I Heart High Street
It’s no secret that I’m a ridiculously huge fan of local restaurant High Street on Market. I did a series of fermentation dinners with them earlier this year and the experience cemented my extraordinarily high opinion of the people who work there and the food they make.
I’m not the only one who thinks High Street is fantastic. Chef Eli Kulp was chosen as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in the country this year, Pastry Chef Sam Kincaid was named an Eater Young Gun, Head Baker Alex Bois was named to Zagat’s 30 Under 30 and, oh yeah, Bon Appetit named High Street the second best restaurant in the country! All of that happened within the first year of the place opening its doors. In short, High Street is good and I’m not the only one smitten.
I recently heard that High Street would be adding some new breads to its already primo stable of slices. I was excited but let’s be honest, all breads must crumble a little at the idea of being placed next to the unbelievable vegetable ash levain, anadama or any of the other High Street bread options that are all likely to fall under the header “Best Bread You’ve Ever Eaten.” Enter the brand spanking new Genmai Amazake bread. Let’s just say that it stands up to its Bois-baked counterparts and then some.
Tasting the Genmai Amazake Bread from High Street on Market
These guys are big time fermentation fans. Chef Kulp knows his way around the wide world of fermentation and makes a wide variety of ferments, from cultured butter to kefir to cashew cheese to miso in house, not to mention the many vegetable ferments that regularly show up on the menu. Alex Bois has a background in chemistry and a past as a home brewer, both of which have allowed him to become a waaaaaaaay creative home fermenter and, subsequently, the best bread baker in the world (not exaggerating and not the only one who thinks so). Put these guys together and you get something IN.SANE. In this case, the insanity is a Genmai Amazake bread that uses ferments in both traditional and very non-traditional ways.
This bread is levain-risen (yay for wild fermentation!), but to make it even fermentier, they brought amazake, the koji-fermented sweet rice porridge, into the mix. To make you cry tears of joy while eating this, they baked the crust into a caramelized canvas of crunch and flavor. This particular bread has notes of beer, chocolate and fruit. Its crust is the creme brûlée topping that you want to obsessively crack. And the crumb. The crumb. I know not how to explain what Bois does to his crumb. It’s a bubbly revelation that shouldn’t be possible. This bread is a ferment in the most important sense: it has layers and layers of flavor that never stop coming (until you’ve finally dabbed up the final traces of crumb with a sad, sad finger).
This bread doesn’t need any adornment. You can easily eat a slice (or a loaf) all on its own. To be straight with you, the guys at my office (with a
lot of little help from me, of course) ate half of this loaf by pulling it apart with their hands moments after I finished taking a few pics of it. These are game developers not foodies, but not a one of them could resist talking about the flavors the whole time they ate.
“It’s a really amazing stout,” one beer fan said.
“It tastes just barely like chocolate in the finish. Like really good chocolate that has subtle waves of mangoes and raspberries ,” I thought and maybe said out loud.
“I’m not going to buy bread anywhere else anymore,” another colleague said. “Why would I buy bread anywhere else when I have access to this?”
Why indeed? From my perspective, you can definitely taste that there’s a koji-made product in there. The complexity and variety of flavors in this loaf tell that tale. It has deep, rich, dark caramelized and yeasty flavors, but also fruity notes that somehow hit your palate at different times. This is bread as fine wine (or sake, as may be more appropriate).
Ways to Eat This Bread
If you’re buying this particular loaf, you can eat it with any number of things that my husband and I tried with the last of the loaf that I managed to get home without devouring. Your first choice here is always going to be eating it “plain.” It is so flavorful, it really doesn’t need anything. BUT, if you insist, here were my faves:
- The tiniest dribble of toasted sesame oil made us a little mad at ourselves for eating so much of it with other things. Too much and it was over powering, but a few drops were divine.
- This bread has has just a hint of a rich, dark chocolate aftertaste, so I put a bit of good chocolate on a small slice. The whole thing melted in our mouths.
- A bit of home-cultured butter was also tasty, but as with everything on this list, it doesn’t need it. The bread stands alone.
- My husband dug it with a bit of barley miso butter, but I thought the fruitiness of the miso brought out too much fruitiness in the bread.
- I’m a weirdo who likes blue cheese and chocolate together which made me think I would like this bread with blue cheese. I tried it with the thinnest possible slice of Parish Hill Blue and my off-center instincts were rewarded.
If you get to Philadelphia, or if you live here and decide to stop in to High Street for one of these babies, be sure to let me know how you like to eat it. If you’re a baker and you can’t make it to Philadelphia, I’d love to hear about the fermentiest bread you’ve ever made.
High Street gave me a loaf of Genmai Amazake to
devour in the fashion of a velociraptor on prey taste. All opinions and praise are my own.