Noted gastronome, food writer and educator James Beard said it best: “Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods, and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts!” My sentiments, exactly. James and I would have gotten along just fine – especially if that fresh butter were spiked with a drop of honey.
Old World Breads Bakery in Lewes is not only carrying on a longtime tradition of baking delicious breads from scratch, but new owner Keith “Bread Whisperer” Irwin has expanded on former owner Steve Kogler’s bread-based theme with amazing pastries, sweet and savory croissants and focaccias, muffins, cookies, pies and even herb-infused iced tea. This is not The Bread Whisper’s first rodeo: He brings with him 23 years’ experience and is a CIA Graduate. Pastry cheffing credits include the hoity-toity Greenbrier Hotel-Keystone Resort.
When you pull up to the bakery at the corner of Nassau and New roads, it’s hard to imagine the small army of bakers, choppers, mixers and slatherers buzzing around the place. One guy is busy mixing up dough that will be left to rise. Another is chopping that dough and portioning it for loaves of bread. A young woman’s knife is almost invisible as she chops onions and fresh fruit for the pastries. Over behind the counter, blueberries, peaches and basil are being infused into one of the most refreshing lemonades I’ve had in a long time. Denizens of the local Farmers Markets will immediately recognize Old World Breads Bakery. In fact, other than the store in Lewes, those weekly gatherings are the primary marketplace for Keith’s creations, and include the Rehoboth, Lewes, Ocean Pines, Bethany Beach and Milton Farmers Markets. There are ten farmers markets in all. Not quite so local, but convenient for out-of-towners are the Penn Quarter Farmers Market in Washington, D.C. and the Annapolis Farmers Market just west of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
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The main store in Lewes carries drinks, artisan and local cheeses, pickles, soups and baked goods created from regionally milled flour (Castle Valley Mills). Denizens of Second St. in Lewes will love the coffee from Notting Hill, including a special blend that complements the pastries. Do not miss the beer breads made in collaboration with 16 Mile Brewery in Georgetown and rum-infused items courtesy of Beach Time Distilling right next door to the bakery.
Cooking Classes are offered at the facility under the auspices of Del Tech (DE Technical & Community College). Day classes include bread making, spices, and pastries. Irwin also taught the cake decorating classes to the culinary students at Del Tech in Dover. One of the highlights at Old World Breads Bakery is that Keith Irwin mentors the young staff at the facility. Workers are mostly students who are selected for their hardworking style and their approach to food. Irwin also mentors younger staff members from the Cape Mentor program and work with the Del Tech culinary work/study program. Current employees include CIA pastry graduate Edith Enriquez, former co-owner and pastry chef of Backyard Cafe in Milton, and Jaclyn Keefer, Del Tech best in her class graduate honored in 2013 by Delaware Restaurant Association. Members of the pastry and bread teams are either Del Tech or Cape Henlopen High School graduates who have distinguished themselves with their talent and work ethic.
Old World Breads Bakery is easy to find: Driving north on Coastal Highway, bear right onto Nassau Road just after the Rt. 9/404 intersection. There it is, on your right. Bakery hours are Tuesday – Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 7 a.m. ‘til 1 p.m. If you have a specific type of bread in mind give them a call first. 302-313-5191.