Moving to Amherst after living in Paris for a year and a half, I pretty much decided that certain foods were now part of memory, bread in particular. (And happily realized tout suit that this area has ingredients France doesn't have--corn to die for, better ice cream, heirloom tomatoes, zebra tomatoes, kielbasa, better apples, maple anything, its own outstanding potatoes, decent bakeries, great beer--oui, especially great beer). In Paris, my husband and I had lived between two outstanding bakeries--Gosselin and Eric Kayser. One was Michaelangelo; the other Leonardo. We particularly favored Kayser's soughdough batard--crusty, chewy, yeasty, hole-y. Au revoir Paris batard.
Then yesterday, while on an Italian sausage mission at Serio's on State St. in Northampton, I felt a powerful bread force pull me into the crosswalk to a charming brick building across the street. It was late in the day and all the specialty breads were gone. But there were still about a half dozen of their batards left. (This is a HEAVY bread, not too sexy looking--solid oblong loaf-y loaf.) So I got one. Five bucks. Ouch.
But well worth it since I never got around to making dinner. Once home--not sure I ever took off my jacket--I got out our big wooden breadboard and strong bread knife and applied some muscle to the crust and sliced through. Just the slicing process transported me back to France! Then I bit into it sans butter, oil, or anything. I could've closed my eyes and been back at the kitchen counter at the apartment we lived in in Paris. We never could wait to bring bread to the table. This had the same correct amount of sourness, crustiness, density, yet loads of air holes so essential to any kind of bread. "How do they do that dense/air thing?" Pretty soon my husband and I were standing at this kitchen counter with glasses of red wine and a hunk of outstanding local cheddar cheese from Serio's. We devoured all but the heel of the batard.
This morning I called Hungry Ghost in between slices of the heel, which I slathered with raspberry jam--told the guy who answered this was right up there with the astounding Eric Kayser batard. Then I licked raspberry jam from my fingers so I wouldn't smudge my keyboard and typed this paen to Northampton's French batard.