We talk to the pastry chef about his process
Coi in San Francisco has become renowned for its tasting menus, including a dessert-only menu. And the man behind the desserts is Matt Tinder. We were able to catch up with Tinder at the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival earlier this month to discuss his career.
Tinder's reasoning behind doing his dessert tasting menu was actually to give the guests more freedom. "I guess it gives people the opportunity to come in [if] they don’t want to spend all the money to have a three-hour meal, it gives them the opportunity to have only part of the meal," he said. But he does take seriously the progression of his dessert-only meal, as would be typical of a regular tasting menu. "I try to usually break it into hot [and] cold, depending on the time of year, hot, cold, tepid, lactic once, I’ll do something one time," he said. "If I do chocolate it’ll only be one time, then several fruits, depending on the season. In the summer it’s really fruit-forward."
Tinder was also particularly inspired by the Southern ingredients during his time in Charleston. "The freshness of the grains is pretty awesome," he said. "Benne seeds, we’ve been using some of that which is really cool. We’re using the sorghum seeds, we’re popping them like popcorn."
For more of the interview, watch the video above!
Nosh Pit Weekly Planner: November 18–24
Thu, November 19
Saboteur Bakery Popup at RN74
Pastry chef Matt Tinder, an alum of Bay Area heavy hitters like Coi and the Restaurant at Meadowood, is opening his own bakery in Bremerton. Meanwhile, he's hosting several popup bake sales at Michael Mina's restaurant in downtown Seattle. Look for breads, savory croissants, brioche sucrée and spelt Vollkornbrot (a dark German rye bread), all from Washington ingredient. Look for his bake sale Thursday the 19th and again Tuesday the 24th from noon to 6pm. Look for Saboteur in Bremerton in early 2016.
Thu, November 19
Fête de Beaujolais Nouveau: Bastille, Bottlehouse, and Le Pichet Edition
The third Thursday of November, celebrates France's festive young wine made from gamay grapes. At Bastille in Ballard, tastes are $3, a glass is $6, and $20 will get you a carafe. Sample small servings of stuffed gougeres with chanterelle mushrooms, steak tartare and more all for $9. Meanwhile Bottlehouse in Madrona is preparing tastings of selected Cru Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau, including samples from a 28-liter cask, plus sultry jazz from Delilah Beaucoup and Bissou. Tickets are $16.82 and include French-inspired street food from 5– 8pm. Downtown, iconic French bistro Le Pichet is throwing a free fête at 6pm with traditional French street food and live music from bands La Foule and The Djangomatics.
Fri, November 20
Fête de Beaujolais Nouveau: French-American Edition
Seattle’s French-American Chamber of Commerce hosts the 23 rd annual Beaujolais Nouveau festival at Columbia Tower Club this Friday. Enjoy rich glasses of Beaujolais Nouveau to live bands like Melomachine, dishes including red wine pickled shrimp, and a chance to bid on auction items. Tickets for non-FACC members are $85.
Sat, November 21
Holiday Garage Sale
Cast Iron Studios in Bellevue is getting in the giving spirit with a holiday garage sale full of dinner wines and bubbly–Thanksgiving and New Year's apropos–at discounted prices. Sommeliers will be available to guide your holiday gifting decisions…and of course pop bottles for you to sample.
Sun, November 22
Holiday Pie Class
Ericka Burke's Montlake grocery Canal Market is easing us through the measurement-perfect art of homemade desserts. Baker Amara Willingham will instruct a 30-person class on how to make crust and filling for the holiday’s most coveted pies: pumpkin, apple and chocolate pecan. Each amateur baker will take home the three pie recipes, and make an actual pie. Tickets are $45 and you may reserve a spot via [email protected] or by signing up at the store.
Tue, November 24
Josh Henderson's Vestal Popup
Henderson will appear on an episode of the TV show Knife Fight and is using the occasion to preview his upcoming restaurant Vestal. Show up at Henderson's Quality Athletics this evening for a special Vestal menu that's available throughout dinner hours the episode screening starts at 7pm. The three-course menu is $35, or $55 with wine or cocktail pairings.
