Ari’s Pick: Freshly Baked Rosemary Focaccia

A tasty new northern Italian treat shows up at the Southside

I’m happy to share that one of the centuries-old elements of the Italian baking tradition is now on the counter every morning at the Bakeshop for bread lovers to enjoy! The Rosemary Focaccia at the Bakehouse is made with organic wheat flour, a tiny bit of commercial yeast combined with a poolish, or “pre-ferment,” along with a good amount of extra virgin olive oil. It’s about an inch tall with a wealth of the nice holes that we like to see in the crumb of well-made breads like this. The top of the focaccia has a nice sprinkling of fresh rosemary and sea salt.

overhead view of squares of Rosemary Focaccia

The richness of the olive oil and the focaccia’s wonderful rosemary-herbaceousness make it great as is, right out of hand. The focaccia can quickly be cut in half horizontally—stuff with slices of ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced meats, roasted vegetables, cheese, or pretty much anything else you like to eat. It’s terrific spread with some of the Mahjoub family’s harissa made by hand on the southern shores of the Mediterranean in Tunisia. And it’s really good with a bit of the ROI pesto we get from the Boeri family in Liguria. The focaccia is a good match for your morning coffee. Or stick some in your picnic basket and take it to the park.

While Rosemary Focaccia is new to the Bakeshop, it’s been around for thousands of years. In ancient Rome, it was known as panis focacius. Focus is the Latin for “domestic hearth.” The fireplace in that era was at the center of the house—this meaning is the origin for “focus” as we use it today. Like so many foods, focaccia’s beginnings are not clear, but many culinary historians seem to believe it originated with the ancient Etruscans. Today, the region of Liguria is where it’s probably most famous. In one of those fitting cycles of history, Rocco and Katherine Disderide, who had the Deli’s building at 422 Detroit Street built 120 years ago, came from the region. Which in a way, makes the Bakehouse’s new focaccia a bit of a culinary homecoming.


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Ari Weinzweig
Co-Founding Partner at Zingerman's | + posts

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!

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