Fresh makes all of the difference.
By KATHY MOORE
I will drive out of my way to buy the best or freshest. While it may be located off-the-beaten path, the Olive Café and Bakery is a food find that is worth the drive.
Pita breads are a favorite, especially in the summer. Filling the pockets with juicy tomatoes and chicken salad, spreading the warm pieces of bread with hummus or pesto, or topping the flat bread with grilled vegetables are summer dining at its best — but fresh, soft pita breads are the first step.
Yes, grocery stores sell pita breads, but too often, they taste more like cardboard instead of bread. My journey to find great tasting pita bread began when I sought freshness. Instead of the grocery store version, I decided to ask if I could buy several pita breads at a local Mediterranean restaurant. That changed everything.
I discovered they bought pita breads from the Olive Café, Bakery and Grocery. This family owned cafe, bakery and grocery is hidden from the street, but this gem is worth the hunt. Walk into the small shop at 9530 James A. Reed Road in south Kansas City and you’ll find pita breads, often still warm from the oven, stacked unobtrusively near the register.
So many other goodies steal the stage — the aromas drifting from the kitchen, the counter where you can order the gyros and other delights and now even the buffet pans filled and inviting you to enjoy a quick lunch.
Beyond that, the coolers and grocery shelves are laden with Halal meats, dairy and the favorites of Middle Eastern cuisines, including tea, honey, beans, lentils, rice, spices and more, and all these foods lure you to explore. Yet, I keep coming back to the stacks of warm, pillow-soft, fresher-than-fresh pita breads.
Let’s see — count the ways to serve pitas and you will be tempted to stock up. At only $2.39 for a package of 10, it is more than tempting. Yet, since these breads are made without preservatives, do not try to keep them for that soft texture fades quickly. Instead, freeze them the day you buy them. In fact, they recommend to freeze them within four hours or essentially just after they cool.
Warm them in the oven before serving and get ready to spread, fill, top, grill and just, plain enjoy them. One favorite way to serve them is to brush them lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle generously, to taste, with minced garlic and minced fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme. Warm them in the oven for just 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve as an appetizer or accompany a fresh salad.
Kathy Moore is one of two cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. Her most recent cookbook is Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining. She develops the recipes for the “Eating for Life” column for The Kansas City Star and is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier. She blogs at pluggedintocooking.com