I am not a baker. But, lucky me, I don't have to be. I have found the PERFECT bread - That Perfect Bread, to be exact. It's Rustic Italian bread from Whole Foods. When I first moved to Austin, I could have mentioned Whole Foods to an audience as wide as my blog readership and most of you would have said Whole What? Nowadays, Whole Foods stores are all over the place, so you can all go get your own Rustic Italian, and I highly recommend you do so. I have two ways I especially love to eat this bread.
(1) In a grilled cheese. Instead of delaying your gratification, I'll go ahead and tell you how to do that while I'm here. (a) Heat pan. (b) Rub the end of a stick of butter in the pan until there's a thin, sizzling butter puddle about the size of the slice of bread. (c) Plop the bread down on the butter sizzle. (d) Add your favorite cheese - grated works best, and I usually use cheddar or something similar (or slices work well, too). (e) Add the top piece of bread. (f) When the bottom piece is getting there but not done, lift the sandwich up with a large spatula. (g) Repeat step (b). (h) Carefully turn sandwich over and plop it on the butter sizzle. (i) Grate fresh Parmesan (Reggiano is the best) over the top piece of bread. (j) When the now-bottom piece is getting there but not done, lift the sandwich up with your large spatula. (k) Flip the sandwich over, Parmesan side down. (l) Grate more fresh Parmesan on the side that is now face up. (m) When bottom side is done (browned sufficiently), flip the sandwich and finish the remaining side. (m) Enjoy your tastes-like-you-got-it-at-a-bistro-in-Europe-grilled-cheese. YUM.
(2) Grilled, as an accompaniment to other grilled items, with no butter, oil, or anything else smeared on it. Pure and simple. Grill slices until there are gentle grill lines on it. Once it's got a crispy texture to it, it's done. As a finishing touch, take one raw clove of garlic and rub it over one side of the bread. The bread will have a sandpaper effect and will get a fabulous garlic infusion simply from rubbing it with the clove. The best garlic bread ever, and still healthy to boot.
I am sure there are plenty of other fabulous uses for Rustic Italian - find your own, it won't be hard.
Here's how it looks in the store - there are two versions, well three, really. First is a pre-sliced sandwich loaf. Second is a mini boule, which, as you can see, is ONLY 99 cents. Third is a large boule. If you buy the boule kind, they'll slice it freshly for you upon request. We happen to have both the sandwich kind and a small boule at the same time simply because hubby and I went to Whole Foods separately and redundantly each bought versions of Rustic Italian.