You’d expect a pastry chef who’s pretty much nailed the art of the perfect pie crust not to be blown away by any old traditional pastry. Mastery of something as simple as a crust or shell or loaf of bread takes a long, long time. But when a fellow chef for Andrew Carmellini brought an everything baguette from nearby Arcade Bakery (220 Church Street; 212-227-7895) into Locanda Verde (377 Greenwich Street; 212-925-3793), pastry chef Kierin Baldwin was floored, and returned for more of the best thing she ate last month.
“I tasted these for the first time when the chef de cuisine at the Dutch was here for a meeting and walked in with this hot, fresh baguette. He ripped me off a piece, and it was amazing, just so crisp and fresh. As a pastry chef, I’m somebody who eats a lot of starch, so there are very few things that make me go out of my way to add more sugar or flour in my life during my free time. I’d been to Arcade before, but I usually run in there on the early side of the morning. Since they have a schedule for when things come out of the oven every day, I never get to try things that come out later, like this. The baguette was so amazing that I had to look it up to see what was different about it, and go back again for it again.
“So I went back when they were fresh out of the oven and they were just delicious the second time. I got the sea salt and the everything, with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and salt, and brought them back to work.
“Normally baguettes don’t have butter in them. The thing that’s so amazing about them is that they’re basically a baguette wrapped in laminated dough: a baguette which is already delicious wrapped in butter, which is even more delicious. Butter and salt are key ingredients in my pastry kitchen, two kind of jokes that never get old. That’s why it appealed to me: It’s flaky like a croissant on the outside from all that butter, and then has a nice chew of a baguette in the center. It’s absolutely delicious. When I brought them back I made our chef de cuisine, Damian, try them, and he immediately went back and got one of his own.”
Where do chefs go to eat on their nights off? We’re asking them — and they’re divulging the best things they’ve eaten in the last month in this weekly column. Read more in the archives of The Best Thing I Ate This Month.