A Visit to Tartine
I took my wife to Napa for a long weekend for her birthday and used that opportunity to order a half loaf of Tartine country bread and picked it up Saturday afternoon on the way back to the Oakland airport. Even after reading Chad's new book about his bread, and having made it two weeks ago following his method as closely as I could with materials on hand, I wasn't really prepared for what I found. I think some of you may find my reactions useful!
First, there is no sign! Somehow that had eluded me! Finding the bakery was not difficult but... the lack of a sign is an interesting comment by the bakers! And the pastries and sandwiches (such as Croque Messieur were spectacular!).
The real shock though, was the bread itself. Yes, the bread really is as dark and blistered and shiny as the book cover implies. I picked up my half loaf at 5 pm sharp. The crust was thick and hard and the crumb elastic and a bit tough, showing a lot of gluten development. The crumb of my loaf was not quite as open as the loaves in the book or here on TFL.
The thing that really blew me away, though was the acid profile in the bread. Reading the book and how preparing the levain with only a tiny amount of starter had led me to anticipate a non San Francisco sourdough flavor profile but the Tartine loaf is clearly SF SD to my taste. There are, I think some SF SD that is more sour, but this is IMO pretty sour. But I also have to comment that the acidity seems uniquely clean and bright and I suspect that might be related to the minimal acid transfer from the older starter and the relatively short final expansion and proof times of the bread.
I am really glad I was able to get some of the Tartine bread. The book definitely expanded my repertoire of bread techniques and I will definitely make use of the knowledge I have gained by following the Tartine guidelines. However, my low acid sourdough starter simply doesn't need the level of acid control Tartine follows so I will be evolving my own variations.
I will post some pictures of my loaf when I get a chance!