Bonfiglio & Bread: Filling a Knead in Hudson
Hereinafter lies a tale of America, right here in that unique microcosm of the nation, Hudson. A Horatio Alger story in motion, the delicious bakery formerly called Loaf and now renamed Bonfiglio & Bread has moved upstreet from a display case on the right hand side of Swallow Café (and, briefly before that on top of a little freezer counter at the Lick ice cream parlor during off season, and still before that on a shelf in a short-lived retail outpost of Mignorelli’s Farm, and before that….), into a newly refurbished space all of its own at 748 Warren, next to and on a design par with the hot new restaurant The Crimson Sparrow. All of these spaces, incrementally larger in size, were filled with deliciously crunchy, whole wheat French baguettes, pillowy quinoa loaves, and more unholy treats such as cinnamon buns, each, until recently, baked in a modest basement oven in the home of the twenty- something owners, Gabrielle Gulielmetti (above right) and Rachel Sanzone (left), a block south of Hudson’s main thoroughfare, Warren Street.
Waiting in line at this past Saturday’s opening, immediately packed with customers, the mind journeyed back to a time long, long ago (OK two years) when there was no bakery in Hudson at all. The absence of freshly baked bread was just one of a handful of basic services the lack thereof can make this town, even with its snazzy looking mile- long business district, seem more like a Potemkin Village than a living, breathing community, at least on Wednesdays when antique oriented stores are shuttered. Then came Loaf and soon after that the massive dining, drinking, and baking complex, Café Le Perche, with its behemoth million-dollar oven imported from France. The whole town suddenly became a gluten for punishment, with seemingly more baked goods per square mile than any comparable one in the lower 48. Never mind that no one seemed to be eating bread anymore (or at least said they weren’t), the gods had decided. And we all gorged.
The new space is gorgeously outfitted with mosaic flooring, tin ceilings from Brian Greer in Catskill, vintage Holophane and milk glass lighting from Historical Materialism, and handsome hand varnished wood slatting on the counter and shelving against the wall. In the rear is a Garland stove, plenty of space to knead and store baked goods, and most importantly, a super high-tech stainless steel oven, complete with numerous digital timers and shelves that allow for baking numerous hunks of wheat. Every morning, all slabs of dough are heartily manipulated and carefully eyed by the couple. (They also provide their goods to Helsinki Hudson and the Sparrow next door, as well as farmers’ markets around the region.) Watching Gulielmetti and Sanzone in action is, whatever Sanjay Gupta may say to the contrary, truly a testament to the power of carbs, as well as youthful determination.
Gulielmetti grew up in New York City and, after attending college as an art major at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, moved to Hudson with Rachel (a history major at Stonybrook) in 2009. “We’re both self-taught in baking. Rachel started it all. We didn’t have any idea about how it would all end up but just waited to see where it would go. Soon we had a line out of our door at 11:30 a.m. every day and gained quite a loyal local following. Everyone responded to the premise that people should have really good bread that’s reasonably priced. Bread shouldn’t be expensive. It’s just flour and water and yeast and so on; the flour we use isn’t cheap (Champagne Valley Organux), but it’s really about the process; we whole proof (cultivate) most of our dough to allow the true sweet wheat flavor and not the sour to come out naturally.”
In addition to the daily baguettes, ciabbatas, Altimora sourdoughs, seed loaves with pumpkin seeds, walnut buckwheat sourdoughs, etc, that are produced daily, the couple are going beyond these staves of life to egg -based dishes such as sautéed local mushrooms with fried eggs on toast, bacon with four minute eggs and cheese on a challah roll, “things that you can sup up with bread” Gulielmetti says, in addition to daily sandwiches. “If you’ve ever been to a café in Rome they usually offer you a loaf of bread and you can choose from four large plates of fried zucchini, prosciutto, and pepper or roasted baby eggplant with chorizo, and you can either put that together as a sandwich or keep it separate.” Also on offer is fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice, plus individual fair trade coffee from Gimme, served in a French press for indoors or larger tureens for take out.
“But all of this stuff are the extras because basically we’re a bakery. We live here, we work here, and the money we make stays here. It wasn’t about making gazillions of dollars; it’s not rocket science, it’s all about concern about you’re doing. Pastry might be a science, bread is more simply a matter of patience, waiting—dealing with simple things. It’s a way of life. It takes time. We bake bread because we like to bake bread.”
It’s a story of upward mobility as American as pain à l’ancienne. — Scott Baldinger
Bonfiglio & Bread
748 Warren Street
Tuesday through Sunday 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.