[PHX] Lunch at Pane Bianco
12:30 pm today, nice day, cool for the season ... the weather report said it would be windy, but I checked the flags and it was a go for an outdoor picnic in the city. It can be a drag to eat in the wind off an oily piece of paper ... I set off for Pane Bianco for the 40-50th time in the 3 years or so it's been open.
The patio was packed when I arrived but scarcely any line inside. The fabric sunscreens are now in place -- yay -- I checked the board -- I had planned to have the tuna sandwich today, but one has to check the daily market sandwich offering on the board high on the wall. Today? Smoked ham, piave, cabbage and a fresh relish of peppers, onion, parsley and vinegar. It didn't take long, even though the measured, unhurried, casual response from the young ladies at the counter was saved by Bianco's partner actually grabbing my bag and calling my name to deliver it. Bianco was there today and came out front to kiss and embrace an older lady who seemed to be a valued friend/customer.
I grabbed my bag and headed outside to scarf my lunch: the usual warm. slightly singed chewy flat bread -- can't really call it a focaccia or ciabatta -- split horizontally and filled with "smoked ham" -- no origin offered this time, but it was mild, not so lean, and plentiful -- piave, a sharp, bright Italian cheese that was slightly crumbly but stiil sliceable and younger and somewhat softer than a fully aged parmegiano-romano -- diced cabbage and the aforementioned relish, which was lightly applied and subtle. I nursed a sparkling water with the sandwich and eschewed the caramel in the bottom of the bag this time.
Delicious, as usual. The bread was barely firm and crunchy but soft and airy inside without yielding all its density (can't always say that for the $3 dollar loaves for sale inside, though). The meat was slightlly smoked and salty, real good ham, that's all, without being big or imposing. The piave was excellent -- generously applied, bringing some salt and some roof-of-the mouth quality that only real good parm/regg, emmenthaler, gruyere, appenzeller, some cheddars, some manchego can bring -- lively but not so hard and so sharp as to be too intense to be sliced into a sandwich. The greens, were fresh, of course, and the dressing was much more lightly present and applied than I expected, which proved to be pretty bueno overall. The bill was $10.81, inclusive.
The scene was somewhat precious, as usual, but nice. I was slightly amazed to see a young dude come out and sit near me with a gorgeous caprese sandwich -- a regular offering -- and a big sweet tea. After he devoured his sandwich, I noticed he had removed almost all of the whole leaf fresh basil and the sliced local tomatoes and ate the rest. I almost inaugurated a new career in trash-can-diving.
PS: When I got home tonight I followed through on my dinner plan. I started a pile of coals on my Weber and fiddled around until it was time to get my defrosted extra-lean ground beef (8%?) from the frig. I gently pressed it with my palms into a rectangular shape to fit my bread, which would be 100% whole wheat Milton's from TJ's. I splashed the patty with the red wine I had -- a cheap Cote de Rhone, Cave du Pape also from TJ. Then, some crushed garlic, a tiny pinch of garlic powder, ground black pepper, and I spread a little olive oil with my fingers one one side. [I had forgotten I had some chimichurri in the fridge, which I may have used instead -- oh, well ...]
When the coals wer ready, I spread them and sprayed some oil on the grill and laid it in. I went inside to get the romaine (bagged, I confess) ready and slice up a small roma tomato (Safeway) (they are sooo underrated; why use the watery, tasteless big ones?) I grilled the burger about 4 minutes on the first side -- nice hot fire -- and about five minutes on the second side while toasting the bread. Prior to assembling the lettuce and tomato, I forked a thin layer of Grey Poupon country dijon over the top side. Yowza! Great meal ...
My cote du rhone was gone, so I must admit I drank a glass of Chilean sauvignon blanc -- Cassilero de Diablo -- with dinner. It was open -- and very good.
(sigh ...) Today, like many days, was a good eating day. Thanks for that.
2 weeks in a row, we made the trek out to pane bianco and lux. the justification in both cases was that we needed to restock on the excellent coffee beans from lux.
ordered basically the same both weekends (bunch of market sandwiches - which happened to be lamb both days; a couple mozzarella, tomato & basil sandwiches; the day's foccaccia; a $6 chocolate bar - actually way, way good; a cream soda; and several of the excellent rice puddings). we did a bit of a spin on it today and bought some of the ash ripened goad cheese and spread it on the market sandwiches to great effect.
pair that with assoreted lattes and a velvet from lux and you've got a great saturday.
if you do pane bianco without getting the rice pudding, you're missing out. : )
I agree. We had a family lunch at Pane Bianco yesterday, and the rice pudding was an unexpected highlight. I only wish it had raisins in it. I noticed that Pane Bianco sells raisins as a separate dessert item. Maybe next time, I'll just buy the raisins and the rice pudding individually and mix them together. The roasted tomatoes on the market foccaccia were also particularly good (picture attached). Finally, I've discovered that the picnic tables in front of Pane Bianco are particularly good for supporting baby car seats, making the restaurant a nice place for family outings.