Stopping the ClockAli Carte Columns
December 30, 2012
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
Few things in this world compare to the simple pleasure of biting into a freshly baked loaf of bread that’s still warm from the oven. Or, experiencing an artisan panini that has been crafted from the same loaf and, wow — life couldn’t get better!
While most people are caught up in the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, Fendu Boulangerie chef and owner Niel Koep is slowing down the pace to masterfully prepare the best in homemade breads, brick-oven pizzas, fresh pastries and gourmet sandwiches.
Take the bakery’s French Sourdough ($5.25, regular; $3.50 petit), for example. It’s not a bread that gets much attention here in Hawaii, mostly because its preparation involves a lengthy process of cultivating wild yeast and bacterial culture into the perfect mixture for baking.
“It’s the oldest form of breadmaking,” explains Koep. “We are spoiled by going to the store and buying yeast. Well prior to that, people still made bread, but the sourdough process is what they used.”
To craft his European-style loaf, Koep nurtures his yeast-culture mix by “feeding” it flour and water throughout the day. “It’s like having a pet,” he says with a laugh. “Some people have a cat and a dog; I have a sourdough.”
The process is certainly worth it for the wonderfully crisp crust that results, as well as a soft, chewy interior that boasts a mild sourdough flavor. The bread is best when accented with butter or olive oil, or toasted up in the morning.
The eatery also is known for its mouth-watering sandwich menu, which includes an impressive selection of breakfast paninis (available from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.). Koep suggests indulging in Bacon, Egg and Cheese Panini ($7.25), which starts with house-made French Bread, of course. A glorious combination of fresh bacon, eggs seasoned with Hawaiian salt and black pepper, caramelized sweet onions and fresh farmed tomatoes melt into a gooey blend of munster, Parmigiano Reggiano and Vermont white Cheddar cheeses. After 15 minutes on the press, this sandwich is unbelievably right.
Save room to enjoy something sweet at Fendu as well, such as Valrhona Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse Cake ($48, 10-inch round; $36, 7-inch round; $4.50 per slice). It’s delicately layered with a crunchy, tempered-chocolate base, chocolate chiffon cake, chocolate mouse and almond cake. Shiney chocolate glaze tops off this semi-sweet beauty.
Just as the bakers at Fendu Boulangerie artfully prepare each edible gem, you should take the time to masterfully devour each bite.
2752 Woodlawn Drive #5119
Monday-Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.