Sunday, February 26, 2006

Moving Day

I've gone indie... to

And just like moving homes, this is going to take a while to adjust--the content is the same as ever, but I've got a lot of thoughts for style that will take some time to materialize. I just couldn't wait to be on my own, so see you there! :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The City Bakery - Los Angeles

Note: I have since revisited The City Bakery Los Angeles.

I have so many thoughts about The City Bakery Los Angeles that I'll have to start out with the most important aspects and ramble on and on until perhaps I am the only person still here. BUT if you're still with me by the end of the post, then add The City Bakery to Wild Flour Bread as a place that is worth-jumping-on-a-plane-for.... New York or Los Angeles (your choice!).
So, pastries first. Maury Rubin opened The City Bakery in NYC in 1990, and he is especially known for tarts and pastries-- having even authored The Book of Tarts. The Pretzel Croissant epitomizes the City Bakery ethos -- considering a classic (French) form and organically innovating it into a new (American) sensation. The croissant dough is salted (perhaps through salted butter?) and sprinkled with sesame seeds, and it is finished by crossing the ends of the croissant, which simply integrates pretzel engineering. It's also partially whole wheat, so it turns out flaky but still a bit squishy. A perfect balance of croissant and pretzel. It works, too, that there aren't big salt crystals on the outside--it would ruin the chew--so I consider the sesame seeds a masterstroke.
If it hadn't been so bright in Brentwood, this Melted Chocolate Chip Cookie would be its actual lusciously deep chocolate color. Akin to a brownie cookie, it's a galaxy of ganache-like chocolate interspersed with chunks of chocolate and some undissolved sugar crystals for extra texture. The outside is just firm enough to contain the gooey goodness inside... but in my attempt to my break off a piece of the center, my fingers only emerged coated in fudgy chocolate. Spectacular. When I ate the leftovers later in the day, though, the cookie had solidified a bit.
Lemon Tarts. Perfectly puckery with a softening sweetness, and creamy besides. The only hesitation was eating the Pacman-ish face on these. We overcame that. These were the only tarts on offer, but I'm hoping that their other tarts, such as milky way, blueberry coconut, cranberry-almond-caramel, and MANY MORE find their way to LA soon. They are all made in round flan rings, with minimalist--though organically creative--designs.
Their chocolate chip cookie... well... rules. Chewy, flavorful, great chocolate, great dough (it also has slightly discernible sugar crystals when you chew). This cookie was more on the bready side, as opposed to the sugar-y/butter-y side that their East Coast cookies have had. This could be a factor of: choice, the air (temp or humidity), the quirks of the maker of the batch, or the flour (which are often regionally different). The batter is available in some stores as Maury's Cookie Dough to bake at home. I hope that their white chocolate chocolate cookie turns up in the LA store, because I liked that one best in NY.
For fun, I also tried a berry scone and a miso morning glory muffin (with carrots). They check out. And yes, you will taste the soy in that muffin. Coincidentally, the muffins have a wide flat bottom that reminds me of the flan rings shapes used for the tarts.
We did eat lunch first, and we both went for the trademark salad bar, which ends up something like this.
We piled up cornmeal-crusted catfish, roasted fennel, beets with mint, spinach/asian pear/black sesame salad, soy molasses salmon, radicchio/chickpea salad, spicy thai eggplant, roasted brussel sprouts, and breaded chicken with cilantro sauce. The sweet, tender catfish and the roasted fennel stood out as especially delicious while the thai eggplant stood out as being really slimy.

We also got a side of sharp and creamy macaroni and cheese. It tastes like a mix of cheddar, asiago, and fontina to me, but could just be a really great cheddar. I got the lovely puce prickly pear lemonade, and Chad got the regular lemonade.
Sigh.... that mac & cheese in its full glory.

We also got a chili cheddar boule. I liked the cheese feet created by the melted cheese off the bottom sides. It was fantastic with the Turkey White Bean Chili that we made at home that night.
And so went our meal.

There was also a lunch counter where you could get pressed sandwiches, egg scrambles, sandwiches, and the like. It was mostly savory, but I especially wanted to try the date and walnut w/ fresh ricotta pressed sandwich and the guava and cream cheese sandwich.

