Archive for July, 2017

Sandpiper Bakery, croissants in Gloucester!

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

 

Susanne Clermont, 35, owner of the new Sandpiper Bakery at 65 Middle St. in Gloucester, has had her hands in flour for fourteen years, not counting the job she had at 10 years old when she was paid in creme brulee.   

For 7 1/2 years Clermont owned the Canto 6 bakery in Jamaica Plain, winner of Boston Magazine’s Best Pastry award in 2015.  Before that she had many years of flour-dusted aprons:  working at Dave’s Fresh Pasta, Clear Flour Bakery, Hi-Rise Bakery, and as pastry chef at East Meets West Catering.  And that’s just in Boston.  In Portland, Maine, Clermont worked at Two Fat Cats Bakery.  She studied at the Apicius International School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy, where she claims she really got a degree in “Europe,” eating her way through countries, learning how to be an Italian local.  In Florence she lived in an apartment above a  bakery that made crescent-shaped buttery brioche brushed with almond syrup.  After a long Florentine night drinking wine, Clermont would stop in for a warm pastry before heading upstairs.

She grew up in Austin, TX, where she had that first bakery job working for creme brulee.  “The creme brulees were really for my mother,” Clermont confesses.  The bakery owner was her mother’s friend.

After so many baking years, Clermont opened Sandpiper Bakery with a new perspective; this time she was a new mother.  Her daughter, Lucy, now almost 14 months, was born just a few months before Clermont closed Canto 6.  (Landlord issues and departing staff flagged a change.)  In that first year home with her baby, Clermont came to appreciate even more the simple pleasure of having a lovely place to go with a baby, to see a few people, to be served a good cup of coffee with something delicious beside it.  

Also, Clermont loves cafes.  

“My husband and I had sat in cafes all over Europe before we had Lucy – in Amsterdam, and London.  We would spend hours there; I would read and he would sketch.  We paid a lot of money to sit in cafes!”  

Particularly with new motherhood in mind, Clermont says she wanted her bakery to be special.  

“I wanted to create something beautiful.  I wanted a European Cafe, a place for people to commune, to relax, to read, and to meet friends.  And a place that highlighted local farms and produce.”

Along with granola, brioche, croissants, scones, cookies, canneles, tapos (chocolate bites shaped like a “tapos” which means “cork” in Italian.)  Clermont offers sandwiches everyday.  This week’s featured sandwich would be roasted carrots from Iron Ox farm with Dancing Goat goat cheese, pickled onion, arugula and cumin vinaigrette on ciabatta.  

This week’s quiche would feature cured olives, fresh corn and ricotta.  She would have raspberry cream puffs with Marini Farm berries, a wild Maine blueberry galette, and – if she can find local peaches – peach pie.  

A city that offers an honest croissant is a civilized place.  Sandpiper Bakery has inched the culture rating on this corner of Middle St. and Center St., across from the Temple, beside the YMCA, a little higher.  There are plenty of cafe tables, and smooth, rich coffee from Tandem Coffee Roasters in Portland, Maine.  If you don’t have a baby, invite a friend to meet you there.

owner Susanne Clermont (right) with Joanne McDonough, signage expert and flower arranger

This is the way to dare to eat a peach.

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

 

My problem with fruit desserts is this: The cherry clafouti, the fresh fig tart, the peach pie should all be made with the ripest fruit at the peak of its season.

But their seasons are so short! We don’t get enough of these gifts simply in a bowl on the table!

I don’t want to poach, bake, or crumble them in anything else; I want to enjoy the pure fundamentals of each fruit as it enters its season. We just don’t get enough of them to exhaust their one ingredient deliciousness.  A bowl of cherries.  Three squat, gibbous figs.  A cold, dewy peach.

That’s why I love this recipe (really just assembly) from Gabrielle Hamilton’s cookbook Prune, the recipe box for the chefs in her East Village, NYC restaurant of the same name.

 

 

Find some really good butter.

Slather it “wall-to-wall” on rounds of baguette (untoasted).

Lay slices of peeled, fragrant peach over the butter.

Sprinkle with sugar.

Drizzle a 1/2 teaspoon of icy-cold (keep it in the freezer) Peach Schnapps (ideally peach eau de vie) over each serving.

Serve.

I have served this as a dessert and as an appetizer. Even with that Schnapps, you could have it for breakfast. This is a way to dare to eat a peach.