bāc-tā-gon @ the Opera: Tasting Our Way Through the Afternoon

Yesterday was one of the first scorching days of the (still unofficial) summer, and while I don't know about Zandie, I certainly wasn't prepared to be sating myself on a table of carbs; the time and angle of the sun suggested something more like watermelon juice or coconut water.

And yet...

We arrived at Opera Bombana through the reference of Max Levy, one of last month's A.M. Brainstorm participants and chef/owner of Okra Sushi and Cocktail Bar. Aiming to procure a partnership for the finest possible baked goods for our monthly Brainstorms, we asked Levy to nominate a potential candidate in town, and he gave us word that the morsels coming out of Executive Chef Marino D'Antonio's kitchen are indeed worthy of praise and consideration.

The Interior of Opera Bombana

(C) Opera Bombana, 2014

Breads and pastries at Opera Bombana

Image (C) Zandie Brockett, 2014

Our tasting at Opera Bombana was the happiest of afternoon treats. Indulging on bread, pastries, and almost-too-beautiful-to-eat-teeny-tiny yummies has rarely been so pleasurable. I totally forgot about the coconut water.

First, we were greeted by the genuinely warm and gracious D'Antonio, who sat us down in a comfortable spot adjacent to the bar.

After introducing bāc-tā-gon, its mission, and the A.M. Brainstorm concept to Chef D'Antonio and learning more about his vision at Bombana, we were presented with the first of many impossible-to-refuse creations.

Intimacy with El Bomboloni Image (C) Zandie Brockett, 2014

Intimacy with El Bomboloni

Image (C) Zandie Brockett, 2014

Now, I have been known to guiltily consume a slice of "Wonder" - white, lacking in taste, nutritional content, and imagination - bread now and then. Opera Bombana's vision of bread reminds me why going for the ubiquitious white breads is invariably met with a pang of guilt: It is a crime against the real, true "essence" of bread. More than flavorful enough to require the usual accomplices of olive oil, butter, and/or cheese, made with the finest of flours and unique ingredients like spelt, capers, and sunflower seeds, this bread is pure wholesome. This is the stuff Ceres, goddess of grains and the harvest, gives you when she's having a banner day.

And then there were two. To the first pastry was added the traditional Roman Maritozzi @ left. Zandie and I had a tough (albeit enviable) situation before us: Which to attack first? Left flank? Right? Or Center (I mean, really, look at that golden brown.....you just know there's a heaven-style flakiness factor awaiting you)?

Mini-desserts at Opera Bombana

Image (c) Zandie Brockett, 2014

But before we could make our choice, the adorable, astoundingly orb-shaped and fluffy, and rather onomatopaic "Bomboloni" arrived......an already difficult choice made painful.

We ultimately decided to go the traditional savory before sweet route, in lieu of a better competing argument. The breads themselves, especially the darker, walnut-infused Segale e Noci, had a bit of natural sweetness to them, and would have been a totally complete and satisfying tasting pair. But yes, there were pastries, like the above Bomboloni, sprinkled with sugar above and filled with an ever-so-subtly-sweet lemon cream filling. A popular summer treat, the Bombolini is now officially a major actor in my imaginary/alternate reality Italian boyhood.....btw, just a hint to friends out there, since we can't really self-nickname....when I hit 65 or 70 and am (hopefully) a jolly, rotund old artist, I really, really wouldn't mind being called any variation of "The Bomboloni".

Cleaned Plates Post-Bombana Tasting + D'Antonio's Contribution to the Collective Business Card