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Rye to the occasion


If you’re Latvian, you might reach for smoked eel and vodka to go with Black Rooster Baltic Rye (about $6 per pound). For the rest of us, this black bread might be paired with sharp cheese, smoked chicken or salmon, or buttered lightly for breakfast. It may not be as handsome as pumpernickel or rye, both less dense, but its sweet taste and moist texture are compelling. Ivars Melngailis from Wayland, and his brother John, who lives in Maryland, have a Brooklyn baker working with their mother’s recipe. Before baking, there’s a long fermentation for the dough, and loaves are baked in a wood-fired oven, which makes the dark crust. The brothers enjoy a break from tradition when they prepare something they call Baltic costini: They spread the bread with honey mustard and smashed avocado and top it with sliced radishes. Vodka optional.

Available at The Cheese Shop, 61 Central St., Wellesley, 781-237-0916; Cheese Shop of Concord, 29 Walden St., Concord, 978-369-5778; and Baltic Deli, 632 Dorchester Ave., South Boston, 617-268-2435.