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A Decent Freaking Baguette - A Pipe Dream (No Longer?)


Waitman
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A lot of bakers make good bread that I like. The sourdough and the rye from Atwater, the Pugliese from Quail Creek, even the some of the corporate artisanal stuff from Pain Quotidian. But I am increasingly convinced that there hasn't been a decent baguette in this town since before the Bread Line got sold. The other day I broke down and bought a baguette from Marvelous Market and it seemed as good as anything around. It's all edible. It's none of it memorable. You know what I need: a rich brown crust that audibly crackles as you tear through it, enveloping a creamy, bubbly mie that taste of yeast and heaven and the finest flour.

And, speaking of heaven, coming back from the morning errands to a crispy little ficelle smeared with sweet butter and enclosing sliced of hard salami or saucisson sec, washed back with a rustic red wine is pretty close, as well. I don't think they exist at all any more.

Any suggestions?

(Anyone suggesting Bonapart Bakery will be shot, by the way).

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[The following posts have been split into separate threads:

Fresh Baguette (Rhone1998)]

Edited by DonRocks
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But I am increasingly convinced that there hasn't been a decent baguette in this town since before the Bread Line got sold.

Have you tried the one at G Street Food? They have a couple different kinds, and it's the guy from Breadline, right? They seem fine to me.

They have a french sandwich with sweet butter and ham, too.

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The last U St. farmers' market is this upcoming Saturday.

Word from a very opinionated Italian (redundant, I know) former chef is that the non-Atwater baker there produces outstanding baguettes. I also understand you cannot rely on finding them, so get there early just in case.

Otherwise, I suggest inviting Sam Fromartz over for cassoulet. Exaggerate the number of guests and hope he'll ask what he should bring.

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Have you tried the one at G Street Food? They have a couple different kinds, and it's the guy from Breadline, right? They seem fine to me.

They have a french sandwich with sweet butter and ham, too.

Do they sell loose baguettes?

A jambon buerre is a great thing, but not as great as the ficelle (which means a higher crust-to-bread ratio, but a lower bread-to-cured pork ratio) hard sausage combo.

Patrick Deiss makes an extra fine baguette.

Falls Church -- I am the kind of person who would spend two hours driving to the 'burbs for a loaf of bread, but it better be damn good. What if the Pain de Campagne is brilliant but the baguette merely OK?

The last U St. farmers' market is this upcoming Saturday.

Word from a very opinionated Italian (redundant, I know) former chef is that the non-Atwater baker there produces outstanding baguettes. I also understand you cannot rely on finding them, so get there early just in case.

Otherwise, I suggest inviting Sam Fromartz over for cassoulet. Exaggerate the number of guests and hope he'll ask what he should bring.

I had high hopes for the baker at U Street but was un-blown away. Though, as I recall, he had a decent ficelle. I'll have to drop back by.

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Falls Church -- I am the kind of person who would spend two hours driving to the 'burbs for a loaf of bread, but it better be damn good. What if the Pain de Campagne is brilliant but the baguette merely OK?

Well, If I were looking for a baguette, Patrick's baguette would be my first choice. I don't know your particular tastes, but Pat's is the closest to the bread served with my favorite petit dejeuner in Paris, (butter and jelly-YUM).

He's also my pal, so I may be biased...It's also only 5 minutes from my house.

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I have heard good things about the baguettes at Saint Michel Bakery in Rockville (but have not tried them myself). They sell at the Farmwoman's Market in Bethesda.

They're not good. The croissants are good. The pain au chocolate are good. The canneles are good. The baguettes are not.

Waitman, I think you've just given me an excuse to go to Praline again; their other breads are excellent, but I don't know about the baguette yet. (Just what I need, an excuse to go to Praline; if I don't start walking there instead of driving I'm gonna gain the weight back right quick.)

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American Gourmet, a food wholesaler, sells frozen par-baked baguettes that are very good and are even used by some well known restaurants in DC.

I am appalled that gentleman of you esteemed good taste would even suggest such a thing. Is this what the movement from the Richard Universe to the Landrum Universe has done? God knows, soon you'll be recommending Zinfandels instead of Chateauneuf, and life as we know it will cease.

