A Tale of Two Loaves
I was just in New York. I lived there for a few years in the late nineties. New York is full of great stuff, as is LA, but one of the things I miss most, on coming home, is the bread. In New York, you go to a market (usually little, individually owned markets), who get loads of delicious bread all the time. This bread is nearly anonymous, but always delicious and all different types – baguettes, challah, wheat. One of my favorites is a small, round Portuguese loaf, with four small points rising out of the center. It was great to buy a loaf and split it with cheese or hummus for an easy meal.
In LA, bread is a whole different animal – either it’s a big deal, special bread from Il Fornio or La Brea Bakery, branded within an inch of its life, available only at classy restaurants like Bread Bar. We have bakeries, but they're really sandwich shops or dessert purveyors. The more anonymous types sold at markets only seem to approximate bread, either too thin and airy (Ralph’s, Vons) or kinda bitter even (Whole Foods.) Sure, you could bake your own. But who's going to do that?