I've never been the type to rush to a new restaurant when it opens, but I think that the City Bakery in Brentwood shows its youth right now. It's only been open for about two weeks. The pastry counter and salad bar were a bit bare -- it was about 1:00 when we left and a lot of NY stalwarts weren't out there--no peanut butter cookies, no homemade marshmallows, no marinated tofu w/ chili sauce, only one type of tart. Certainly, there was plenty to binge on, but not so much in comparison to NY.

At the same time, though, there were offerings that I don't remember seeing in NY (I was last there in November)... the bread bar (though the sign wasn't clear about who bakes it -- it might be all shipped from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan)...
The clothing display....
I'm still torn between this t-shirt....

and this sweatshirt....
That reminds me. They DID have the amazing trademark hot chocolate on offer. I just knew I couldn't fit that rich and creamy molten chocolate into me that day. They are supposed to have a cold hot chocolate soon. I can also only hope that The City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival makes its way to LA, too.

There was also an extensive catering menu available (is that in NY, too?), divided into breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, midnight snack, and cocktail party. This is a good time to talk about price. As I understand it, The City Bakery is organic. So, that salad bar above will run you $16/lb. Cookies and muffins are $3/ea. For catering, for example, a "breakfast box" of mini muffins, seasonal fruit & fresh squeezed OJ runs $15/person; a half tray of mac & cheese is $40; cornbread with aged cheddar, peach jam, & jalapeno butter is $10/person; and chicken wings are $36/dozen. I like that the $10/person "Assembly-Required Hot Dogs" includes a comic book, among many other things. I believe that it's worth it, but for me, that would mean enjoying its worth every five years or so... or seeking out an expense account. As for the salad bar, at least spinach leaves are light.

I'll be traveling to LA a bit this year, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the City Bakery LA evolves. The quality is definitely there, in swoon-worthy proportion, but I wonder which products will find their way to its counters. I was expecting to see Maury Rubin's take on Los Angeles and its foods, but right now, it very much feels like an LA branch of a NY institution (having only its classic pastries for sale, bagels on offer, references to Manhattan on its catering menu). Of course, it is also winter, so there is time to amp up for spring and summer produce. Rubin, after all, follows a "Chez Panissian" (aka Alice Waters, aka started in California) approach of local foods and seasonal menus, so I expect interesting things to come.

One thing that did feel Californian was its interior design. Unlike the rather industrial silver permeating the NY branch, the one in the Brentwood Country Mart is white, and quite bright--even if it did retain a minimalist core. It's extremely roomy, especially with only 10 tables and 6 counter chairs for eating, but there is ample outdoor seating at wooden tables w/ umbrellas and lots of room to wander around the shop.

And what did I cunningly manage to include in all these photos? Yes, there is a Chocolate Room LA.
And although there is an outdoor City Bakery sign for the mall, I can't remember whether it's so New York-style or so LA-style to not have a sign on the place itself....


If I could implement one norm of the kitchen into everyday life, it would be the practice of loudly saying "Behind!" when you're in such a position--usually when walking by--and sometimes elaborating with "Sharp behind" and "Hot behind." Sure, it's abrupt, but man, is it effective. No one has to do anything in particular, except be aware and not step backwards.

Fellow supermarket shoppers, considered yourselves warned.

Friday, February 17, 2006

City Bakery LA... City Bakery LA... City Bakery LA... City Bakery LA...

For those west coast people who love Maury Rubin's City Bakery in New York City, you may be interested to know that the long-promised Los Angeles branch at the Brentwood Country Mart has FINALLY opened.

I'm off to Los Angeles for the weekend, and anyone who reads this on Saturday morning can be certain that at that very moment I'll be basking in the glow of a cold hot chocolate, a pretzel croissant, and anything else I can get into my giddy little hands.

Full photos and descriptions to come.

Some Rolls, Some Cakes, Some Pies

We continued our baking techniques class this week by continuing to have two days for each topic.

