Few foodstuffs unite the world's eaters like bread, which at its most basic is just flour and water transformed by time and heat. Pita, flatbread, injera, challah, focaccia, pumpernickel — the ingredients and techniques might vary, but the end result is the same: filling, comforting and nutritious. Pair bread with broth — also filling, comforting and nutritious — and you have the makings for a meal that feeds you on a fundamental level.
"My husband is a creature of ancestral food and wisdom," says Jessica Carrington, explaining why she started Bread + Bones with husband Paul in February 2020.
"He'll say that the common mistake in any food organization, whether it's catering or a restaurant, is they overcomplicate it," she continues.
It's advice the couple garnered from their separate and combined experiences in event planning and catering for such artists as Eric Clapton, Jon Bon Jovi, Madonna, Rihanna, and U2, as well as massive music festivals like Sasquatch and Watershed.
Paul, who hails from Australia, studied at the Sydney, Australia, branch of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, then spent 20 years working in restaurants throughout Australia and London, England. He also worked on organic farms. Jessica's background includes international event planning for such clients as Google and NASCAR.
In 2016, the couple formed Black Caviar, doing events and catering all over the world, with a home base on the West Coast. Yet with big events sidelined for most of 2020 because of COVID, the busy parents of two young children had to rethink things. On a road trip to pick up a puppy, they fell in love with North Idaho and relocated to Sandpoint. They also developed their plan for Bread + Bones.
The Carringtons have kept their latest offerings simple and straightforward. They focus on quality ingredients, like filtered water and hard mill red wheat sourced from an organic mill in Utah for their fermented sourdough (they're also looking for sources closer-to-home).
Bread varieties include 12- to 20-ounce fresh loaves ($8-$9) from straight sourdough to rosemary and garlic focaccia. Each loaf lasts in a sealed bag at room temperature for seven to 10 days, Carrington says.
A sourdough kit is also available ($20) with 60 to 70 grams of starter, instructions for feeding and caring for said starter, and a simple sourdough recipe, all of which the couple has perfected over time with ease-of-use in mind.
"We've had a lot of beginners who have never baked be able to bake with [sourdough]," says Carrington, who runs the business end while Paul oversees all things food-related.
To their delight, says Carrington, customers have had tremendous success with Bread + Bones' bread kits, and often send photos of what they've accomplished.
Bread + Bones also sells three types of broth in 32-ounce containers ($13) and frozen, a step that eliminates the need for chemicals to shelf-stabilize the broth.
Current broth flavors are beef, chicken and garlic shiitake mushroom, all featuring organic ingredients and meticulous seasoning. The beef broth, for example, includes onions, leek, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, thyme, parsley, star anise, peppercorn, bay leaf and Celtic salt.
Sales of the company's broth have been strong, even through the extreme heat of the summer, Carrington says, noting that their market research thus far has also revealed an ideal niche for rich, fragrant broth.
Indeed, bone broth has been trending over the past few years as a complement to popular paleo and keto-based diets. Although scientific research varies as to the specific benefits of bone broth, a University of Missouri researcher found that grandma was right: Scratch-made chicken soup is good for you.
According to the 2021 study, it can calm the nervous system and aid in creating a healthy gut, which also supports healthy brain function. Other studies indicate consuming collagen — the gelatinous substance released from slow-cooking bones, which also creates umami flavors — makes for healthier skin, nails and bones.
Bread + Bones' current main target is grocery stores, Carrington says, although the couple is also working on a way to make their products shippable once a commercial kitchen is complete. That expanded kitchen will mean greater availability, including distribution to 18 regional Super One grocery stores.
In the meantime, shoppers can find Bread + Bones' products at My Fresh Basket, Rocket Market and Huckleberry's Natural Market in Spokane, and in North Idaho at Winter Ridge Natural Foods, Miller's Country Store and Pilgrim's Market. For more about the company, visit breadbones.com. ♦