March 2009 Archives

Tulie Bakery

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For a while now, I've been hearing all about Tulie Bakery here in SLC. My boss has even brought in some of their goodies on occasion, and every time I've been rather impressed. This last week though, he brought in a selection of pastries for breakfast for the morning crew, and what he gave me was a real taste of home. It looked like a scone, but wasn't quite. It was softer, more silky, melted in your mouth... but it was the flavors that got me.

Back in San Francisco, my mom used to bring home scones (don't even get me started on what the locals call "scones" in these parts!) now and again... and my favorite was a savory scone flavored with cheese and fresh herbs. For years, I've been keeping my eyes out for something similar, but have been sorely disappointed and had decided the only way to capture that taste memory was to make them myself.

Today, I learned that what Steven gave me last week was Tulie's "Gougeres"... as soon as I tore off my first bite, I could feel a shallow well of tears form behind my eyes. That was the taste. Spot on. That was what I had been hunting for all these years... and the texture was pure pleasure. The choux pastry was still warm and once the delicate flaky crust broke upon my teeth, the velvety dough simply melted into my mouth, filling my senses with a taste of home like no other.

I'm hooked.

What I came to find out was there is another San Francisco connection. That is the owner spent a bit of time learning her craft at Tartine, one of my favorite hometown bakeries. Right on.

Monday, I had the day off, but to my dismay I pulled up to Tulie only to find they are closed on Mondays.

So, today Lia and I drove over after the dropped the kids at their schools, and I picked up a selection of various treats to try out. Of course, I had to have my Gougere! Lia loved it as much as I. In addition, we brought home (clockwise following the Gougere at the top pictured below) a Morning Bun, a Frangipane (almond with fresh berries) Tart, Scone with Currants, and Bran Muffins.



The Morning Bun (an old Tartine fave) is like a cinnamon/sticky bun only it's made with croissant dough... this particular one from Tulie is rich, the caramelized bits almost like candy, not overly spiced, and has a bright almost lemony freshness to it in the background.

The Tart had a wonderfully buttery crust. The edges were a little thick though, and I was afraid at first it might snap and fly everywhere, but it held up to the strength of my bite just fine. The contrasting soft custardy filling with almonds and sweet berries were quite fun. They also had a lemon creme tart and one with a variety of fresh berries. I kinda wish I'd gotten one of each! Though at just over $6 a piece, I just got one so that I could diversify elsewhere this trip.

The scone was rich and moist, but not to the point of being gummy like some can be. Just a light sweetness from coarse sugar baked on top. Just right for a nice cup of Earl Grey. Though my coffee (still on the Blue Krishna from JMCC) did just fine.

Last but not least, the Bran Muffins. I for one love bran muffins, so I always have to try them. Some judge bakeries on their croissants, some on their tarts, etc. I judge a bakery on its bran muffins. If they don't make any, I'm always disappointed... but they are an oft neglected item. The bran muffins at Tulie, like everything else so far, were just right. Nice crisp outer crust that broke crisp upon a gentle bite giving way to a soft yet substantial core that was moist and just barely sweet. A couple bites and a swish of my coffee to break it down, and I could feel the bran granular and yet silky. Definite thumbs up.

Huzzah!

Panaderia Memories

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I live not half a block from Panaderia Flores. I don't go there often enough. When I do though, I am overwhelmed by the smells and sights of memory. All those familiar cookies, rolls, buns, pastries, and cakes. Dusted with sugar, shining with egg wash, or frosted in that semi-sweet crumbly almost-dough goodness colored white, yellow, or pink.

I always bring home armloads of these babies. Every bite takes me back to my childhood. That sometimes dry but never choking dough that crumbles into your mouth with each bite. Perfect for following with a sip of dark rich coffee (currently drinking Blue Krishna from Jack Mormon Coffee Company up in the Avenues).

I am reminded of my visits to my grandmother. Mi abuela. My mother's mother. She lived in San Francisco's Mission District, and she would take me on walks and treat me to the culinary delights the Mission had to offer. Before Tartine. Before Ti Couz. Before any gourmet hipster coffee shops. Back when it was all Mexican working class, and on every block what would today be considered hidden treasures.

Our favorite panaderia (and back then, they had a restaurant attached out back behind the bakery that had the best!!! chile rellenos ever... a taste memory that has yet to be equalled by that dish anywhere else in my adult life) was La Victoria down on 24th St. My grandmother and I would walk there and she would talk to me and tell me stories and describe everything I was seeing as we walked through her barrio. This was my culture she was teaching me, though I didn't really know it at the time. What I did know was that I loved taking those walks. They would culminate at La Victoria where she would proceed to pick through the cases filled with pastries to find just the right ones. Then she would let me pick one or two, and being a child I was always drawn to the most colorful. I would usually grab a big round bun decorated with swirls or tiles of bright pink and a cookie covered in (not sprinkles) pellets of brightly colored sugar that would crunch and pop in your mouth as you chewed.