At the end of each class, we choose the best examples what we made for evaluation by the chef. So, we go to our products--in this case, rolls--and look for ONE good one. This has been difficult the last couple of days. It's amazing how many things can go wrong with a baked good. And how each roll can be afflicted in a unique way.
Rolls are tricky beasts. There are just so many of them to roll out from so much dough that you have to get through, and you just want to get them all done--because 1. you don't want the dough to dry out,2. you want them to get out in time for lunch (to serve, but also so you don't want to have to go checking ovens and rotating trays when you should be sitting and eating), 3. your hand gets tired, and 4. you don't really like rolls in the first place. I prefer the crustier, looser crumb large loaves; and a bit of the communal feeling of sharing the daily bread.

Anyway, we were able to scavenge exactly one passable roll of each kind we were supposed to make.
Clockwise, there's the brioche, the knot roll, the cloverleaf roll, and the parkerhouse roll. The chef liked the marbled brioche look, which probably happened b/c some egg wash dried out before baking. Our other brioche, though, were either decapitated while baking or otherwise deformed, so we chose this one for its shape.

Except for the brioche, they're all made from the same soft roll dough (made with milk and eggs), and yet I'd eat the cloverleaf or knot if I had to, but probably wouldn't touch the parkerhouse because the shapes affect consistency. The cloverleaf is formed by dividing each piece of dough into three pieces, rolling them into circles, and putting them next to each other in muffin tins. The knot roll is made by rolling out the dough so that it's snakey and tying it into a knot, with the ends tucked underneath. The parkerhouse is made by letting the dough proof a little as a round ball, then rolling the middle flat, and folding it over so that the two fat ends connect to make a pair of lips.
Above are milkrolls, which are meant to "kiss" (the technical term) while proofing, so that you can pull them apart. Because the soft roll dough is handled less than the other rolls here, these are much softer. As far as evaluation goes, this was our only one, so we had to show it. It's not bad, per se, but you can notice the irregular sizes of the rolls, the askew edges, and that swirl on the bottom right is probably from overworking the dough. The soft crumb was right on, though.

We also made cream pies. We were given the recipes and told to come up with a presentation as if the slices were to be sold individually. It turned out during evaluation that we were supposed to use whipped cream on all of them. We had just made a chantilly cream with added coconut syrup for the coconut cream pie. Even that pushed me to the end of tolerance. Whipped cream is pretty boring to me; I'd rather that the main event have enough flavor to support itself (these pies turned out pretty bland). Also, though, the go-to whipped cream garnish would be a rosette on the wider end of the pie made with a star tip. So a teammate did that for the coconut cream. Granted, the chocolate chips aren't stunning on the chocolate, but it stirs up something good in my minimalist soul; maybe piping our own choc chips would have been good instead. And I like just the star banana slice on the pie. It's clean, and if you have that banana slice when it's still crispy (before the moisture from the banana makes it bleed), it's pure bliss.

At least, though, the pies were made like pastry cream, so we were able to practice not scrambling our eggs or scorching the bottom of the pot.
Our polenta cake didn't rise as high as it should have; probably because the sugar and butter weren't thoroughly creamed together; the butter was too cold. This is also not a very flavorful recipe for the cake -- we had to brush it with lemon simple syrup in order to give it some distinction. But it should be light and high, not dense and low. Our sour cream pound cake was good, but we somehow came out with 1/2 pound less batter than we should have, so the bottom layer isn't as thick as it should be. And even with these slices, we had to pore over them to choose what to present.
We made scones and muffins today. Our muffins had the distinction of having butter, eggs, and sugar that were undermixed AND flour that was overmixed. So, there were nodes of sugar splotching the top and some tunnels running through the crumb.

