Of course, I will not divulge my secret, only that my onions were perfectly sauteed and spread just right, among other subtle touches—like frying the bread just right, so it isn't hard yet firm enough to allow the juices to ooze onto your palate and the cheese (American, of course) to melt into the meat and bread. Oh yes.
But of course we are not talking about my patty melt, no, we are talking about bread, and I will say here and now that my friend Ethan, a foodie and bread aficionado, and a woman who contacted me by Facebook, Jennifer Haywood, recommended Pagnol's Bakery in Baywood, which is sort of a small, quaint community adjoining a rather nebulous sprawl called Los Osos, which has no downtown, a paltry mall, and certain dirt streets that go nowhere. Ethan explained that Pagnol's is a FRENCH bakery, and immediately I had a vision of a Frenchman in beret and shabby attire toting a net bag of groceries with a slender loaf of bread jutting out.
Well, Baywood is out of the way. I went to Breaking Bread in San Luis Obispo, 19 miles from my residence, only because I was in town to see a doctor's appointment. I don't want to turn this exploration into driving all over the county just to seize a loaf of bread, though I have already admitted that bread and the seeking of a great bread has changed my life a tiny bit—a good thing.
For instance, even though there is a great bakery in Atascadero owned by some black folks from the New Orleans area, I don't want to be caught dead in Atascadero, because I feel very uncomfortable in a town with no downtown, just an endlessly long boulevard with a few shopping centers, and, worst of all, only 2 bars to go with over 30 churches, a situation that gives me the willies. At the same time, the only really good thing to be found in Atascadero, besides the said bakery, is the IN 'N OUT burger joint, but I know I won't feel like eating bread after a cheeseburger, nor visa versa.
I remember, years ago, stopping at this bakery in Atascadero while delivering my Rogue Voice literary journal, and the muffins were first class.
Anyway, after Friday morning yoga class in Morro Bay, I journeyed to Baywood, which is only a few quick miles away, and a much more pleasant place than Los Osos, where I go every two years to a guy who smogs my car. Well, I expected a business-like structure on the main drag that also offered coffee, etc, but was surprised when I discovered Pagnol's is situated on 3rd street in a quiet leafy residential neighborhood in a little house among other little houses, with a sign, Pagnol's Bakery, out front by a fence.
This was impressive, and unusual, and when I entered a pleasant young man in an apron immediately impressed me by noting my LA Laker T shirt and stating he was a Laker fan, and I quickly informed him that I was from LA and had gone to the first Laker exhibition game at LA State in 1960. He was cheered by this nugget, the lad being from Redondo Beach. But then we got down to business, as I quickly informed him that I wished to fry my bread in olive oil and butter, a statement that seemed not to register to him whatsoever as he nimbly began explaining what went into each bread so casually yet expertly that I listened carefully, understanding little but realizing Pagnol's was “crafts artisanal organic French variations of sourdough bread leavened by wild yeast!”
Well, that was good enough for me, and I had a choice of several breads, one with walnuts and raisins, others with wheat and rye and rosemary and olive oil and a Sonora, all of which had French names, and I took the house specialty, miche pointe a calliere, which only cost $6.10, which I considered fair for a round loaf, and tipped the earnest young lad a buck—a perfectly cordial and amiable exchange that would bring me back—IF the bread lived up to my expectations and its reputation and fine reviews on Facebook.
Well, instantly, in the car, while driving, I tore off a chunk and tasted, and was not as impressed as I was at Breaking Bread, at least not until I got home and sliced off 2 pieces and began frying them in olive oil and butter, realizing that this was not sandwich bread, but more like the bread served in restaurants for its own special value, and to be soaked in sauces or smeared with butter or garlic/olive oil mixtures, and so I avidly anticipated how it would turn out as I fried the bread, browning it on both sides, even frying an end chunk, and applying some “Bonne Maman Blackcurrent Jelly” (imported from France!) on one slice when it was finished.
Well, this was a treat of all treats. This bread was beyond crunchy, and, well, a meal in itself, the taste within the toasted sides luscious, full bodied, and even though that highly bread-educated kid at Pagnol's had no idea of my frying of bread recipe, it is my contention that frying this breed of bread is something certain French restaurants might want to serve hot on their menus as a sort of appetizer.
Lately, I have been frying Breaking Bread's sourdough as well as Brian's Rye, but I will from now on possibly freeze Brian's for patty melts and corn beef and tuna sandwiches and fry Pagnol's miche pointe a calliere, or perhaps the Sonora, or whatever the industrious young man at Pagnol's recommends as I subtly explain to him how important, at least to me, my frying of bread in butter and olive oil is.
Now, lately, I have been apprised of bakeries in Los Osos and Arroyo Grande, and I realize I have probably only touched the surface of my bread quest, but for the time being I am pretty satisfied, though I am leaving the door open to new recommendations now that I have been on Facebook for 10 days.
I really don't see how the frying of this latest bread can be surpassed, but we'll see.