Warmth You Can TasteAli Carte Columns
February 2, 2014
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Nathalie Walker
With an inundation of chilly days in the Islands over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself facing a recurring scenario: My sweater’s on, I know I shouldn’t be complaining because Mainland winters are much more frosty, but the truth is, I’m still cold!
Yes, even kamaaina need to warm up this time of year, and there’s no better way to do so than to soothe your palate with a meal that’s not only hot in temperature, but also filled with enough comfort to warm you from the inside out.
For me, this instantly brings to mind the unbelievably cozy scent of freshly baked bread, so much so that I had to brave Manoa’s howling winds to make it to Fendu Boulangerie. Since 2009, the boutique bread shop and bakery has pleased diners with its toasty array of European-style pastries, sandwiches, oven-baked pizzas, fresh breads and more — all made from scratch.
With an endless supply of comfort foods calling my name, Fendu owner and chef Niel Koep introduced me to some of his most inviting items, including French Style Onion Soup ($7.50). New to the menu, this snuggly bowl arrived just in time for these windy and rainy months. And with its warm blend of house-made beef stock, herbs, salt, pepper and caramelized onions, I wasn’t the only one excited to take refuge in this hot creation.
“Everybody’s been asking for soup for five years, so now they have it,” explains the chef. While Koep’s French Style Onion Soup is inspired by traditional preparations, he’s found a way to put his own unique spin on the recipe.
“We use sweet onions as opposed to the classic soup made with regular onions,” says Koep, adding that each caramelized piece adds its own richly sweet flavor to the soup.
For the finishing touch, a slice of Fendu’s Baguette topped with French Comte cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano rest on top of this glowing bowl. “The soup is a fast fire,” says Koep.
Like all of the bakery’s products, French Style Onion Soup has “no garbage in there,” meaning it’s all-natural, MSG-free and doesn’t contain chemicals.
Nothing is a better accompaniment to soup than a slice of fresh bread, and Fendu has just the loaf. Miche Bread ($5.75 per loaf) presents an earthy mix of wheat, whole wheat and rye flour. “It replicates a loaf that you would make if you lived in France in the countryside,” says Koep. What could be homier?
One bite into the crispy crust and you’re transported to picturesque, rolling hills in Europe. And because Miche is heavy on the sourdough flavor, its dense interior holds up to hearty sandwich meats such as pastrami, ham and even pipikaula.
To feel adequately warmed-over, I chose Petit Fuji Apple Crumble Pie ($5.75) for my culinary finale. To make this comfy delight, fresh apples are peeled, sliced and tossed in brown sugar and cinnamon before they are baked with a French pie dough shell. The dessert also is blanketed in a wonderfully crisp crumble that resembles streusel, but is enhanced with golden oatmeal.
“You have your soup, you have Miche, you have your apple pie — that’s a meal, huh?” concludes Koep. And with that, the nippy breeze becomes a distant memory.
2752 Woodlawn Drive
Monday-Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.