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Better Butter Battle

April 3, 2011

The Jewish Food Festival is today, Sunday April 9 3. Depending on when you are reading this and where you live, there may still be time to drive to Schenectady and eat all the tasty things they have in store for you there. One of those tasty things is challah with butter.

Guess who is bringing the butter?

Buying the butter for the battle was an adventure in itself. And what better place for a butter adventure is there besides Adventure in Food Trading. I love these guys. And I was hoping to buy all the butter with them, but I ended up with one case instead of two. Yes, I bought a case of butter.

But when you are buying one of the world’s most delicious butters, a case can be as small as five pounds. All in all, I’ve got fourteen pounds of butter to Leah the Nosher’s fifteen loaves of challah. I’m kind of curious to see who will make a bigger dent in their stash of food. However, that is not the battle I was referring to. The battle is between the butters themselves.

There are precious few people in the world with perfect taste memory. Robert Parker is one of them, and that’s why he earns the big bucks. For the rest of us, in order to truly appreciate how good something is, we need something else comparable to taste it against.

I first conceived of this tasting with four butters in the battle: two salted and two without salt.

In the salted category I had hoped to source one of the best butters I have ever tasted: a French beauty named Pamplie. It is an AOC butter whose cream comes from farms in the Poitou-Charentes and whose salt is none other than Fleur de sel de l’Ile de Ré. Really, it is an unfair contest to put this up against the solid Horizon organic salted butter. But the idea is to taste the difference between a butter that is $12 a pound and one that’s $4 a pound.

If it turns out you prefer the cheaper one, lucky you. Or maybe you’ll like the one that’s more expensive, but find that you don’t like it enough to justify the cost, and that’s perfectly fair. However, you just might fall in love and declare the Pamplie to be the most delicious thing you’ve tasted at the food festival (much like I did at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco the first time I encountered this very special butter).

The good news is I was able to get some Pamplie. The bad news is that I could only find two pounds of the stuff locally. But do not be alarmed, because I found a worthy backup for once the Pamplie is gone. In fact it’s a very similar butter, with AOC status from Poitou-Charentes: La Baratte des Gourmets. The main difference is that its Fleur de sel de l’Ile de Ré is added in such a way that leaves crunchy chunks of salt in the butter.

In the unsalted category is another of the world’s great butters, which hails from Italy of all places. It’s Delitia’s Parmigiano Reggiano butter, and yes it is made from the cream of the cows that produce the king of all cheeses. I am a tremendous fan of this butter, because more than anything else I have ever tried, the Delitia captures the freshness and richness of cream but in solid form. Eating it on challah is like spreading cream on rich bread. The word decadent comes to mind.

The Reggiano butter is going up against Organic Valley’s unsalted cultured butter. And while this supermarket butter is ubiquitous, most may not realize it was awarded a first place prize in 1997 by the American Cheese Society.

Naturally, if you come to the Jewish Food Festival, you will be tasting these butters on top of challah made by Leah the Nosher. And it’s possible that certain butters will taste better with certain challot (the plural of challah). I suppose in theory, you could spend all afternoon at our table trying all the possible combinations and permutations.

But then you would miss out on the egg creams.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Leah the Nosher permalink
    April 3, 2011 8:44 am

    Like, nothing. We are spreading cream on rich bread. Slam and dunk.

    12 dozen eggs later, we have 15 loaves in 4 varieties of exquisitely braided challah, if I do say so myself (and I do). High Holy Day Brioche, Whole Wheat, Traditional and Gluten Free. Come out and enjoy.

  2. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    April 3, 2011 2:01 pm


  3. April 3, 2011 3:01 pm

    We get ours from The Country Creamery or Byrn Dairy – good stuff.

  4. April 3, 2011 6:50 pm

    not to be fussy, but what is the date of the Jewish Food Festival/Better Butter Battle?

  5. April 3, 2011 8:00 pm

    The Delitia Parmigiano-Reggiano butter was outstanding. I spread that on all of the challahs, which were also divine. I think a trip to Adventure in Food is in my very near future.

    I wish I’d stayed at the festival longer, so I could have tried the La Baratte des Gourmets.

    So, how much butter and challah were consumed today?

  6. April 3, 2011 10:36 pm

    Your calendar’s a little off dude:)

  7. April 5, 2011 12:57 am

    Daniel’s going to have to fill you in on the butter. All the challah but two were eaten. Those two were sold to the highest bidder. It was beautiful insanity :)

    I remain a loyal supporter of salted butter, but the Parma was a delicious surprise. It proved to be an unsalted butter I can’t bear to cook with, but that thoroughly makes me swoon. I will be making corn bread and purring.

  8. September 2, 2011 9:15 pm

    I (Britin) have started making all the butter for our bakery (20 lbs. every week, All Good Bakers). I use Meadowbrook heavy cream and have been experimenting w/ culturing some of it. NY cultured butter doesn’t exist around here, and MB’s cows are partially pasture raised, plus the cream is vat-pasteurized (and not ultra-heated, making for superior cream). I’ve been making a little extra sweet cream & cultured 1/2 lb blocks ($3 & $5 respectively) – if anyone would like to try it, I would be honored if you stopped by and let me know your opinion after consumption!


  1. The Jewish Food Festival « Wendalicious

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