One of the great things about life on the North Fork is the steady stream of talented locals introducing new and creative artisan goods to the area.
In summer 2019, craft coffee company Steeply Rooted and sourdough bread bakery 1610 Bakehouse are quickly making names for themselves on the foodie scene, popping up at popular events and on the menus at North Fork restaurants.
These are two artisans to keep an eye out for as your explore the North Fork.
Steeply Rooted Coffee
The mobile coffee company Steeply Rooted, launched by Aquebogue native Austin Douglas, is popping up at First Fridays in Mattituck and other North Fork venues with a menu of cold brew coffees and iced teas.
Douglas, who studied culinary arts through BOCES as a student at Riverhead High School and went on to attend the Culinary Institute of America, might be a familiar face to local foodies. Since age 13, he has held positions at local restaurants, most recently with the Noah’s on the Road food truck and its brick-and-mortar outpost Mattitaco in Mattituck.
“I always wanted to do something on my own with coffee,” he said. “My favorite thing about working on a food truck was having the relationship with customers … handing something we made directly to them and seeing their response, which drew me to create a mobile company.”
With a passion for coffee and culinary creations, Douglas founded Steeply Rooted in March and began popping up for the first time earlier this month sans food truck, but with enough cold coffee to caffinate a crowd at his stand. Under the guidance of Brian Lentini, owner of Ace Roasting Co. in Patchogue, whom Douglas met while working at Mattitaco, he began producing small batches of cold brew coffee using beans supplied by Ace. Steeply Rooted offers two styles, the Ecuadorian dark blend NOLA and the medium Ace roast, a Columbian coffee.
In addition to its regular cold brews, Steeply Rooted has specialty coffees. The NOLA blend is the foundation of the specialty drinks because its powerful, rich flavor is not overpowered by the sweet, light flavors mixed in, Douglas said. One option is the BrewChata made with Douglas’ own homemade CinnaHoney syrup and Horchata — rice milk infused with cinnamon sticks, almonds and vanilla.
“The Horchata gives the taste of rice pudding or as I commonly describe it, ‘Milk after Cinnamon Toast Crunch,’” Douglas explained. “I wanted to create drinks that were approachable to people, but still craft in a way that would appeal to hard core coffee drinkers.”
As well as making all the syrups from scratch, Douglas hand crafts the tea selection, starting with tea leaves and adding in dried herbs and spices. The current offering is an iced white hibiscus rose tea. In the future, he hopes to introduce hot options as well as seasonal drinks such as fresh apple cider and peppermint chocolate.
The 24-year-old Douglas is aiming to roll out a mobile truck to take his coffee on the road. Equipped with an espresso maker and culinary equipment, the goal is for the truck to operate like a full service mobile coffeehouse that will highlight his culinary training, serving baked goods, sandwiches and paninis.
For now, you can catch Steeply Rooted at First Fridays on Love Lane on September 6 and October 4 as well as at the Living Water Church in Aquebogue on Sunday, September 8 and Sunday, October 6. Follow along on Instagram @steeplyrootedf or more pop-up dates as they come up.
The next time you stop by Pizza Rita in Mattituck, order up the Panzanella salad made with freshly milled sourdough bread and ponder the artistry behind each bite. Unlike other breads, which use store bought yeast to make the dough rise, sourdough bread is made with a “starter.” This starter is a natural leavening agent powdered by yeast fed on a simple paste made of one part flour and one part water. Crafting a healthy starter is of Olympic importance to sourdough bread bakers — some bakers have kept their original starter in their family for more than 100 years — and needs to be closely monitored to keep alive and fermenting, ensuring a quality loaf.
Aiyana Edmund has kept her starter alive for nearly six years, baking at her family’s Calverton home before launching 1610 Bakehouse this year. In late May, Edmund, a Riverhead High School graduate who holds a degree in journalism from SUNY New Paltz, started baking sourdough bread out of Ali Katz Kitchen in Mattituck and has been selling out every weekend since.
1610 is a nod to her street address in Calverton, where she learned to bake and created the starter that remains the basis of all her goods. Edmund started with whole organic wheat sourced from an upstate farm, which she hand-milled to keep fiber and nutritional parts of the plant that are lost in the processing of traditional white flour. Mixed with water, the starter begins to grow, fermenting with naturally occurring bacteria in the air to create the yeast for flavorful bread unique to the region.
“Sourdough is such a passion because it’s a challenge, like taming a wild beast,” Edmund said. “The same way San Francisco is famous for its sourdough bread because of the distinct flavor it picks up from what’s in the air, [1610 Bakehouse] has truly North Fork taste”
In addition to Ali Katz, 1610 Bakehouse sourdough loaves are available at the Browder’s Birds farm stand in Mattituck and Star Confectionary in Riverhead. It will also soon be available at Schmitt’s Family Farm in Riverhead.
For more information, visit 1610bakehouse.com