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Baker Mark Furstenberg has long decried the lack of decent neighborhood bakeries in D.C. That’s what motivated him to open Bread Furst in Van Ness, and now, to bring his loaves to an even bigger audience through Whole Foods. He’ll begin selling four types of bread—corn rye, whole wheat, multigrain, and teff rye—at the grocer’s P Street NW location on Thursday with the possibility of expanding to more locations in the future.
“It’s really an amazing thing to me, because I have been so disrespectful to Whole Foods in the past,” Furstenberg says. In the decades he’s been in D.C., Furstenberg notes that neither Whole Foods nor any other supermarket chain has been interested in carrying outside breads made locally. “I have always said that this region’s Whole Foods has made it more difficult for small bakeries to come into existence,” he says.
Furstenberg tried pitch Whole Foods in the past, but the leadership was uninterested. This time around, it was Whole Foods’ executive vice president of operations who approached him. “I was thrilled,” he says.
The whole grain and ancient grain breads will be baked at Bread Furst and priced the same as they are at the Connecticut Ave. NW shop. Furstenberg is using a sourdough that he started in 1989, and all the flours, grains, and seeds are organic. The loaves have a dark, caramelized crust and more complex flavor than most of your typical grocery store brands.
Bread Furst will only produce as many loaves as it has capacity to produce from its current location. Furstenberg has no intention of building another bakery to supply Whole Foods. But if his bread sells well, he hopes that it will motivate other neighborhood bakeries to open. “That gives courage to people. It reduces the risk of opening a small bakery,” he says.
Here are more detailed descriptions of the bread via a press release from Whole Foods:
· Corn Rye: The corn is on the crust, making the bread crunchy when you bite into it. It has the flavor of caraway, traditionally teamed with rye bread.
· Whole Wheat: A bread shouldn’t be called “whole wheat” unless it is made entirely from whole wheat flour, flour made from the entire berry. Bread Furst’s is made entirely from a coarse whole wheat bought from Pecan Meadow Farms, a small Pennsylvania Amish farm.
· Multigrain: This is a hearty bread with grains spread throughout the loaf.
· Teff Rye: Teff is best known to us as the flour in injera, the Ethiopian flat bread. It’s both flavorful and nutritious.
Furstenberg recommends not refrigerating the bread or wrapping in in plastic. Rather, he suggest that you only slice what you’re going to eat and then store it cut-side down on a counter.
This story has been updated with additional quotes from Furstenberg.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery