About a week before I started my “experiment,” as I have fondly dubbed my monthlong locavore diet, I began researching where I could buy wheat and other grains. As carbs are my favorite food group, it was of utmost importance that I manage to get my bread fix during June.
Because it seemed impossible to find a wheat farm within my 100-mile radius, I settled for the idea of requiring that my flour be milled within my parameters, but not necessarily grown there.
My mother recalled that there was a mill in Los Angeles, El Molino Viejo, that ground local wheat, but, a quick Google search later, I discovered that it no longer runs. I scoured the Internet for flour mills in L.A., which seemed to yield results, but most of the mills are large, industrial corporations that focus on quantity over quality, not the family-owned pastoralism that I was looking for.
I called Jennifer Piette, local-foods guru and the owner of Out of the Box Collective, who pointed me in direction of the New Vineland Bakery run by husband-and-wife winemakers Sashi Moorman and Melissa Sorongon.
They wanted to start selling homemade bread in their wine tasting room and at nearby farmers markets, but the Santa Barbara Farmers Market Assn. required that they grow the wheat themselves, thus marking the first time bureaucratic red tape has made the world better.
After some trial and error, they started to grow their own wheat in Ballard Canyon, which they grind into flour at their Lompoc bakery.
I have tried five types of loaves, all delicious. Their bread has a chewy, mahogany crust and hearty, nutty flavor, a perfect balance that is difficult to achieve with their low-protein flour and wood-fired oven. I sincerely doff my cap to Kate Heller, the baker; she has created a masterpiece.
New Vineland bread ranges from $5 to $9 a loaf and can be purchased, along with their wine, red wine vinegar, and crackers, at the Ojai Sunday Farmers Market, the Montecito Friday Farmers Market, and their tasting room in Lompoc.
New Vineland Bread, 1501 E Chestnut Ave., Lompoc, (805) 736-6784.
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times