The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Dear Sullivan Street Bakery: You Are Mah Favorite

Sometimes at the Serious Eats office, you'll find our central table strewn with random foodstuffs.

(Okay, you'll often find our table strewn with random foodstuffs. Last week we had Ed's leftovers from Primehouse, along with bits and pieces from a Citarella gift bag. Sometimes there's no extra food to be found. Dark days, those are. My body, so used to the jittery state brought on by an onslaught of excess fat- and carb-based calories, doesn't know what to do with itself.)

A few weeks ago we got the very best random foodstuff of them all. A loaf of semi di sesamo from Sullivan Street Bakery:

Dough blob. Photograph from

If it were a human, it'd be that thick lump of a kid with a splotchy face strewn with acne. Luckily, it's a loaf of bread, so the craggly, sesame seed-encrusted look is a good thing.

Someone had already ripped a few chunks out of the bulbous loaf. I reached in to continue its destruction, not expecting much aside from a carb-laden snack.

Upon first chew: "Mm, this is quite good."

A few seconds later: "...Wait, this is, like, really good."

A few more seconds later: "Damn this...this"

And later: "This is no ordinary bread." [grabs another fistful of bread]

And then: "This is the best bread I've had in ages." [fistful, another]


So that's that. I wish I had taken a photo of the bread to show you the beauty of its crust and hole structure, but we'll just have to rely on these thingies...called...words. The innards have that perfect (and I hate to say "perfect," but I think it is just about perfect) balance of resilient chewiness, tenderness, airiness, and moistness. The crust is thick and crunchy, but not too much of either. The combination of gluten-y innards and a solid crust could easily lead to jaw fatigue or the roof of your mouth being ravaged by daggers of crispified dough, but it does neither, thus allowing you to eat, and eat, and eat, unbound by the limits of the frail human body. ...Until your stomach feels like it's going to explode, at which point you should stop.

Oh, and it has a flavor, of course. Warm sesame seed goodness on the outside, sweet mellow...breadiness...on the inside. Or something. While a thick chunk of the stuff would be a fantastic conveyor of butter or oil, this bread doesn't need extra fat (or extra anything) to taste like awesome. I've eaten a good deal of bread this year (I remember our best bread baskets in NYC tasting quite fondly) but I think this was my favorite bread of 2010.

Now I just need to drag myself to Hell's Kitchen to get myself another loaf.

ADDENDUM (later in the day): Sofia's comment below reminded me that Sullivan Street Bakery used to be on...Sullivan Street. In its place is now Grandaisy Bakery, the sister bakery of Sullivan Street Bakery, sort of (read about it on Serious Eats, but if you want a quick summary: Sullivan Street Bakery's two partners split, leaving one to run Sullivan Street Bakery and the other to start Grandaisy while using the same recipes), and it has most of the same bread as Sullivan Street Bakery, as far as I can tell. If visiting one of Grandaisy's three locations is easier than going to Sullivan Street Bakery, you should check it out. I haven't done a taste test between the two, but the bread I've had from Grandaisy is great.

Update (12/29/10): I bought a loaf of this bread from Whole Foods on Bowery last night wasn't quite as good as I remember. :( Maybe it wasn't as fresh. Oh well. I'm eating some of it now, a day old, and it's still quite tasty. The crust is saturated with toasted sesame seed awesomeness.


Sullivan Street Bakery
533 West 47th St, New York NY 10036 (b/n 10th and 11th aves; map)


sofia / December 26, 2010 5:26 PM

how have i not been to sullivan street bakery? seriously. something must be wrong with me. your descriptions, diction aside, make me wanna go like now. except there's a snowstorm. and i'm not even in NYC right now. next week?

also just wanted to say i loved the joyful quality of your bday post. i've actually been a creepy bloglurker for awhile (like, back to NYU days) and you seem so happy, and it's enjoyable to read that through your words. yay fuzzy happy moment :)

roboppy / December 26, 2010 8:10 PM

Sofia: Thanks for reading my blog for so long! AND YAY FOR DELURKING! No more lurking for youBWAHAAH.

Your comment reminded me that Sullivan Street Bakery used to be on...well, Sullivan Street (I used to go to that location quite a bit; it was in between school and my dorm, sort of), and you can get pretty much the same stuff at the bakery that's there now, Grandaisy Bakery (they have three locations). So if Sullivan Street bakery is too inconvenient to get to, you could check out Grandaisy, if you haven't already. Sullivan Street Bakery also sells some of their bread at Whole Foods, I think, but I'm not sure what that inventory is like.

Methinks the bread is worth trudging out into the snow. Maybe I can check out Grandaisy tomorrow to see if their version of the sesame bread is like Sullivan Street Bakery's. :) Since SSB is "the original" I wouldn't be surprised if it were better, but Grandaisy is very good too.

Nicholas / December 27, 2010 12:17 PM

Multiple posts in the span of one week... mind = blasted. I lol'd at the part about sharp daggers of dough, I totally understand what you mean. It's the very same reason I maintain a love-hate relationship with raisin bran :(

roboppy / December 30, 2010 12:30 AM

Nicholas: Omg I posted another entry yesterday I AM BLOWIN UR MIND!! I feel so much more blog-productive when I don't have to be at work all day. Weee.

Also, I've been going to bed at like 3-4am most days this week. Hm. Crap.

Aileen / January 10, 2011 3:04 PM

hey, i've been following your blog for some time. i love it and just wanted to share that with you =). love your humor and photos. i was at sullivan street bakery right before the holidays too. agree with your review!

Katharina / January 14, 2011 10:40 PM

I stumbled onto your blog in the most random of ways! Well I guess not that random because this is the internet afterall. Anyway, it's funny because earlier tonight I was talking about the bread at Sullivan St. to a friend of mine, and I was reminiscing on how wonderful it tasted. The Pane de Ruccia was what I got, and it was the biggest loaf of bread EVER. I loved it. Actually, I made a whole post dedicated to the bread I got at Sullivan St. I live in Richmond, VA so I took that bread with me back on the bus proudly :D

p.s. here's the link to the post I mentioned!

roboppy / January 15, 2011 12:20 AM

Aileen: Thanks for reading! AIN'T BREAD AWESOME? Oh yes.

Katharina: Glad you stumbled upon my blog somehow. :) Sounds like I gotta try that bread!

sophie / April 1, 2011 6:44 PM

that does look like some decent bao.
and there's nothing like a carb fill up, especially one that fires you up and makes you guilty for more.

Something random from the archives