|Oui, I made that.|
Let me say that again: I'm going to PARIS!
After four years of studying bread baking from my kitchen and living room, I am going to the bread mecca. Immediately after we arrive, I plan to drag my jet-lagged body, suitcases and all, straight to Poilane bakery.
I don't think I'll have any problem ordering bread. There are a total of 23 words in my French vocabulary, and 20 of them relate to dough. I think that's a pretty good ratio. (Stupid American bakers.) Finding a bathroom or a hospital might be a problem, but gosh darn it, I can find bread.
By happy coincidence, a recent Tuesdays with Dorie project was the lovely French batard pictured above. I was so pleased with this project that I made it twice just to prove I could replicate the slashes. (I did it!) Lovely, aren't they? And tasty, too. For a bread, the recipe is pretty straightforward and quick (maybe 4-5 hours, start to finish), but it doesn't yield a real depth of flavor. Still, the loaves are perfect for sandwiches and a million times better than store-bought bread, so I will keep this in the repertoire for the many occasions when I need a pretty, fast solution for kids' lunches or when I need a dinner date for my soup.
In the meantime, I've immersed myself in Chad Robertson's inimitable Tartine Bread cookbook. Having now memorized the entire 78-page basic bread recipe, I'm battling on the front lines with a sourdough starter, metric equivalents, and (usually) floating leavens. I've entered a whole new stage of bread-ucation, and it's not for the faint of heart. Case in point: My family has been forced to eat 7 loaves of gummy, vinegary breads sporting nearly impenetrable crust in the past 10 days. Butter helps, but still, that's a lot of bad bread.
My technique is improving with each loaf; it's just a lot to learn. In the movie of my life, this would be the "Tammy tackles the hardest bread recipe in the world" montage. At the end of the montage, I emerge, a victorious and confident sourdough breadmaster. But we are nowhere near the end.
The haj to Paris will give me a much-needed break from my studies, and it will allow me to obsess about someone else's bread for a change.
If you've got any leads on good food in Paris, I'm all ears. (Yes, that was a bread pun. But I also really want to know where else to eat!)