My biggest disappointment was in Brian's rye, which had been vouched for by the checkers at Spencer's Market and utterly satisfying as previously written about, especially when creating my incredibly tasty and succulent patty melts. Two loaves in a row broke up in the middle, literally ruining my melts and any other sandwiches which I preferred on fried rye, often in butter and sunflower oil. I had to relegate the remainder of the first loaf to good old morning frying, and when I mentioned my experience with this loaf, which was over five dollars, the lady checkers at Spencer's were shocked, so I tried a second loaf and the same goddam disintegration of the rye occurred again, provoking in me such a rage that I grabbed the entire loaf, squeezed it into ruins, and, gritting my teeth, fired it into the waste basket while my dog scurried out of the kitchen, all 95 pounds of him, cowering.
I apologized and petted him and all was well, but all was not well with Brian's rye, no, not at all, and I considered abandoning not only Brian's rye, but the white, sourdough, wheat and all rolls out of spite. What I did decide to do was give Brian's a rest, and perhaps come back at another time, but never ever would I buy the rye again.
Instead, I reverted to my muffins, preferably blueberry muffins in the case at Spencer's, which are always fresh and moist and tasty, nothing to complain about here as consistency has remained secure, though at times when I arrive the blueberries are gone and I must settle for a cinnamon scone, or, when I'm desperate, donuts, which are irresistible but leave my stomach feeling like it has a bowling ball in it for hours afterward.
Then the lady who does the baking at Spencer's came up with a new soft, moist, delicious blueberry scone with white frosting, a product Jim, the manager, claimed was really sweet, full of sugar, and probably for younger people. Of course, Jim is a health nut, and I ignored his advice and found myself anticipating with great glee these newly invented scones every morning, and was deeply disappointed when they were sold out or not prepared that morning, and had to satisfy myself with the usual muffin or donut, as I was still boycotting Brian's Bread and too uninspired to go anywhere else for bread, which meant pursuit of bread excellence was becoming an abject failure due to my congenital laziness, an increasing bugaboo for this retiree.
Meanwhile, after about a month, I decided to ease myself back into Brian's, and bought a loaf of sourdough for my prized roast beef sandwiches with good old American cheese, leaf lettuce, mayo/horse radish spread, vine tomatoes, sliced onions, all on Brian's sourdough fried in butter and sunflower oil. I was pleased, and began eating more and more fried bread, even without sandwiches, in the middle of the day, because it was good, a decent filler between meals. And at this time I continued my consumption of the new scones, which I savored on my deck, often purchasing two so I was assured of having one for the following day in case they were sold out or not prepared.
But then, well, I came to this standstill, these doldrums, and realized I could not continue my pursuit of bread and my devouring of sweets if I planned to continue to move with any speed whatsoever on the hoop and tennis courts. I didn't know what to do or where to go with my pursuit, and was in San Luis Obispo after a doctor's appointment, browsing the aisles in Trader Joe's, on my way to the power bars, when I happened upon a stack of SLICED FRENCH BRIOCHE loaves. I picked one up. It was a product of France. Ah-hah! I perused the ingredients, which included eggs, butter, sugar, fatty acids and dreaded glutens among other unhealthy elements! I decided to give it a try, bought two loaves, because I seldom get into San Luis Obispo, and can always freeze bread.
I could hardly wait to get home, as it was still mid morning, and I was in the midst of a grand funk, having been weighed at the doctor's office that very morning and finding out that in 6 months I had ballooned by some 10 pounds and was outrageously heavy, my gut a swollen obnoxious repulsive sight I had refused to acknowledge for a long period of time, even if a friend down south, Fred Dyer, constantly brought it up with a superior smirk on his wizened, jowly face. Yet, despite all the ingredients in the brioche, and since I had already decided to abandon scones and muffins at least 27 out of 30 days a month, I was highly excited about trying this richly textured brioche, which I'd never experienced but read about in Hemingway books about Paris.
Back in my tiny kitchen, I got the coffee going, placed my sunglasses and newspaper out on a table on the deck, heated the pan, waited until it was hot but not too hot, added the butter and olive oil and fried two slices of my first ever brioche on both sides.
They browned quickly, almost like French toast, minus syrup. I quickly forked them onto a paper plate and smeared one with black currant Bonne Mamam, and carried my brioche out onto the deck, nestled into my chair, shooed Wilbur's too closely sniffing nose away, and bit into and chewed my first ever Parisian treat.
Awh, Frawn-say! Instantly I became a Francophile. Words cannot describe the soft browned crust followed by the buttery middle, a revelation of such utterly divine sensory fulfillment I almost cried out in joy! The doldrums were instantly vanquished, the rut escaped. Everything was now better. I was now going to depend solely on this new discovery, and abandon bread almost completely except for the occasional turkey sandwich. Brioche will be my lone luxury, though once or twice a month I will purchase a soft blueberry scone just so I don't become bogged down in new doldrums and o-d my desire for brioche.
While eliminating almost all bread, however, it will not deter me from still pursuing the ideal bread once I lose the 10 or 15 pounds, but that is in the future. For years, as a lean athlete, I made fun of my aging fat friends, calling them “human jello molds,” fatboy,” tubs of lard,” “blubber butts” and various demeaning names. No more, or at least until I shed this blubber from an onslaught of experimental bread consumption that has rendered my old baggy T shirts too tight for comfort.
My next quest? A bakery with fresh brioche, which might just force me farther afield.