Results tagged bread from David Lebovitz

My Favorite Knife

My Favorite Knife

I have a knife block on my counter armed with a sharp, ever-ready arsenal of knives for almost all kitchen purposes. There’s a nice, long bread knife, several fancy Japanese knives, a terrific 3-inch paring knife I bought in 1983 at Columbus Cutlery in San Francisco that I lost my first week at Chez Panisse and found it ten years later sitting in a silverware bin, a jumbo Martin Yan Chinese cleaver, and a flexible boning knife, which we used to simply call a ‘boner’ in the restaurant.

(Which we did simply because in our juvenile fashion, we got a kick out of asking our fellow cooks, “Can I use your boner?“)

But the one knife I reach for 97% of the time in my 4½-inch Wüsthof serrated knife. I bought mine at a cookware shop in Ohio that I was teaching at. And when I saw them at Zabar’s in New York last week for only $7.99, I started thinking what a fabulous little knife this baby is and how dependent I am on mine.

Beets

Dirt cheap, I’ve had my handy little knife for about six years and it’s still as sharp as the day I bought it. (Actually, it seems to get sharper and sharper. Either that, or my other knives are getting duller and duller.) I use mine for everything: slicing crusty baguettes, tomatoes, perfectly-diced beets, cutting up fruit, and a gazillion other things. It does every job with the greatest of ease and its small size also makes it fabulous for space-challenged cooks.


Update: After decades of great service, mine finally bit the dust as it was no match for a large block of well-aged slab of cheese. This particular knife has been discontinued but happily, Wusthof has replaced the knife with the Silverpoint “Brunch” knife.


Related Links and Posts

How to Take Care of Your Knives

Inside the KitchenAid Factory

Mini-Tongs

Scissors

Buying an Ice Cream Maker

Kitchen Cutlery (Amazon)

La Boulangerie par Veronique Mauclerc

I’d like to introduce you to someone you may not have heard of: Véronique Mauclerc. But I hope on your next visit to Paris, or if you live here, you’ll make the trip to see her gorgeous and very special bakery.

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Early each morning at Véronique’s boulangerie in the 19th arrondissement, the bleary bakers start mixing the organic flour at 2am after torching-up the wood-fired oven, only one of four in Paris (and there’s only two people that know how to fix it in the city.) So if you’re wondering what you’re doing in the middle of nowhere, it’s because an oven this special just can’t be moved.

And what a magnificent oven it is! As the morning continues, and perhaps the coffee kicks in, the bakers start adding wood until the temperature of the oven’s just right for baking bread, 275C (about 530F). Then each hand-shaped loaf is baked off to crackly-crusty perfection.

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Her incredibly beautiful oven can hold up to 100 loaves at a time, but you’d never know she could reach such capacity when you see the small, carefully-crafted loaves of bread on display in the bakery, which is listed as a historic monument in Paris.

Continue Reading La Boulangerie par Veronique Mauclerc…

Baguettes

As you probably have guessed by now, I’m quite different from the other Parisians. Aside from my less-than-stellar command of the language and a rather bizarre desire not to walk right into others on the sidewalk, I don’t buy that many baguettes.

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It’s not that I don’t like them. (Baguettes, I mean—although I like Parisians too…except when they walk right into you.) It’s just that we eat so much bread around here and I have a preference for heartier, more rustic breads, often loaves riddled with seeds, and heavy with les multigrains. And lately Apollonia Poilâne has been spearheading efforts to wean Parisians off baguettes too, although from the looks of things, she’s not having much of an impact: Locals still line up before lunch and then return before dinner for their fresh, crackly baguette at their local boulangerie.

Baguette & Knife

Did you know the word ‘baguette‘ means ‘stick’ or ‘wand’ in French and if you want chopsticks in an Asian restaurant, you ask for “les baguettes, s’il vous plaît”? And I can’t tell you how many dinners I’ve been to where the discussion about which bakery, and where, has a better baguette caused nearly violent disagreement. There’s even a contest with a Grand Prix in Paris to come up with a winner every year.

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10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris

Pain aux ceriales
How about a pain aux cereales?

Here’s my list of Ten Great Things To Eat in Paris, things I think you shouldn’t miss!

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Moisan: Ficelle Apéritif

A ficelle is a small baguette, whose name actually means ‘string’. But in French bakery lingo it means a thin little crusty baguette. A ficelle makes a perfect petit snack, especially one like this that’s crusted with lots of poppy and sesame seeds.

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One of my all-time, tip-top favorite breads in Paris is the ficelle apéritif baked at Moisan bakery. Although primarily known for their large rustic pains biologiques, breads made with organic flour, these slender little loaves boast a prime ratio of crust-to-crumb, with a golden, crackly crust enclosing an earthy, slightly-tangy mie within.

But what makes this little devil so appealing to me is the heavy-hand the baker lavishes it with sea salt.

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Each little bit I rip off has a generous amount of seeds. Not just a measly few, but just the right amount of coarse sea salt—enough to taste each grain but not enough to be overwhelming or salty.

(Which is a good thing, since salt can lead to thirst and thirst leads to water and…well…we all remember where that leads in Paris.)

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Ble Sucré: The Best Madeleines in Paris

The best Madeleines in the world are right here in Paris.

Well…duh. You don’t need to visit my blog to know that, do you? I’ve never been one of those people who waxed poetically about Madeleines, invoking Proust’s name whenever I can.
(As if I’ve even read Proust.)

