I don’t know exactly what I was powering up for, considering that we spent the day driving on Long Island and lazying on the beach, but somehow what I had appeared to have all the elements of a power breakfast: Protein, spinach, peanut butter, milk. I was ready to take on the summer vibes, I guess.
While I love the beaches, the incredibly relaxing ocean air, fresh seafood, wineries, breweries and farmers markets that dot the major thoroughfares of the two forks, a Long Island jaunt is always just a little frustrating. The culprit is half Long Island, half me. Long Island trip always end up being heavy on driving, light on walking, which make me miss that feeling of pleasant exhaustion and a sense of accomplishment of a hike in the Hudson Valley or a long flaneur session in the city. Any exhaustion that I get from a Long Island trip is usually the mental exhaustion of driving on the Long Island Expressway.
The problem gets compounded because we eat and drink so well on Long Island. (Did I mention delicious seafood? And beer?) All in all, a day on Long Island makes me feel like an engorged slug with a guilty conscience. I sometimes try to combat the feeling by visiting one of the many state parks, wildlife refuges and nature preserves, but while fun in their own ways, they are mostly on the small side, with limited walking/hiking opportunities. (What’s not limited is the ticks and chiggers. Shudder!)
This is not to say Long Island is all bad–the issue really is the mismatch between my restless, must-be-walking-all-the-time tendencies and Long Island’s sit-back-and-relax focus. I need to find a way to not be so obsessed with being active all the time, I guess…
- Scrambled eggs with spinach and grated Parmesan cheese
- Baguette toast with peanut butter
Pane di Casa from Gian Piero Bakery, an old-school Italian bakery on the Eastern side of Astoria, might very well be the perfect bread. When I moved to Astoria, I explored what feels fat too big and far too dense to be called a neighborhood virtually on Yelp, and Gian Piero was one of the things that got on my radar. Somehow, though, I didn’t go there until a few years later when we were flaneuring the eastern edge of Astoria and stumbled across the no-frills bakery with a green awning and a couple of tables out front full of Italian guys sipping coffee and biting into cakes and pastries. (Oh, how I love these older guys who don’t hide their love of sweet pastries and ice cream! I find them incredibly cute. :P)
We bought a couple of rainbow cookies and bite-sized cheesecakes (both of which are spot on, in case you are wondering), and a small loaf of pane di casa. I was hooked right away. The rustic bread has just the right balance of everything: There’s a satisfying crust, but it isn’t so hard it cuts into your palate (as so many otherwise delicious rustic breads do); the crumb is moist, but never too dense; it has just the right amount of salt. And the best of all? The flavor. I don’t know what kind of magic wheat they use, but this Italian bread packs some serious flavor. It’s not the tang of a sourdough bread. It’s the homey, comforting, deeply satisfying wheat flavor with a bit of toasty, nutty note from the crust.
Seriously, I don’t know how they do it, but it’s one of the best breads I’ve ever had. And it’s so reasonably priced, too. (I almost want to say it’s unreasonably priced–it’s so cheap at I believe under $2 for a small loaf that’s enough for, oh I don’t know, five breakfasts for two people?
Try it. It keeps well in the freezer for a week or two, if you have the restraint to not gobble it up right away.
Breakfast this morning:
- Toast (pane di casa from Gian Piero bakery)
- Miso scrambled eggs with eggplant, zucchini, mushroom & ginger
- White nectarine & strawberries