When you have excellent bread and excellent butter, one of the best foods to eat is bread and butter. And Victoria Tandberg, founder and owner of Nature’s Start Bread Company — now 2 years old — has some really, really good bread.
Tandberg and her team culture starters from microflora naturally occurring in the air. It sounds less than palatable (and potentially alarming, given the respiratory plague that’s about) to say “whatever happens to be hanging out in the mountain air,” but that’s basically what does the lifting. Wild yeast floating in the air makes every from-scratch sourdough starter, and it imparts our region’s flavor to the bread.
Nature’s Start can be (somewhat) neatly divided into two business halves. Online, customers can order a variety of baked goods, which include loaves, buns and desserts, with limited “gluten-friendly” options. These must be ordered 72 hours in advance so the natural starter has the time it needs to rise, and customers can arrange pickup online. We plan to place an order for pickup at the Nature’s Start trailer’s Tuesday stop on Peterson Air Force Base, per discussion with Tandberg, but weather intervened, and that was that. Mea culpa, Victoria.
Speaking of that Nature’s Start trailer, it’s mostly how we enjoy Tandberg and Co.’s baked goods. They’re around town selling sandwiches on garlic knots, deli-style side salads, chips and cookies. We stopped in briefly in late 2020 for a short review, and we have been eager to learn and share more ever since.
Starting with salads, we try the cole slaw and the potato salad (basic ain’t a crime) and we’re impressed by both, which is no mean feat. The slaw cabbage and carrot shreds come fresh and crisp in a saucy, mayonnaise-based dressing that adds a hint of sweetness and plenty of celery salt, all but the platonic ideal of the picnic standard, though some may prefer less dressing. Potato salad gets punched up with diced pickle, onion, celery and hard-boiled egg, plus crispy bits of bacon that add flavor without taking over.
When we stopped in, we remarked upon the wonders of the kaiser rolls-cum-knots’ tender texture, irregular crumb structure and magical garlic-butter-parsley flavor. And from the moment we pull up again, that wonderful garlic aroma lifts us from the car and coaxes us along with a downright cartoonish beckoning that evokes a Looney Tunes shtick.
No surprise, the Knot Chicken Parmesan sandwich works masterfully, bearing a tomato sauce just acidic enough to cut through the richness of the cheese and the knot alike. Chicken, breaded and baked to crisp perfection, has a great juiciness. The chicken bacon ranch knotwich is, similarly, stellar.
The pepper jack cheese adds creaminess, the bacon’s thick-cut, there’s just barely enough ranch that we can tell it’s there, and the addition of pickled jalapeños lends a lovely spice and cleansing acidity to the whole affair. We find the Knot Chicken Cordon Bleu no less superlative thanks to griddle-kissed ham and a garlic aioli that we’d buy by the jar. So while we may not have evaluated Tandberg’s excellent bread simply, with butter, we find that great care goes into what goes on the bread as well as into the bread itself.