The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Khaled does 6 (six) SF Bakeries in 1 (one) day!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Khaled does 6 (six) SF Bakeries in 1 (one) day!

Back in April, Khaled let me know he had enrolled in the Sourdough Bread workshop at the San Francisco Baking Institute. I volunteered to meet him there and, after he had a night to recover a bit from the 15 hour flight from Dubai, take him on a tour of San Francisco bakeries and show him some of the city sights. I also volunteered brother Glenn, who lives in San Francisco, to act as native guide. 

So, Khaled and his friend and business associate, Jamal, arrived last Friday. My wife and I picked them up at their hotel Saturday morning and drove to downtown. We parked in the Mission Street Garage, because we expected to leave the car most of the day, and I thought Khaled and Jamal would enjoy the walk to the Ferry Building, where Glenn joined us. I had warned Khaled that July can be chilly in San Francisco. Even though, it turned out to be unseasonably warm (68 dF), coming from the UAE, the visitors said it seemed quite chilly to them.

There is a fabulous Farmer's Market at the San Francisco Ferry Building on Saturday mornings. In addition to wonderful produce and other foods, there are three bakeries that come: Acme (Acme Bread Company - Ferry Building Marketplace), which has a permanent stall inside the Ferry Building, Della Fattoria (Della Fattoria Homepage), from Petaluma and Downtown Bakery (Downtown Bakery & Creamery | Home - Healdsburg), from Healdsburg. We tasted samples and bought various pastries and breads at each.

Glenn's office is on the 22nd floor of one of the Embarcadero Center towers, a couple hundred yards from the Ferry Building, so he took us up for a panoramic view of the Bay. By then, it was time for lunch. We walked over to California Street and up to Tadich Grill (Tadich Grill | San Francisco, CA), which, for those of you who don't know, is the oldest restaurant in the City (founded during the Gold Rush era) and still one of the best, especially for fish.  Hmmmm ... If you take into account the delicious, very much old-style San Francisco Sourdough that Boudin custom bakes for Tadich Grill, we actually "visited" 7 (seven) bakeries.

We then hopped on the Muni and headed down Market to the Castro. We got off the trolly close to Thorough Bread Bakery (Thorough Bread and Pastry), one of my favorites, but Khaled was very focused on visiting Tartine (Tartine Bakery), so we walked there first. He said he just needed to see it. As usual, the line was half a block long. I stood in line, "just in case," while Susan and Khaled squeezed past the line, into the bakery/cafe, so Khaled could see their offerings. He came back to the end of the line with this really intense, serious look and announced he "had to get something," no matter how long we had to wait. So, another of those really tough sacrifices one makes for a friend, we had coffee and (too many) pastries at Tartine. Everything was amazingly wonderful.

So, we walked back to Thorough Bread Bakery. Their breads and Pastries looked wonderful as they always do, but we were already suffering from a mixture of butter intoxication and hyper-caffeination, so we just looked. Then we took the Muni back downtown to retrieve our cars and met again at B Patisserie (b. patisserie) on California and Divisadero. 

Now, it occurs to me that you might get the idea this was some sort of self-indulgent carbohydrate orgy. I want you to understand, Khaled and Jamal are serious businessmen, in San Francisco for professional training. They have very high standards and are both clearly committed to producing an authentic product of the highest quality to their clientele. They have an exceptional challenge: They aim to introduce French-style, artisanal pains au levain in several varieties to a country that has no prior exposure to these foods. Moreover, neither man has personally traveled in France, Italy or other countries where the breads they will be baking are "native." They know what they have read about and seen photos of here on TFL and in their cookbooks and what they have baked themselves. One of their goals for this trip was to taste as many of the types of breads they anticipate baking as possible at as many excellent bakeries as possible. I do think that the bakeries they visited would be hard to beat, setting a standard of quality for which to strive for any baker.

 

Jamal and Khaled performing intensive product assessment at b. patisserie

Susan, Glenn and I had great fun facilitating Khaled and Jamal's investigations. 

David

 

Comments

KathyF's picture
KathyF

Sounds like you guys had a great time! A tour of San Francisco bakeries. You know, I lived in San Francisco for 20 years and live just north of San Francisco right now... and I haven't been to any of those bakeries. I really need to expand my horizons!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Kathy.

My family made frequent trips to San Francisco from when I was very young. (That was after the 1906 earthquake though.) Getting some "wharf bread" was a constant. Most all the old bakeries are gone - Parisian, Larraburu, Toscana, Fantasia <sigh> - as are Blums, New Joe's, Jack's, Vannesi's and other contributors to my food eduction. 

Boudin is still in business, as is Tadich, of course. But the bakeries we visited this trip are all relatively new. Any of them by itself is worth a trip. We were lucky that neither jet lag, nor weather nor impossible crowds interfered with our tour. It was a sensational day, especially being able to share it with Khaled and Jamal. 

David

KathyF's picture
KathyF

I grew up in Marin county. The sourdough breads I remember are Parisian, Columbo and Lombardi's (who were actually in Petaluma). I really miss Lombardi's. When my kids were young we used to stop at their bakery in Petaluma to pick up warm loaves of sourdough. *Sigh*

For some reason, I never heard of Larraburu. Could be because I wasn't living in San Francisco at the time and it wasn't available at the local supermarket like the others.

I do enjoy eating bread by Semifreddi and the Village bakery in Sonoma county has just started offering their bread at my local Safeway and I really, really like their bread. I haven't tried Acme's bread yet. I saw it at a store in Mill Valley but I opted for a La Brea cheese loaf instead.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

and no pastry was left untouched:-)  Dubai could use a good SF bakery and these guys can do it.,  Sounds like a great trip.

