When you think of France, leisurely strolls down cobblestone roads and a basket filled with a baguette and a bottle of wine might come to mind. In Miami, swap medieval city streets with sandy shorelines and wine for an overdone, handcrafted cocktail. Keep the baguette though, as the 305 has a smatter of French-inspired bakeries and eateries that specialize in crafting the most authentic breads.
If you ask a local where to get a quality baguette, they'll likely babble off a few city staples, like Zak the Baker, True Loaf, or the newly-opened Bachour Bakery. But French Morning, an online French culture magazine, wants a firm answer, which is why it's hosting the city's first-ever "best baguette" competition.
"It's actually a really good question to ask," French Morning's Marion Menand says. "Instead of just writing an article, we decided to ask our readers and make an actual event."
On Thursday, April 14, the National Hotel will transform into a boulangerie, bringing bakers, foodies, and Francophiles together for an evening of bread breaking and wine drinking. Every baker and pastry-maker will present their baguettes and artisan breads in front of a panel of judges during a blind-tasting contest, with one baguette crowned as "best" by the end of the soiree. An audience choice will be selected too.
"People will be able to taste all the different breads with cheeses and charcuterie," Menand says. "At the end of the night, a favorite baguette will be chosen."
Menand says the winning baguette should be a blend of golden-brown and yellow in color, and maintain a soft and fluffy inside texture with a slight outer crunch. Its shape is important too as the word "baguette" is latin for “little rod,” meaning each one should be long, but not too thick.
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Miami's nine competing finalists, based off of readers responses in French Morning, include Patrick Baboun (Délices de France), Georges Berger (Chocolate Fashion), David Loprete (Pause Café), Arthur Arnaize (L'Épicerie Wynwood), David Thau (La Provence), Sébastien Sangely (Tulipe Café), Tomas Strulovic (True Loaf), Alibey Embarek (La Parisienne), and Bernard Casse and Matthieu Cartron (Croissan'Time). Their baguettes' fate lies with a panel of judges including Juvia's Gregory Gourreau, Paris Gourmet's Sylvain Leroy, the Diplomat's Christian Rassinoux, the National Hotel's Matthew McDonald, and French television producer Charly Nestor.
Miami's "best baguette" competition marks French Morning's second event of its kind, with its initial launch in New York in January 2016. Menand describes the first battle as a success and says she has high hopes for Miami.
"It definitely exceeded our expectations," she says. "Everyone was very excited about it. The families, the bakers, and the guests were all very into it."
"We really just wanted to make an event that is based on our content and our community," she adds. "We want to make this a tradition here in Miami and in our other main locations."
French Morning's Best Baguette Miami 2016
Sponsored by La Compagnie, Île de France, and Cacao Noël, tickets are priced at $20 per person, which includes bread tasting and a selection of cheeses and charcuterie. The event begins at 7 p.m. Purchase at eventbrite.com.