Avocado and Radish Baltic Crostini

Throughout the Baltic region thin slices of Baltic Rye topped with smoked fish or ham and a bit of garnish are cut into small wedges and served as hors d'oeuvres. We call these tasty bites Baltic Crostini


Our signature Baltic Crostini recipe was created by Black Rooster founder John Melngailis and it has become a foodie favorite.


  • Thin slices of Baltic Rye
  • Honey Mustard (a brand of your choosing)
  • Ripe Avocado
  • Red Radish
  • Coarse Sea Salt

To Prepare: 

  • Spread honey mustard on bread
  • Spoon avocado on top, then mash with a fork
  • Cut bread topped with avocado into attractive small wedges
  • Top each wedge with a crisp slice of radish
  • Sprinkle coarse sea salt on top immediately before serving
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What Black Roosters Eat for Breakfast

OK.  I admit it.  I am lucky.  Most mornings John makes breakfast for the two of us.


He’s not much of a cook (I do the cooking), but he’s is a great assembler.  Being Black Rooster’s resident Baltic Rye bread fanatic, John knows lots of lovely ways to serve 100 percent sourdough rye in the morning.  His coffee’s pretty good too.


(My job at breakfast, in case you are interested, combines the duties of diner (show up and eat) courtesan (show up and be charming) and pundit (peruse the newspapers, comment wittily.)  It’s a good gig.)


This morning, we ate thin slices of Baltic Rye topped with Whole Foods’ fresh ground peanut butter and black currant jam.  Yum.  We’re especially fond of berries that are native to the Baltic region like black and red currants, lingonberries and gooseberries, but strawberry and raspberry taste good too.


John is very slender (a state he credits to eating lots of rye bread), but he eats a lot of breakfast.  He topped another slice of Baltic rye with peanut butter, jam and cottage cheese.  He describes this combination as typically Latvian.


The piece de resistance of John’s breakfast: rye bread covered with a thin layer of butter, slices of radish and sea salt.  John really likes radishes.   Up until last week, these came from our unkempt little garden, but the first radish crop is now finished and the new crop is not ready for picking—God only knows what the recent heat wave has done to these delicate little veggies.


Occasionally, we eat fried or scrambled eggs for breakfast—both go great with rye bread.  Fried eggs and bacon (a Sunday morning favorite) is even better—rye bread knows how to talk back to bacon’s salty, fatty goodness.


Other mornings my omnivorous spouse eats rye bread topped with herring and sour cream.  He also eats rye bread with sardines and rye bread with smoked spratts from the Baltic Sea.  Rye bread with smoked salmon is another delectable combination that can be eaten any time of day.


My morning forays are pretty tame.  In the colder months, I like to top rye bread with a slice of hard cheese (half skim Yarlsberg works great, as does gruyere, cheddar, anything).  I pop this open face sandwich into the toaster oven until the cheese bubbles.   Then I smear Dijon mustard on the runny cheese.  Uh O.  It’s only 11AM and I am making myself hungry.


We have now diverged to the great to-toast –or-not-to-toast debate.   Some folks swear by toasted rye bread.  John believes toasting changes the bread’s flavor.  I’m neutral on this issue.  Truth is: when you toast rye bread and butter it, the butter melts.  The bread softens in the toaster, but in a moment or two it rehardens and biting down onto a toasted tidbit of rye bread and running butter, well really, it is a plain but ambrosial treat.  (John who thinks a lot about these things describes butter, “as the best cheese.”)  Hmmmm….melty butter….bubbling cheese….toothsome bread.


Really friends, I have to go.  The kitchen calls and I must eat.

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We don't see food as medicine...but...

"...Good compliance with consuming a relatively large amount of rye bread in the usual diet indicates that rye bread offers a practical dietary means of reducing serum cholesterol in men" (Katri S. Leinonen, Kaisa S. Poutanen, and Hannu M. Mykkanen Rye Bread Decreases Serum Total and LDL Cholesterol in Men with Moderately Elevated Serum Cholesterol Journal of Nutrition (2000) Vol. 130: 164-170)

"Whole-meal rye bread...shortened mean intestinal transit time compared with wheat bread in both women and men" (Soile M. Grsten3, Katri S. Juntunen, Kaisa S. Poutanen*, Helena K. Gylling , Tatu A. Miettinen and Hannu M. Mykkanen Journal of Nutrition. 2000;130:2215-2221 Rye Bread Improves Bowel Function and Decreases the Concentrations of Some Compounds That Are Putative Colon Cancer Risk Markers in Middle- Aged Women and Men)

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Rye Bread Beer Snacks and Croutons

No need ever to throw out left over rye bread. When the bread loses its freshness, you can use any leftovers to make delicious croutons for hearty soups. Or you can fry the bread in olive oil or butter and rub on garlic to serve as beer snacks. This is done in Latvian bars.