Happy baking 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

It was a real treat to lead a bakery tour of San Francisco.  Usually I only hit 2 or 3 bakeries per day, so this was really special.  It was a great pleasure to meet Khaled and Jamal, and share some of the City's finest carbohydrates.

My wife and I and guests from Australia finished the day with Pizza at Pizzeta 211, the best in town.  Just another 4000 calorie day.

Glenn

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

David,

Great script for the City and the SFBI. Thanks for the walk about.

Wild-Yeast

P.S. Seems they focused on The Tartine Bakery - is it now that legendary on a worldwide basis?...,

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I get credits for the screen play, with a (strong) assist by Glenn. The strange part is that the actors stuck to the script!

Yes. I think Tartine is world famous now. It's word of mouth, the books, being touted as "The Best Bread in San Francisco." I think Chad deserves a lot of credit, although philosophy is as big a part of it as the bread itself. 

David

lumos's picture
lumos

Great report.  Wonderful to see both of you (and Khalid's friend) in very good form (in spite of probably growing waist line after the 'research') and had a very fulfilling day. 

Thanks for sharing. :)

isand66's picture
isand66

Thanks for posting this David.  It's great to see my friend Khalid enjoying his passion for bread and I'm sure all of you had a wonderful time.  Hopefully this experience as well as the baking lessons from the school will serve Khalid well in his future professional aspirations of opening his own bake shop.

Ian

bakingbadly's picture
bakingbadly

I can almost imagine Khalid's excitement and anticipation prior to his arrival in San Francisco. Stupendous, it must've been.

Thank you for the writeup! Very happy to read about Khalid's journey.

Zita

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I think Kalid and Jamal are facing similar challenges to yours in Cambodia. It will be interesting to see how they fare. We'll all be rooting for them, as we have for you!

David

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Thanks David for posting this remarkable bread story.  Remarkable in that here are 4 people who have never met other than their connection on the internet on a site about baking bread....

Who would have thought that something as simple as baking bread would draw 2 fine young men from a far off country more than half way around the world to the hilly streets of San Francisco to visit bakeries and stand in line at Tartine's just to 'have a taste'....

This truly is a remarkable age that we are living in.  My kids think nothing of it but I am in awe.

Yeah to Khalid and Jamal for setting off on their courageous journey into the unknown and hats off to you and Glen for meeting them and providing a personal tour around The City.  A trip I am sure they will never forget - or your hospitality.

Thanks soooo much for sharing and for the photos as well.

I look forward to reading about what comes out of Khalid's ovens in the future.  I imagine he and Jamal will need a good rest once this journey is over and they are both back home.  TIme to soak in all they have experienced and more.

Take Care,

Janet

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I have also remarked on how the world has shrunk further for my kids' generation. One hopes that the increased international exposure of the young will make it harder for them to de-humanize those who live elsewhere or worship differently. That is the only hope I can see for true world peace. 

It starts with breaking (and making) bread together.

David

Our Crumb's picture
Our Crumb

So great to hear Khalid was able to make your (and your family's) acquaintance on his junket to the City. 

This is one for Floyd's scrapbook -- (another connection of many that) couldn't have happened without his good works.

Thanks for posting, Dr. S.

Tom

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

In fact, I said as much to my wife on our way back from San Francisco.

David

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Well done David and Glenn, having personally met with Khalid in Dubai and knowing him from his blogs on TFL I wish him and his business partner all the success in the world.Your accounts too are always such great reads.

I was thinking that i hadn't seen anything from Khalid for some time on TFL and now i can see why , he has been a very busy fellow. I'm sure i am as many others just looking forward to seeing his great new adventure unfold, i hope i haven't missed his account of the SFBI.  

I agree with Janet on how nice it is that Bakers and Bread enthusiasts can meet up and enjoy each others company and shared interests. Judith and I are off to Malaysia this Friday for 2 weeks and will be catching up with Betsy Teo and her Daughter  Penelope and indeed sharing a holiday apartment in the Cameron Highlands  for a few days.

Once again a meeting that took place purely trough TFL, from Betsy visiting Perth in Western Australia to see an ailing friend and emailing as to whether i might know of any baking lessons to be had in Perth led to an opportunity to have a bake together. Now in my retirement a holiday to Malaysia visiting Kuala Lumpur, Penang and the Cameron Highlands will give us the chance to meet again.

Same goes for meeting Andy (Bread and Roses) in the UK where not only I but Franko and Cordrutta have also been able to meet fellow TFL folk in far off lands.

Any TFL folk coming to Perth Western Australia let me now and i'll dust off the welcome mat!  

Kind regards Derek

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Derek,

Couldn't help noticing where you will be in Malaysia and thought 'what a coincidence' in that I just finished reading a wonderful book that took place in the Cameron Highlands - The Garden of Evening Mists.  I had never heard of that location before nor had I ever read a book that takes place in Malaysia....Sounds like a beautiful part of the world.

Enjoy your trip and the good company.

Sorry for hijacking David but I couldn't resist commenting.....

Janet

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

Really great post. My trips to San Fran always include a number of those stops. I think you made great choices and it looks like it was a lot of fun. Nice to connect with people that have the same passion for bread.

a_warming_trend's picture
a_warming_trend

I loved everything about reading this. I'm jealous of the experience!

baybakin's picture
baybakin

Looks like a wonderful trip and tour!

That weekend was indeed wonderful, I was showing folks from the UK around on a similar tour, but more general food-focused, less bakery-focused.  They thought it was too hot though.