October 7, 2003
Over the last few years, I've noticed an increasing number of bakeries and sandwich places in France selling sandwiches made with Pain Polaire. Polar bread, sometimes also called swedish bread, is a round, soft flatbread with dimples. Polar bread sandwiches are made between two of these pancake-like slices, and the whole sandwich is then cut into halves. A popular version of these sandwiches involves smoked salmon, but any filling will work, really.
I love these sandwiches. The bread tastes slightly sweet and its texture is very enjoyable : soft enough so it doesn't hurt your palate and make your jaw ache like baguette sandwiches do, but not mushy either, and there is no I-don't-like-the-crust-so-much syndrome like there is with sandwich bread, because well, there is no crust.
I had never seen such breads sold at the grocery store until yesterday, when I discovered that one of the Franprix stores near my office carries them. I promptly got some, and made myself a sandwich for today's lunch. For the filling, I threw together about a cup of leftover caramelized fennel (fennel cooked slowly over low heat with a little olive oil), a can of tuna (packed in water - drained), about 1/4 cup of ricotta, a handful of italian parsley (chopped with my handy mezza-luna), salt and pepper. Enough to fill two sandwiches.
I toasted two slices of polar bread for one minute, as the package instructed me to. I'm sure it didn't make any taste or texture difference the next day, but it did make the bread easier to work with. I then spread half of the prepared filling on the flatter side of one slice (so the pretty dimpled side would be on the outside of the sandwich) and covered it with the other. I then cut the whole thing in two, and wrapped each half tightly in saran wrap (smiling to myself as I included a little fennel sprig as a garnish).
And the next day at lunch, I got to enjoy my very own polar bread sandwich! It was very good. As is often the case, the flavors of the filling had had time to blend together, and fennel and tuna are a great match. The first half I ate cold, but I heated up the other half in the microwave for a few seconds, and it was very nice warm, too.
Polar bread will definitely enter my lunch menu rotation!
Note #1 : It seems that the main swedish producer of such breads is called Polarbrod.
Note #2 : For some reason, all along this post, I've annoyingly kept typing "sandwhich"...
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