Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tartine Bakery

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San Francisco, CA. Walking around the city, stumbling upon new neighborhoods and trusting in a guide that has made SF his home for nearly 20 years, initiated #FoodTour: San Francisco I. Tartine Bakery, noted for its sandwiches, pastries, and daily baked breads, was added to the list with no question. Acknowledged by friends, locals, and foodies as the PLACE to go, we did.

I was warned about this: the line out the door, soon to run onto the curb and not a table with a glimpse of a moving party. This place was either so incredibly well-known, well-loved, simply delicious, or maybe all of the above. My fellow pastry lovers seemed to agree, as it ranked high in the dessert list. Tartine, though a well-established eatery of plated food, the baked goods lining the visual display are hard to miss when considering what to eat. My friends and I grabbed a few cups of coffee, and opened up our collection of food to share among the table.

Banana Cream Tart
Banana Cream Tart - take grandma's banana pudding recipe, put it into a flaky crust instead of having wafers, top it with a light whip and a few flakes of dark chocolate, and we have this little confection. When I say little, I mean big. When I say share, that we did. It would just be too rich (and too selfish) to eat alone. It all went together, it was finished in full, so on we move to the next bite.

Shortbread Cookie - It was like being in the UK once more. A friend of mine and I recently opened up a package of shortbread wafer cookies, which yielded a similar reaction, though mostly to the brand. This cookie was a homemade morsel memory of an English tea I have had many times over. It was an appreciated, though fleeting moment, but the crisp and lightly sweetened crunch certainly took me back.

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake - when a carrot cake - a favorite - is served up loaf-style, of course it becomes a must try. Expecting more of a 'carrot bread' similar to zucchini or fruit-cake, I was quite bewildered. First bite yielded confusion, as the grainy and earthy taste opposed my expectation. I took another bite, and then another, and so the story goes: I grew to rather enjoy the difference. The dense cake never became sweeter and cream cheese frosting never magically appeared, but as a natural veggie loaf served adjacent to my coffee, I readily welcomed the textured taste.

Buttermilk Scone
Buttermilk Scone - a treat growing up and even a treat even now. These buttermilk scones had the usual crusty exterior with a generous helping of raisins within the batch. The inside was soft and wowed me with moisture I tend to never get from a traditional scone. I shared a little with a friend, but honestly, most of it ended up in my stomach. Scones are a great coffee and tea pairing, and it became too natural to get into an old habit of eating my scone to the last crumb. 

Croque Monsieur





Croque Monsieur - laid out in batches by the register in a display teased my eyes until I purchased one. Each version was served open-faced with béchamel, smoked ham, gruyere, and spices over fresh bread. They have a seasonal vegetable version, but I can be a traditionalist when I see variations from the common flavors I have known. A simple concoction that hit home quite nicely - thank you for that. 

Filling up on pastry? Never! Alright, I concede that it sort of happened this time around (being near-immediate to my lunchtime eats). When I go to a bakery and can watch bread being dusted by flour, placed in the oven, and others soon to follow, I become more inspired with my own creations. I'll be back for lunch followed quickly by dessert or just for dessert. Either way, there is much more to sample than one, two, or three visits can allow.

Oh, and not enough Tartine? Check out Bar Tartine for some dinner options under a same premise or learn to make pastries at home and boost your culinary prowess with one of their two specialty cookbooks.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 487-2600
www.tartinebakery.com

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