bread flour—as much as 14%), milk and malt
syrup, rather than traditional bread-baking
ingredients. “I use these items to give the
bread that signature color and texture found
when biting into a traditional soft pretzel, but
with the strong texture of bread,” says Eric
Hara, executive chef/partner.
To help achieve that look and texture, the
pretzels are first poached in a mixture of water
and baking soda, then baked. The poaching also
helps ensure the firm, crusty outside and dough-like interior that everyone loves about a soft
pretzel. They are cut on an angle, and served as
individual pretzel branches, as opposed to large
DIPS, SPREADS AND SAUCES
Andina’s bread service starts after a server
takes an order and a runner comes to the
table with a basket of room-temperature
pan de quinoa and a trio of colorful sauces,
salsas Peruanas, which highlight the three
major flavors in Peruvian cooking—peppers,
peanuts and fruit. Salsa Verde is a spicy,
crisp-tasting jalapeño sauce. Salsa de Maní
is a warming peanut sauce with earthy
flavors. Salsa de Maracuyá is a fruity, more
upbeat passion fruit sauce. “In Peru, these
salsas are indispensable at any table,
not only as dippers for bread, but also
to enhance the flavor of any food that is
served,” Vargas says.
Castagna’s housemade rye bread, bottom, comes with brown butter-butter and smoked
pork fat/hazelnut spread.
explanation takes guests by surprise and
commands their attention and interest.
The bread is baked in olive oil, which gives
it a somewhat protective outer layer and
a great deal of crunch. “We’re trying to do
something unique with our food, and want
all aspects of the dining experience to be
unique,” says executive chef Matt Lightner.
“And that begins with the bread service.”
After the bread and salsas are placed on
the table, the runner names the bread,
then each salsa in order of spiciness, and
explains the ingredients. Rodriguez de
Platt says the knowledge, confidence and
enthusiasm the runner shows during the
Each pretzel order at 9 Restaurant is
served with a ramekin of housemade
whole-grain mustard/honey butter, and
customers are encouraged to pull the
pretzels apart and dip them in the mustard.
“It’s the perfect combination of sweet and
savory to accompany the salty bite of the
bread,” Hara says.
At Castagna in Portland, Ore., a soft dough
that is glutinous and allows for an extra-chewy spongy-textured rye bread is made.
He says what separates Castagna’s bread
service from that of other restaurants is
the butter service. Two condiments are
offered: brown butter-butter, a hand-turned
creamy butter that has been browned;
and a whipped smoked pork fat/hazelnut
spread from pigs that feed off hazelnuts.