Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Product Review: Rye Bread

Bad news first: It’s hard to find good Russian rye bread in Milwaukee. I’m talking real rye: dense, dark and faintly sour. Workaday rye that you can pair with a bowl of borsch for a complete meal. Sturdy rye for smearing with butter and layering with fatty sausage, like Russians do. Ignore cottony, faintly-brown rye that’s sold at supermarkets. Turn your nose at foo-foo versions made with cheese and nuts and whatnot.

Now, here’s the good news: Monastyrsky (monastery) rye is pretty close to the real deal. It’s trucked in from Chicago and sold at Spartak* in Whitefish Bay. It’s thick, heavy and hole-y. No, it’s not perfect. It’s almost five bucks per loaf. Sometime it's sold out. Other days it’s a bit stale. But when it’s good, it’s very good. Call Spartak to check when they’re getting a shipment.

Here’s how you eat Russian rye: Slice it thick, spread with butter and sprinkle with a bit of grainy salt. I like to dip it in sour cream. Goes great with borsch and schi.

*5587 N. Diversey Blvd., Whitefish Bay, Wis., (414) 332-3347.


Lo said...

Oooh. This looks delicious.

I've got to admit that you're right. When I make borscht, I generally have to make my own rye bread (or settle for a less-authentic product). Good to know that I can get some of this love locally!!

Do none of the local bakeries make a decent Russian rye? For SHAME!!

Anna said...

I have also seen this at the European Deli, the one on Port Washington Road. They generally have a decent selection of different breads.

Mrs. M. said...

Lo-I want to make my own rye bread... Smitten Kitchen just ran a promising-looking recipe. I've yet to find good, locally-baked rye in Milwaukee.

Anna-Thanks for the tip...Other Russian stores might carry it, too.

Irene said...

I like to dip it into sour cream too and everyone looks at me like I'm mad in the head. So glad to know that the deliciousness is appreciated by someone else as well!!! I've always wanted to make Russian rye bread, but it seems to involve a crapload of ingredients and I'm just not that brave.

Mrs. M. said...

Irene-There's a promising recipe on Smitten Kitchen. Of course, it calls for about 25 ingredients.

anza said...

Yulinka, I appreciate your use of the word "real" in your post because that is what I'm often looking for, e.g. real/authentic recipes/food buys. When I look up recipes, I never know if they are a hodgepodge of russianesque or "russian-like" recipes when all I want is food that I could find on the tables of families in Russia, that have been making it a certain way for generations. Looking on the Russian Recipe websites, for instance, there are mentions of mushrooms as a substitution for meat or fish (for vegetarians)but how am I to know if that is a U.S. geared statement or something people in Russia actually do? I also saw a recipe for Blueberry vareniki, how common is that in Russia? If you could address my overall point, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you.

Mrs. M. said...

Anza-I like authentic recipes too, but keep in mind that recipes change based on available ingredients, new food preferences, etc. Granted, mushrooms and such are rarely used as meat subsitutes in Russian cooking. I guess if you are a vegetarian, you can just have mushrooms and skip the meat. I haven't heard of blueberry vareniki (just cherry ones), but that's not such an unlikely ingredient. Blueberries are popular in Russia.

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