Q&A: Abe Faber and Christy Timon of Clear Flour Bread

 
Gulnara Niaz Photography

We have this couple to thank for Brookline’s Clear Flour, which makes simple, natural breads according to classical French, German, and Italian traditions. Christy Timon opened Clear Flour Bread in 1982 and worked alongside Abe Faber, whom she married seven years later. What was originally conceived as a wholesale operation soon grew into a neighborhood institution and—when the couple’s children joined in—a family business, too. Today, Faber and Timon can still be found in the kitchen of their tiny storefront, as customers snake around the block in anticipation of Clear Flour’s famous crusty loaves and buttery treats.

Boston’s best dish:

Christy: Boston Brown Bread.

Abe: Lots of the small plates at Fairsted kitchen in Washington Square, Brookline. But really the favorite is a simple roast chicken (prepared with Joel Robuchon’s method) from Stillman Quality Meats of Hardwick, made by me, at my house, along with a nice bottle of Meursault.

Guilty pleasure food:

Christy: No guilt, just pleasure: runny cheese, dark chocolate, miche [a French sourdough], Bordelaise sauce, butter, Grand Cru Burgundy.

Abe: I agree with Christy on this one! I never experience guilt in eating. Food is for savoring, enjoying, nourishing, and so much more, but never for experiencing guilt over!

Kitchen soundtrack:

Christy: Jazz.

Abe: I really like quiet at work—to experience the subtle songs of the refrigeration compressors, the hiss of the steam from the ovens, the crackling of hot loaves cooling, … to tune in to the language of the bread.

Favorite food destination:

Christy: Paris.

Abe: The entire coast of Maine. I’m always searching for a slightly MORE perfect lobster roll experience.

Cooking inspiration:

Christy: Great ingredients, and also having a great time! People who inspire me to cook/bake are Jacques Pépin, Raymond Calvel, Didier Rosada, Julia Child, and Pierre Hermé.

Abe: Christy is the baker at Clear Flour while I am mostly involved with the business end of things. But at home I cook to fulfill my need to experience the pleasures of eating real food as well as for the pleasure it gives me to work directly with my hands and my senses, sort of bypassing the brain. It is the one activity in which I can completely surrender myself to the present as a restorative mental experience.

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