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BEST BREAD Minneapolis 1999 -

This is now a bread town that could kick any other bread town's keisters: First we got Alice Factor's crusty sticklike baguettes. Then came the tasty sandwich loaves from the ovens of Great Harvest, the night-black pumpernickel at Blackey's, the fragrant coffee breads at Taste of Scandinavia, the potent sourdoughs at French Meadow Bakery & Cafe--hell, even Lund's has figured out how to make a good semolina loaf. Still, every year, the question comes down to the battle royal between Turtle Bread Company and the New French Bakery. See, Turtle Bread has a fuller palette: the sweet, dark chocolate bread, the spicy green Sicilian olive bread, a kicking rye with caraway seeds, glossy pastries, and a series of excellent wild-yeast levains. Meanwhile, the New French Bakery makes a light and crusty baguette with a translucent crumb that absolutely beats all comers, and Italian breads that stand head to head with Turtle's. So how to choose? If we were purists or Francophiles, we'd have to say New French--but this year we're feeling pan-national, so we go for Turtle Bread's glorious rainbow.

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