Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Free food

Yesterday was Australia Day, so DP had the day off. We didn’t do much; it was hot, and we’d already had a busy weekend, so we mostly just took it easy. Late in the afternoon, we went for a walk, and ended up at a neighborhood café in search of something cold to drink and a seat in the shade. I went inside, approvingly noted the racks of fresh bread, ogled the pastries (which were really pretty spectacular), and then decided it was too hot and too close to dinnertime to eat anything that rich.

When I placed our order, the guy behind the counter wrote it down and then said, “Would you like a free sausage roll or spinach and feta parcel?”

Free food?! I goggled. “Sure,” I stammered. “I’d love a spinach and feta parcel.”

(I can’t say no to free food. I hadn’t been to this café before; even though I wasn't very hungry, I rationalized that it would give me a chance to decide if the food was worth paying for on a return visit.)

“Great,” he said cheerfully. “Would you like two?” (Apparently I was entitled to two because I had ordered two drinks.)

Okay, even I can say no to that much free food at 4:45. “Oh no, one is plenty,” I gasped.

The spinach and feta parcel was delicious, if misnamed. A parcel implies a dainty morsel to me. This was huge: a triangle of crispy puff pastry, hanging off the edges of a dessert plate, sprinkled with poppy seeds and bursting with oozy, cheesy filling. We only managed to eat half of it.

Then, as we were finishing up, another server came over, carrying a plastic bag stuffed full of bread.

“Hi guys!” she said enthusiastically. “Can I interest you in some free bread? We’ve got garlic and rosemary focaccia and some sourdough rolls. What do you think?”

Translation: this was two whole, huge focaccie, each one about the size of a sheet of legal paper and two inches thick, plus about eight sourdough rolls, each one as big as my two fists. (See picture!) People, I’m talking 30 dollars’ worth of really good bread, easy.

I goggled some more, thinking in panic of my small and already jam-packed freezer. “I-I’d love some,” I blithered, “but I don’t think I could take that much….”

“You know what?” she said. “Just take it, please? You can share it with your neighbor, or stick it in the freezer, or throw it in the bin if you really can’t use it.”

Throw it in the bin? Uh uh. I’m even worse at throwing away food than I am at turning it down. “Okay, I’ll take it,” I said firmly.

“Fantastic!” she said, and handed it over.

Luckily, I had remembered in time that I am the kind of crazy person who saves old bread and uses it for croutons, crostini, and crumbs. I’ve already made two batches of focaccia croutons, and I fully expect to shortly have enough of all of the above to last me through to next Australia Day. At least.

So. Anyone have any good recipes using stale bread products that they want to share?


Zoe said... Best Blogger Tips

No, but if you want to tell me where and when to go to the bakery...

But really, panzanella, savoury: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/spring-panzanella-recipe.html

or sweet:http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/strawberry-panzanella-recipe.html

If it was Cornucopia they'd well and truly stand up to the flavour demands.

(And if you're still interested in a playgroup, send me an email/check out http://www.majurawomensgroup.net/ (blog not updated - by me - for a bit!)

Zippy365 said... Best Blogger Tips

Ah, bread! Well, you've done the croutons, and Zoe has already suggested panzanella so I say: stuffing (it's not just for turkey anymore) and bread pudding. You can stuff pork chops or zucchini or peppers, or probably a million other things. I like sausage in my stuffing (and I know you like sausage too). How about chocolate bread pudding? How about a savory bread pudding like this one:


Good luck and have fun.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Zoe - Dobinson's Bakery Cafe, Bunda Street, Civic, shortly before closing time. Bring a large bag.

Hmmm, sweet panzanella. That's new. And thanks for the playgroup rec--I'll be in touch!

Zip - stuffing! What a brilliant idea. Oooh, and savory bread pudding. Do you know, as I was contemplating this mountain of bread, I thought, "I could make bread pudding. Chocolate bread pudding." And then I thought of you.

Cheryl A said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm a little late with the suggestion, but what about a strata? It is a savoury bread pudding, essentially. Here in Canada it can also be known as the Christmas Morning Wife Saver.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Cheryl--thanks for the reminder about strata; you'll be pleased to know there's one soaking in my fridge (or whatever it is a strata does) right now!

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