Giant rounds of Jewish-style onion-rye bread float through my dreams, float through clear blue sky, float in slow motion as though taking part in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Behind the rye are enormous loaves of pumpernickel bread, hearty grain breads encrusted with oats and seeds, bright yellow challah breads, German brown breads, Italian semolinas, dark and crusty French baguettes, all sailing by as I watch with wistful, salacious yearning.
I wouldn't have dreams like this if Miami would get some first class bakeries on board that know how to bake great loaves of bread.
Yes, we do have a few bakeries that produce decent-enough breads (La Provence French Bakery, Paul Bakery Cafe, Epicure Gourmet Market to name a few). But I'm not talking about decent-enough breads, or even good breads. I want the type of bakery that makes the whole damn block smell like flour and yeast, the type where people line up out the door in the morning to grab breads as they fly from the ovens, and, perhaps most importantly, the type that wholesales to restaurants.
Last week I questioned the bread selection at Crumb On Parchment, but in fact sandwiches all over town are made with middling quality loaves. The selections are often varied -- croissant, baguette, whole wheat, ciabatta, bagel, and wrap to name a few. The bread, however, never stands out.
Bouchon Bakery? OK, we'll take it.
Bread baskets aren't much better. Sometimes they can be rewarding at upscale hotel restaurants, as these venues can afford pastry chefs that bake for the property at large. Otherwise, however, the role of pre-dinner breads at Miami dining establishments is often less to impress than to simply stave off clientele hunger before the first course. Or to put it another way: What passes for fantastic bread here is the frozen par-baked type that gets finished in the oven and served warm and "fresh."
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Miami has been making leaps and bounds in its quest to become a first-class food city. But it can't be done without great bread. It just can't.
BTW: If we need to import a branch of an already existing world class outlet, I'd be more than satisfied with Bouchon Bakery. Like maybe in Midtown. You reading this Keller? Because business opportunites like this don't come around every day.