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Hungry Ghost Bakery Northampton MA

Moving to Amherst after living in Paris for a year and a half, I pretty much decided that certain foods were now part of memory, bread in particular. (And happily realized tout suit that this area has ingredients France doesn't have--corn to die for, better ice cream, heirloom tomatoes, zebra tomatoes, kielbasa, better apples, maple anything, its own outstanding potatoes, decent bakeries, great beer--oui, especially great beer). In Paris, my husband and I had lived between two outstanding bakeries--Gosselin and Eric Kayser. One was Michaelangelo; the other Leonardo. We particularly favored Kayser's soughdough batard--crusty, chewy, yeasty, hole-y. Au revoir Paris batard.

Then yesterday, while on an Italian sausage mission at Serio's on State St. in Northampton, I felt a powerful bread force pull me into the crosswalk to a charming brick building across the street. It was late in the day and all the specialty breads were gone. But there were still about a half dozen of their batards left. (This is a HEAVY bread, not too sexy looking--solid oblong loaf-y loaf.) So I got one. Five bucks. Ouch.

But well worth it since I never got around to making dinner. Once home--not sure I ever took off my jacket--I got out our big wooden breadboard and strong bread knife and applied some muscle to the crust and sliced through. Just the slicing process transported me back to France! Then I bit into it sans butter, oil, or anything. I could've closed my eyes and been back at the kitchen counter at the apartment we lived in in Paris. We never could wait to bring bread to the table. This had the same correct amount of sourness, crustiness, density, yet loads of air holes so essential to any kind of bread. "How do they do that dense/air thing?" Pretty soon my husband and I were standing at this kitchen counter with glasses of red wine and a hunk of outstanding local cheddar cheese from Serio's. We devoured all but the heel of the batard.

This morning I called Hungry Ghost in between slices of the heel, which I slathered with raspberry jam--told the guy who answered this was right up there with the astounding Eric Kayser batard. Then I licked raspberry jam from my fingers so I wouldn't smudge my keyboard and typed this paen to Northampton's French batard.

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  1. Is Hungry Ghost on State Street? I am not familiar with either Serio's or Hungry Ghost. I lived in Northhampton 18 years ago and neither seem to ring a bell.

    What else does Hungry Ghost produce? Can you give us a fuller report soon?

    -----
    State Street Cafe
    342 State St, North Haven, CT 06473

    1 Reply
    1. re: gardencub

      Here's the web site for Hungry Ghost with directions and their bread menu and schedule:
      hungryghostbread.com

      Yelp.com also has some reviews of Hungry Ghost along the lines of mine--red wine, cheese, bread blowouts.

    2. Hungry ghost is in a defunct post office or bank. Tiny, stand-alone building. I don't get to stop at Northampton very often (once a year or less), so it's always nice to hear that they are still going strong. That bread is soulful. I can't come up with a better descriptor.

      Thanks for posting scribos!

      1. Hungry Ghost indeed has excellent bread. There is, or used to be, an apricot bread that was great. But take a little drive westward ho! from Northampton and you will come to Bread Euphoria. Check it out:
        http://www.breadeuphoria.org/bread.html
        It has GREAT breads, and pain chocolat, and lots and lots of good things, and a pottery next door, and sandwiches ---- Not French, no. But you will love it. Trust me.

        3 Replies
        1. re: BerkshireTsarina

          BE is my favorite bakery in the area too (see recent postings re: b.day cake for a Smith student from away Mom, but I'd love to try HG too. Went looking for it twice but couldn't find it. Can you give some better directions, cross streets, etc?

          1. re: mjoyous

            It's easy to find, on state Street, across from Center Street & Serio's. It's up on a little hill. Actually located on the West Side of State Street at the corner of Bedford Terrace. Don't expect a fancy showroom, but Probably the best bread we've ever had. !

            1. re: belcherveggie

              Thanks. On my list for next Noho trip.

        2. Agreed. I pass through Northampton only a few times a year, but I always try to stop at Hungry Ghost to get a batard. I've worked in the past as a baker in a number of places, including San Francisco, and have been in love with hearth baked loaves for about twenty years. I would easily rank HG as the best in New England. Worth a drive for sure!

          2 Replies
          1. re: troutmask

            I live in Newington CT and make the trip up to get bread every couple of weeks. Love the 8 grain!!!!!!

            1. re: jonsull

              I love the chocolate bread from HG. Not sweet at all really, just great chunks of excellent chocolate in a chewy bread. BTW: as OP indicated, the sausage at Serio's across the street is freshly made and really good.

          2. hungry ghost is excellent. i remember them from back before they had a bakery, the main baker guy would fire a wood oven in his backyard once a week and sold at my CSA farm share distribution. each loaf came with a broadsheet of zen poetry.

            to my mind, the holy trinity of pioneer valley bread are el jardin, hungry ghost, and bread euphoria.

            cross the border to vt and there's some other good bread - got a great loaf at the brattleboro farmers market two weeks ago but can't remember the bakery name.

            4 Replies
            1. re: andytee

              I agree about the trinity, though I have been thinking El Jardin is slipping. I hope I am wrong. Also, some of the breads from Woodstar are pretty good.

              1. re: magiesmom

                I find that if I get El Jardin bread directly from them at a farmer's market, it's always excellent. The stuff in grocery stores is sometimes a bit stale. They do seem to be focusing a bit more of developing a line of sweets, which don't really interest me, but I haven't noticed any change in the bread.

                This guy who sells at the Brattleboro Farmer's Market on Saturdays, though, is excellent, and I can't remember his name for the life of me. He's the only all-bread guy there though, so if you go, you won't miss him.

                1. re: andytee

                  andytee: thanks. Brat is far from me. I'll stick to Bread euphoria and Hungry ghost which are nearer.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    Stopped by Hungry Ghost for the first time Friday, thanks to these postings. Though I prefer whole grain, had to try a batard. Am still eating it (it's holding up, as a real bread should) today (Sunday.) Friend had a fig bar she said was stupendous, and she's not a sweets eater.
                    I'm a devotee of Berkshire Mountain Bakery, which is closer to home. But will stop at HG again.