.

“In my estimation, it’s a good investment,” the Fort Greene resident says of the bread, which he and his family enjoy slathered with butter and honey. “It has an incredible, layered flavor — there’s this tanginess. It’s stupendous.”

In NYC, luxe loaves are becoming as ubiquitous as $6 pour-over coffee and $15 chocolate bars. Each week, She Wolf bakers arrive at the Fort Greene farmers market with 17 large bins of bread — including their most expensive, a $20 miche made with Farmer Ground organic flour. And each week, the stand attracts a long, hungry line that quickly buys out the supply.

They’re not the only the game in town, either. “There are more artisan bakeries than there were 10 years ago,” says Francisco Migoya, a baking instructor and co-author of “Modernist Bread” (out Nov. 7, the Cooking Lab).

A dip in carbophobi­c diet fads may be stoking demand. “People

are starting to be less afraid of bread and gluten,” Migoya says, noting that Google searches for terms such as “gluten intoleranc­e” have declined since peaking in 2013. “People are starting to change their minds about bread.”

But why blow all that bread on a loaf when, for the same price, you could buy eight loaves of perfectly sliced whole-wheat sandwich bread at the Mr. Mango market a couple of blocks away?

Many customers, such as Angelina Drake, a 29-year-old nonprofit executive from Fort Greene, view their tony bread habit as part of an overall commitment to living their best lives.

“If you’re going to eat bread, you might as well eat good bread,” she says of her $11 purchase. “It challenges me to bring the rest of my meal up to par. I’ll get good olive oil from Eataly — maybe some Sicilian spicy oil — to dip it in.”

Eric Vazquez, a professor from Clinton Hill, says he and his partner eat mostly vegetables and protein but occasional­ly allow themselves a quarter loaf of She Wolf miche — a precious morsel of carbs that costs $5.

“It’s a treat that we have on the weekends — a nice, bourgeois treat,” says the muscular 37-year-old.

Splurging on a full loaf wouldn’t be out of the question. “Twenty dollars is like, the cost of a cocktail now, so I guess we could just have one less cocktail,” he says. “And the bread keeps us fed longer.”

Not everyone is sold. Clinton Hill resident Kaylah Majeed, 25, strolled past the She Wolf line last Saturday to peek at the price tags — and promptly turned the other way.

“Bread doesn’t usually last that long, so it’s just kind of a lot to spend,” says the advertisin­g agency producer, adding that a lot of people — herself included — can become so entranced by the farmers-market atmosphere that they end up overspendi­ng on fancy food. “I think it’s aspiration­al,” she says. Bakers say the cost reflects their betterqual­ity ingredient­s and the long process of making and fermenting artisanal dough, which often takes 12 to 48 hours.

“Time is the most expensive ingredient that goes into a bread that ferments really slowly,” says Uliks Fehmiu, co-founder of Pain D’Avignon breads, which sells loaves at Essex Street Market for up to $13.50.

Boerum Hill bakery Bien Cuit makes a $10 miche that ferments for 68 hours, its bakers say. The bakery’s most expensive loaf, a raisin-walnut sourdough, is $13.

Making good sourdough is particular­ly time-intensive. The process begins with a live starter, a pungent glob of flour, water, wild specialing bread yeast nurturing.rise, and it bacteria impartsIn additionth­ata complex, requiresto makmildly tart taste that’s lacking in many breads made with standard yeast and sugar.

For small-scale bakers, keeping that precious starter alive is an all situation,says Keith Cohen, owner of Orwashers artisan bakeries on Amsterdam Avenue and the Upper East Side, whose crew works every day to maintain operations.

“Even in [superstorm] Sandy we got people in to look after our starter,” he says.

His loaves are priced at up to $12, owing in part to locally farmed flour that’s roughly five times the cost of standard commercial flour, he says. He’s willing to shell out for well-sourced ingredient­s — and so are his customers, he says. Before feast-centered holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Thanksgivi­ng, lines form out the door, and customers on average spend about $30 on their bread purchases. “It’s controlled chaos,” Cohen says. “We’re there at 4:30 a.m. and have to open early, at 7 a.m., to keep the line moving.” Zachary Golper, co-founder of Bien Cuit, says that operating in the five boroughs — complete with kitchen space, a brick-and-mortar cafe and a full staff — means that local breadmaker­s have to be breadwinne­rs. “The reality is: I’ve got a business to run in New York City,” he says. Neverthele­ss, Alex Bryan, 22, finds the rise in bread prices excessive. The Williamsbu­rg-based stock trader scoffed at the high-cost loaves being sold at the Union Square Greenmarke­t as he went to work. “I’m sure if you toasted it, it would taste the same as the sandwich bread from the grocery store,” he says. “I bet a lot of it is emotional — you feel good supporting the local farmers and all that. You might think the bread tastes better for that reason, but that might be a placebo.” Don’t bother telling that to She Wolf customer Sue Peng. “These are the closest thing I’ve had to the baguettes in Paris,” says the 41-year-old Fort Greene analyst, clutching a long, crusty $4 baguette in one hand and the handle of a stroller in the other. “If it’s good, it doesn’t matter how much it costs.”

 ??  ?? Carlos Arnaiz arrives early at the She Wolf stand at the Fort Greene farmers market to ensure he nabs a chunk of $10 sourdough. Brooklyn’s She Wolf Bakery charges $20 for this miche, sold throughout NYC at farmers markets and specialty shops.
Carlos Arnaiz arrives early at the She Wolf stand at the Fort Greene farmers market to ensure he nabs a chunk of $10 sourdough. Brooklyn’s She Wolf Bakery charges $20 for this miche, sold throughout NYC at farmers markets and specialty shops.
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 ??  ?? Carb-crazed fans spend hundreds at She Wolf’s Fort Greene stand every week.
Carb-crazed fans spend hundreds at She Wolf’s Fort Greene stand every week.
 ??  ?? Angelina Drake, 29, says great bread fuels better eating. “It challenges me to bring the rest of my meal up to par.”
Angelina Drake, 29, says great bread fuels better eating. “It challenges me to bring the rest of my meal up to par.”

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