In my family, we’re bread eaters. My grandmother was. My father was. I am. And Josh is showing great promise.
My grandmother liked her bread toasted. She ate a neatly buttered and halved piece of toast with a full cup of coffee every morning and again at night with half a cup of coffee in the company of Johnny Carson.
My father liked his fresh. His dessert of choice was a piece of bread slathered with butter and jam. But he could also make a mean piece of toast.
Like my father, I go both ways. I can’t imagine anything more delicious than a slice of fresh white bread with cold butter spread across it. And by fresh I mean out of a new package and the butter should be so cold it tears the bread when you try to spread it. The only thing more irresistible is a freshly baked baguette with a crunchy crust and airy crumb still warm and eaten out of hand. But I would also never turn down a slab of any bakery bread, toasted and drizzled with olive oil. I could eat bread at every meal.
Just below bread on my favorites list is avocado. So it’s no surprise when we finally went to Fremont Diner for breakfast recently I was fascinated by its farmers’ toast—a kind of earthy bread toasted and topped with avocado, olive oil and crushed red pepper.
I was torn between ordering it and something more conventional for breakfast. Huevos Rancheros won at that moment, but the farmers’ toast held steady, staying in my thoughts for days. Finally I broke down, bought an herb slab from Acme, cut it into strips, cut each strip lengthwise to expose the soft bready center, which I then brushed with olive oil and toasted under the broiler. I then mashed some avocado over each piece, sprinkled salt and a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes over the top and voila! A couple of poached eggs later, Jack, Josh and I were all licking up the last little bits of a Sunday brunch that would make my grandmother and father proud—or hungry!
Serves 2 to 4
4 ounces focaccia bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large avocados
Crushed red pepper
Preheat the broiler and set a rack directly underneath the broiler.
Cut the bread in half lengthwise. Brush the inside with the olive oil. Carefully arrange on the rack under the broiler and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the bread. (I have a habit of sticking the bread in the broiler and then starting something else. Oops. Now I keep oven mitt in my hand until I take out the bread.)
Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and score with a butter knife. With a spoon, scoop out the fruit. Divide among the bread pieces and mash down gently with the knife or a fork. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and sea salt.
What to drink. White table wine. Everyday wine: This simple peasant dish needs no more than its equivalent in wine, which is why Villes Vieux ($8), a workhorse of a wine in France is my choice. It is sprightly and tastes fresh, a little like Sauvignon Blanc, but lighter. Enjoy it at brunch, lunch and dinner or like the toast really anytime. Look for it at Whole Foods.