I've always been more of a "toast and jam" kind of girl, but over winter break in California I discovered the pleasures of bread and butter.
For Christmas, our dear friends (and my former employers) gave Dan and me a gift card to Hatfield's, a place in Hollywood that was named one of the 10 best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit last year. A glance at Yelp beforehand confirmed our friend Heather's insistence that whatever else we ordered, we had to get the "unreal" Croque Madame.
This posh version of the classic French sandwich featured yellowfin tuna, prosciutto, and a quail egg, but what really gave it that "Oh good Lord, I'm melting into my chair" quality was the buttery bread holding the sandwich's plump contents together. I don't know how the bread tasted so heavily of butter without being soggy or overly rich, but instead it was crisp, airy perfection.
The meal at Hatfield's was the most expensive I've ever had in my life (thank goodness for the gift card). The beauty of bread and butter, though, is that it can be enjoyed by princesses and paupers alike, and by the end of my vacation I'd transitioned into the latter category.
Enter Christmas present number two. Dan's mom had given us (among many other lovely gifts, some edible and some not) a trio of compound butters that she'd made from her own garden: "That's Italian!," "Scarborough Fair," and "Zesty." The ingredients for the first two probably aren't hard to figure out as long as you're a Simon & Garfunkel fan, and the third one featured citron, lemon and orange zest as well as lemon verbena. We enjoyed them on the final two mornings of vacation spread on La Brea Bakery's soft olive oil and thyme bread, and it made for a simple but truly delicious breakfast. (Note: the tangerine flowers are Dan's handiwork.)