Sunday, November 13, 2011

An essential boule.

Tarragon egg salad sandwich. © Ryan Schierling
Nostalgia… I feel like I've been swimming in it for months. Beginning with the old family recipes from our potato salad series this summer, my personal food-flow has seemed a constant stream of vintage recipe exploration. Lately, I've been feeling stuck in a quagmire of remembrance about food that has stood for more than a generation – however fascinating the narrative, quirky or delicious – and I was just starting to get uncomfortable.

The thing is, I genuinely adore those old recipes! I appreciate them like I appreciate an antique buffet with beautiful panels of quartersawn oak or a mahogany dressing chest with clean art deco curves. I treasure good things well made and believe they should be preserved. It's part of my fabric.

But while I deeply respect the craftsmanship and history of past days, I also can't ignore the innovations of the now, and the impulse to explore my own curious tangents and creative impulses.

And, so, the catalyst for my unsticking... bread. Well, bread and a favorite sandwich made with it.

My springboard was a surprise gift in the form of one of the most divine loaves of bread made in all of North America. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may have come to take this loaf for granted, as it is almost an "everyday" loaf to those in the know. Available at fine local grocers and at Trader Joe's, it is The Essential Baking Company's beautiful boule which is simply known as the Rosemary Diamante. This is no ordinary rosemary bread. It is an organic loaf that has the most amazing rustic texture with generous bubbles, large visible pieces of rosemary and a salted top that is so good you could cry. It is perfection toasted and buttered or simply mopping up an over-easy egg. With a creamy soft cheese such as brie, it could just be your whole dinner.

But the way I love it most dearly is with my egg salad. 

Rosemary Diamante. © Ryan Schierling
My recipe is simple but does all of my favorite things in a egg salad. First, it has the fresh crunch of diced celery, which also happens to add a gentle brightness along with the crisp texture. Second, it has real mayonnaise. Third, it has an egg's best friend... tarragon white wine vinegar. That is pretty much all – except for maybe a pinch of salt – that is required to make a generous dice of perfectly-hardboiled eggs sing. Because we have some very nice Mexican Mint Marigold (a southern substitute for the classic French Tarrragon) in the herb garden, I added some, minced, to enhance the tarragon flavor. 

I love the tang of tarragon white wine vinegar with eggs, so I usually end up adding just enough that the mayonnaise becomes a smidge thinner than "ideal" for holding together the eggs. But this doesn't bother me in the least; this egg salad sandwich evokes your every ooey gooey primal finger-licking instinct  – while still treating your tastebuds like a grownup. 

The warm chewy crunch of lightly-toasted Rosemary Diamante with the chilled egg salad is a delicious contrast in temperature (which also happens to be one of my favorite forms of contrast in the food world). The creaminess of the eggs and mayo with the crisp celery and fragrant vinegar are comforting and energizing all at once. 

A personal esculent happy place.


  1. We don't have too many traditions, but one of them is that on christmas eve we make grilled cheese sandwiches using this bread (to go along with a scratch tomato bisque). Then we watch Gremlins.

    It is our favorite bread. That salty top is our favorite part.

  2. That sounds like an awesome tradition! Tomato bisque is so comforting, too - perfect for a holiday.

    Have you ever tried using brie in your grilled cheese sandwiches? We have a hearty vegetable soup recipe we make a couple of times a year where at some point along the line I actually added the following note to the recipe...

    "SERVING SUGGESTION: Grilled cheese sandwiches made with brie on sliced rosemary diamante bread."

    That bread is a miracle.

  3. ate it. loved it. want more of it.

  4. Right there with you, Dawn. Craving this again...

  5. That is my favorite bread of all time! I love Essential Baking Company's Rosemary Bread. It's the best!


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