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New vendors delight customers at the opening of the La Grange Farmer's Market

Customers consider buying some bread from Gigi Katic of Katic Breads at the opening day of the La Grange Farmer's Market May 9.
Customers consider buying some bread from Gigi Katic of Katic Breads at the opening day of the La Grange Farmer's Market May 9.

LA GRANGE – The bread and pastries being sold at this year's La Grange Farmer's Market are pre-World War II.

Their recipes, that is.

Gigi Katic from Katic Breads left Champaign at 3 a.m. May 9 with a batch of breads and croissants that were baked overnight. They were in La Grange by 7 a.m. for the market's season opening.

Katic Breads is one of four new vendors at this year's market and offers classic European breads, like an herb focaccia or pain de campagne (French sourdough), made with organic flour and without preservatives or sugar.

"Those chemicals, we can't even pronounce them," said Gigi Katic, noting that many commercial breads lose their minerals when flour is bleached. "So why are we putting them in our bodies?"

The breads and pastries are baked in Champaign but will soon be made in Aurora. Gigi Katic's brother, Dusan, started the business with his wife after he lived in France, where they treat their bread "like a precious gem."

"He wanted that for America," Gigi Katic said.

So her brother studied bread-making on his own, and when he came home, he began experimenting. Dusan worked with traditional, pre-industrial era recipes, until he got the dough and yeast exactly how he liked it.

Now, his sister can tell a customer that the word for a popular Italian bread, ciabatta, means old man's slipper.

In addition to traditional breads, Katic sells a kalamata olive loaf – good with anything Greek, Gigi Katic said – and a pain de sophia, filled with six different seeds. Then there are the croissants, with layers so distinct you can count them.

"The French say you should be wearing it on your shirt," Gigi Katic said. "That's how flaky [a croissant] should be."

The almond and strawberry variety were sold out by mid-day, but Katic brings plenty of the classic butter and chocolate, made with two fine sticks of dark chocolate.

Everything is baked the night before it's sold, and considering the quality, everything is reasonably priced – no loaf costs more than $6. It might even defy the idea that you have to cut carbs to cut pounds.

"I'll get customers who come in and say they're eating a loaf of bread a day and still losing weight," Katic said.

Also new this year are Simply Salsa and Flower Garden and Impex Nature, which sells fresh Italian truffles, pasta, balsamic and other oils. The market also features numerous vendors selling meat, produce and baked goods.

The market runs 7 a.m.-1 p.m. through October next to the village parking garage off Sixth Avenue.

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