At the Standard Hotel in the East Village, you’ll find some of the most delicious loaves of bread in town. Sure, there’s a stellar traditional rye bread, but at the hotel’s restaurant, Narcissa, and cafe, Café Standard, chef de cuisine Max Blachman-Gentile serves more than just the classics. In fact, the Jewish baker is known for baking exotic breads like a French onion soup roll, rugbrød (Danish style rye bread), and Japanese shokupan. His latest concoction? Kasha porridge bread.
Creamy and moist, Blachman-Gentile’s newest loaf was inspired by a dish he despised eating as a child — kasha varnishkes. Much to his dismay, his Jewish mom (he has two moms, the other is Italian) used to cook him the bow-shaped noodles with buckwheat dish, according to Grub Street. With time he learned to enjoy the soul-satisfying Ashkenazi treat, and even went so far as to use it as his muse.
Although the King of Sourdough’s latest porridge bread is inspired by a classic Ashkenazi dish, Blachman-Gentile says he typically leans towards more Middle Eastern-inspired foods like Yemenite malawach, hummus, and shwarma. “I have family in Israel as well, some of my grandma’s cousins moved there after the Holocaust instead of to the United States, and so a lot of my baking and cooking is really rooted in that food more than Ashkenazi recipes,” Blachman-Gentile told The Forward.
How exactly does an artisanal loaf of bread taste like a pasta dish? It’s simple, really. For starters, the dough is made with white, whole wheat, and buckwheat flours. The dough is then stuffed with a kasha porridge filled with onions fried in schmaltz (yum!), and rolled in toasted buckwheat oats before it’s baked.
Does Blachman-Gentile’s mom approve? Of course! “She loves it,” Blachman-Gentile told Grub Street. “I mean, c’mon, she’s a proud Jewish mother.”