Dish No. 22: Épicerie Boulud's Pan Bagnat
The pan-bagnat is what a tuna sandwich is called if you happen to be eating it on the French Riviera. (And if you do, well, lucky you.) Much like the salad Niçoise, another specialty of Nice and its environs, it partners tuna with chopped hard-boiled egg and a generous quantity of olive oil.
It should come as no surprise that Daniel Boulud knows from pan-bagnat, and thus lavishes the one he serves at Épicerie Boulud with great attention to detail. The fish has been poached in olive oil, which renders its texture silky and agreeably unctuous. It's parked between two halves of a focaccia bun with chopped black olive, slices of ripe avocado and heirloom tomato, a few leaves of spinach, and bits of hard-boiled egg.
The focaccia itself has been scattered with fleur de sel and is barely able to contain its heaving cargo, which threatens to dislodge itself with each bite. But even with its contents scattered all over the place, this is a sandwich that's eminently worth the mess -- and, for that matter, its $9.50 price tag.