Sometimes at the Serious Eats office, you'll find our central table strewn with random foodstuffs.
(Okay, you'll often find our table strewn with random foodstuffs. Last week we had Ed's leftovers from Primehouse, along with bits and pieces from a Citarella gift bag. Sometimes there's no extra food to be found. Dark days, those are. My body, so used to the jittery state brought on by an onslaught of excess fat- and carb-based calories, doesn't know what to do with itself.)
A few weeks ago we got the very best random foodstuff of them all. A loaf of semi di sesamo from Sullivan Street Bakery:
- Dough blob. Photograph from sullivanstreetbakery.com.
If it were a human, it'd be that thick lump of a kid with a splotchy face strewn with acne. Luckily, it's a loaf of bread, so the craggly, sesame seed-encrusted look is a good thing.
Someone had already ripped a few chunks out of the bulbous loaf. I reached in to continue its destruction, not expecting much aside from a carb-laden snack.
Upon first chew: "Mm, this is quite good."
A few seconds later: "...Wait, this is, like, really good."
A few more seconds later: "Damn this...this is...wow..."
And later: "This is no ordinary bread." [grabs another fistful of bread]
And then: "This is the best bread I've had in ages." [fistful, another]
And a few chunks later: "I CANNOT STOP EATING THIS BREAD, MUST CONTINUE EATING FOREVER."
So that's that. I wish I had taken a photo of the bread to show you the beauty of its crust and hole structure, but we'll just have to rely on these thingies...called...words. The innards have that perfect (and I hate to say "perfect," but I think it is just about perfect) balance of resilient chewiness, tenderness, airiness, and moistness. The crust is thick and crunchy, but not too much of either. The combination of gluten-y innards and a solid crust could easily lead to jaw fatigue or the roof of your mouth being ravaged by daggers of crispified dough, but it does neither, thus allowing you to eat, and eat, and eat, unbound by the limits of the frail human body. ...Until your stomach feels like it's going to explode, at which point you should stop.
Oh, and it has a flavor, of course. Warm sesame seed goodness on the outside, sweet mellow...breadiness...on the inside. Or something. While a thick chunk of the stuff would be a fantastic conveyor of butter or oil, this bread doesn't need extra fat (or extra anything) to taste like awesome. I've eaten a good deal of bread this year (I remember our best bread baskets in NYC tasting quite fondly) but I think this was my favorite bread of 2010.
Now I just need to drag myself to Hell's Kitchen to get myself another loaf.
ADDENDUM (later in the day): Sofia's comment below reminded me that Sullivan Street Bakery used to be on...Sullivan Street. In its place is now Grandaisy Bakery, the sister bakery of Sullivan Street Bakery, sort of (read about it on Serious Eats, but if you want a quick summary: Sullivan Street Bakery's two partners split, leaving one to run Sullivan Street Bakery and the other to start Grandaisy while using the same recipes), and it has most of the same bread as Sullivan Street Bakery, as far as I can tell. If visiting one of Grandaisy's three locations is easier than going to Sullivan Street Bakery, you should check it out. I haven't done a taste test between the two, but the bread I've had from Grandaisy is great.
Update (12/29/10): I bought a loaf of this bread from Whole Foods on Bowery last night and...it wasn't quite as good as I remember. :( Maybe it wasn't as fresh. Oh well. I'm eating some of it now, a day old, and it's still quite tasty. The crust is saturated with toasted sesame seed awesomeness.