I love butter. I can eat it strait off the stick but doing so makes me feel like said weirdo freak referenced above. So I'm asking a forward thinking restaurant to go out on a limb and offer just butter. As in no bread required. Maybe in dainty little ramekins with one of those cutesy caviar spoons so diners can feel even more special about the hand churned, artisanal, Hawaiian black sea salted butter they're lapping up. Heck, there's probably already some restaurant doing so right now. If anyone knows of such a place, please pass the name along. The closest I've seen is Cyrus which serves a variety of butters with their bread offering. I could have done without filling up on bread but I needed something to slather their amazing butter on.
Needless to say I was in heaven in France. I don't know what they do to those cows but French butter is to die for. One of my fellow LCB students had the temerity to ask our chef why the butter was so good. He rattled off a string of much gesticulated French about the superiority of French cows vs. American cows. I got that much (but not much more). The translator's brief explanation of the the chef's lengthy diatribe was, "It's because we have real cows in France." She said so in the most matter of fact manner, with udder (really, I've held back on the puns lately) finality. End of discussion.
Because it still isn't socially acceptable to eat butter en solitaire, I made the next best thing: shortbread.
Before I left for pastry school, I decided I needed some practical experience in a commercial kitchen. I made a short list of pastry chefs I wanted to work under and went around knocking on doors offering free labor in exchange for experience. You would be surprised (or maybe not) at how many chefs will turn down free labor. At the top of the short list was Mark Chapman, the former Executive Pastry Chef at the Driskill Hotel, who had just opened the Cookie Lounge with a few partners. Mark took me in, even paid me, and offered advice freely. I worked at the Cookie Lounge for a few months on Saturday nights making custom cookies for (mostly) drunk and stoned college kids. It reminded me that I went to college to avoid such jobs but it was a good experience, even so. I had heard that Mark left the Cookie Lounge early last summer but I was still sad to learn it closed today.
Mark made a lot of good cookies but my favorite was his Scottish shortbread with dried blueberries and cherries. I decided to make a French version and used the Brittany shortbread recipe we were taught at LCB and added dried blueberries and cherries.
375 g flour
3 g baking powder
225 g salted butter
1 1/2 eggs
150 g sugar
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Chop cold butter and sablage (sand w/hands) into dry ingredients. Pour onto table and use a pastry scraper to cut in eggs and vanilla. Homogeneously incorporate butter but do not overwork. Add dried blueberries and cherries, if desired. Roll dough into a ball, flatten, and chill overnight before baking. Form dough into two slightly squared logs and slice thinly. Bake sliced shortbread at 325° for 10-15 minutes.