Brioche with Goat Cheese and Mission Figs
In recent years New York City has become a plethora of corporate giants, Starbucks seem to be on every corner, although in the last year alone they have closed 600 locations. And, while Dunkin Donuts is a franchise at this point they may be out doing Starbucks as far as New York real estate is concerned. Both offer mediocre coffee and pastries with machine like consistency. The other option is to search high and low for the independent coffee shops and bakeries that seem to be disappearing faster than the polar icecaps. The independence are often worth the effort, however they can also be incredibly inconsistent, you may get a spectacular cup of coffee one day and the next day be sadly disappointed by the very same coffee joint, not to mention, there are days when you may not want to venture ten blocks out of your way.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when on a recent rainy day, faced with the prospect of wandering into yet another Starbucks, I stumbled upon Le Pain Quotidien, on 2nd Ave. btw 49th St. and 50th St. Now Le Pain Quotidien is corporate, there are Le Pains strewn throughout the city, of course I was wary, but I was intrigued by the menu board advertising a goat cheese and fig brioche. As I meandered in still deciding whether I should stay, I was greeted by a very friendly staff member instructing me to grab a seat anywhere I desired. I chose the bar and began to peruse the menu, I didn’t really need to look, I had decided on the brioche before even walking through the door. Almost immediately a lovely waitress came over and asked how I was doing and if I would like something to drink. I ordered a latte and told her I would like the brioche. Aaagh, alas the brioche was a dinner item and I had come in at lunch. Before I could even begin to utter the words “just give me a minute to find something else,” the waitress said “you know what let me go and check with chef, perhaps he can make that for you.” I told her not to worry about it, however she reassured me that it wouldn’t be a problem, they had all of the ingredients. In less then three minutes she was back, I could have my brioche it wasn’t a problem. My latte arrived quickly, it was great, the espresso was not over roasted and the milk was superbly steamed. Very shortly after, my brioche came. Two slices of brioche topped with a mild goat cheese and black mission figs toasted to perfection and it was delicious! The slight sweetness of the brioche coupled with the subtle tartness of the goat cheese and finished with the figs made me do the happy food dance (admit it, you know what I’m talking about).
I was in a bit of a rush, my lunch break was less than an hour, luckily I only had to ask for my check once and it came quickly. As I was getting the check I inquired about the bread and the knowledgably waitress informed me that Le Pain Quotidien has their bread brought in daily from a central bakery, servicing all of their locations in the city. All of the bread (and pastries) is preservative free (this include high-fructose corn syrup) made with organic ingredients (flour, salt, water) and kneaded by hand. I paid my check and left a happy and full.
Brioche toast with warm goat cheese and black mission figs
You will need:
A couple of thick slices of Brioche (day or two old is fine)
2-4 Mission Figs
Goat cheese (I like Bucheron or French Crottin, but it’s totally up to you)
1 ½ tsp butter
Small sauté pan (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 300?F. After washing the figs dice them into small ¼ inch squares. I like to sauté the figs with a touch of honey and butter in a small pan, on low to med heat, just until they start to slightly caramelize, about 5 minutes (this step is completely optional). Set figs aside to let them cool. Lightly butter the tops of your brioche slices and place the slices directly onto the oven rack, buttered side up for approximately 5 minutes or until the brioche begins to turn golden brown and toasty (Mmmmm). Pull from the oven and while brioche is still warm/hot top each slice with approximately 1 ½ – 2 tbsp goat cheese and last the figs. Garnish with mint and a mimosa and enjoy!
La Pain Quotidien 8 out of 10 (Great quick eats!)