What Bread Is The Healthiest?
Indy

How many courses of bread is too many courses of bread? How many sandwiches are too many to stand? When does a loaf of sourdough weigh so heavy on the soul that you, yourself, become sour?

Answers to all these questions and more are what I sought at Asda's pop-up bread restaurant, Baker’s Dozen, in London, where I was treated to 13 courses of bread-centred meals, partnered with 13 glasses of carefully selected wines for good measure.

Going out for a meal is an exercise in pageantry. I don't have to tell you that we all need food to survive, but making it pop with rituals and theatrics is just one of the things we do to make life fun. We eat with our mouths, but also with our eyes and arguably our minds, so why not amp it up by dressing up and going out to do it? Or swapping three-course meals with taster menus? Or eating a lot of bread?

After all, there's a reason we don't sit at home with IV drips providing us with vital nutrients, but in Liz Truss's world (well, for the next week anyway) where we are all either agents of economic growth or enemies of the state, maybe that will become a reality to make us all more productive.

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Anyway, no other time is this truth about the theatre of dining out thrown into more stark relief than when a beaming man presents a tapas-sized triangle cheese toastie on a slate plate smeared with a dignified blob of ketchup before a sommelier explains which wine has been paired with the post-night-out snack.

MenuKate Plummer

There's of course more to say, but a detailed review of 13 plates of yeasty rolls would simply be too many words to digest so let's keep it pacey.

Sourdough dipped in chicken fat whipped butter - hot.

Bread salad with a random anchovy floundering on top - not.

Croutons with gazpacho soup (and the menu puts it that way round because bread is centre-stage in this restaurant, lest we forget) - hot.

Croque Monsieur - not.

Then there are the courses that deserve more than a few crumbs of response. When I saw 'sourdough with marmite butter and pecorino' on the menu, I thought "great." You either love Marmite or hate it, so they say, and I'm lucky enough to be among the former group. But how good could the simple breakfast snack be?

Very. The deep-fried cubes of bread were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside - the perfect texture. Take that and the fact they were soaked in just enough Marmite sauce to be salty but not overpowering, and then elevated with the complementary flavour of grated cheese fluffed on top and you've got yourself the perfect morsel.

Sourdough with marmite and pecorinoKate Plummer

There's a special place in my heart reserved for the Welsh Rarebit too. Soft cheese sauce laid down across a crunchy piece of bread makes for a symbiotic duo of flavours and textures. I don't know what they did to that slice of bread for it to slap so hard, but slap it did.

Then there were chunks of dry fried tortilla wrap. It came with yet more cheese and no sauce to provide that much-needed variety of flavour which they rightly say is the spice of life.

And while committing to the theme so much to have not one but two bread-based puddings was admirable, a slice of bread soaked in a fruity sauce and dressed up to look like a cake with berries (or 'Autumn pudding') tasted so savoury it felt like a prank, not a dessert.

Brown bread ice cream though... would surprisingly lick again. Mainly because it somehow tasted exactly like whipped brown sugar.

Aside from the taste, there's something to be said about the chaotic effect eating 13 separate courses of bread (and 13 separate glasses of wine) in a punctuated procession has on the mind. Of course, the portions in a 13-course meal have to be pretty small so when I hoover up one course at a lightning pace my dining companion tactfully likens me to a Venus flytrap (it is the last time I plus one them to a press event, but that's an issue for us to thrash out).

By the time course 10 arrive I literally couldn't stand the thought of eating another crumb and I'm considering going gluten-free.

So how many courses of bread are too many courses of bread? I can now confidently say the answer to this question is 10, but I wouldn't have skipped a single one.

Why? Because some meals out are about the experience not the food, the pageantry not the pecorino, and Baker's Dozen is one of them.

But with bookings at the pop-up restaurant allocated via a now-closed ballot, unless you were one of the lucky winners you'll just have to imagine what it is like to chow down on 13 plates of bread.

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