Tue, November 24
Bell and Whete's Beer Advent Calendar Begins (With a Victory Pint Night)
Belltown's beer-filled restaurant is kicking off a beer-focused advent calendar with a pint night with Pennsylviania's Victory Brewing. Purchase any four Victory beers and take home a pint glass for free. Fill up that advent calendar card and earn a free two-course dinner at Bell and Whete. Victory will be in the house from 4-11pm.
The Annual WGBH Food And Wine Festival Returns To Boston
The Taste of WGBH Food & Wine Festival is returning to Boston. The fourth annual celebration will take place from September 17-20. The festival will kick off at the Chef’s Gala Reception on Thursday, September 17, with a lineup of 26 chefs from around the region cooking. This year’s featured participants include Matt Jennings, Jody Adams, Tiffani Faison and Matt Louis. All in all, over 200 artisans from six states will take part in tastings, dinners and cooking demonstrations over the course of the weekend.
We’re particularly excited about the Mind of a Chef panel discussion at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, September 19. Moderated by Food Republic editorial director Richard Martin, the talk will feature insight and commentary from season four star Gabrielle Hamilton and season three star Ed Lee, along with executive producer/director Michael Steed. The conversation will dive deep into the show’s acclaimed ethos, while also exploring the culinary creative process.
The four-day event’s full schedule is posted, and tickets for individual events are currently on sale. Be sure to let us know if you’ll be in town to help celebrate New England’s finest culinary talent!
A Rising Star Chef of the Year Nominee on Seattle Hot Spots
The James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award celebrates the country's up-and-coming toques who are pushing the industry forward with their innovative techniques and styles. Since these tastemakers have their fingers on the pulse of today's dining scene, we asked this year's nominees to guide us through the best food and drink of their home base. Here, Brady Williams of 2016 Outstanding Wine Program nominee Canlis in Seattle, shares his recommendations for everything from tiki cocktails to superior sushi.
Dinner: Wataru&mdash"This little shop in Ravenna is the best sushi in Seattle, hands-down. Book early for the omakase at one of the six seats at the sushi counter. Kotaro-san is a master of the craft&mdashhe puts so much care into every detail&mdashand his rice is some of the best I've had!"
L'Oursin&mdash"This is a new, French-ish restaurant in South Capitol Hill that focuses on local seafood, and has a wine list that features some fun, natural wines, and excellent cocktails. The hospitality is some of the best, and most sincere, in town."
Delancey&mdash"I like to go here for an easy, fun, night out. Order a margherita pizza, some amaro, then finish it off with a nightcap at their bar next door, Essex."
"You could also just go see Blaine at Willows Inn on Lummi Island. It's always a win."
Lunch / Cheap Eats:
Mean Sandwich&mdash"Probably my favorite new place in town. Kevin and Alex Pemoulie were long-time Momofuku employees, then had a great spot in Jersey City, Thirty Acres. They recently moved to Seattle (where Alex is from) and opened this sandwich joint in Ballard. Get the steak tartare club or the chicken cutlet. Now that the weather's nice, they opened up their backyard, complete with picnic tables and ping pong."
Il Corvo&mdash"You'll have to deal with the long lines, but it's worth it to get your pasta fix at this lunch-only place in Pioneer Square. The pastas rotate daily, and there's only three to choose from (order them all)."
Coffee: La Marzocco Cafe&mdash"The espresso machine maker La Marzocco, based here in Seattle, opened a cafe in Lower Queen Anne attached to KEXP: our legendary independent radio station. Each month, they highlight a different roaster from around the world, changing everything from the equipment to the menu to recreate that shop's experience."
Streamline Tavern&mdash"Streamline is everything you want in a bar. During the week, it's mostly people from the neighborhood, and it's the bar to go to for whiskey-ginger or beer and a shot after a long service."
