Oh, so what. A baguette, you might think. How good could it be? It’s just bread, after all. Granted. If all you’ve been eating is that tasteless, industrial, feeble excuse for a baguette that’s on sale everywhere from supermarkets to your lesser boulangeries, I can forgive your cynicism. Reader, I submit for your consideration Le Petit Moulin, a boulangerie under the loving supervision of Christian Rassent and winner of the 2010 Best Traditional Baguette in the Alpes-Maritimes award.
Where the standard baguette is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, Mr Rassent’s loaf has a slight crispiness on the outside giving way to an airy but chewy intererior. The standard baguette is almost odorless and has a slightly cloying, immediately forgettable flavor. At Le Petit Moulin the baguette has a distinctly nutty aroma and the robust sweet/sourflavor lingers in the mouth. It’s a bready-bread. Best of all, it lasts. The standard baguette is pretty much finished in 12 hours and is rock-hard in 24. Rassent’s bread is still delicious after days.
What’s his secret? The starter dough. Eschewing baker’s yeast, this bread-man uses a sourdough starter. It takes longer but there’s just no comparison when it comes to the texture, the taste or the longevity of the loaf.
Must cost a fortune, then? Not so. His loaf is a mere €1.20, only slightly more expensive than inferior bread. But you will have to go out of your way for it. Le Petit Moulin is far from anyplace a tourist would ever think to visit in a neighborhood the French tactfully call populaire. It’s at 144 bd Madeleine, Nice not the most convenient location but what is convenient is the automatic bread dispensary just a few blocks away at the intersection of Route de Canta Galet and Route de Bellet, not far from Nice’s vineyards.