Firstly, because I’d hate to get to a point straight away, let me explain why I rarely make bread. Shortly before I moved to the US Celia helped me “harness the mania” of making bread. Specifically sour dough. I thoroughly enjoyed the technical aspects of how it all worked (who’d have thunk it?) and, naturally, buying the required gadgets. Not that there’s many, some scales, bowls, a scrapper a bakers hat with your website printed on the side… Come to think of it Celia really did harness the mania and supplied me with nearly all of the aforementioned, not to mention more flour than I could ever use. I proceeded to bake a lot and bore people at work during lunch with stories of crumb structure and it’s relation to hydration (76% is about optimal for the flour I had, just in case). Anyhow, I moved and expected the bread to be terrible and my new skills would make me the envy of ex pats across the Bay Area. I underestimated the US, something I did quite a few times before moving here. The standard bread is indeed not to my taste, note I don’t say its bad as I’m about to talk about Vegemite and well it doesn’t seem right to judge (that’s foreshadowing). However this is California and not 5 miles (8.04672kms) from here there are two amazing bakers Semifreddis and the slightly smaller ACME (so authentic they don’t have a proper website). At my local “grocer” (read expensive supermarket) you can get yourself the most amazing Sourdough Batard you’ve ever seen for about US$4 (about AUD$120, but hey when you’re earning locally). If I happen to go to REI or the nearby bike shop I also happen to end up across the street from ACME. It’s not surprising then that yesterday I happened apoun this:
Which contains crumb that looks like this:
I love Ciabatta, stuff squeezes so nicely into the holes. They also had some Not Cross Buns:
As I bought direct the grand total was $4.75, or something below US$5 (about AUD$12, that exchange rate fluctuates wildly, and who doesn’t love unit conversion humor?). I tell you I’d pay $10 per bun, bundles of rasin and dried fruit joy I tell you. Anyway as I had recently received a shipment from my dealer of smuggled Australia food (I don’t want to give away her identity so let’s call her “DanC” nee “DanY”) containing Cherry Ripes, Crunchies and a jar of the brand new as yet un-named Vegemite ‘experience’ I figured that the Ciabatta’s stuff carrying properties would be perfect for a review. First the jar:
The nameless jar
Now Vegemite is readily available here, requiring only a bank loan and a dangerous goods wavier to purchase a small jar from most grocery store. At our local it’s in the “English” section, but oh well. My theory with Vegemite is that you need to be exposed at a young enough age that eating food that looks and smells like tar and tastes like discarded brewers yeast is something that you don’t question. I’ve heard the “Americans only like sweet stuff” theory, and I don’t buy it. People here, on average, seem to have about the same sweet tooth as Australia and it’s not like every single thing that’s eaten in the USA is sweet. Try some buffalo wings or BBQ sometime if you don’t believe me. Hmmm Buffalo wings…. My other theory (I have a lot, if you ever need one I have spares) is that Kraft made the ‘experience’ to take Vegemite to the world. The idea is that they’ve mixed Vegemite and cream cheese into one container, thus negating the need to add butter to the base layer (the substrate if you will) that carries the Vegemite into your belly. The slacker in me finds this appealing, mainly because it stops me getting Vegemite in the butter container which just make honey on toast taste odd.
In order to taste test I applied a generous amount (had had pretested before this review as suspected that a “more is more approach was required) of the ‘experience’ to an approximately 1cm thick slice of ACME Ciabatta. I was feeling lazy and therefore did not toast the bread. Many of you will find this sacrilegious but if that’s the case you’d be better of finding a proper religion and not worship toast spreading rituals. The result looked something like this:
Spread on bread
Now here’s my first issue, it looks even more like Nutella than the original Vegemite which was one of the reason those not brought up on it didn’t like it. It looked like it should taste different to what it does. Of course it also looks a little scatological or greasealogical, depending on which side of the anal retentive line you fall, not adding to it newbie appeal. However this was a mute point to me and so I chomped on down. And here’s where I got disappointed. See I’m a heavy ‘miter, I lay that stuff on thick and go relatively easy on the butter (yeah right). The ‘experience’ takes away the fine tuning option, and I guess that’s the point, it’s Vegemite for people who don’t really like Vegemite. And the problem with that is that people generally know, in the US at least, what Vegemite is and that they probably already don’t like the idea of it which means they’re probably not going to go out and buy this. The caveat to this is that if you can convince someone to try Vegemite as an adult, then you should probably break them in with the ‘experience’, then wean them off it and get them onto the real thing. After all it’s best to harness the mania, no matter what it is!
Boo Kraft the first review and I had to make the thumbs down photo first!
Tomorrow, a review of the Performance Cycling $20 jersey. There’s no way I could write 1000 words about that right?
UPDATE: Maybe I’ll do something I love, like my GPS.