9lb Hammer&mdash"I go to this bar in Georgetown, one of my favorite neighborhoods, more and more. It's a big space and off the beaten path a bit, so it's replete with locals. Good vibes, and strong drinks."
Cocktails: "I really only go to two places: Rob Roy or Bathtub Gin & Co. Which one I'll end up in usually depends on who is working, but on Mondays it's always Rob Roy for a piña colada on tiki night."
Bakery: Saboteur Bakery&mdash"It isn't technically in Seattle, but it's a short ferry trip away. Matt Tinder cut his chops at Meadowood and Coi, then opened up a small bakery in Bremerton. They close early, as a bakery should, but it's a fun morning trip and always worth it."
Maggie Borden is associate editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.
A New, Juicy Brunch
Breakfast pizza plus mimosa flight at Nectar. Photo from Facebook.
Here’s a new spot to check out brunch and its beverages.
. There will be mimosas with unusual juice combinations, plus a variety of healthful and not-so-healthful choices. Check out the menu here. Mimosas and juices are available by the glass, flight, or carafe. Brunch is served Sat-Sun 11am-3pm.
Good news: you can also swing by for just the juices daily Mon-Fri 8am-3pm and Sat-Sun 9am-3pm (one 16-ounce container of Thrive’s fresh-pressed juice is $9). The cold-press juices are hydraulically extracted, ensuring stable, nutritious product packed with good enzymes. Yup, juice is beginning to look like the new pizza in this town. 3330 Steiner St. at Chestnut, 415-345-1377.
Coi and Manresa influence next generation of chefs
David Kinch of Manresa and Daniel Patterson have circles of alumni living their respective philosophies.
John Blanchard/The Chronicle
We find ourselves in a special moment in California cuisine.
The movement pioneered by Alice Waters at Chez Panisse has trickled through the Bay Area consciousness. Today, decades later, chefs are challenging themselves to apply that same aesthetic - letting seasonal, local ingredients set the stage - in new, exciting and delicious ways.
Manresa's David Kinch and Coi's Daniel Patterson each release a signature cookbook this month (Click here to read more about them), but their respective sensibilities have already permeated the Bay Area restaurant scene.
The two chefs are by no means the only ones pushing the conversation forward. But as their hallmarks - rigorous ingredient sourcing, vegetable-centric cooking, and creativity - become more commonplace and as their former pupils stretch their wings in more kitchens throughout the state, their influence continues to grow.
The family tree is blossoming.
Kinch learned his craft in the fine-dining kitchens of New York and Europe. He found himself in the Bay Area in the 1990s, opening the French-inflected Sent Sovi in Saratoga. In 2002, he opened Manresa in Los Gatos but, as he writes in his book, it wasn't until the 2006 partnership with nearby Love Apple Farm that the restaurant really began to reflect a sense of place.
Today, Manresa has an exclusive relationship with the biodynamic farm. Kinch essentially went beyond the market-to-table movement to create his own ecosystem, from seed to plate.
While Kinch's Zen-like personality reflects the surfer culture of the Santa Cruz area, Patterson's cerebral outlook mirrors the urban environs of Coi.
Patterson is a self-taught chef. The East Coast native dropped out of college and moved to California in 1989. He went on to open and close a few restaurants before finally unveiling Coi in North Beach in 2006.
In his quest to give the restaurant a distinct sense of place, Patterson seeks out indigenous ingredients. He forages for wild plants, infuses oils with redwood, and scours the coastline for edible seaweed.
The two chefs' upbringings and personalities are vastly different, and so are their cooking styles. But the mantras are similar.
"It's about respecting the ingredient, and that the food should always tell a personal story. It's very comforting to know that these guys are paving the way to give chefs like me a way to express ourselves," says James Syhabout, chef/owner of Commis and Hawker Fare in Oakland.
"What is California cuisine? It's the freedom of self-expression."
The first branch
Syhabout knows the schools of Kinch and Patterson as well as anyone. He was Kinch's right-hand man for years at Manresa and was also on the opening team at Patterson's Coi.
