The perfect, crusty loaf of bread. In a restaurant, in bakeries, in the kitchen or in the bedroom,* it can be an elusive creature.
I remember my first: It was a Michelin starred restaurant. A waiter approached, placing a basket in front of us. The cloth was warm. Always a good sign, I thought to myself, disrobing the loaf until notes of toasted nuts and malt beckoned my nose closer. The bread's construction was enough to make Paul Hollywood genuflect in approval. The bubbly lattice of white met my butter knife with a pillowy resistance. This was not your average loaf. Twisting off a piece, the crust let off a pleasing snap. Cradling the morsel between two fingers, I lifted it towards my lips. Alternately soft, chewy, tart, nutty and crunchy in all of the right places and ways. I ate five pieces. I wished I'd skipped on the rest of the meal completely. The other food was fine, but this was transcendent. All I could think about was how I could bribe our server to send me home with a few extra loaves.
"Do you make your own bread?" I asked
"We get it from a bakery," she said
"Can I buy some from you?" I continued
"We don't have enough, but you can buy it from them. It's Il Forno Bakery," she replied.
Leaving the restaurant, I scanned my phone. Next time we went up to New Haven, Yoni and I stopped in the Bronx to pick up a few loaves. It's become a pilgrimage of sorts and my dress size has never been the same.**
Last fall while I was living in New York, I visited Il Forno to pick up some bread. The bakery is a family affair, and while I was chatting with Jenny Eduardo about baking and business, we hatched an idea to do a series of delicious collaborations. So look forward to a high-carb diet of recipes, videos, pictures, and who knows what else in the coming months. Heaven knows we are!
Have you had a transcendent bread experience? We want to hear all about it!
*An unnamed seven-year-old TD sister (who may or may not have been me) was once found with an entire loaf of bread hidden under her pillow. What can I say? I love bread.
**The sourdough starter makes their breads probiotic, which aids digestion. That doesn't *quite* compensate for finishing an entire loaf alone, but it's nice to know nonetheless.