New Orleans chefs master the art of sandwiches on fresh
Back to Main MenuReal Estate TransfersBack to Main MenuLocal Grocery AdsSpecial SectionsLocal AdsLagniappeJulia Child blew through 284 pounds of flour and spent nearly a year pulling crusty loaves from a 450 degree oven as she worked to perfect her baguette recipe. The recipe, first published in the second edition of her the Art of French Cooking, runs to 12 pages of dauntingly detailed descriptions and sketch drawings in my soft cover edition.I recalled Child recipe after Megan Forman, the pastry chef and owner of the new Gracious Bakery Caf in Mid City, told me about her various baking experiments. Before opening the caf she bought a 50 pound sack of flour.was experimenting a lot at home. I was baking all the time, she said. had a lot of different breads, and we were going to the park with my daughter and feeding the ducks. My daughter thought I was baking it for the ducks. Gracious, one of a growing number of local cafes presenting elegant sandwiches on fresh baked breads, Forman bakes baguettes, as well as ciabatta, Kaiser rolls, green onion slab breads and a host of pastries and desserts each morning. She sells the baguettes at the caf and at Martin Wine Cellar and Hollygrove Market, and uses the breads to craft her sandwich pandora charms uk es.The green onion bread provides a golden frame for a tarragon chicken salad sandwich topped with pickled pink onions. A star of the lineup is the thick sliced smoked ham baguette, dressed with a sharp cheddar spread, pepper jelly and the crunch of green apple slices. Each bite yields a balance of tang, sweet and smoke.Gracious is the type of breakfast and lunch spot every neighborhood needs. It specializes in fresh green salads, sandwiches, just out of the oven pastries (try the Cruffin, a flaky croissant dough rolled in hazelnut paste and baked in a muffin cup) and desserts so eye catching it’s hard to tear yourself away from the pastry case at the front counter.The place is more modern than homey, set in the sunny front corner of the angular Woodward Design+Build headquarters on Jefferson Davis Parkway.Forman is a pastry chef who trained at the New England Culinary Institute and worked for Sucre dessert boutique and Bayona restaurant after spending time in New York kitchens such as Park Avenue Caf and Payard. (Her sourdough starter was a casu pandora charms uk alty of the storm.)A French baguette is a marvel of baking. The inside is riddled with spongy open cells encased in a crusty exterior that yields a chewy crunch. While New Orleans po boy bread has a light, airy crispness, traditional French loaves have muscle.Child summed it up like this: fine loaf of the plain French bread, the long crackly kind a Frenchman tucks under his arm as he hurries home to the family lunch, has a very special quality. Its inside is patterned with holes almost like Swiss cheese, and when you tear off a piece it wants to come sideways; it has body, chewability and tastes and smells of the grain. baguettes that provide the foundation for the open faced sandwiches at Tartine, another breakfast and lunch cafe, achieve Child standard. This hidden gem is located in the bend of a leafy side street Uptown. Its shaded patio has become a favorite spot for staffers walking distance away at Tulane University Uptown Square complex.A tartine is the French name for a snack of baguettes smeared with butter and jam, or more savory toppings, which is how the caf translates the sandwich.One of its tartines comes slathered with mild pork rillettes, onion marmalade and butter and topped with a trio of cornichons per slice. The ham tartine, my favorite, breaks the open faced rule, instead sandwiching the meat with slabs of triple cream brie and fig mustard between a hinged baguette. On recent visits, it came with a light pasta salad.Pastry chef and owner Cara Benson grew up enjoying jam and butter on toast pandora charms uk ed French bread for breakfast with her grandmother, a native of Luxembourg. That Proustian memory of flavor and family was part of the inspiration for the cafe.A New Orleans native, Benson met her husband, Evan, while they both were attending the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. He was in the savory program, while she was on the pastry side. After working in New York, they moved back to New Orleans, where Cara Benson previously was the pastry chef for Muriel Jackson Square.Evan Benson is the executive chef of Joel Grand Cuisine catering company and has the Tuesday night seafood centric pop up Roosterfish at Tartine. He also is responsible for the caf pates and rillettes.The bread baking at Tartine starts at 4:30 in the morning, filling the small restaurant with the humid, warmth of baguettes, ciabatta, focaccia and multigrain loaves rising in the oven. In addition to tartines, t pandora charms uk he breads make appearances in conventional sandwiches, of which the house smoked turkey on multigrain is really a star, livened up by a roasted garlic aioli, gruyere and avocado.There also are muffins, house made bagels and salads. A recent special featured roasted vegetables and ribbons of caramelized onions on flatbread.On Wednesday morning, just before 8, the scent of baking bread made me want to linger on the sidewalk of Oak Street, outside the new French style bakery that began cranking out loaves last summer.Breads on Oak is only open Thursdays through Sundays, but I knocked on the screened side door and begged to buy a loaf of the just pulled from the oven baguettes.