In some ways, it was a challenging week because I don't like to make what I don't like to eat. So, I can only fall back on the promise of learning techniques that may come in handy some day to apply to what I do like. The chef said that when we go out to work, we're going to be taking orders for the most part, rather than relying on our creativity, so culinary school is when you should try to push your limits and try thing; so I am probably also going to weave that reasoning into changing recipes that I am not happy with. We are also more familiar with the kitchen and each other, and our didn't make many huge mistakes this week--another group had to make up their cake batter three times due to assorted mistakes! And there's nothing wrong with that--it's not like you have to pay extra for more ingredients, and heck, you've learned a lot--but sometimes you feel like you've met with the weighing scales enough for one day.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sweetie Pies - Napa

So, I've been rather open about where I've been in the area and what I've seen, but I've kept a little secret: a few weeks ago, I drove around downtown Napa--literally, it's mostly a "U"-- with the intention of blogging about it... and went straight back home. There were some cute shops that I may wander into when I want to buy yarn or beaded goods, but nothing that I could see that was enough to justify looking for a parking space and attempting to parallel park. Most importantly, no pastry shops that I could find. I felt let down.

I usually jump onto Hwy 29 from my apt, and dowtown is a few minutes in the other direction, so I hadn't gone back since.

But yesterday, a classmate told me about a certain Sweetie Pies bakeshop in downtown Napa. Reeeaaallly?

So, I went today. It turns out that Napa has a sort of Napa River District that is on the outer southeast tip of downtown. It's quite pretty, and not only was I inspired to park, but I was also inspired to take pictures.... Of obvious signage.....
I don't know how long this district extends, but this area was comprised of one large brick building called the Hatt Building, which was built in 1893 by a Captain Hatt. It houses such places as Sweetie Pies, a Vintage Sweet Shop, a restaurant called Celadon that I've heard praised, Napa General Store with fancy food gear and a cafe, and Angele's, which has this snazzy setup.
I expected good things when I saw Sweetie Pies' storefront
Unique signs denote unique bakers.
Inside, they had a large glass display of cakes--including a lot of cheesecakes--with cookies on top, and around the corner of the counter, they had more breakfast pastry sort of items. The eating area had a clean country cafe sort of feel--woodsy and homey.
My favorite acquisition was the Breakfast Cookie. Packed full of carrot, raisins, coconut, and perhaps orange zest, it was refreshing and satisfying moist and flavorful. The occasional edge was also slightly caramelized and extra chewy. The sweetened coconut was a clever icing all on its own. I can see myself craving this cookie.
Next, the nonfat oatmeal bar was also triumphant. More flavorful than the name suggests, it had plump dried fruits interspersed throughout the layers of oats and a brown sugar-y batter. The sprinkling of coarse sugar on top slyly contributes crunchy sweet bites.
I had high hopes for the Oreo Cookie, but it just didn't work out between us. I did get to the shop at about 5:00, so maybe its slight lack of freshness is understandable.... but it was also just a bit bland and the filling was a little too liquidy, too. It did make me crave white choc chips in the oatmeal bar, though.
I was excited by the Mud Pie Cheesecake, too, but it was too buttery for me. I like cheesecake that separates in ridged sorts of chunks and tastes like cheese, but this was one very smooth and dense without much cheese flavor. I liked the chocolate ganache layer on top and the oreo crust on the bottom, but the two layers of cheesecake in the middle were a shame.
There were so many things to choose from at Sweetie Pies that I'm looking forward to going back and nabbing more Breakfast Cookies and some new discoveries. I could have easily ordered 10 other things that looked good on this visit.

And a bonus was spotting another destination on way home home through downtown Napa: Annette's Chocolate and Ice Cream Factory.

Good thing I live so close.

Physical Therapy for a Baker

So, baking isn't all sugar and butter all the time. It's something of a contact sport, as all the ingredients that have passed my way can attest. In fact, I haven't felt so much like a sports team member since high school field hockey.

Part of that is the fun of the camaraderie with the people I'm working with as we dart around the kitchen, and the comparing how other people are doing against how you're doing, and the vague feeling of winning when something works out well, as well as the feeling of defeat when it doesn't.

Another part of the sports analogy is physical. When we're not standing, we're walking quickly. We try not to get burned, splattered on, or careened into. We try not to hunch over the bench (as the work table is called).

When I first started the program about a month ago, my knees started to hurt. Sharp pains near the bottom of the kneecap. Standing hurts, but I prefer that to walking and tackling stairs.

