Thursday, February 3, 2011

Challah Trial: Bon Fresco vs. Great Harvest

Challah A (Bon Fresco) & Challah B (Great Harvest)
Let's start by saying that none of the human subjects suffered in the Great Challah Trial of 2011.

The Jewish bread is a regular treat for RDAdoc, who guest-posted last week about challah from Great Harvest bakery in Columbia off Rte 108.  In the comments, Anonymous complimented the Great Harvest loaves, but said that even better were the challahs that were being sold on Fridays at Bon Fresco.

Bon Fresco?  That Columbia shop right off Snowden River Boulevard is one of my favorite restaurants -- both for sandwiches and loaves of chiabatta and baguettes.  But we had never heard about their challah.

That lead to a taste test and a geeky string of email humor as the scientists in my life proposed an experimental design, critiqued the statistical weaknesses, and joked about where to find a committee to approve the trial on human subjects.  It ended with me picking up two half-loaves of challah from RDAdoc last Friday night, knowing nothing more than that they were Challah A and Challah B.

Now, the Swim Write Run blog has created a great series of posts testing two local foods against each other -- like flapjacks and kabobs.  The Challah Trial followed SWR's pattern because both loaves were good, and the competition was tight.

In fact, I preferred Bon Fresco's challah while Mrs. HowChow picked Great Harvest.  We had a good laugh calling RDAdoc so she could unblind the trial.  (She voted Bon Fresco as well, but maybe not by enough to make a special trip.)  I'll stand by my selection.  Bon Fresco's loaf had a glossy, thick crust, and the interior has the ideal moist, eggy flavor.   It was a little lighter, a little moister, and little less yeasty-smelling.  We ate them fresh, then toasted the leftovers for breakfast.

In the end, these are both major finds.  Two years ago, I knew that Bagel Bin in Clarksville made challah, but I hadn't realized that you could grab a loaf so easily.  Consider stopping Friday for a loaf -- if only because they'd make glorious French toast on Saturday morning.

(Update:  See the comments below that Bagin Bin in River Hill does still bake challah and that the Breadery on Rte 40 in Ellicott City does too.  Conduct your own taste-off!)


emkenton said...

Bon Fresco also makes a raisin challah which is, to me, definitely worth a special Friday trip!! Both times I've bought it, it's still been warm. It's possible only half the loaf made it all the way home. ;-)

RWG said...

The Breadery on Route 40 makes a very good challah. I would be interested in hearing a comparison.

Stephanie said...

willhave to try Bon Fresco's tomorrow - love Great Harvest's get it almost every week and sometimes extra for my kids in college

Mo said...

Great post, I will have to swing by Bon Fresco tomorrow! If the weather is going to get gross Fri night/Sat AM, Challah French Toast is in order.

I did see a sign recently at the River Hill Bagel Bin that they bake their own challah bread as well. Just in case you're in the mood to try more. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for subjecting yourself to this grueling and worthy scientific endeavor for us! I'm sure it was tough for both of you. ;-)

Trevor said...

I feel like I have to give a shout-out to the best Challah in HoCo. It's my mom's. She wrote the recipe, (with instructions for braiding and everything) in her cookbook, which you can get here:

Leeann said...

I've tried both and I preferred the Bon Fresco also. And their London Broil sandwich is MARVELOUS!

pizzablogger said...

Just looking at those two crumb shots seals the deal for me.

The Great Harvest loaf, at least the one pictured here, looks like something right out of an intensively mixed, more industrial scaled operation you could find most anywhere. If I saw that in a store, I'd have no interest in purchasing it. Anyone reading this could do better at home in a short amount of time.

The Bon Fresco Challah on the other hand looks nice....but I can't taste a picture. Will have to give that a try...both like it is and for french toast!

Nice test HowChow!