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Sausage gravy entered my life the first time I spent the night at my best friend’s house in high school. I was told that her mom was making us breakfast, which was a real treat for me, and happened to be one of my favorite meals of the day (still is, on the weekends.) We sat on the couch in a groggy state while her mom stood by the stove, stirring something in a shallow pan. Two thin slices of bread popped out of the toaster, she put each one on a small plate, scooped a large blob of the contents of the pan on to each and walked over to set them on the coffee table in front of us.
I looked down at a small piece of toast, slathered corner to corner with a lumpy, speckled gray matter that emitted the delightful scent of a greasy diner. It was probably one of the ugliest foods I had ever eaten, and also turned out to be one of the most delicious. Throughout the rest of high school I enjoyed this sausage gravy on toast nearly every weekend—the magical weird food created by my BFF’s mom that I could never find anywhere else (I didn’t even know to look.)
The dish of “biscuits and gravy” was developed just after the Revolutionary War, created because of the lack of food and supplies. Biscuits and gravy provided hearty, rich breakfast for the working person, and has mainly been traditional to the south… until it seems that every breakfast restaurant everywhere realized that it is the most amazing food ever.
While I haven’t exhausted ALL the options of places to get biscuits and gravy in town, I have yet to find a place that beats Sun Street Breads. These biscuits and gravy are glorious in so many ways! The biscuits are crisp and light, grilled and almost toast like—as opposed to the dense, sort of dry, doughy type biscuit—but they still have the body and richness expected. The gravy comes in two options, the regular sausage gravy and a mushroom gravy option for vegetarians or fungi lovers. The sausage gravy has a medium consistency, and just enough sausage bits to more than satisfy the requirement but not over-do it. Savory peppery aromas waft from the plate continuously. One of our resident vegetarians, warehouse manager Kevin, reports that the mushroom gravy is silky, rich and peppery, and that the tastes and textures of the different mushroom varieties are distinguishable in the mix. One of my favorite touches is the sliced green onion sprinkled on top, definitely more than a garnish, which adds a fresh, crisp zing to each bite. The dish is also really reasonably priced, which I appreciate. A half order is plenty for me and goes for around five dollars—leaving room for a nice side of fruit, greens, or a delicious pastry and some Dogwood coffee, of course.
Martin Ouimet is the co-owner of Sun Street Breads along with this wife, local bread baking genius Solveig Tofte. I asked Martin why the biscuits and gravy were so magical. He explained: “Same reason your coffee is so good, we start with good quality ingredients, make everything from scratch, and do that every single day. Only secret with the gravy is to use enough pepper to make it just a bit spicy. Solveig came up with the recipe, with some input from our good friend Martha Foose, who’s a superstar southern chef. The biscuits are made with buttermilk, pretty classic southern style, only we use butter instead of Crisco/shortening.”
Sounds simple enough, but I’m convinced there’s some secret magic delicious dust they’re adding to the recipe. These biscuits and gravy are seriously the best ever. I haven’t felt this way about a plate of food in a long time. Now, if they had a killer Bloody Mary on the menu, I would find myself there with an unhealthy frequency… though Martin says that it’s about using the right ingredients, and that he considers their biscuits and gravy to be health food.
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