The Saving Grace of Siegel’s Bagels

Years ago, when I couldn’t sleep, long after midnight, I’d drive into the big city. It was strangely peaceful, alone in the car, a talk radio station playing quietly, the long road stretching out before me. I found it soothing and a welcome break from tossing and turning in bed.

Well, I admit there was also a little loneliness and sadness at the root of it.… Continue reading

My Healing Coffee Ritual

When the morning light brightens the windows and consciousness seeps through my slumber, I think of … coffee. Not in a Homer Simpson way (“Mmmm, coffee”), not enough to make me leap out of bed right away. Coffee’s more of an entry ramp to the new day. And there’s time to enjoy my Java across the morning.… Continue reading

The Nouveau Bread Basket

The bread basket that used to arrive at restaurant tables was mainly an afterthought. Remember them?

Thickly sliced white bread or bland, colourless buns that were even a bit stale at times. It was accompanied by a few pats of butter, often too cold to spread without tearing the crumb to shreds. We took them for granted, expected the servers to put them on the table.… Continue reading

A Baking Summit in the Loire Valley

A recent New York Times article described an impressive get-together of nine Europe-based bakers — a kind of summit of baking innovators gathering in a picturesque location, the Loire Valley in France.

They were celebrating the publication of a new book, New European Baking, by Berlin-based American baker Laurel Kratochvila and the conclusion of her promotional tour.… Continue reading

Bread from the Ashes of Pompeii

Fresco painting in Pompeii showing panis quadratus and basket of arculata (ring bread) in basket at left.

Somewhere, there’s a picture of Anne, my first wife and mother of my two kids. She’s kneeling next to a large basket of sesame-encrusted ring breads. I took the picture in Athens in 1980, our first trip abroad together.… Continue reading