My first experience with Wave Hill Breads was at The Dressing Room in Westport. Ordinarily, when the "bread course" arrives, I sample but only pick as I like to save my appetite for the main event. That evening, however, when the waiter strolled to the table, the smell of freshly baked bread immediately altered the dining plan. It was warm to the touch, had a strong crunchy crust, and the kind of dense spongy inside that has great mouthfeel. It required no spread. It was perfect all by itself... although the sweet creamy butter slathered on sure didn't hurt. When asked where this resplendent loaf had whence come, they answered Wave Hill Breads.
Googling Wave Hill Breads from the restaurant, I found to my great excitement, that these lovely loaves were made locally in Wilton, in a small bakery right off Route 7. I was there the following day. I had to find out more.
The Wave Hill Breads Bakery is slightly off the road, (in case you don't see it), and they are only open for retail 9-12 daily. They do not bake bread on Tuesday, so pick another day if you want it fresh. The bakers arrive before 7 and are generally done by 8. They only make one type of bread. It is a three-grain pain de campagne made with unbleached wheat flour, water, organic spelt and rye berries, sea salt, and yeast. Yup..That's it. The spelt and rye berries are milled daily at the bakery for each batch, yielding optimal freshness, and there are no nuts, eggs, or dairy anywhere in the production area.
Their standard Pain de Campagne (Country Bread) is the original Wave Hill Bread shape (seen on left), but the bakery will occasionally make other shapes for Farmers Markets or specific stores. These are made out of the same dough. When I toured the bakery, they showed me a beautiful epis (which look like a sheaf of wheat or a collection of pointed rolls on a stalk), but they have also been knows to make half-size baguettes, ficelles, and, occasionally, “pregels”, large donut-shaped breads developed by a student baker in the summer of 2007.
And then there are the croutons...I particularly appreciated the fact that there was no waste at Wave Hill Bread (see image below). Any loaf that doesn't sell that day gets turned into large robust croutons, available in plain and lemon-thyme. The lemon flavor in the latter comes from sumac, a spice often used in the Middle East, giving them a very unique taste. These gigantic crunchy bites are very satisfying and will add interest and taste to any soup or salad. They also make the ultimate scoop for spreads called "just crust" which are crunchy chips make exclusively from the bread's crust in plain or curry flavor varieties.
If you can't get to the bakery, no worries, Wave Hill Bread is sold all over the State of CT at local Farmers Markets, and at a handful of grocery stores and markets like Whole Foods, Balduccis, Fjord Fisheries in Westport and Cos Cob, Mirabelle Cheese in Westport, The Pantry in Fairfeld, Walter Stewart's in New Cananan as well as many popular restaurants who appreciate this exceptional and wholesome bread. These include Pasta Nostra, Dressing Room, Napa & Co., as well as a few others you can find on the Wave Hill Breads web site.
Michael Stern says this is "The best bread on the East Coast" and "Worth traveling 100 miles for". I agree. Go buy some today, and don't ignore the directions on the side of the bag. Heat the loaf in an oven at 450 for 7 minutes for maximum eating pleasure, as the second "baking" improves the crust and the taste of the bread. Make Wave Hill your daily bread. It is just good stuff!