Very Well Bread

May 17, 2016

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Four days of extraordinary eating has convinced me that this is a very exciting time for food in New York City.  I’ll be writing about the best of those meals over the next few days. But right now I want to point out the latest trend in cutting edge cuisine: bread.

For starters there is the bread above, at Del Posto, served in a plate designed by the chef, Mark Ladner. The bread is just what you want: crusty, flavorful, fluffy inside.  But it’s that butter substitute that really gets your attention. It’ looks like mozzarella, but it’s crème fraîche and cultured cream whipped into a frenzy. I dare you to leave even one scrap on the plate.

Then there’s the bread at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  Complex and chewy, it tastes not only of wheat, but of the weather.  Eating this bread made me think of drinking wine; it is bread with terroir.  (And I loved it so much that I forgot to take its picture.)

Then there is the bread at the new Agern in Grand Central.  The brainchild of Claus Meyer, who co-founded Noma, the restaurant is serving absolutely fascinating food; it is unlike anything else you’ll find in New York right now. They certainly care about their bread, which arrives in two different forms:

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This crusty loaf, which is very light inside. It’s served with butter that’s been lightly whipped with a bit of buttermilk (think acid tang), and whipped lamb fat laced with lamb cracklings.

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Later in the meal a second little loaf appears: this dense slightly moist rye bread, tasting faintly of caraway.

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And then the other night at Le Turtle, before the perfect Caesar salad and the fabulous chicken cooked in hay, this delightful loaf appeared:

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It was surrounded by butter: one plain, one tossed with lovage and citrus (sprightly, spring-like, herbal), and a third spangled with snails (frankly I didn’t think they added much).

Tomorrow: more about the meals.

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