In my previous piece, “Bread & Wine,” I reported my increasingly singular and devoted quest to find a bread both tasty and healthy and possibly bordering on the “perfect bread,” and came up with Brian's white bread from tony and gentrified San Luis Obispo. However, I need more than a white bread, even if it is a healthy white bread as far as white bread goes, because I do have friends like Fred Dyer down south in Silver Lake who turn their noses up at my claim of believing in and desiring with great relish a healthy white bread. Well, because I was looking for a variety of breads to choose from, I took up a suggestion by my friend Ethan from Morro Bay, a knowledgeable and legitimate foodie, and visited Breaking Bread in San Luis Obispo, where Ethan says they make their own bread every morning.
Ethan, though a foodie, is not the precious type like Fred down south, and one time after a yoga class joined me at a coffee shop in Morro Bay where he had the corn beef hash with eggs and home fries while I had biscuits & gravy with fried eggs and sausage. We polished our plates. So, on a Monday morning, while in town, I stopped at Breaking Bread and stood observing the blackboard where four breads were listed. The place sported a delicious aroma and had a decent crowd of respectable appearing people. There was a couple of usual loaves on the board that were full of fiber and multi grains and some kind of sprouts, and another bread that I think had fruit or meat in it, so I took the conservative route and asked the pleasant polite girl at the register what bread I should choose when it came to frying it in olive oil and butter.
“You don't want to toast it?” she inquired, looking me over, perhaps taking me for a crackpot or homeless person these days in a high end bakery full of trendy people, since I was draped in shorts and T shirts from thrift shops.
“No. I have no toaster. I fry my bread in olive oil and butter.”
“That sounds good,” she conceded. “I'd go with the sourdough.”
“I'll take the sourdough and a blueberry muffin, please.”
“Would you like me to slice your loaf for you?” the pretty young girl asked.
I declined, immediately regretting her generous overture because my thrift store knife is not the best. When I paid with credit card and tipped her a bill in the glass cup I could see her changing her mind about me, realizing appearances can be deceptive. A man on a bread mission can wear high fashion suits like lawyers at nearby city hall, or hand-me-downs and still place bread high on his or her level of importance as well as nutrition.
Back in my car, on the way to Trader Joe's, I quickly devoured my muffin, which was excellent if small, and then began tearing at the end of my sourdough loaf. I stuffed a good sized chunk into my mouth and realized instantly I had struck gold! This bread was dense, fragrant, substantial, like food! I chewed and tasted as I drove and reached over to tear out another chunk. A loaf like this, I realized, could keep me going for a day, maybe two days if I was stranded somewhere without food, and it was only $5.00, and not $15.00 like the bread from that snotty twit I ran across in his bakery/coffee house in Los Alamos.
By the time I got to Trader Joe's half the loaf was gone and I was burping and bloated, and realized I needed to keep the rest to fry in olive oil and butter the next few days. Well, at this point I had found the perfect white bread and the perfect sourdough—at least so far. I was feeling more and more satisfied with my bread quest but realized I had a long way to go after reading a Sunday food section in the LA Times about all the new coffee houses/bakeries going up, all of which provided exotically named breads I had never even heard of before, and with food types in them I'd never heard of before, which I found quite intimidating and would have to check with Fred about. Living down there, and having all those choices might drive me crazy, for I wish to keep my bread quest simple as possible.
Which is why I took up the advice of the two checkers at Spencer's Market in Morro Bay, Erin and Eileen, and bought a fresh loaf of Brian's Rye after finishing off my Breaking Bread sourdough, which was absolutely heavenly when fried to a crisp on both sides in butter and olive oil, so that when you bit into it the taste of the butter and olive oil prevailed, while the thick layer of fresh sourdough melted in your mouth. Oh yes.
Well, the first thing I did with Brian's Rye, which had me salivating again like a man about to jump in bed with a fetching naked woman, was make a corn beef sandwich with mustard, melted Jack cheese and cold slaw. Yum yum. The bread was absolutely divine and for the next few days I feasted on it, frying it in butter and olive oil mornings and making corn beef sandwiches at night, until it was all gone.
Of course, Fred turned his nose up at my previous article and success with bread, claiming HE found the perfect bread for $3.99 at Whole foods in Los Angeles. Well, I consider Whole Foods snob city and refuse to go there and rub elbows with that precious lot, though Fred, who racks up $100 grocery bills while shopping there, and considers an organic carrot and organic peanut butter on Alvarado's bread a complete lunch, claimed Alvarado's bread has multi grains and wheat sprouts and molasses for taste and is excellent by itself and can be toasted to perfection and does NOT need to be fried in butter and olive oil, a recipe I'm sure is too rich and horrifying for a timid hypochondriac like Mr. Dyer.
Let's face it, a man who eats an organic carrot and organic peanut butter on cardboard bread has no place advising me on my new quest for the perfect bread, and I look forward to informing him in great detail as to how I prepare a patty melt with jack and cheddar and grilled onions tonight on Brian's Rye.