A Baguette Worth Taking The Long Way Home For
For all of Philly’s various culinary advancements over the last decade, what I’ll call The Baguette Situation is something that could still be rattled off on one hand. There is, of course, the Metropolitan Bakery baguette, which remains the gold standard in these parts, and Sarcone’s, both of which you’ve probably had if you have ever bought bread at a DiBruno Brothers. In recent years, La Colombe has begun baking its own bread, and it is very, very good, but depending on which La Colombe you're closest to, going to get it may be a whole thing you don't even wanna get into. (Looking at you, Fishtown.) And of course, there’s the French-Vietnamese Artisan Boulanger Patissier, which remains a closely guarded favorite. That’s about the whole hand, and God help you if you roll into an Acme looking for a baguette.
But as Philly once again becomes a more, er, two-handed city in all things — How many more bakeries must we have had 100 years ago? It’s upsetting to think about — even things with regard to The Baguette Situation are looking up. As proof, consider the baguettes on offer from Machine Shop Boulangerie, the commercial bakery working out of (le sigh) the Bok Building. It is perhaps the darkest, crustiest baguette you’ll liable to find in the city, but beneath that delightfully tough exterior, there’s a firm but giving mattress of, if not sourdough, certainly something sour-esque. Reading that description, you might also be asking: Is this the baguette manifestation of the oft-misunderstood Philly attitude? Yes, probably. Machine Shop makes these delights available for public purchase at just a few coffee shops around the city (in my neighborhood, it’s the likewise excellent Rally), and they’re worth the trip. Each weekend, I go out of my way to pick up two of them — one for each hand.