Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The New York Baguette Search: Results

I had high hopes for my New York City baguette search.  Armed with Internet research and recommendations from seasoned New Yorkers I hoped to test a solid half-dozen or so loaves in an attempt to find an acceptable stateside version of France's daily bread.  But as so often happens when I move to a new city, I thought I had all the time in the world to explore everything, only to remember, much too late, that time flies.  Especially when you’re having fun.  Before I knew it, moving had begun and my exploring had come to an end.  I did, however, manage to sneak in a taste-test of two baguettes.

Baguette # 1 - The Greenmarket Baguette

Who says France has all the best outdoor markets?  New York City’s Greenmarket organization has put together an impressive multi-borough schedule of farm fresh produce, humanely-raised meat, and all manner of locally-sourced/crafted/raised products.  The best Greenmarket of all is at Union Square, where the Saturday morning selection (and crowd) is impressive.  One stand promised “French-style baguettes,” so I swung by to make a purchase. But the minute I felt that dense-yet-soft stick of bread I knew they were imposters.  Sure enough, a tasting back at home revealed a total lack of flavor, an overly chewy interior, and absolutely none of that satisfying crunch you find with a true French baguette.  I didn’t eat more than a couple of bites before tossing this faux French bread into the trash where it belonged.  Beurk!

Baguette #2 - The Murray's Cheese Shop Baguette

Murray’s Cheese Shop is a swanky fromagerie located in the heart of the West Village.  I headed over there after work one evening with a mad craving for a simple dinner of charcuterie and cheese on a baguette.  It didn’t disappoint: The salami and Cremeux de Bourgogne were expensive but delicious.  The baguette?  It was good.  Not airy-and-light good, but rather airy-and-heavy (yes, that’s possible) good.  In fact, I wouldn’t call this “baguette” a baguette at all. It’s more like a “tradition,” which is one of the many varieties of long sticks of bread one finds in a French boulangerie.  A “ficelle” is another example.  When I lived in Paris I used to order “une tradi” on a regular basis to go with dinner, so I enjoyed sampling a version of this bread in New York City.  But I wasn’t able to find a true French baguette in the Big Apple.  Any suggestions for next time?

If you go:

Union Square Greenmarket
Runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday
Union Square West, New York City
Subway: Union Square 14th Street

Murray’s Cheese
254 Bleecker St., second location at 43rd and Lexington
Blissfully un-French in that it's open seven days a week!


Zhu said...

The second one looks pretty good to me!

I settled with rye bread in Canada, baguettes go bad too fast.

Katrina Uhly said...

I'm trying to do the same thing in Boston - it's been fun visiting the different bakeries, but the results have been disappointing so far...