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Georgia's on my mind with French baguette's softer rival Featured

It's time I shared my delicious discovery with you. It's the Georgian baguette, as made by Otari Kobalia of European Breads Bakery, 4324 Fraser St. It's a rustic baguette that's flatter and more irregular than the French version.

If anything, it's shaped like a long baby alligator. It's also not firm: You couldn't, say, bonk someone over the head with it as it would just fold over.

It's sandwich-friendly with inviting hollows for fillings once you cut it open and there's a satisfying teeth tug to the bread, which also has more crust per bite than French baguettes. I know the French baguette is sacrosanct, but you know, I'm kind of liking this interloper.

The good thing is, the Georgian baguette is available at Capers, Whole Foods and Famous Foods as well as at the bakery. It retails for about $2.50.

Kobalia, a native of Georgia (which is sandwiched between Russia and Turkey), was born to make bread. "My last name translates to something like bread and my mother's name means miller. Bread is in my genes, I believe,'' he says in his heavy Georgian accent. The baguette, he says, is organic and has very little yeast in it. "I put it in the oven, make heat, very fast, maybe five, 10 minutes. It's an emotional process," he says.

Kobalia, proud of his Georgian heritage, easily veers off into Georgia's long history of medicine, wine and food. "We have a thousand-year history of making products. It has some real background," he says.

As well as the Georgian baguette, you can find black Russian, Ukrainian, rye, barley, buckwheat, spelt and kamut breads and some pastries at European Breads Bakery.

With the success of the Georgian baguettes, Kobalia says he'll soon have to move to a larger building to keep up with demand.

You can check out his bread online by logging onto www.europeanbreads.com.

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