On the way back to her apartment, we would stop at this little hole in the wall restaurant. I wish I knew the name of the place, as I've never been able to find it again in all my visits to the Mission. It was dimly lit, practically a corridor... the cooks and food and menu board on one side, and a single row of tall tables on the other. Mexican blankets and calendars scattered across the walls... pictures of Aztec warriors with scantily clad maidens draped across their arms. It was here that I would get my ultimate treat: a steaming hot cup of vanilla or chocolate atole... thick and hot and just the right sweetness.

Then we would go back to her apartment. Up that rickety old elevator. The dusty smell of old carpets in those cramped corridors and warm shadows in every nook. We would open her door and the sunlight would bathe us as we walked inside. Where was all this light coming from when everywhere else we seemed to go was so dark? We would sit at her little breakfast table in the kitchen and she would unload our wares and go to town. After eating our pastries, we would finish with grapefruit or mango from one of the grocers down the street.

These memories flood my mind whenever I go to the panaderia, and I can feel my grandmother's smiling face upon me as I sit here typing, eating my pastries, drinking my coffee, and reflecting upon this gift she has given me. It is times like these that I really and truly miss her and appreciate all the experiences she openned me up to.

I can only hope I am giving something similar to those two girls sitting in the living room playing on our Wii with a plate full of my memories sitting in front of them. The first time I ever brought them home, they expressed dissappointment. Where was the sugar and custard and filling and frosting? But as they began to realize, they didn't need any of that. All that sweetness would be lost upon the delicate flavors to be found in this world: almond, sesame, anise, even the wheaty dough itself.

A heaven on earth for me in every bite where my grandmother resides and I am happy.


Breakfast at Work

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"This is the best french toast I have *ever* had..." - actual quote from one of my coworkers! That and many other rave reviews spouted forth after Steven requested I cook up some breakfast for the crew. He and Tyler had come in early to reset the wall of pasta, and I was more than happy to comply.

My first thought was to do a fritatta. Because I love fritattas, and they're easy, and you can throw just about any hodgepodge of ingredients in there and make it work. But just about every breakfast we've had at work has been some sort of egg dish, and I got the urge to do something different.

I looked at the day old bread and a lightbulb went on. I looked at the baskets of apples in the walk-in and it got brighter. On my way out, I saw a tub of mascarpone, and thought to myself, "Oh, yeah"... imagine Ferris Beuller's Day Off or the Kool Aid man ;)

chicka chicka chick ahhh

I cut up two loaves of day old Crumb Bros bread into nice fat slices (one country sourdough, one raisin walnut), put them in a hotel pan and drenched them with a mixture of milk, eggs, cinnamon, and sugar... meanwhile, I sliced up a couple granny smiths nice and thin, pulverised a thumb of fresh ginger, and tossed all that with some more sugar and cinnamon... I buttered up a baking sheet and put the sopping slices on it in the oven to bake while I caramelized the apples in a frying pan... zested some lemon into there as well, then finished the apples off with some of the juice. Before serving, I whipped up the mascarpone with some sugar and lemon juice... et voila!


Hot, Flat, and Crowded

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Last night, author and NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman was in town on a book tour for Hot, Flat, and Crowded. I was on the LHF catering team plating up pre-show appetizers that we'd donated.

I've read Friedman's columns in the Times, but haven't read his books. I definitely want to pick up a copy of HF&C now. Listening to him talk really began to redefine what I think of as "Green" and what we really need to be doing to help bring about revolution and change that is truly necessary for our the survival of our human race and its various cultures... and to redefine as well what we and the world think of as "American."

But for now, the food...

Ria designed three appetizers to follow the theme of the lecture, each upon crostini made fresh that morning from Vosen's bagettes.

Hot: crostini topped with fresh Creminelli Piccante Sausage and sweet & spicy tomato chutney...

Flat: a light puree of English Peas spread on crostini and topped with a dusting of Beehive Aggiano cheese (we were originally going to shave it, but the cheese wasn't cooperating)...

Crowded: crostini topped with hard boiled Clifford Farms eggs, hummus, and organic Arugula...

As for the ingredients, we did what we could to ensure as small a carbon footprint as we could, using primarily locally produced ingredients (or as close to home as possible) from organic and sustainable farms.

Also in attendance and working the crowd were Cristiano Creminelli and his partner as well as Tim from Beehive Cheese... although once it got a bit crowded for comfort in the reception room, they came back and hung out in the kitchen as we plated and we talked shop a bit and shot the breeze.

The evening began slow, and we were worried at first as people didn't seem to be touching the sausage... but once it picked up, everything was a hit, and the food was heading out as fast as we were plating it up.

...

After the event, we packed up and headed over to Setebello for a couple drinks and really killer Napoli style pizza prepared perfectly in their wood fired oven. I'd been meaning to go there pretty much since I moved here to Utah, so it was a real treat to end the night there. I had the namesake Setebello pizza topped with crushed tomatoes, pancetta, fennel sausage, roasted mushrooms, pine nuts, mozzarella, basil and extra virgin olive oil. It was hot and flat, but certainly not crowded despite the melange of ingredients. Just the right amount of everything bite after delectable bite. I'll definitely be heading back for more!

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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