LeoNora Bakery's baguettes, left, and the "American brioche," a muffin-like pastry.
The guy ringing me up at Arlington’s Arrowine wine-and-cheese shop (4508 Lee Highway) wanted me to buy just a little bit more. “Are you sure you don’t want a baguette to go with that?” he asked, eyeing my pecorino and prosciutto and pointing at a basket filled with wands of warm bread. “It’s made by a reeeeally good local bakery.”
I hesitated … then caved (it was only $3!). Turns out, the baguette, made by LeoNora Bakery (1108 N. Irving St., Arlington), was so good that I had to get another — directly from the source.
LeoNora is a spartan Clarendon storefront with just enough space for owner Carolina Garcia and her flour-covered bakers to roll out and proof their dough and to sell a small array of fresh breads, croissants and cookies (some of which will soon be available at new Paciugo Gelato, a few blocks away at 3033 Wilson Blvd.).
Garcia, who honed her craft by working with renowned Parisian baker Arnaud Delmontel, says her baguettes get their rich flavor, crisp crust and airy interior from their slow fermentation and baking process. It takes 10 hours to make a batch of loaves; each one is made by hand. Garcia also bakes a treat she calls the “American brioche”: a sort of tall muffin made with the same dough used for croissants. I couldn’t get enough of its golden, buttery exterior.
That cashier at Arrowine sold me on a lot more than he realized.