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Soft Bavarian Pretzels at Bill's Beer Garden

Table Talk: May 2019

by Jan Schlain

From the May, 2019 issue

When Mark Hodesh needed a new supplier of soft Bavarian pretzels at Bill's Beer Garden, Zingerman's Bakehouse came to his rescue.

"Last year Carola Guenther made us excellent pretzels that she baked in the early afternoon and delivered by the late afternoon, but she can't do it this year," explains Hodesh. He's been sole owner of Bill's since namesake Bill Zolkowski moved to northern Michigan.

Hodesh and Bakehouse managing partner Frank Carollo go way back: in the 1980s, when Hodesh and his wife Margaret Parker owned the Castine Inn in Maine, Carollo got their kitchen up and running.

"We were really looking at it as a service to Mark," says Jaison Restrick, the Bakehouse's wholesale sales manager. Restrick explains that they were already making soft pretzel sticks, "but we wanted to create the fun traditional shape for Mark."

Except for the twist, they're made the same way: "We proof them," Restrick says. "Shape them. Let them do their thing. And right before baking, we suit up and dip them in lye, which gives them that nice color and texture, that unique chew, and true pretzel flavor that comes from the lye. We put on safety goggles and safety sleeves and go for it."

Hodesh explains that freshness is key. They're baked and delivered between 2 and 4 p.m., and "will be good until eight p.m. in our pretzel warmer, but we time it so we run out at six or seven."

The pretzels are available every day Bill's is open--Thursday through Sunday in April, then Tuesday through Sunday starting in May. They're $5 and come with a little cup of mustard sauce on the side.

The sauce has a Maine connection, too. Made with Maille mustard, sour cream, and lemon juice, it's a variation on the one served with crab cakes at the Castine Inn.     (end of article)

[Originally published in May, 2019.]


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