It’s been three years now since we started baking the marvelous Country Miche at the Bakehouse. It was good right off the bat, and it continues to get a bit better with each passing month.
The Miche is a near-perfect manifestation of French food writer Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat’s statement in History of Food, that “Really good bread makes you feel happy just to smell it, look at it, bite, chew and swallow it.”
The Country Miche was one of the breads that debuted after we began the wonderful work to mill our own grain at the Bakehouse. It’s a blend of four: high extraction hard red spring wheat grown and milled by Bill Koucky in the Leelanau peninsula, organic spelt from neighboring states, organic buckwheat from Natural Way mills, and organic rye from Hampshire Farms—the latter three of which are all freshly milled right here at the Bakehouse. The quartet come together to make for a complex, compelling set of flavors.
As nutritionist Karen Ansel explains: “Fresh-milled whole grain flour provides the goodness of all the parts of the grain, so it contains superior levels of fiber, magnesium, selenium, vitamin E, and phytonutrients.” Commercially milled flour can lose nearly 90% of its nutrients within three or four days of milling. By milling heirloom grains on-site, we have the chance to put all those natural nutrients into the bread. Both the bread and those of us who eat it benefit big time. Hazim Tugun, from the Bakehouse shared:
It’s a bread that is really alive with the grains, or maybe speaks for the grains. It’s beautiful, a sight to take in, and I love the aromas of the different grains, the sweet wheaty tones laced with the floral, grassy qualities of the buckwheat. It’s got just enough of a tang to really pop the multitude of flavors coming through—nutty, wheaty, maybe a touch earthy and spicy.
The Bakehouse’s Country Miche is so exceptionally marvelous it would be wholly at home in a top-notch French country bakery circa 1880. The Miche is old school all the way. Nice big (both 2- and 1-kilo) loaves with a dark crust (which is so much more flavorful than light crusts—ask any traditional baker and every one of them will tell you that they always choose dark crusted breads). Beautiful chestnut-colored crumb with big holes (which artisan bakers are always working to make happen) with lovely flecks of bran. The aroma is lively, slightly sour, substantial but not strong, sturdy, and comforting. The bread’s flavor is big, almost meaty, very wheaty, complex and fascinatingly full. I love it simply as is, toasted with great olive oil. Perfect for sandwiches. Being naturally leavened (nearly 20 hours of rise time), the Country Miche stays marvelously moist for days. You can buy a quarter loaf, a half loaf or a whole loaf—I have most of the latter sitting on my counter right now. All of which also makes it perfect for Mail Order shipping or for taking to cottages or on cross-country drives.
To say that this has been a challenging year would clearly be an understatement on most any level. But as Cervantes once said, “All sorrows are less with bread.”
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In 1982, Ari Weinzweig, along with his partner Paul Saginaw, founded Zingerman’s Delicatessen with a $20,000 bank loan, a Russian History degree from the University of Michigan, 4 years of experience washing dishes, cooking and managing in restaurant kitchens and chutzpah from his hometown of Chicago. They opened the doors with 2 employees and a small selection of specialty foods and exceptional sandwiches.
Today, Zingerman’s Delicatessen is a nationally renowned food icon and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses has grown to 10 businesses with over 750 employees and over $55 million in annual revenue. Aside from the Delicatessen, these businesses include Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Coffee Company, Creamery, Roadhouse, Mail Order, ZingTrain, Candy Manufactory, Cornman Farms and a Korean restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2016. No two businesses in the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses are alike but they all share the same Vision and Guiding Principles and deliver “The Zingerman’s Experience” with passion and commitment.
Besides being the Co-Founding Partner and being actively engaged in some aspect of the day-to-day operations and governance of nearly every business in the Zingerman’s Community, Ari Weinzweig is also a prolific writer. His most recent publications are the first 4 of his 6 book series Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading Series: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business (Part 1), Being a Better Leader (Part 2), Managing Ourselves (Part 3) and the newly-released Part 4, The Power of Beliefs in Business. Earlier books include the Zingerman’s Guides to Giving Great Service, Better Bacon, Good Eating, Good Olive Oil, Good Vinegar and Good Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Ari regularly travels across the country (and world) on behalf of ZingTrain, teaching organizations and businesses about Zingerman’s approach to business. He is a sought-after Keynote speaker, having delivered keynotes for Inc. 500, Microsoft Expo Spring Conference, Great Game of Business Gathering of Games, Positive Business Conference at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the American Cheese Society. Most recently, Ari and Paul Saginaw were invited to address an audience of 50,000 for the University of Michigan 2015 Spring Commencement.
One of Zingerman’s Guiding Principles is being an active part of the community and in 1988, Zingerman’s was instrumental in the founding of Food Gatherers, a food rescue program that delivers over 5 million pounds of food each year to the hungry residents of Washtenaw county. Every year Zingerman’s donates 10% of its previous years profits to local community organizations and non-profits. Ari has served on the board of The Ark, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in America.
Over the decades, the Zingerman’s founding partners have consistently been the recipients of public recognition from a variety of diverse organizations. In April 1995, Ari and Paul were awarded the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County’s first Humanitarian Award. In 2006, Ari was recognized as one of the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” by the James Beard Foundation. In 2007, Ari and Paul were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Bon Appetit magazine for their work in the food industry. Ari was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Cheese Society in 2014. And Ari’s book, Building a Great Business was on Inc. magazine’s list of Best Books for Business Leaders.
Notwithstanding the awards, being engaged on a daily basis in the work of 10 businesses and 21 partners, writing books on business and in-depth articles on food for the Zingerman’s newsletter, Ari finds time to be a voracious reader. He acquires and reads more books than he can find room for. Ari might soon find himself the owner of the largest collection of Anarchist books in Ann Arbor outside the Labadie collection at the University of Michigan library!