Ham and gruyere quiche
This year marks the first I spend Valentine’s Day as a married man. Not to gloat too much, but I hit the jackpot. My gorgeous and successful bride happens to be an accomplished home chef. On just our second date, she found my heart through my stomach by making Baja fish tacos, including fresh pressed corn tortillas, from scratch. Since our wedding, I’ve enjoyed such home-cooked meals as baby back ribs with tamarind BBQ sauce, turkey broth pozole, and lamb Bolognese.
350 University Avenue, San Diego
In return, I’ve had relatively little to offer on the culinary front. I’m competent enough in the kitchen, but don’t consider myself a great cook. However, like most long-term bachelors, I do have a small roster of go-to dishes I can throw together to some acclaim. And at the top of this list would be quiche.
My quiches have appeared at Mother’s Day brunches, family reunions, and boozy Sundays among friends, and have always gone over well. Sometimes I might fill them with roasted vegetables and goat cheese. Other times broccoli florets and cheddar. A personal favorite features chorizo, Oaxacan cheese, and serrano peppers.
Rosemary olive oil bread, salami sandwich, and pan au chocolate
For my wife, I decided to go with a classic: diced pancetta and gruyere cheese. I woke up early, preheated the oven, whipped up eggs and heavy cream, and baked my heart out. Her response? Meh. She didn’t finish her slice, and I wound up eating most of the pie myself, with a spoon, reconciling myself to the idea that, well, obviously my wife doesn’t enjoy baked egg dishes. I tried to put the episode behind me.
And then, I woke up to a pre-Valentine’s day surprise. My wife went out and ordered us breakfast from Hillcrest institution, Bread & Cie.
The bakery is best known for its breads, pastries, and sandwiches. And she had returned with evidence of all three. Here was an adorable, round loaf of rosemary olive oil bread. A ficelle (small, thin baguette) sandwich of salami, cheese, and honey. And a perfectly flaky pan au chocolate (chocolate croissant).
And there, in the middle of it all, was our main course: a ham and gruyere quiche.
“Mmm,” she told me, between bites, “That’s good quiche!”
A big, fat slice of house-baked quiche at Bread & Cie goes for $5.75 (you may also opt for spinach and feta). Smooth like custard, thick with ham, and topped by a thin layer of caramelized cheese, it’s better than anything I could accomplish at home, no matter how much love went into the dish.
Well played, Bread & Cie, well played indeed. You’ve once again proven your long tenure as one of the city’s go-to bakeries is well deserved. Anyone would be happy with a romantic, Parisian styled brunch out of your kitchen, special occasion or otherwise.
But know this: I can take some consolation in the fact that my wife doused her slice of quiche with plenty of hot sauce. So, apparently, your recipe doesn’t include enough Tapatío.