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Consider the Herring

Of all the foods that Black Rooster Baltic Rye partners well with, none outshines the lowly herring.  Or perhaps I should say the formerly lowly herring.  Fact is,  this multifarious cured fish from northern European waters is staging a comeback.  And no wonder!  Herring is one of those foods traditional that resonate with memory.  Moreover, herring is yummy, low in calories and full of those healthful omega 3′s.


On Thanksgiving, John and I wowed our guests during the cocktail hour serving tiny shots of iced cold vodka followed by tidbits of  Baltic Rye, topped with different styles of herring and sour cream.  You would have thought we were serving caviar!  That’s how enthusiastic our guests were about herring’s comeback.


We  bought our herring from two of our favorite New York City temples of gastronomy:  Russ & Daughters, (179 East Houston Street) and Zabars (Broadway and 80th.)  Both of these stores feature many different kinds of smoked and cured fish, along with our Baltic Rye.


If you’d like to learn more about herring, take a look at this article by Kate Robbins that appeared in Tablet, the online magazine: http://www.tabletmag.com/life-and-religion/35756/dutch-treat/


And if you’d like to learn more about Baltic Rye, you will be able to stop and talk with  John during the second week of December.  We will post his itinerary at a later date.

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Ahhhhhh The Lovely Fruit & Nut

How good is our Baltic Rye with Fruit & Nuts?


Well, let’s just say that one of our foodie friends –a woman of tremendous discernment–is giving loafs  of Baltic Rye with Fruit and Nuts as Holiday Gifts to dozens  of her favorite people.


Our Baltic Rye Fruit & Nut tastes like cake, only less sweet and more satisfying.  As with our plain rye, when you eat a slice you feel full and happy.  And no wonder.  This bread contains rye flour, rye malt, apricots, plums, hazelnuts, raisins, and honey, plus a touch of sugar and a pinch salt.  Nothing else.  No chemicals.  No icky corn sweeteners.  No preservatives.  Nothing that (as Michael Pollan would say) your grandmother wouldn’t have put in her holiday bread.  Enjoying Baltic Rye with Fruit and Nuts nourishes every part of you: tummy, heart and soul.


This perfect product is currently available on our website and at Zabars at 80th and Broadway and at Fairway at 74th and Broadway.


Dying for a free sample?  Stop by Zabars on Sunday, November 20th between 9AM and 1PM and Black Rooster Founder John Melngailis will personally hand you a piece.

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Served at the Coolest Parties

Add to the list of our fans:  Occasions, the elite Washington, DC caterer.   Occasions, served Black Rooster Rye to 750 Washingtonians celebrating the opening of American University’s Russian Film Festival at the magnificent Library of Congress.


Smoked salmon topping a slice of Black Rooster Rye.  A few capers.  Some sour cream.  A tiny shot of ice cold vodka.  Could any tidbit be more delicious or more festive?


Now Occasions has become our steady customer.  How happy it makes us knowing that Black Rooster Rye will be served this holiday seasons at the coolest parties in our nation’s capital.  How lovely that you too can serve the very best.


And thinking of holiday treats.  What about Black Rooster Rye with Oysters?  Rye is the bread the French serve with those briny little devils.  Along with a very dry white wine.


Hmmmm.  Darkness is falling early.  Here in Washington, DC we are moving towards winter coat weather.  In New York, where we have so many friends and customers, winter wools have moved to the front of the closet.   As nature moves towards its dormant phase, it’s time dear friends to think of, what?.  Not darkness.  Not cold.  But their antidote.    Joyful occasions that will launch us into a new year.   Joyful occasions that shout out for Black Rooster Rye and its sister product that we will be telling you about in the coming days.


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Serious About Rye Bread

We’re thrilled at this great piece about Black Rooster Rye just posted on the popular Serious Eats website! Check it out here!

