The Food Chain

Patois Chef Aaron Burgau Eats Up Tartine’s Sopresatta Panini

The sopressata, fontina, and broccoli rabe pressed sandwich at Tartine.
The sopressata, fontina, and broccoli rabe pressed sandwich at Tartine. Photo: Brian Smeets/Grub Street

Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, chef Bjorn Somlo at Nudel outside Boston discussed a “big, sloppy” pork-belly sandwich with fried green tomatoes that he loved at Patois in New Orleans. Now we want to know what the New Orleans chef who made that sandwich, Aaron Burgau, has enjoyed lately. What tickles your fancy, Aaron?

Who: Aaron Burgau, chef at Patois in New Orleans, Lousiana
What: The panini with spicy soppressata with Italian Fontina and broccoli rabe pesto on country bread
Where: Tartine Bakery in San Francisco

“The bread on this sandwich is amazing! This is just such a cool little spot in the Mission. The atmosphere was like a little café, with all the baking done on the premises. Not only was the bread incredible, but I loved the combination of the spicy, rich soppressata with the bitter bite from the broccoli rabe. That garlicky bitterness just hits you in the face.”

Tartine owner-baker Chad Robertson responds:

“Our bread is made from freshly milled flour, water, and sea salt. It’s short-mixed and ferments for at least a full day until it’s baked out strong. We eat it fresh from the oven with thick slices of butter.

As for the sandwich, dark, leafy greens are my favorites. Broccoli rabe is strong enough to stand with the meat and cheese. The soppressata we use is dry cured and spiced with Calabrian chiles made with pork and flavored with lots of garlic.

At Bar Tartine [the nearby restaurant he and wife-partner Elizabeth Prueitt own], our chef Nick Balla is making a similar Hungarian-style sausage that will soon replace the soppressata we are using on the sandwiches at the bakery and at our upcoming sandwich shop next door to Bar Tartine. It’s much the same flavor, but will be made and cured in-house. The pork we use now is from the Llano Seco ranch.

The Fontina cheese is made from cow’s milk in the Italian Alps and it’s strongly flavored — especially hot-pressed on our bread with bitter green pesto and fermented sausage. Liz and I lived and worked for a year just over the border in the Savoie (French Alps). The pungent alpine cow- and goat’-milk cheeses are what we lived on along with daily bread — yes, Liz, who is gluten-intolerant, could eat the bread there — and excellent Alpine muesli.”

Patois Chef Aaron Burgau Eats Up Tartine’s Sopresatta Panini