Sarah Leah Chase
Few of us Nantucket need to be reminded that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Bleak and blustery winters topped off with 3-day March Nor’easters make any miniscule sign of spring – be it a deep purple crocus bud or rogue ray of sunshine – cause for euphoria and cork-popping celebration. While Guinness guzzling on St. Patrick’s Day tends to rally some from mid-March stupor, I personally discovered the re-opening of Liz Holland’s Daily Breads bakery on March 17th after a long winter’s nap capable of enthusing my inner gastronomic core far more delectably than any pint of stout or slab of juicy corned beef.
Daily Breads bakes the only baguette on island worth buying and their hearty Struen is the rare loaf of good-for-you multi-grain bread that actually tastes fabulous. But these are not the loaves of my carbohydrate cravings. The Daily Breads loaf I live and long for is the sesame-speckled Cottage Bread – a nutritionally incorrect yet artisanally irresistible, high-gluten, white flour country bread that I pray is only figuratively and not literally “to die for.”
Like any truly passionate baker, Liz can wax eloquent over her Cottage Bread’s sublime crust and uniquely creamy interior, but I must warn fans like myself to pry no further because the recipe is TOP SECRET! When pressed, Liz will share that she remembers starting to bake Cottage Bread sometime before she took over the helm at Off-Centre Café, where the bread served as the base for one of the best and certainly most memorable grilled cheese sandwiches (recent island contests notwithstanding) I have ever eaten, period. Liz’s Cottage Bread even managed to garner some well deserved albeit fleeting stardom beyond the confines of Nantucket when Liz did a baking stint in Manhattan in the mid-nineties for the famed Le Cirque restaurant.
While a New York pedigree never hurts, Daily Breads Cottage Bread is the one bread that always makes my day on Nantucket – be it toasted or French-toasted in the morning, sandwiched at noon, or smeared with a sliver of runny cheese at sundown to make a happy hour all the happier. Cottage Bread is sold only at the Daily Breads bakery for $3.75 a loaf and is available sliced or unsliced and in slightly varying degrees of crustiness.
Serendipity was conceived by Sarah Leah Chase as an occasional blog-like addition to Mahon About Town to shed positive and enthusiastic light on culinary pleasures and surprises encountered during day-to-day, off-season island living. Sarah is a cookbook writer, culinary consultant, and longtime columnist for the Inquirer & Mirror.