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What One of Our Fans Have to Say

John received this email from Black Rooster Customer Nicole Pasternak, a marketing executive, who has fallen in love with our 100 percent sourdough rye:


“I love your bread. I sampled it weeks and weeks ago at Fairway Market (Pelham NY). It was so delicious, but … I generally don’t keep bread in the house… Every week I’d pass your bread, resisting the temptation. Last Saturday I had passed it by yet again, when I said to my husband, “I’ve just got to go back and get that Baltic rye bread!” So now I’m hooked. It is like no other bread I’ve ever tasted. I brought it into the office this morning to share with my co-workers, and I will educate them about your exceptional product, thanks to the helpful website you’ve created. Congratulations and thank you ever so much for bringing this to us. I intend to give it to friends and family as a birthday gift, it’s that good. Best of luck – I hope to help to spread the word."


Nicole Pasternak

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Black Rooster in Stinky Brooklyn and Fairway Redhook

We’re excited to report that Stinky Brooklyn, the borough’s ne plus ultra cheese shop (at 261 Smith Street between Douglass and Degraw) is now featuring Black Rooster’s 100 percent sour dough rye. We can’t imagine a more perfect marriage: Stinky cheeses and meats and our dense flavorful bread.  It makes us hungry just to think about the possibilities. 

We are also now being sold in Fairway Redhook!


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Black Rooster in Saveur

Check it out.  We are in Saveur!

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We Love Red Rooster and Red Rooster Loves Us

We love Red Rooster, chef/entrepreneur Marcus Samuelsson’s cooler-than-cool, yummier-than-yummy American hotspot on 125th Street in Harlem.  We love this joint because the food is so damn good: who could resist that mac and cheese and those sweet potato doughnuts?  The place is so accessible: restaurant prices that won’t break the bank.  And the ambiance, so cool and classy, recalls all those swells from the 40s and 50s.  Duke Ellington.  Billy Strayhorn.  and that other peerless Billy.  Billy Holiday.  And if those aren’t the most gorgeous serving people in a city full of drop dead gorgeous serving people, well call me blind.


We also have a personal reason for loving Red Rooster.  We love Red Rooster because Red Rooster loves us.  Ethiopian/Swedish chef/owner/ Marcus Samuelsson and Executive Chef Andrea Berquist  both have roots in Scandinavia and they know about rye bread.  When they tasted our 100 percent sour dough rye, they  had just one thing to say:  How can we order this fabulous bread?  Chef Berquist currently services our yummy Baltic rye with  Red Rooster’s  gravlax platter.  But this talented young chef is nothing if not inventive and she has a few other ideas for using our bread up her sleeve.   As they develop we’ll keep you posted.


Are we proud?  You bet we are.   We hope you’ll stop by Red Rooster and sample our bread and all the other wonderful items on the menu–we’ll even forgive you for loving the corn bread.  (We did.)   And we hope you will stop into one of the great stores in the New York area that stocks our bread and pick some up.  And if that is not convenient, order some right now on this website.

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First Post!

Hello Black Rooster Fans,


Today we are launching our Black Rooster blog. My name is Michaele Weissman.


I am the person who will be blogging.  I landed this job because I am a food writer and because I sleep with the boss. John Melngailis, our little company’s founding visionary, is my husband.


If you have met John at one of the scores of bread demonstrations he has done in the last few months at Fairway and Whole Foods in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester and on Long Island, you know how passionate he is about 100 percent sour dough rye.  He loves talking about this dense, flavorful bread.  He loves sharing its yummy, earthy taste with rye bread aficionados and with those who are unfamiliar with the wonders of Baltic-style rye.  He happily stands for hours handing out samples topped with butter and other good things–children love it with butter and honey.


John believes in rye bread the way Alice Waters believes in locally raised produce.  His passion is part culinary,  part health-related, and, in the largest sense, part political.


He believes all Americans deserve to eat food that is tasty and healthful—when he really gets going he’ll tell you rye bread prevents obesity and diabetes and even crooked teeth. (And it’s true: diets rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates are associated with healthy body weight and lower risks of heart disease and diabetes. And as for the teeth, well, there is reason to believe that kids who eat toothsome foods—foods like rye bread that fight back when you bite down—are less likely to need braces.)


It’s not just John who hands out bread samples. Other members of our family, including me, have been known to stand in front of a table, chatting up customers, handing out free nibbles of Black Rooster’s 100 percent sour dough rye. What’s been amazing to all of us is the number of New Yorkers who share our passion. A few months back, shortly after our launch, I was handing out samples at the Fairway on Broadway and 73rd. A customer was so overcome with gratitude that he could once again buy old world rye bread in New York City, that he kissed the lapel of my jacket—his response was a bit over the top, but I got the message:


New York City is welcoming Black Rooster Baltic Rye to town…

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