by Jane Rodmell for All The Best Fine Foods, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter

In 1984 when All The Best started out, it was our ambition to bring together in one location all the best breads in the city. (We called our little store All The Best Breads… and to this day this is how some of our customers, and even a few of our suppliers, still refer to us.)

We seek out talented, local artisan bakers who use the traditional baker’s craft to create delicious breads of distinct flavour and texture. Good bread, for us, is one of life’s essential pleasures-right up there with good wine, great cheese, pure butter, fine chocolate…you can tell we have our priorities straight!

This past September Andrea and Steve Gibson, founders and owners of Fred’s Bread, hosted a great party in the country to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of their bakery. It was a great time… lots of delicious food served in Beretta’s barn lit by chandeliers, no less. We were introduced to a new collection of breads made with local Red Fife wheat grown for Fred’s on Bob Maquis’ family farm near Sunderland and milled at Grain Process Enterprises in Toronto. The breads were outstanding.

The story of Red Fife wheat is a fascinating one. Legend has it that David Fife, who farmed near Peterborough in the 1800’s, planted some wheat seeds that fell out of a visiting friend’s hat-band! The planting was a success and news and cultivation of Red Fife wheat spread to the west. There is indeed record of the Fife family receiving a shipment of Hirku wheat sent from the Ukraine to Scotland and then forwarded by a friend from Glasgow harbour in 1842. Wheat from the Fife farm in Ontario helped to establish Canada’s reputation as a high quality wheat-producing nation. Seeds of Heritage Red Fife wheat are now saved in the grain gene bank maintained by the federal government.

Starting this week at All The Best you can taste Red Fred Breads. Enjoy the nutty whole wheat flavour …local food at its very best.

Mascarpone-stuffed French Toast

Indulge in a truly decadent and delicious breakfast – French Toast made with Fred’s Red Fife Fruit, Nut and Honey Bread. Add a little All The Best Cranberry Compote, if you like, for added fruitiness.

4 1-inch-thick (2.5 cm) slices Fred’s Red Fife Fruit, Nut and Honey Bread

¼ cup (60 ml) mascarpone

½ tsp (2 ml) grated lemon zest

2 tbsp (30 ml) All The Best Cranberry Compote (opt)

2 eggs

½ cup (125 ml) milk

Pinch salt

2 tbsp (30 ml) unsalted butter

Pure maple syrup

Place bread slices, cut side down on your work surface and make a horizontal cut through the slice to within ¼-inch (0.5 cm) of the opposite side.

In a small bowl, combine mascarpone, lemon zest and cranberry sauce, if using. Spread about 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the mascarpone mixture in each opening and press gently to close.

In a large shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk and salt. Arrange stuffed bread slices in a single layer in the dish and leave to soak, turning once or twice until egg mixture is absorbed.

In a large frying pan, heat 1 tbsp (15 ml) butter over moderate heat until foam subsides. Add stuffed bread slices in a single layer. (You may need to cook slices in batches depending on the size of your pan. Add more butter as required.) Cook bread slices 5 to 7 minutes on each side until crisp and golden. Serve hot with maple syrup.

Serves 2

Enjoy and all the best,