I've had problems with my knees in the past (10 yrs ago), so I knew that my legs are probably weak and my knee caps are askew. My shoes always get worn out on the outside heel. I wanted to try to fix this and make sure it wasn't something more serious, so I saw a doctor. He said that I have patella tendonitis, which is caused by standing all day. Shocking. He also lightly mocked how weak my legs are, and sent me off to physical therapy.

I went for the first time today, and will have 2-3 visits for 3 weeks. I'm starting off with light exercises and stretches. It turns out that my feet are a little flat and my hip muscles are also weak, causing my femur to roll in a little when I walk, instead of going slightly out to support my body. I'll continue the exercises on my own after 3 weeks.

So, I just wanted to share this as a part of the culinary school/baking experience for me. And at least my orthopedist who specializes in sports understood why I saw him... and didn't mock me for that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cara Cara Orange Vanilla Sorbet, aka Creamsicle Sorbet

When I said that I would try to make the Cara Cara Orange Vanilla Sorbet at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, I thought that I'd just end up using regular navel oranges. But while at the bonanza of potatoes and citrus at the Ferry Building Farmers Market, I found and snatched up Cara Cara Oranges. After the farmer tossed in a couple free satsumas, I knew I was in for a good time.

Reading sorbet recipes is sort of like reading the phone book: every entry is slightly different. Among the concerns of sorbet are adding enough sugar so that the fruit flavor is enhanced and the texture is soft instead of icy hard and not adding so much sugar that it's too sweet and it won't completely freeze. Also, each different kind of fruit and even each batch of fruit needs to be adjusted according to its own sweetness. So, watermelon sorbet at the beginning of the summer may need more sugar than at the end of the summer.

I'd been told at C's BK that a vanilla bean had been infused in the simple syrup, so with that as my guide, I winged my way to a rather satisfying dessert. Cara Cara Oranges have a slight grapefruit flavor intermingling with the orange, and that flavor came through just perfectly. It was also a desirable consistency. I woosed out with the vanilla bean, though. I thought that a half bean would be strong enough, but instead of the creamsicle effect that the sorbet at C's BK had, mine only had a subtle note of vanilla. So, I amended the recipe for a whole bean. I was tempted to scrape the vanilla seed out for more flavor, but their sorbet had no black flecks and I didn't want any grittiness. I hope that a whole bean works. Maybe other ways to enhance the vanilla flavor would be to put a vanilla bean into the sugar for long enough to make vanilla sugar, and then making the simple syrup with both the sugar and the whole vanilla bean.

Cara Cara Orange Vanilla Sorbet
Makes 4 servings
Loosely Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 c freshly squeezed cara cara orange juice
1 tbs cara cara orange zest

Combine sugar, water, and vanilla bean in a small-to-medium saucepan, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Cool and remove vanilla bean (to hasten cooling, place the syrup in a bowl, and place the bowl in another bowl filled with a mixture of ice and water).

Combine about 1 cup sugar syrup with the citrus juice. Taste and add more syrup if necessary. Stir in the zest.

Refrigerate until cool if necessary, then churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Mustards Grill - Yountville PLUS Vague Police Musings

Mustards Grill is generally the local standby for good food. Everyone I know loves Mustards. And tourists do, too. So, Chad and I went there as our own Valentine's dinner on Saturday night to see what it's all about.

After my introduction to Cindy Pawlcyn's style at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena, Mustards Grill felt oddly familiar. The black and white decor with splashes of color through flowers and paintings. The individual pepper grinders and tiny bowl of salt. The folksy, yet knowing humorous touches on the menu and decor.... such as this sign at the end of the hallway to the bathrooms.
The food was great, though the desserts were even better than the main courses. Or maybe I'm just that kind of person. So, since I started with The End anyway, I'll proceed with dessert.