In 2009, he went on to open his own restaurant, Commis, the first of a new generation of restaurants from Manresa and Coi alumni. But a look around any restaurant awards list these days shows that it was by no means the last.
"Both of those kitchens have definitely influenced and changed the landscape," says Bill Corbett, pastry chef of the Absinthe Group, who previously worked for Patterson. "They took what started with Alice Waters and brought it to a whole other level.
"Today, there's a lot more freedom to play with your food - as long you're still respecting the ingredients. Before, ingredients were put on a pedestal. Now, it's like we owe this farmer to do something with this ingredient. It's at a point where we're expected to do a little more."
In Southern California, Charlie Parker and Jeremy Fox - two of Syhabout's former Manresa cohorts - are reaping accolades for their pedigree cooking in a casual environment - Parker at Freddy Smalls in Los Angeles and Fox at Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica, where he serves dishes such as a starter of beets with Reed avocado, Rancho Gordo quinoa, Seckel pear mustard and pistachios.
"Working at Manresa changed everything," Fox says.
"They say that artistic personalities are something that can't be learned. I don't think that's true. I didn't have much creativity when I started there, and he changed that."
In San Francisco, two of the city's busiest restaurants have Coi alumni at the helm: Rich Table, owned by Sarah and Evan Rich and Outerlands, a cozy spot a few foggy blocks from Ocean Beach, where Brett Cooper combines olive oil-poached octopus with white beans, cucumber, charred grapes and sea beans.
The creative influence extends to the sweet side as well.
Former Manresa pastry chef Belinda Leong recently opened her own spot, B. Patisserie, in San Francisco, while another Manresa pastry alum, Kendra Baker, is rivaling the entrepreneurial Syhabout in empire-building.
Along with partner Zachary Davis, Baker has opened a medley of places in Santa Cruz: two locations of her popular Penny Ice Creamery, a cafe named Picnic Basket, and a forthcoming restaurant, Assembly.
And in San Francisco's Mission District, ice cream shop Humphry Slocombe regularly has lines out the door, as chef/partner Jake Godby - a veteran of Coi - conjures creative ice cream flavor combinations like vadouvan-laced peanut butter ice cream, and Andante chevre and strawberry jam.
All have distinct points of view, ultimately rooted in the same philosophies.
"They bring that next level of Bay Area cuisine," says Evan Rich. "Extremely ingredient-focused and extremely seasonal. If you really look at what they do, it's really simple Chez Panisse - but to this next level. (Kinch and Patterson) don't only teach you to cook. They teach you how to think about food."
Alta: Ushering in the Mid-Market Revival
Alta, the latest from Daniel Patterson Group (including two Michelin-starred Coi, Patterson’s flagship and best restaurant, and the more casual Plum, Plum Bar, Haven), just opened at the beginning of December.
After multiple visits from opening day until now, there have been a number of high points, amid some inconsistencies. Alta is as sure a sign of the Mid-Market renaissance as any to open near Twitter headquarters. Looking out at Twitter on the neighboring corner, the high-ceilinged, 65-seat dining room is centered by a dramatic, V-shaped bar and floor-to-ceiling shelves peering through to an open kitchen. The shelves are lined with bottles of house cordials and infusions used in the cocktail program.
Ideal bar snack: beef tendon puffs
Bar Manager Ashley Miller, previously at Hakkasan, employs the now rather ubiquitous barrel aged cocktails (classics, aged two months: Negroni, Manhattan, and a Boulevardier) alongside house tinctures, sodas, infusions. Her cocktails ($12-14) shine, expressing an understated elegance, as in the case of Hang Glider 209 ($12), employing 209 gin, sage, lemon and mezcal with a subtle touch of creme de violette. Violette can often be overdone but here offers a welcome whisper of floral violet in an herbal sea of smoke and citrus.
