Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bread, Cheese...and Tomatoes!

Sorry for the pause. I've been eating the most perfectly delicious tomatoes from my garden and I sort of went into a tomato trance. Has it already been said that a garden ripe tomato is the most perfect food in the history of the universe? If not, then I'm officially sayin so now, because these babies hit all the flavor notes like nothing else I know. And I'm not even THAT much of a tomato person, really, but yea, they're pretty unbelievable. And fleeting, so eat up, right? Unfortunately I have no idea which of my four or five heirloom varieties I've been so entranced with, only that they're tomato crack.
Still obsessing about Paris, and it sure was fun watching the last stage of the Tour de France on Sunday and getting to see "our" apartment and lots of the places we strolled.
One of the obsessions I brought back with me is Eric Kayser Baguette cereales. Depending on who you ask, EK may be the best bread in Paris, a factoid that I cannot confirm but suspect to be true. I sort of haven't been able to shut up about it or get it out of my head, and project #1 since my return has been seeking out a recipe and trying to reproduce it.
Here is my first attempt from Saturday, a bookend WFO bread bake sandwiched in between pizza lunch and a whole lotta pork shoulder:
cereales and pane campagne
The round loaves are pain campagne ala Daniel Leader's book Bread Alone, which i have made a few other times, albeit with a less lovely result.
I must say, the baguette cereales, or batard cereales as mine are closer to, is about the best bread I've ever baked, but SO not as good as the real thing. Perhaps due to missing the amazing French butter with big flakes of fleur de sel in it that I cried to leave:
butter with big flakes of sea salt in it
I used a recipe from over at the Fresh Loaf website which is an adaptation of the recipe from Eric Kayser's bread book which is published only in French (and that I am thinking of buying anyway).
inside the cereales
Both the original and the adapted recipe call for flours that I really have no way of obtaining, so I just punted and used my stand by King Arthur bread and Bob's Red Mill organic AP. The result is delicious, but needs some more R&D to come closer to the real thing.

Another thing I haven't been able to get out of my head is the amazing French cheeses. I've always thought that this U.S. ridiculousness that is the ban on raw milk cheeses is just that, but now that I've tasted some of the real thing, I'm really pissed off. It's like I never tasted cheese, ANY cheese, until I went to France, and that I'll won't get any truly amazing cheese until I go there again, not that I shall stop looking!
eric kayser baguette cereals and st marcellin
This St. Marcellin made the biggest impression on me. Perhaps it was nothing special by French standards, but as one of my first real raw-milk cheese lovers, I shall never forget it. When I was buying it, the non-French speaking customer next to me was asking the cheese guy (in English) whether she could pack some in her luggage to take home. His reaction was a hilarious blue streak of shouted and gesticulated French, and even with my seriously limited French vocabulary it was pretty clear that he was dissing the stupid American rules, too. On the other hand, more for them, and a good reason for me to go back!

My god. If this isn't food porn, I don't know what is. Can I eat at your house?
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