Farm to Oven - Almond Biscotti from Upper Crust Baking, Davis California
One of our favorite things to do as a family on the weekends is to go to the farmers market to get fresh produce for the week, and perhaps a bouquet of flowers. Well, in truth, it’s my favorite thing to do. But I get eager company with my daughter and husband because the first stop is always at the Upper Crust Bakery tables to drool over all the incredible pastry choices that have spread out. After careful selection of a buttery croissant, sweet scone, or an apple tart, and a cup of coffee we are set to work our way through the market.
Upper Crust Baking has been serving farmers markets all over the region, from San Jose to Tahoe for decades. They were one of the first non-farm vendors at the Davis Farmers Market and other local markets. The bakery was started by two UC Davis grads, Mo and Trudy Kalisky. When Mo and Trudy moved from New York to Davis in 1970, to go to grad school at UC Davis, they realized as wonderful as the region was, good bread was hard to find. Mo, getting his inspiration from Julia Childs, began baking bread at home. They opened the bakery in 1986. And for 35 years their baked goods graced restaurant tables throughout the region and appeared in some specialty markets.
Their son Lorin went away for university and eventually moved to Paris and married and had two children. While in Paris, Lorin trained with top bakers in the US and France. He and his family returned to the area in 2016 and Lorin took over the business. In 2019 Lorin took over an old Radio Shack and converted it to a bakery and cafe. It’s right in downtown Davis, next to the Davis Co-op. Due to Covid-19 the bakery is currently open for walk up business as well as online ordering and pick ups only, but as busy as ever. They make several varieties of bread each day, including Salted Rosemary, Jewish Deli Rye, Country Loaf, and sourdough, to name only a few. They also produce a vast array of pastries, bagels and seasonal specialties.
While the bakery makes an incredible variety of items, Lorin has brought the focus to sourcing locally as much as possible. He has proudly received the ‘Snail of Approval’ from Slow Food Yolo and he is a huge supporter of the California Grain Campaign. Many of his items are made with flours that are grown and milled right here in Northern California. Upper Crust also sources raisins, nuts and honey locally. These business decisions are what our Farm to Fork in a Box is all about. Sourcing locally strengthens our food web and supports small farmers. It also leads to sustainability and has a lower impact on the environment.
In addition to bringing a renewed focus on local ingredients, Lorin also brought something from afar. While living in Paris for 14 years, he and his wife would often visit the south of France. There he discovered Sarmentine. Taking the scenic way from Bordeaux to Bergerac Lorin discovered a baker making Sarmentine in a wood oven dating back to 1898. As Lorin tells it, he befriended the baker over time and eventually was gifted the method of how to make this unique bread. Sarmentine is a baguette that is forked at both ends. The shape resembles trimmed grape vines after harvest. These branches are highly regarded in the Bordeaux region of France to be used in wood-fires or for grilling and produce a unique smoky flavor. As fun as the shape is, what really makes this bread stand out is the flavor. It has a touch of spelt flour that gives it some texture and a slightly nutty flavor, and sesame that especially gives it a unique touch.
Sadly, bread is best eaten when fresh. So we chose for our August box an item from Upper Crust Baking that has a long shelf life (even ancient roman’s thought so) that is delicious and satisfies a sweet tooth. The Almond Biscotti from Upper Crust is so crunchy and good, and it’s made the traditional way. The word biscotti literally derives from the words ‘twice baked’, which is the authentic, and if you ask me, the only way to make biscotti. Twice baking makes it extra crunchy, so it can hold up when you dunk it in vin santo, the traditional way to eat biscotti, or in a cup of Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters La Finca Merced, also featured in our August box. These crunchy cookies are slightly sweet, filled with almonds and have a hint of anise. We think they are an excellent example of farm to oven, and a worthy addition to our Farm to Fork in a Box this month.
Meet the Maker - Lorin Kolisky of Upper Crust Baking, Davis, California.