It took me a few visits to France before I tried a jambon-beurre, the most iconic French sandwich. Sold all over Paris, from boulangeries to street vendors, it confounded me: Ham and butter on bread—that's it? But once I tasted it, I became obsessed. The way the sweet butter complements the saltiness of the ham, all within the confines of a demi-baguette, is incredible. From then on, I ate jambon-beurre whenever I could, which was often. But the more I ate, the more I began searching Paris for a more evolved rendition.
In New York, where I live, chefs devote immense energy to elevating the burger, the pizza, even the hot dog. But in France, the jambon-beurre is fast food, and seemingly nothing more. Then, during a visit to Paris last fall, I learned that Christophe Vasseur, the man behind the brilliant bakery Du Pain et Des Idees, had supposedly perfected the jambon-beurre. I called him to request a demonstration. The next afternoon, we were at his boulangerie. I noticed from the start his sandwich was unorthodox: Instead of a baguette, he used pain des amis, a soft loaf he makes with wild, flavorful yeast. Next, tangy Pamplie butter. Finally, sliced top-notch boiled ham from Gilles Verot, a top charcutier. This jambon-beurre was the best I've had, each ingredient working in harmony with the others—the complexity of the yeast, the savory ham, the pungent butter. Perfect indeed._ _
Du Pain et Des Idees
34 rue Yves Toudic
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