Friday, 10 June 2016

Posh Breads

Once upon a time, in fact not that long ago, your choice when walking into the bakers, was white or brown? sliced? large or small? and, if you we're in a more 'upmarket' bakers, stone ground or wholemeal?

But now you go into any bakers worth their salt, or even the bakery of you local supermarket, you will be hit by an overwhelming choice - anything from a simple sourdough to a walnut and fig cob, a gruyere and red onion focaccia or a rye and linseed boule. Just last week, I spied a 'meditaranian flatbread' - now I've been to the Med and they have loads of different breads, but not anything fitting this description - I assume it had olives, herbs and tomatoes in it -  thus this supermarket had deemed it 'mediteranian' it was pink-ish in colour (tomato?) with green flakes (olives/unnamed herbs?) Needless to say it didn't enter my trolley!

This choice is amazing, but has it all become too much? are they worth the inflated price? do they bring something extra to your diet and hasn't it all become a little too competitive?

I was in a well know upmarket supermarket last week, looking at their bakery selection, when a lady leaned across and asked  "have you tried their olive, lavender and rosemary french piccolo bread? it goes beautifully with a leg of herby roast lamb!" Well no I hadn't and how long did this loaf have to be to get that name on it's packaging?  would I fit it in the car if I bought it? For goodness sake, it does sound lovely but really?

That leads me naturally onto the shapes and sizes of these breads. Bread used to be baked so it was easy to slice, make a sandwich or toast. But not anymore, every shape and size imaginable is available to us - at my local bakery you can even buy a loaf baked in a very small flower pot! how I would go about slicing that I do not know - perhaps your meant to rip it apart - and please don't get me started on 'tear and share breads' which seem to be just loads of small white baps squished together with cheese on the top.

         ........... Wow,  listen to me - maybe I am a becoming a bread snob! What a horrible thought!

And now I seem to have developed a phobia of serving the wrong bread with a dish - how should I serve a focaccia? should it be with cold meats or cheese? and which cheese? what type of focaccia? Would it be easier to choose the bread before deciding what dish to cook to go with it? Should I warm the bread in the oven before serving and do I offer butter or olive oil and balsamic vinegar with it? ..........Ahhhh....... it's a minefield........And lastly when I do find a bread that we all like they stop making it after a few weeks and go onto another combination of flavours. Long gone are the days when you mum gave you a couple of pence and asked you to run to the local shop for a loaf of bread - you'd be gone weeks! Or do mum's these say " darling could you just pop down to the corner deli and pick up a cranberry and peacan baton"

All these artisan breads have now caused a transformation on the menu at your local cafe and coffee shop. No longer can you just get a toasted teacake with a little butter to go with your afternoon tea. No you get offered toast. Not a plain white slice but varieties filled with combinations of fruits and nuts, these are offered with butter (salted, unsalted, Brittany, Normandy etc) and with a conserve or preserve (wild strawberry, boysenberry, rhubarb and ginger) but never a jam. I sometimes feel I have wandered into a scene from Faulty Towers!

Oh, and just so you know....... I did buy the olive, lavender and rosemary piccolo bread and yes it did fit in the car and really it did go very well with roast herby lamb!

Have a lovely weekend
Love Lizx