Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Good, The Bad & The Baguette Smackdown

I have a love-hate thing with westerns. And okay, I have a love-hate relationship with lots of things, and westerns are just one thing in a long list. I loathe a great many Westerns; Gimp-a-licious and I have long debated the merits of several. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance? Sucks. Gimp-a-licious begs to differ, but he’s not going to hop over here and type his opinion, so he’s out of luck. The Wild Bunch? Pretty good (we’re in agreement there). Unforgiven? Blech. “I’m not like that any more, I’ve changed” ... after the 15th time Eastwood’s character said it I had long since snoringly grasped the idea that although a person might make an earnest effort to eschew a dark talent for mayhem, doesn’t mean they’ve managed to erase it, since (oh, what the hell, let’s borrow from another genre)... wherever you go, there you are. However, the music from many a western is both iconic and fun to listen to, and so I exhort you to think of the whistling with the guitar business from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, and I will explain The Baguette Smackdown, Part II. Seriously, get that music in mind. Let’s set the scene, shall we? Morning hockey in the Pacific Northwest. A long drive to the ice rink, down a highway (well, in parts, anyway, at least the ones not lined with car dealerships, strip malls and Boeing Field) lined with looming, dark evergreens and craggy hills, the deep blue mountains that hem the region brooding on the horizon. Not much is said in the car, as is right for the taciturn nature of Westerners getting ready to use their weapons (in this case, hockey sticks). Hockey is played (in Curly’s case, while wearing neon-pink hockey socks). Violence is received and inflicted (my boy managed to board himself- he was trying to make a hard turn at the boards and, erm, misjudged and started his turn tooooo late. It was like a Loony Tune, with my boy playing the part of Wile E. Coyote. Fortunately, he came up laughing), and then, then we headed out on our mission: to round up loaves for the Baguette Smackdown.

In the smackdown: one of our previous champs, Bakery Nouveau. Entering the fray: Columbia City Bakery and the Essential Baking Company. Saltimbocca alla romana was served with the breads (to help test sauce-sopping abilities). Baguettes were secretively sliced in the kitchen and put on plates with numbers. Essential Baking Company was out of the running almost instantly; the bread was actually okay, but it just wasn’t on par with the other two. It did, however, demonstrate superior sauce-sopping abilities.

The showdown between Bakery Nouveau and Columbia City Bakery ended in a draw. The breads are both excellent, with an almost shatteringly crisp crust on the Comubia City loaf, but a near perfect marriage of flavor and texture in the loaf from Bakery Nouveau. Votes were split. I know, it’s very exciting. Actually, even though it wasn't exciting, it was fun. And I admit, my attempt to make a bakery taste test comparable to the gunfight at the OK Corral is a little ridiculous, but, meh. We'll all get over it.

The upshot: our current leaders in the Battle of the Baguettes are Bakery Nouveau, Grand Central Baking Company and Columbia City Bakery. On another note, although the cupcakes from the Columbia City bakery (pictured above) are adorable, and the cake is quite, quite good, the frosting could use a little tweaking. If they adjust the frosting, they'd be the perfect cupcake to ride off into the sunset with.


Julie said...

I enjoy those quests for the best but I've never thought of doing a blind taste-test. Good idea. Mine have been more like a journey from restaurant to restaurant -- and never night after night, more like week after week or even month after month -- looking for the ultimate crabcake or the best canh chua tom or whatever kick I'm on at the moment. Sort of fun.

Meg said...

Julie- I have to admit, the head-to-head test (blind or not) is not something I can normally get it together for. My parents were around over the weekend and helping out, which made it easier (and gave us more voters, which in blind tests is a good thing). Usually, I do food comparison more like you, over a period of time, one by one, but that's pretty enjoyable, too. said...

loved it! I can picture you holding the baguette like a rifle.... the only problem is, I have the tune stuck in my head! great blog.

Meg said...

Thanks. The tune does have a way of staying in your head, doesn't it?