Il fornaio

June 11, 2012 Comments Off on Il fornaio

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Literally, “The Baker.”. This is another Mecca in the Roman bakery universe. It’s just north of Campo di Fiori, and does a brisk business selling pizzas to the crowds who can’t quite deal with the full-on market day atmosphere. Like Roscioli, it’s old school, stacked to the gills with bread, pastries, and pizza–and staff who clearly know their stuff. It’s bread by the kilo, so you either point at what you want in the case or, if they happen to be out of medaglione of whole wheat, the woman reaches up, grabs a loaf, and hacks off whatever amount you want. Almost. “Per uno, solo!” I protested, but apparently the knife only goes so close to the last cut. Not that it mattered–a couple of days’ worth ended up being €1.25, and I have to say after being here in 2008 when the euro was 2:1 to the dollar, it’s a kind of ecstasy to walk into a shop like this, buy something, and not cringe when you do the conversion.

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So there’s a genuine il Fornaio ciabatta with eggs and pancetta for breakfast this morning. It didn’t have quite the big air, but it had all the characteristics you’d expect–super light, super crispy crust, super chewy inside. That, from what I’ve been reading, is a result of really wet dough and the legendary “00” flour that I need to start playing with. Their pane integrale was superb as a sandwich bread, too, though I’m still more impressed with Roscioli and am thinking I may just go through their offerings day by day.

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Forno Roscioli

June 7, 2012 Comments Off on Forno Roscioli

20120607-075305.jpg. That, loyal readers, is a bakery…
While I’m in Rome to get some research started, I have a list of fornos that are, according to various sources, pilgrimages on the baking circuit. I stumbled across the first of them yesterday.

Forno Roscioli is between our studio and Campo di Fiori. I was on my way there to get stuff for dinner last night when I took one of those Rome wrong turns that ends up being more than right. The windows were full of pastries, and the entire alley smelled like bread. This was what was inside–floor to ceiling loaves, pies, cakes, and rolls, a pizza counter, three clearly overworked bakers and one old guy in the corner manning the cash register. I jostled my way in, trying not to drool, and came away with a couple of pane integrale rolls–semi-whole wheat ciabatta, sort of–and a couple of red pepper bread sticks. My counter Italian needs some work, and the woman serving me wasted no time in letting me know that, but I got my bread.

20120607-080453.jpg. And there it is, atop the largest salad I could fit in a bowl. Fresh mesclun, canned tuna (which is somehow done right here in ways the rest of the world hasn’t quite caught up to yet), peppers, cannelini beans, and–best of all–pickled zucchini. Not bad for a first night.

You read again and again that baking is a perfect obsession, because it’s pretty easy to make good bread, but really hard to make great bread. I don’t mind saying that I’m to the point where I can make good bread pretty consistently, but one bite of this stuff and you realize how far you have to go. Clearly, the higher protein flour does a lot for crispier outsides and chewer insides. I’ve got a line on 00 flour at home that should up the game a bit. But not this much…!

Oh, and the pastries on top and just about dead center are faggotini, which the boy and I made a few months back. Ours were, um, smaller.

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