It's a foodie weekend! Next stop, Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Chad Robertson, co-owner (along with his wife Elizabeth Prueitt), is described as possibly the best bread baker in America. Vogue wrote a feature about him complete with Annie Lebovitz-like "supermodel" photos. People line up at 4:30pm in front of his unmarked storefront to snag the rare (only 240 loaves are produced each day) and coveted bread. Michael Pollan raved it's "the best bread I ever tasted". In an age when chefs are elevated to rock star status, Robertson is Elvis, The Beatles and Michael Jackson rolled in one. And throw in a bit of Buddha for good measure for his devoted following and his zen approach to making bread ("I know what I want the dough to do and I'm trying to help it get there.")
Why are his breads so good? Natural leavening (wild yeast in the air) vs.commercial yeast; a 30-hour rise to develop complex flavors and a lot of water to create the large, irregular hole structure in the crumb. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say Tartine's bread is legendary.
I didn't want to take the chance of driving 30 minutes, waiting in line and having their bread sell out, so....I pre-ordered. Yes, you can guarantee snagging a loaf by phoning 3 days in advance and pre-ordering (and pre-paying). We still had to stand in line to pick up the bread, but at least we knew there'd be bread waiting for us.
The bread was still warm as we each took turns clutching it next to our bodies and inhaling the yeasty goodness . We could hardly wait to get home and tear into it. Check out this beautiful crumb structure:
What a treat!
Tartine Bakery & Cafe
600 Guerrero Street San Francisco, CA 94110