Two weeks ago Frank Mussoline started bringing his bread to Lexington Market, and he wants you to know it's something special.
People have been known to stand in line for the kind of bread Frank Mussoline bakes. Headlines have been written about it. Food writers have swooned over it. Customers have been limited to two loaves and paid fancy prices for it.
But wait. Read over that last paragraph. We're not talking about the actual bread Mr. Mussoline bakes -- not yet anyway. We're talking about the bread he has copied. Almost exactly. Baker for baker, oven for oven, dough for dough, olive for olive.
Mr. Mussoline had a goal to bake the best bread in the world. At his bakery -- Mussoline's Italian Bakery in Hershey, Pa. -- he was already turning out loaves of crusty Italian bread, but something was missing. "The bread I baked was good Italian bread, but I knew it wasn't the best."
So about two years ago he started to search. Then he began to hear about a bakery in Washington, Marvelous Market, that had such amazing loaves people were standing in line to buy them. The Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press -- newspapers all over the country had stories about it.
He went down to Washington, tasted the bread, and decided the stories were true. He bought the same kind of fancy Italian oven they used, bought a French dough handler (gentler than American mixers), smuggled a sourdough starter over from France and, a year ago, went into partnership with its former head baker, Stan Bosefski. "I give Stan all the credit," Mr. Mussoline says.
They call their business Continental Bakery, and every morning six days a week Mr. Mussoline brings fresh to Baltimore an array that includes olive bread, herb bread, sour rye, onion rye, Italian, sourdough wheat and white, rye currant and pain-de-campagne, peasant-style whole grain bread. The breads -- except for the olive -- contain no sugar or fat. All are made with a mild sourdough starter rather than commercial yeast. (And the prices are about $1 less per loaf than the Marvelous Market prices.)
And then there are the pastries: cannolis, lobster tails, puff pastries, cream puffs, eclairs, napoleons and sfogliatelle -- a layered pastry filled with ricotta cheese and citron.
Mr. Mussoline has fresh pastas for sale, and this week he plans to start making them right in the market. Soon he'll be bringing down different kinds of focaccia for the lunch crowd.
Continental Bakery is near the middle of the main building at Lexington Market. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, although often they sell out of bread earlier in the day. Phone number is (410) 539-1691.
You'd have to go back to the Stone Age, to the first outlines owild game scratched on the walls of caves, to find the first meeting of food and art. From the serene lines of a ripe apple in a still life to the painted revelry of a feast, food has long been the inspiration for artists.
The Baltimore Museum of Art will trace the history of this relationship in a four-week course, "Art About Eating" which will be given at the museum on four consecutive Thursdays beginning April 9. The classes -- taught by the museum's associate educator, Bodil Ottesen -- will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
F: The fee is $25 ($20 for members). Call (410) 396-7100.
Coffee has one of the most complex and delectable flavors around, but rarely do we think to use it as anything but a beverage.
A new cookbook is out to change that. "Cooking With Coffee" (Fireside, paperback, $8.95), by Seattle food writer Carol Foster, has more than 75 recipes for everything from coffee drinks to coffee cakes.
Coffee, states the author, marries well with strong flavorings -- chocolate, nuts, spirits, spices and fruits.
"While providing intense flavor, even the most expensive coffeis economical relative to other foods," Ms. Foster writes. "Low in calories and non-alcoholic, coffee is a gastronomic bargain in terms of dollars and calories."
She goes into the details of coffee -- roasts and blends, grindand brews -- then launches into recipes including iced almond latte, Belgian orange coffee, cappuccino French toast, orange and garlic duck breast, winter squash baked with coffee liqueur, coffee-toffee sauce, mocha mousse and frosted espresso brownies.
/# Here is a recipe from the book:
Makes 4 servings.
1/2 cup brewed dark roast coffee
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
lTC 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 3 1/2 - to 4-pound chicken, cut into 4 equal pieces
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking dish.
Blend the coffee, orange juice, molasses, honey, mustard and garlic in a medium bowl. Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry.
Dip the chicken pieces in the coffee mixture and place in the baking dish. Pour the remaining liquid over the chicken and bake to 60 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pieces. Turn them at least once during cooking.
When the chicken juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a sharp knife, remove the chicken from the baking dish and skim off as much fat as possible from the cooking juices. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil, reducing it to a syrupy glaze. Pour over the chicken while hot and serve immediately.