Farmers market pick of the week: Mill Pond Bread's kalamata olive twists
Let's take a walk. It's early, it's crowded, and everything is going at farmer's market speed. You know what I mean - the slow shuffling of pairs and trios who abruptly stop right in front of you and block the entire path; the lingering, dreamy-eyed saunter of those intoxicated on the vibe and bustle of the Kerrytown market; and, well, everyone else, myself included, whose presence helps bring the simulation of clogging arteries to life each week when the farmer's market is in session.
The fact is, I love being at the market but I sometimes have a hard time waking up to get there in time for the most plentiful produce. Coffee you say? Coffee would help me wake up and take in the atmosphere of Kerrytown at its best? For you coffee lovers, maybe, but not for me. Now don't get me wrong, I love the flavor of a truly great coffee, (and if you're looking for one I recommend the Roos Roast stand at the market or Zingerman's Next Door just across the street) but in my case it has to be decaf because otherwise I'll be up for three days. Straight. So what can a girl with a caffeine intolerance do in such a situation?
I'll tell you what I do. I drag myself, groggy and bleary-eyed, over to the Mill Pond Bread stand. As my hands work a little harder than I feel should be necessary to grasp my money (but such are things early in the morning), I order one singularly divine kalamata olive twist from the polite people behind the table.
Though I always think that they look mildly concerned at my appearance and inability to speak above a mumble in my freshly-awoken-to-the-world and weary state, it’s most likely that I am just super sleepy and that everything and everybody looks suspicious some mornings before you have really woken up. I hand them my money and they hand me a bag. I take the bag with both hands, and then I bite down on the bread held within it and wrench away a bite and begin chewing. By the end of it, I feel like I've earned something. The bread is not tough, let me be clear, but the French sourdough does require a rather satisfying albeit minor bit of work to enjoy, and I love that. As you are well into your second bite, you will have woken up. The only difference being that today you woke up through an active engagement with your breakfast rather than the more often used a.m. accelerant of coffee.
The reward for all of your efforts? A sublime marriage of olive oil, sunflower seeds, parsley, roasted garlic, sauteed onions, and just the right amount of those salty spots of mediterranean sunshine known as kalamata olives. If you are steadfast and stubborn and unwilling to give up your morning coffee or at the very least an eye opener that is liquid rather than solid, you are in luck: bread from Mill Pond Bakery in Chelsea, Michigan can be eaten at any time of the day.
Now let me tell you now a little bit about the people who make and sell this artisanal bread. While doing research for this article (because, well, you deserve only the best), I called Mill Pond Bakery. John Savanna, the owner and founder of Mill Pond Bread answered the phone himself, and was unbelievably accommodating from the get go. Before I had even introduced myself or told him why I was asking what must have seemed like some rather odd questions (i.e., "I know that your kalamata olive sticks come in two different sizes, how long is the bigger size?") he was eager to answer and extremely pleasant (in fact, when I asked him how long the kalamata twist was, he ran and got a tape measure and measured one for me right away; FYI, the bigger breadstick is approximately 16 and a half inches, and the smaller one is roughly half of that - how's that for amazing service?).
I learned while speaking to John that he has been working on the recipe for these twists for quite a while, "They're constantly evolving - I mean, I've been working on them [for] about 15 years." He told me that the kalamata olive twists are made by applying olive oil both before and after the baking process, and that they only use colossus olives from Aladdin's Market in Ann Arbor.
So how did he come up with the idea to wrap all of the lovely flavors of the mediterranean into these divine twists? Well, in a way, it was due to our American predilection with hand-held food - so Savanna united his family's century-old sourdough starter with the age of modern convenience as it relates to food. Now that makes for some pretty tasty irony. It also helped his business. "It was really the boost the bakery needed", John shared when we spoke on the phone, and it doesn't stop at just kalamata olives. Mill Pond Bread twists also come in two other flavors: roasted garlic with cheddar and jalapeno with cheddar. Now, I can only assume that the two other flavors are delicious as well, because as yet I haven't been able to wean myself away from the kalamata olive variety to actually supply definitive data on the subject. However, I've known about these twists for over a year, and if just one kind has ensnared my tastebuds so effectively, that probably bodes pretty well for the others.
Right before I got off the phone with John Savanna, he told me to stop by the booth at this week's Wednesday market. So yesterday, I wandered over there, more awake and put together than usual, and I bought a sinful looking pastry. Then I introduced myself in person, and John sent me away with an armful of kalamata olive twists - I feel it was an experience equal to Christmas.
Thank you to John Savanna and all of the lovely ladies who work with him at the Kerrytown Farmers Market and at Mill Pond Bakery; the care and craft you put in to your sweet and savory wares has made life all the more scrumptious.
For more information on where you can purchase Mill Pond Bread, please follow the link!