Pan, Pan, PAN!

April 25, 2011

Simple, delicious.

In the weeks before our holiday, J and I largely avoided bread, pasta and other simple carbohydrates. Now, anyone who knows me is aware I have a weakness for noodles, making this current diet a hardship (and making me cranky) at times, but I stuck with it nonetheless. And, except for the travel day which presented bland in-flight versions of the starchiest kind — chicken and white rice for dinner, egg on an English muffin for breakfast and a dry ham and cheese sandwich for lunch — we have, for the most part, been able to avoid overloading on carbs. That is, until yesterday when I may have met my match: the warm-out-of-the-oven, crusty exterior/pillowy-soft interior baguettes served in some restaurants and cafes.

Our first encounter with these treats was at Hontanares. While we consumed none at the time, the bocadillo (sandwich) action behind the counter caught my eye: a woman toasting fresh baguettes on the grill, then assembling the most simple, but delicious-looking, subs with jamón, queso, sausages or vegetables.

My friend agrees: No pasta, no happy.

An hour or so later, during our meal at La Finca de Susana, the waitress came by with smaller, pointier versions of the baguettes. Without ceremony, she placed them next to our plates. To break into one is something for the senses: The crust is crisp, but not too much so; the interior is soft and steaming, and neither the word chewy nor spongy fully describes the consistency, though those qualities exist. It’s soft, light and dense all at once. No homemade bread has ever matched this.

Today, after several hours touring the Reina Sofia and haunted by the assemblage of the sandwiches, we headed back to Hontenares. I ordered a Baguette Alemán — a toasted baguette topped with nothing more than halved sausages (frankfurters, really) and melted cheese. It was a good 12 inches long, and I halved it so J could try. (I gave him an inch and he took four or five!) Moments later, like a wisp of silk scarf disappearing around a corner, it was gone. Panicked, I contemplated ordering another, but I came to my senses. There is always mañana.

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2 Responses to “Pan, Pan, PAN!”

  1. Lizbeth said

    Noodles — YES!! I love your descriptions. Thank you.

  2. […] sourdough bread with a pillowy interior, crunchy exterior. I think we all know how we feel about that. A couple of glasses of crisp Columbia Valley sauvignon blanc to round it all out, and we were […]

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