Best Bread - 2012
Companion founder Josh Allen added miche to his bakery's bread roll late last year. To those not fluent in the wonders of flour, water, salt and yeast, this round loaf might impress only in its dimensions: Weighing in at three pounds, it resembles a boule on steroids. Or an elephant's wart. Or an old-school catcher's mitt, one of those pie pans guys like Ernie Lombardi used to use. (Or Ernie Lombardi's own legendarily homely pie pan.) Yet as St. Louis breads go, the ungainly miche is, like Lombardi, worthy of inclusion in the Hall of Fame. By no means a delicate product, the miche offers subtle pleasures. Lest our crack about steroids lead you to believe otherwise, rest assured that Allen makes his miche from a starter — no processed yeast here. He lets it rise twice, then bakes it on a stone hearth. It emerges crusty and dark, with a yeasty aroma and an assertive texture all too scarce on the local bread-making landscape. Companion only makes miche on Friday night, only sells it on Saturday morning and only from the bakery's Early Bird Outlet, located amid a patch of industrial nada in south city. If you meet a fellow customer leaving the outlet on a Saturday as you're arriving for your fix and that stranger is lugging one of Companion's grocery-size paper bags, the two of you might exchange what you'll swear is a brief conspiratorial glance. It is precisely that. You've never laid eyes on one another before, but you both know you've come for the same thing.