Sunday, 21 May 2006

If you're going to San Francisco be sure to get some sour dough bread in your hair

Back when Jo & I were preparing a registry gift list for our wedding, we were a bit short on ideas. Being that we weren't short of anything in particular other than money for our mortgage and things that cost way more than anyone would care to bring us as a gift (and it's not like we're short on those, it's just that I wouldn't argue against, say, a nice DLP projector if one fell in my lap or rather got itself attached to our living room's ceiling), we allowed ourselves to go wild.
One of those wild ideas was a bread maker. I only had home made bread once before, at Uri's place; it was interesting, but I wasn't that big bread fan. But still, we added one to the list.
My brother picked up the challenge and got us this contraption, and since then we haven't bought a regular loaf of bread. It's all home made. Yes, we do use ready made mixes most of the time, but we also add our own secret ingredients to it (say, sunflower seeds or caraway). But we also adventure into the realms of baguettes or home made pizzas. Most of the time, though, it's just our favorite - whole meal bread with all sorts of grains (for the record, I was never a big fan of white bread, and now I can't stand it - I just find it dead boring; a waste of stomach space).
The main exception to this home made bread rule is sour dough bread. The problem with sour dough is that you need to cultivate and culture the yeast - you can only create it from live yeast, as opposed to the yeast powder you can get at the supermarket - and we couldn't be bothered. And the other problem with sour dough bread is that we really liked it.
So when we visited San Francisco back in August we followed the advice of our Eyewitness guidebook (recently sold on eBay) and while visiting Wharf 49 or whatever wharf number it was we had a go at the famous Boudin bakery (http://www.boudinbakery.com/) - supposedly, an establishment as old as the Milky Way galaxy, or something along these lines.
I was incredibly impressed. In fact, I think that sandwich would probably qualify as the best sandwich I've ever had: a whole meal sour dough bun with grains, roast beef meat that was so tasty yet so clean and devoid of ugly bits of fat and other stringy shit, and some vegetation that really went well with the sauce (there was avocado there, I'm sure of that).
I enjoyed it so much that a couple of hours later I devoured an entire loaf of that bread on its own.
Since then we tend to indulge ourselves with sour dough breads from time to time, usually from Brumby's on Hampton Street (it's pretty convenient as it's right next to the Video Ezy we rent our DVDs from).
This Saturday we went to do our monthly or so round of shopping at Aldi. We like going there because Aldi brings back a taste of Europe: Their chocolates, for example, are European ones. And they're cheap, so for much less than the Cadbury shit you get at regular Australian supermarkets you get genuine chocolate as opposed to a piece of tasteless sugar that's supposed to resemble chocolate (sadly, it seems like Australians are fucked when it comes to chocolate just like their American counterparts that are so used to Hershey's they don't realize how good real chocolate actually is). It's not only chocolate, though: Aldi's olive oil is superb (and cheap), their pasta sauces are tasty Italian stuff, and I can go on for much longer.
Aldi also has this thing where they sell stuff totally unrelated to food. We bought two DVD players there for ridiculous prices. They are not what I would call audiophile material, but they would play anything and they were dead cheap.
Then there's the Lebanese shop next to Aldi, that sells things like sunflower seeds - nothing as good as the ones you'd get in Israel, but beggars can't be choosers - or raw thina ("tahini paste" in Australian dialects) from Jordan or halva with pistachios from Saudi Arabia. It's cheap, too, so we really like the place.
Anyway, during this week's Aldi expedition we also gave the bakery that's right next to the Lebanese shop a visit, simply because we were really tired and hungry. We asked for sour dough options, and they had this model called "San Francisco", so as a tribute to my stomach's San Franciscan adventures we got it.
Now, don't ask me what's so San Francisco-i about that bread, but it tasted damn good. Whole meal, sour dough, lots of grains - my favorites (caraway, sesame, sunflowers). A real pleasure.
When we got home Jo used the bread to make us brochettes (excuse spelling). It's this Italian dish that's usually served as a starter where you get a piece of bread soaked in garlic and olive oil with tomatoes on top. Jo added some feta cheese and onions to the equation and it was a delight.
Which made me realize how my diet has changed since meeting Jo. Back in Israel most of what I ate involved pitas and humus. I would still kill for those, but there is so much variation in what we eat now. And it's also healthy, and it's also food that makes you feel better after you eat it (unlike English food [just had to add that comment]).
Eating is one of life's simple pleasures, and we're now consciously making an effort towards eating stuff made of fresh ingredients. We don't rely on "ready made stuff" much (and if we do, it's usually good stuff). Yes, I do eat junk, but things are just so much better after you eat good food made out of good ingredients. Yet another small revolution in my life.

2 comments:

K Williams said...

Spelling correction! It's Bruschetta (rather than brochettes, which are skewers of beef, chicken, lamb, vegetables or fruit and appear on menus in many French restaurants. Now, I am not showing off the fact that I have visited many French restaurants - no, i just copied it from http://frenchfood.about.com/cs/maincourses/a/brochette.htm

:)

Moshe Reuveni said...

Show off!
On that account I can definitely say that overall, the experience I have had with French food tops the list by quite a margin. That said, I think variety is the most important thing in food.