Since 2002, Tartine Bakery has been the crown jewel of our intensely competitive foodie scene here in San Francisco’s Mission District. Competitive foodies from all over, including Mark Bittman of the NYT, go so far as to call Tartine the best bakery in the United States. We wouldn’t argue with him. We send visitors there every day from the shop and, when she’s in town, my mom likes to stay at the inn up the street so that she can beat the line first thing in the morning. Her order: the seasonal fruit bread pudding.
For us locals, though, Tartine pastries are a lot to manage on a weekly basis. They’re always there, calling to us from that supremely fragrant corner of 18th and Guerrero, and we succumb to them often, but what we really eat on the regular is the bread. It’s perfect bread, and when it comes out of the oven at 5 pm each day, it sells out within the hour. It’s got a distinctive thick, crunchy crust and an incredibly airy, chewy inside. You gotta reserve ahead if you know you’ve gotta have it and you gotta get to it first is you spy a loaf at a potluck. By any measure, it doesn’t stick around for long.
Alternatively, you can make your own with guidance from this magnificent cookbook.
Chad Robertson is the head baker and the co-owner of the bakery, along with his wife Elizabeth Pruiett, who is Pastry Chef. Chad developed his master bread recipe over a decade of working with the finest artisan bakers in the U.S. and France, followed by another decade baking solo in a small wood-fired oven up by Tomales Bay. In this book, he offers clear instructions for how to make exceptional bread using just flour, water, and salt. Also included are more than 30 sweet and savory recipes for sandwiches, classic soups, puddings, baked French toast, and his signature Kale Caesar. And of course, like everything Tartine produces, it’s a beautiful thing. There are over 100 gorgeous photographs by Eric Wolfinger, illustrations by our friend David Wilson, and many of the the hardworking, familiar faces of our friends and neighbors working at Tartine. For a sneak peak, take a gander at the lovely short film here.