I had the pear sorbet with poached pears. When I ate my first spoonful, I wondered if they'd scooped ice cream on top of the sorbet. It was so creamy.... but tasted of pears... so I looked down, and WOW, that was the sorbet. Just like the Cara Cara Orange Vanilla Sorbet at C's BK, it was amazing. So smooth and creamy and concentrated goodness with its own unique taste... and notice that its presentation is almost exactly the same as at C's BK. The poached pears were also fantastic; rather than mealy or wooden like some that I've had, they were syrupy and solid; maybe they poached them in a dessert wine. It also came with a snickerdoodle, of which I am a registered enthusiast.
Chad had the Warm Guittard Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Tart with Jack Daniels brown sugar ice cream, coffee caramel sauce. Rich and amazing. I stole at least three bites without even attempting to distract him.

For the main course, I had the grilled duck l'orange with celery root and pommes Erasto. It's a brave presentation because the duck appears big and liver shaped. It's a cleverly arranged breast and leg/thigh, though, and conceals most of the slivered fingerling potatoes. The sauce was orange-cognac, and the slivered orange peel in the celery root salad on top was a nice counterpoint. I like it when one ingredient is used in different elements of a dish. It ties it together. I suspect that the potatoes were cooked in duck fat. They made me perk up, savor, and force Chad to have one right away. Erasto, by the way, is the name of a chef at Mustards. The duck itself was a wonderfully flavorful meat coated by a centimeter or so of duck fat/skin encrusted with herbs. Crosswise, it looked something like to an iced cake. Glorious.
Chad had the "Truck Stop" special with a steak, sweet potato gratin, and broccolini, in a slightly creamy sauce that seemed to be made of beef juices. The gratin was especially flavorful. I swear we saw flecks of herbs in it, but the waitress denied it. And the steak... it was good steak. Great flavor, and unlike the steak frites at Cindy's, it had a satisfying chew.

You'll notice, too, that our food and sauces were--well--shiny. There was no holding back on flavor conducting, heat retaining butter and oil. Yummy, but this is calorie splurge food.

There were two disappointments to our visit, though.

One was our waitress who kept trying to get us to order more stuff. I resent it when I'm asked to order additional courses or items that I clearly didn't allude to. And to ask multiple times throughout the meal, and to ask my date after I had said no, lacks tact. She should have just came out with it and asked "Would you like to spend more money?" We also got our check not even halfway through our desserts. She was hardly helpful with questions, too. These may be details--and displayed by only one admittedly crucial employee--but they make the difference between making you feel like you're spending your own special holiday at a hospitable restaurant and making you feel like you're being pushed through a money-making feeding ground.

Also, we were disappointed by the drinks, and about 90% of this was because of one factor: limes. Whether it was the lemon-limeade, the El Guapo (their name for a caipirinha), or the margarita, we kept running into limes that weren't properly offset by sugar. They were just unpleasantly sour; and as you can tell, limes are a big part of the drink menu. And my cherry cosmo barely tasted of cherry; it tasted more like triple sec with cranberry juice. That's a shame because they use a house infused cherry vodka for it. After the transcendent cocktail Chad had at C's BK, this was all that much harder to accept. The drink menu looks great, and has so much promise, but the bartender was off that night.

One fantastic aspect of the drink menu is its reverse cocktail section, which are cocktails with much more juice/flavoring than alcohol (and priced accordingly), so that drivers can indulge a little but still drive safe and legally....

There's a very long story here about our reaction to a California Highway Patrol checkpoint blocking Hwy 29 Saturday night, but I'm just going to boil it down to: don't drink and drive. It's going to turn out badly. You are being watched. And not only by police. If you try to park on a residential street to try to burn off some time, the residents will turn on their lights.... shine flashlights at you.... and call their neighbors to ask them to try to get a better look at you through their window(s). And I wasn't even over the legal limit since I only had one drink at the beginning of the night; I was just being extra careful. Also, there's a Napa veterans' residence campus off Hwy 29, where the speed limit is 15 mph. And you will still be watched. Because everyone knows that an unfamiliar VW Beetle is sure to stir up trouble.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf - San Francisco

My boyfriend, Chad, came up to Napa again this weekend, and instead of an intricately planned out road trip spanning three counties, we took the ferry from Vallejo to the San Francisco Ferry Building. I knew that once there, we could just walk around wherever the spirit moved us; Fisherman's Wharf is about a 20 min walk away.

