April 7, 2014
The first day that I walked into Red Bread was the day that the LA Times ran a photo of the newly-opened brick-and-mortar Culver City store/restaurant on the front page of the Saturday Section, along with an article praising its rye. Not being a subscriber, I did not know this, and all of the bread had been sold out by the time I stumbled in at 2pm.
The next weekend, not being what you call an early bird, I again went in during the afternoon, but there was no loaves of sourdough to be had. No matter, a loaf of Russian black bread was tucked under my arm, and I filled my belly with the best quiche I’d had since Soul Kitchen.
February 26, 2014
I’m going to warn you now: there are lots and lots of brunch posts coming. Please don’t think I’m one of those dithering ladies who rolls out of bed at noon and stumbles to brunch on a weekday — quite the opposite, in fact. These days, I’m lucky if I can manage an omelette at home before running off to work. So, on weekends, I enjoy the luxury of several hours lingering over coffee and cocktails and something with eggs.
Today? Back to the Mission and Bar Tartine.
Bar Tartine’s brunch revolves heavily around bread, toasted and piled with various toppings, as one would expect from the name. Considering how I feel about carbs, and how much I love Tartine Bakery down the street, it was inevitable that I would enjoy myself here.
October 31, 2013
Is there anything better than a good loaf of bread?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Tartine Country Loaf. This is cult bread. The beautiful book that describes how to make this bread inspired me to raise my own sourdough starter. This is the kind of bread that people line up for, with the line snaking out the door and down the sidewalk.
Standing in line for the bread was totally worth it, but if you don’t have the time, at least pick up a croissant if you happen to be in the Mission. You won’t regret it.
December 18, 2012
Meet the new guy I’ve been obsessing over for the last couple of weeks.
He’s a sourdough starter and I raised him myself! Back in the old days, before you could get those packets of yeast at the supermarket, bakers would have to catch and raise their own yeast if they wanted leavened bread. The cool thing is that when you catch wild yeast, some beneficial bacteria get caught too; these are the bacteria that give sourdough that tangy flavor. And the combinations of yeast and bacteria are different in every region, which is part of the reason why a French pain au levain tastes different from San Francisco sourdough.
Raising a starter is as simple as mixing together some flour and water, then letting it sit in a warm spot for a few days. The yeast and bacteria in the air work their way into the flour and water slurry and start eating the carbohydrates in it. Then you “train” the little guy by discarding a bit, then feeding the rest with more flour and water. Eventually the culture grows, eats, and burps little carbon dioxide bubbles in a predictable manner, and that’s when it’s ready to use for baking. It really is very much like having a pet: daily feedings, a little warm corner for him to sleep in, and he has the potential to give you many years of joy.
His name is Jean-Bapyeast. I wanted a really French name, a friend suggested Jean-Baptiste, and Edna punned it into Jean-Bapyeast. Excellent, non?
There are a lot of things you can do with a natural sourdough starter, including, of course, making bread. I’ve tried my hand at a couple of loaves but haven’t quite nailed down my perfect recipe yet. The loaf above was my first, and unfortunately it deflated a bit while I was transferring it to the baking vessel, resulting in a denser loaf than I prefer. We’ll get there, and until then, try raising a sourdough starter for yourself. There’s really nothing cooler than making tasty bread out of nothing but flour, water, salt, and some microorganisms you gathered from the air.