A Fine Expression of Brioche

They say happiness is without price…

Nonsense. It costs exactly three dollars and fifty cents.

I was in Minneapolis this weekend, and so I stopped for lunch at the French Meadow Bakery on Lyndale. I have been there before, for dinner, but this Friday I was hitting the bakery showcase. And there she was: of rich and tender crumb, a decadent puff of egg and butter held together by the perfect marriage of flour and cream.

Yes, friends: Brioche.

You might think, good heavens, she’s was a fromage-head, now she’s a brioche connoisseur. But truly, a lover of fine cheese always appreciates its wheaten accompaniments. Even if she is supposed to be gluten-free (In point of fact, I originally went to French Meadow because they have gluten free options…oh well. We can’t win them all.)

Brioche is often served as a dessert, and this one was filled with Nutella. Someday I shall have to blog on the wonders of this Italian delicacy, originally the culinary brain-child of Pietro Ferrero. For now, suffice to say I was transported–elated–annoying to my fellow diners in my profuse admiration of the combo. I have had brioche in less decadent arrangements, however. I supped on brioche and goat’s milk cheddar in Lexington, KY. I used to get brioche “buns” on the sandwiches served at L’Albatros (see blog post for more on that pleasant locale). I have heard it may be served with beef en croute, and I imagine it is wonderful with fois gras.

But there is more to this than meats the pie–

Good brioche is hard to find, frankly. Even in Cleveland, I used to put in special orders to the same woman who baked them for L’Albatros. Here in Minnesota, I have had even less luck. The French Meadow is a wonderful option, but it is also a four-hour journey (two hours each way). And so, this delicate and highly enriched pastry has come to represent, in both its rarity and its worthiness, near-unattainable perfection. Aren’t we all searching for a little brioche? A little bit of heavenly delight on the terra-firma?

I have been seeking the brioche of personal expression. My students, who will be reading from their fiction portfolios in a week’s time, have been hunting for the brioche of creative achievement. This late in the semester, most of my colleagues could use the brioche of personal down time. And let’s face it, don’t we all need a little brioche of love??

She’s gone too far–you say. It is only egg bread!

Ah. But it is more. It is 3.50 of happiness, with cafe au lait on the side.

Bon Appétit!

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