So although I don’t have nostalgic ties to Madeleines, I do like the idea of something a bit buttery, with a gilded crust, relatively portable, and not too-sweet for my afternoon gouter, or le snack, as it’s often referred to around town.

But most of the time I’m disappointed. The Madeleine I buy is either too dry, too floury, or worse, has the acrid taste of baking powder. But then the skies parted one day when I was at a new bakery in Paris, blé sucré, in the vastly pleasant, but out-of-the-way Square Trousseau. This new boulangerie and pastry shop is owned by Fabrice Le Bourdat, who worked with Gilles Marchal, the pastry chef at the esteemed Bristol.

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Madeleines are the proverbial ‘little something’ that goes well with tea. But to be honest, there’s nothing that makes me cringe more than when I read in the headnote of a recipe in a cookbook, “This goes well with tea in the afternoon.”

I mean, what little sweet thing doesn’t?
And if that’s the most exciting thing you can say about your recipe, then what the hell’s it doing in your cookbook?

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Browsing in Paris

Yesterday, I decided that since I was the last person in the world to be using Safari as a web browser, I should switch to Firefox. Everyone says it’s better and since I use Movable Type for the blog, Firefox has little buttons to make things bold or to italicize, so I don’t need to type in a bazillion symbols everytime I do that.

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About twenty years ago, which I hope means the statutes of limitations has run out, when working in that vegetarian restaurant I mentioned, someone brought in something for us to, er…well…let’s just say, it was something that was designed to change your perception of reality if you took it.
So of course, we did.

When you work in a restaurant, you develop a rhythm, especially when it comes to setting up your statio in preparation for the rush of customers. If you have a fixed menu and you’ve been working in the same place for a while, when you arrive, you can almost work on auto-pilot to make sure everything’s in place (called mis-en-place), so when the rush comes, you’re full-organized and never get buried under orders (or as they say, ‘in the weeds’). If you’ve done it right, the evening runs like a finely-tuned Swiss watch. If not, you’ve got no business in a restaurant kitchen.
And your night will be a catastrophe (not to mention the customer’s as well).

So one evening, someone brought in something which we ingested that was terribly strong and radically alerted our ‘perception of reality’ (yes, even vegetarians have their vices). As we started our work, though, the owner arrived and surprised us with a brand-new menu, full of items we’d never seen before. So we had to completely change our set-ups and prepare all new dishes.
It was a massive bummer, to put it mildly.

It’s like your computer crashing, taking everything with it, and you need to re set-up everything again. To make a long (long) story short, once the customers arrived, it was like your worst dream coming true, the kind where you’re running towards something, but the faster you run, the farther away it gets. So as the order tickets started coming in, we all panicked and found ourselves seriously in the weeds (in more ways than one), and the evening was a catastrophe.

When I installed my new browser yesterday, everything changed on my little Mac.

My beloved bookmarks, which I’ve spent years collecting, I cherished as your grandmother cherishes her Hümmel figurines, were gone. And the look of my blog platform changed: Yes there were those terrific little buttons that add links, italics, and what-not, but each time I used one, it jumped up to the top of the document, meaning I had to re-scroll back to where I was typing, prompting a mad dash to find where I left off. So like coming down from a bad high, back to my familiar reality, I’ve returned to Safari.

I guess old habits die hard. Like my love for rustically grainy breads, and had a chance to return to one of my favorite bakeries in Paris yesterday when I had a doctor’s appointment on the other side of the city.

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Boulangerie 140

At last count, there are 1263 bakeries in Paris.

On just about every street, there’s at least one, if not two, or even three bakeries. Some of them are very good, a few are perhaps not so fabulous, and several are excellent. Parisians eat a lot of bread, far more than their American counterparts.

Visitors often wonder, “How come we don’t have bakeries like this is America?”

“Because people won’t eat bread in America anymore. Everyone’s afraid of it.” I respond

Tragically, most nod in agreement.

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Luckily there’s not too much of that nonsense here in Paris. From early in the morning, until the last baguette de levain is handed across the counter for dinner, you’ll find folks en queue, lined up impatiently waiting to get their daily bread.

And for some reason, I’m always in front of the most impatient one, who firmly keeps nudging me forward. My strategy against those Parisian pests is to gently innocently start backing up, which kinda freaks them out and invariably causes a chain reaction, since the person behind them is usually pressed up against them as well, nudging them forward too.

It causes a certain amount of shuffling and mild hysteria, but tant pis.
Anyone who wants to get that close to me better buy me a drink first.

Or at least a loaf of bread.

But when there’s a bakery as good as 140 in town, Parisians have good reason to get pushy about their bread. And neighborhood residents buy stop here once, or even twice daily to get theirs. And like many of them, I’m happy to stand my ground for a crisp, golden baguette de campagne that feels crisp and warm when it’s handed over the counter to me. Or for the buttery-mouthful of a flaky croissant that shatters into a gazillion crackly shards when you bite into it.

These are some of the daily rituals that go on around here, of which I’m frequently guilty of taking part.

(The pushing part I’m still getting used to.)

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Although I don’t live close enough to 140 to go two or three times a day, it’s one of the handful of bakeries here that I’ll happily scamper across the city to visit. Aside from their numeric name, which always gives me a chuckle, they bake some of the best breads in Paris. And recently, I was lucky enough to go behind the scenes of this top-notch boulangerie.

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