There’s a new bread sheriff in town and her name is Jacqueline Russo. At The Flour Shoppe Café in Rockville Centre, she’s making classic, rustic loaves using a prefermented starter (“levain” in French) that bestows a complex flavor, springy crumb and crunchy crust.
This style of bread is rare on Long Island, with Carissa’s Breads (Southampton) and Blue Duck Bakery (Southold) the only large-scale producers.
Russo came aboard in September. She met the café’s consulting chef, John Maher, when both were attending a professional course in artisan baking at the International Culinary Center in SoHo. Maher had long wanted to add artisan breads to his lineup of pastries, sandwiches and casual eats. The addition of a full-time bread baker to the staff has made it a fait accompli.
An accomplished pastry chef before she went savory, Russo was drawn to bread because of its central place in culture and cooking. “You really can live on it,” she said. That’s certainly true of her sourdough miche, a huge round with a hint of whole wheat, is branded with a completely unnecessary “eat me.”
The white sourdough is hearty and clean and forms the foundation of the café’s tartines (open-faced French sandwiches). The straight-sided Pullman loaf is called into service for grilled cheese and croquet-monsieur sandwiches. With its seeded tang and tough crust, the caraway rye may bring tears of nostalgia to the eyes of old Brooklynites.
Russo also makes more Baroque loaves stuffed with olives and capers; raisins, cranberries and walnuts and a chocolate bread with nuts and cherries. Prices range from $7 to $8.
486 Sunrise Hwy, Rockville Centre, 516-536-2253, theflourshoppebakery.com