Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bread: Arizmendi Cooperative: Zampano

When I arrived in Berkeley back in the early 90's, one of the few indulgences I could routinely afford was the Cheeseboard Cheese Roll. For $1.25 you got a dense, wheat sourdough roll shot through with gobs of asiago cheese. The crust could be so crispy that I had friends who feared it. After a few years of this though, I was ready for an occasional change-up. It arrived one day in the form of a Zampano. Somewhere along the way, I moved away from North Berkeley and to Oakland. The Zampano became my Saturday morning mainstay.

The best ones will have a darker bottom crust, that is almost chewy - studded here and there with corn meal. Even when relatively dark, the crust is never more than golden brown. The light sourdough roll itself tastes strongly of olive oil. If you bite into one the toppings will immedaitely be transferred to your face. The Parmesan will fall off in big sheets, leaving mostly red pepper and salt. The same thing happens if you slice it before eating.

A couple of words of caution if you are inclined to head out in search of a Zampano. Be sure to consult the daily bread schedule of your local Cheeseboard sister-cooperative before doing so. Also, at the Lakeshore Arizmendi they are not part of the morning pastry line up - you may have to wait if you get there much before 10:30 or 11:00.

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