The ferry, by the way, is fantastic. Not only is it comfortable and smooth, but for $17 and free parking in Vallejo, you get a pass for full day ferry use (one way is $10). You save yourself the stress of driving (narrow, hilly streets w/ small signs) and parking ($$$) in SF. $34 for two is probably even less than gas and parking in SF.

I also planned our visit to coincide with the Farmers Market outside the Ferry Building, which itself is a treasure trove of artisanal food purveyors of surrounding counties -- it was like an all star game for me after reading about all these companies, and seeing their stores all neatly tucked into the building.

I bought a donut muffin from the Downtown Bakery and Creamery in Healdsburg I've heard the stuff of legends about the bakery, but this muffin was awfully dry with a poorly proportioned cinnamon and sugar mixture on the outside. The bakery remains on my hit list nonetheless.
Although booths encircled the entire Ferry Building, there's only so much that can be produce in the winter.... pretty much potatoes and citrus. There were also cheeses, spreads, honeys, etc.
And almond blossoms...
And butter...
I found Point Reyes Blue Cheese to buy from the source! It was very tangy and strong. Good, but I still have cheese from last weekend, so I didn't get any.
Inside the Ferry Building, Peet's Coffee won the longest line contest.
A permanent mushroom store.
I got a star anise-pink peppercorn truffle and a grapefruit tarragon truffle at Recchiuti Confections. The latter was a predominantly tarragon ganache with a candied grapefruit peel on top, while the former had an elusive licorice and more flavor. Both melted nicely on the tongue. I was surprised by their, um, rustic appearance, but it works. The LATimes had two great CA chocolate articles this week, which includes this company. Read 'em before you have to pay for 'em.
It was just about lunchtime, and this was probably one of the hardest choices I've ever made in my life--the buffalo tacos? Oyster Po' Boy? Lamb sausage sandwich? Something from the Japanese Deli? Something in the Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant? Scrambled eggs and bacon on a baguette? Cheese? Cookies?

We chose Rose Pistola and Rose's Cafe, and I got the Hawaiian Tombo Tuna w/ fennel, arugala, and aioli on that kind of cakey, buttery bread that is sooooo good. It was a great sandwich--and even with a green and white theme-- that was made even better by not being made of boring seared tuna. This tuna was a rich white fully cooked tuna that was just excellent. Chad got the pork sandwich with salsa verde. The odd name comes from melding the name of their two eateries -- an Italian restaurant in the North Beach area and a cafe in the Cow Hollow area..
An old-fashioned cupcake from Miette, an organic pastry shop in the building. It starts out cakey but practically melts into fudge in your mouth. Just perfect.
And a grapefruit macaron, which was probably the best macaron I've had in the US. Light as air, and barely chewy at the end, with a fresh grapefruit tang. Also one of the more rustic I've seen.
I liked Miette a lot, and even approve of their aesthetic--elegant and casual, and nothing annoying like a star tip in sight.
We then walked along the piers to Fisherman's Wharf, which has areas that are much more of a theme park rendition of a waterfront. Bubba Gump. Hard Rock. Fudge. NO pictures of that.
But I do love the strip of seafood booths that look like this one.
And cook their food like this.
It's exciting to walk through and be a part of this sea of people where everyone carries at least one red and white paper basket full of seafood chunks, fries, or a bread bowl filled with soup. Combined with a beer pulled out of one of the ice buckets, it's a great idea for lunch.
There's also the original bushman, who scares people, poses for pic's, and amuses me to no end.
The flagship Boudin Bakery also resides here. They've been making sourdough--from the same maintained starter--since 1849. They recently renovated this building, into a 27,000 square foot... well... bread themepark, including a museum.
They sell 20 different kinds of breads, and arrange some into amusing shapes, while baskets of bread float around from tracks on the ceiling
From the sidewalk, you can even watch the bakers shape dough. If you've been harboring things you want to say to a baker, here's your chance to let it out.
We turned around and walked back to the Ferry Building after going inland a couple streets. I was glad that these two people found each other.
A cute little park with jumpin' stones.
We had some time to spare before our ferry back, so we just sat on a bench and admired the view.

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