Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What I missed on our 3,750-mile road trip

Great bread.
Panera Bread (St. Louis Bread in Greater St.Image via Wikipedia

In 15 days on the road and in hotels, I missed the great bread I enjoy in North Jersey. Just two examples are the $2 baguette with a crackling crust from Balthazar Bakery in Englewood (this is a living crust that softens in humid weather) and the fresh pita from Fattal's in Paterson that allows you to turn every meal into a pocket-bread sandwich.

Even in New Orleans, what they call French bread is this large, doughy loaf with no crust to speak of, suitable for soaking up the juices from the overstuffed po' boy sandwiches. It reminded me of the water bread used in Cuban sandwiches, but that crust is compressed and heated in a press before serving.

About the closest thing to a great-bread experience is the yeasty southern biscuit, sometimes served soaked in gravy. I loved the biscuits served at Lil' Dizzy's Cafe in New Orleans and in a Cracker Barrel Store in Alabama. Driving back to New Jersey, we found a Panera Bread in Hagerstown, Md., where I had a Mediterranean vegetable sandwich -- a salad between two slices of good wheat bread. And the baguette served with the terrific chicken soup, though doughy, was excellent.

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