By Jess Watsky
4 & Twenty Blackbirds
610 Village Walk, Guilford, CT, 06437
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At 7:30 on a Friday morning, the town of Guilford is quiet and sleepy, its inhabitants beckoned inside their houses by the cool lull of their air conditioners and the sonorous throes of sleep. The roads are empty and winding, the shops shuttered until mid-morning. In the Village Walk shopping plaza off of Route 1, one storefront stands alone, its doors wide open with bleary-eyed customers shuffling in and out in a steady stream. It’s not the last call for a bar or nightclub, it’s the first call for some of Nancy Ackerman and her staff’s fine pastries, cakes, and breads at 4 & Twenty Blackbirds. In addition to baking up a mean set of sweets, they’re known to convert customers to early morning hours. Once you sink your teeth into a few of their delicacies, we’re pretty sure you’ll be waking up earlier, too. This little bakery makes some of the finest baked goods we have ever had.
The first choice of the early bird demographic is without a doubt, the scones. In flavors varied enough to please any palate, they vary from day to day depending on the ingredients available and improvisation of the bakers- a notable example is the lemon cheesecake scone, filled with thin slices of a fallen cheesecake and liberally topped with pieces as well. Though the limited offerings are often unique and exotic, one can never go wrong with a classic almond marzipan, double chocolate chip, or cinnamon streusel scone. Their textures are atypical of the banal stiffness of a standard scone, eschewing crusty exteriors and lumpy innards for a fluffy, flaky hybrid in between a biscuit and a muffin with a delicate crunch of brown sugar crystals. Fresh out of the oven, their dense construction locks in heat and is able to survive the ride home without any cracking or crumbling.
If you’re not in habit of rising with the sun, 4 & Twenty has recently started offering small savory items for lunch- gorgeous herbed focaccia with garden-fresh vegetables offer all the frippery of pizza toppings with a bit of artistic flair and none of the grease. Paper-thin slices of yellow squash, olive, and tomato cover a thick canvas of airy, crispy bread, making this the portable, healthy lunch that your coworkers or family will be fighting over. Or if lunch time is past and you’re getting ready for dinner, pick up one of the many desserts- from classy to casual, there’s one for any occasion, including gorgeous tie-dyed cupcakes for your child or inner child. We suggest a bevy of flavored bread puddings for both sophistication and variety. Lemon poppyseed is a favorite! Don’t leave without one of their chocolate chunk cookies- as rustic as they may appear, they are some of the softest, most buttery cookies Connecticut has to offer. Slightly warm and ridiculously indulgent, they are a gift from the gods of all things nutty and sweet.
4 & Twenty may be a diamond in the rough in a world peppered with Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks on every corner, but it’s a favorite on the Shoreline, so be sure to get there early. If you’re one of the first at the door, you can snag a scone or a muffin as soon as it is taken out of the oven or grab the last slice of chocolate mint cheesecake. Even if you’re not there to eat, the art lies in the love and elbow grease (vegetarian, of course) that goes into each pastry- 4 & Twenty Blackbirds is a true testament of how elevated and sublime even the simplest of foods can be.
When she’s not snarking on snacks, Jess lives with her girlfriend and bratty cat in Northampton, MA. She currently blogs onFoodette Reviews and is designing a new site – Fighting Varietal. Both have food and wine reviews, event coverage and more in the Western Massachusetts and Connecticut areas.