There is some wonderful food being turned out at the only BLT restaurant in New York City with which star chef Laurent Tourondel is still affiliated: BLT Market, on the street floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Sixth Avenue and Central Park South (and the lively street is highly visible, part of the ambience!). But one of my favorite things there is so easy to make at home, you might as well try it yourself this summer.
It is the bread that they serve, perhaps the most striking bread give-away of the season. No, I’m not asking you to bake bread at home. Simply buy a baguette that is light as air on the inside, lightly crisp on the outside. Cut it into sections about 8″ long. Slit each section the long way, keeping the section attached “at the hinge.” Reserve, while you make the “snail butter” with which you will slather.
Snail butter?! No, there are no snails involved. Most of the restaurant reviews have cited this marvelous bread, but they say it’s slathered with “pesto.” And, yes, it’s true, there is a bit of basil in the slather–”for color,” as the chef says. But you will not taste basil, and this is not pesto; composed of butter, minced garlic and finely chopped parsley, the slather tastes much more like a butter for escargots á la bourguignonne, the classic French snail dish.
So make a snail butter, ensuring that everything’s minced to a paste. Use that little bit of basil to bring the color up to a vivid, thrilling green. Keep it a cool room temperature. Here’s my guess as to warming technique: Warm the bread in a 350-degree oven until it’s lightly crisp-ed up on the outside. Remove from oven, and slather with filling; at the restaurant, the filling inside the bread is about 1/3″ thick. Close baguette sections at the hinge, which warms the butter slightly, and serve.
Now, if you want to take it one step further, as they do at BLT Market… place each 8″ section in a narrow white paper bag that’s about 10″ (it should look like a bread bag from a bakery). Serve the bread “in bag”… the oohs and ahs will begin… rising to a crescendo once they taste this simple, delicious thing that looks like it has emeralds in it.