Photo by Terrence Henry
Bread, when done right, is hard to beat. The right baguette or boule, with a crust that cracks and pops, and a crumb (the soft inner portion of the bread) that pulls apart like cotton candy--yeasty and moist cobwebs that practically melt in your mouth--can be euphoric.[Curator's note: Some people like cotton candy for a crumb, including our estimable writer! I agree about the pull-apart part, but like a little chew and heft. Everything else, right on.] A good baguette will entice you to try a bit as you leave the bakery; a great baguette will disappear well before you make it home.
But bread, when done anything other than right, can be downright devastating.
Washington, D.C., suffers from a dearth of quality bakeries, and I fear the same may be true for Buenos Aires. While there are plenty of bakeries in this city, and they make some truly fine pastries and cookies (which I'll post about later), I have yet to run into a great, or even good, baguette.
My hopes were built up for L'Epi Boulangerie, a French bakery in the Chacarita neighborhood. The place was started by two French expat bakers, Bruno Gillot and Olivier Hanocq, who found an old wood-burning bread oven dating to 1911 and opened their boulangerie to much acclaim. But like so many fallen greats, for their next step the two decided to become TV chefs. Their show, "Boulangerie: Con Bruno y Olivier" airs every weekday on Argentina's answer to the Food Network, El Gourmet. (Click here to watch a segment where they make "Foie Gras and Roasted Potato Sandwiches".)