Yes. One is the "straight" kind, and the other is jagged, with much more crust. I think both are $2.50?

I convinced myself that a brisk walk would mean I didn't have to go to the gym and hence sojourned G Street-ways and found that the baguette (do they only sell the submarine-sized or was I just late?) was indeed a fine one. I could have done with a little more brown and heft in the crust, but the innards were light, chewy and delightful. The Palladin was however, strangely unlike an actual Palladin, or at least the previous iterations thereof.

If you like the ones from Beck, I know that Wiedmaier's butcher shop in Alexandria sells them. They bake them throughout the day, so you can rely on them being fresh.

I like their bread but it doesn't strike me as the "proper" baguette that I'm craving.
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Waitman, I think you've just given me an excuse to go to Praline again; their other breads are excellent, but I don't know about the baguette yet. (Just what I need, an excuse to go to Praline; if I don't start walking there instead of driving I'm gonna gain the weight back right quick.)

NOTE: Praline does NOT bake their own baguettes. I know this because Praline has a stand at the Rockville Farmers Market, a producers only market, and they can bring all of their products except their baguettes, because those are contract baked for them somewhere else.

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What about Patisseries by Randolph in Arlington? I think their baguettes and croissants are quite good. They are one of the few places in DC where I can find croissants that taste like they do in France. I haven't had a baguette in a while but remember it being very good when I had one.

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The best baguette I have had in a long while is sold at Cork and Fork (a wine shop) on 14th St.  He only carries them on Saturdays, and he won't say where they are baked (the most I've gotten out of the owner is that "a friend" makes them for him).  Has anyone else tried these?

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From my perspective, this issue has been resolved. I'm in Arlington, and as a result have easy access to LeoNora, which is every bit as good as the baguettes I ate in Paris recently. On top of LeoNora, you can get excellent baguettes at all of the local cheese shops (arrowine, cheesetique, cowgirl) and direct from Lyon Bakery at Union Market 6 days a week. Rounded off nicely with great baguettes at the various farmers markets. Admittedly, Paris we ain't - we'll likely never have great baguettes in every neighborhood. But we come a long way, and with a little effort, you can absolutely get your hands on a high quality baguette any day of the week.

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From my perspective, this issue has been resolved. I'm in Arlington, and as a result have easy access to LeoNora, which is every bit as good as the baguettes I ate in Paris recently. On top of LeoNora, you can get excellent baguettes at all of the local cheese shops (arrowine, cheesetique, cowgirl) and direct from Lyon Bakery at Union Market 6 days a week. Rounded off nicely with great baguettes at the various farmers markets. Admittedly, Paris we ain't - we'll likely never have great baguettes in every neighborhood. But we come a long way, and with a little effort, you can absolutely get your hands on a high quality baguette any day of the week.

Was just going to post the same question that Waitman posed in the original post of late 2009 but for DC. DC since I well know that LeoNora is the best in our region available at retail and I'm not aware of any place in the District that comes close to what Carolina does.  At least until Mark's new spot opens, hopefully earlier rather than later in 2014.

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Yes.  I bought a ficelle.  Nice flavor, crumb neither too dense nor too airy, golden crust barely crispy.  I wouldn't know an authentic baguette if I tripped over one, but I thought this a very good loaf of bread.

I spoke at length with one on the bakers and sampled some of the pastries, but not extensively enough to compare to other nearby places.  Dude knows what he's doing, though.  I have hopes for this place.

Me too. Ficelle, plus a croissant and a pain de chocolat. Good stuff, all.

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What about Patisseries by Randolph in Arlington? I think their baguettes and croissants are quite good. They are one of the few places in DC where I can find croissants that taste like they do in France. I haven't had a baguette in a while but remember it being very good when I had one.

An update (four years later) about Pastries by Randolph. When Arrowine was out of LeoNora baguettes a few months ago, I got one here, and it was really bad - about the same quality you'd get at Harris Teeter. This could be random variance, I'm not sure.

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I have had pretty spotty results with baguettes from Lyon Bakery at Union Market - something that was hammered home by the still-warm LeoNora baguette I scored from Arrowine last week.  I'm not saying Lyon is selling day old bread on Sundays, but if that was confirmed it wouldn't surprise me.

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