A new drink she was working on during my last visit elevated the classic – and basic – Moscow Mule (vodka and ginger beer). Miller created a carrot ginger beer, spicy with ginger, gently vegetal with carrot. The beer is poured over crushed ice, mixed with sweet-tart Meyer lemon juice, Meyer lemon-infused Skyy vodka, then topped with a smattering of fresh, shaved carrot over the top. The drink, playful named Roger Rabbit ($12), is enough to make a non-vodka drinker like me return for more. Likewise, The Jumping Frog ($14) maximizes the herbal notes of 209 gin with the liveliness of yuzu and lime, green notes of celery, and a splash of soda. An ideal lunch/daytime imbibement.
Curious George, aka Dill Whiskey Sour
Miller is crafting drinks with approachable softness but that don’t shy away from bold flavor or concepts. Case in point: she’s infusing bourbon with puerrh tea, then mixing it with a house bay leaf cordial and fresh Granny Smith apple juice for an alternately smoky-fruity blend.
I particularly love her concept of a Dill Whiskey Sour, also playfully named: Curious George. Taking what is already one of my all-time favorite classics, a Whiskey Sour, she mixes bourbon, lemon and lime with a house dill syrup, then smokes egg whites, all accented by a sprig of dill. In its early stages, the drink begged for more dill to perfect it, but the idea sings, while the textures and contrasts of the fluffy egg white and liquid ideally represent the concept of textures also found in the Chef Yoni Levy’s dishes.
The menu ($5-$25) from Patterson and Chef Levy features what is often deemed “New American”, with an emphasis on varying textures. High points from day one have been dishes with Eastern European/Jewish roots. One is paper-thin mounds of house pastrami with mustard ($13), subtly invoking the flavors of coriander and black pepper in which it’s brined for four days. At lunch the pastrami is served on soft rye bread ($15) with cabbage and Dijon mustard. Though picky about my pastrami and often preferring heftier classics like Brent’s in Northridge (LA) or Second Avenue Deli in NYC, I crave the melting tenderness of Levy’s thin cuts.
The other highlight is Levy’s killer bialys ($6) marked by grilled onions, sage, and poppy seeds, or served with cream cheese and smoked trout at lunch ($14). Only on one visit were the bialys a bit dry, while at every other meal (yes, bialys and pastrami were the two items I ordered every time), they were warm perfection.
A downside of these first two months has been an inconsistency at lunch. Dinner entrees, like a tender, juicy confit chicken ($15) over cabbage, dried apricot, crunchy and tender farro grains, or hen of the wood mushrooms ($14) over a comforting, cracked wheat porridge and baby turnips, are heavy on the salt, suffering from one-note syndrome. Likewise, an uplifting smattering of spaetzle-like “dumplings”, broccoli and black garlic bright with Meyer lemon is topped by overly salty Pacific black cod ($20) at lunch, while the dish comes out in better harmony at dinner.
Dinner shines, beginning with crispy beef tendon puffs ($6), a delightful alternative to Mexican chicharrónes and an ideal bar snack with drinks. Warm root vegetable salad ($13) is a beauty of a dish and prime example of contrasting textures with carrots served in multiple ways (pureed, fried and as crispy strips), accented by mint, parsnips, fennel, edible flowers. The secret in its vibrant flavor is garam masala fish sauce. This is easily one of my favorite vegetable dishes in the city currently.
Candy-striped beets and gently-smoked Lassen trout ($16), resting atop yogurt infused with horseradish and dill, is as dynamic in flavor as it is in color. Seared Monterey squid ($14) springs back soft and fresh. Interspersed with mustard greens, watermelon radish, avocado, grapefruit and almonds, it’s a study in contrasts. One of the most gratifying dishes is chickpea and oxtail fritters ($16), warm, crispy and soft, accompanied by roasted red onion, artichoke, and charred onion “aioli”.
The Malted – soft serve delights
Finish with pastry chef Matt Tinder’s house soft serve program (though slightly denser than typical soft serve), named The Malted. My personal favorite is silky vanilla lush with a grassy olive oil and dusting of sea salt. We’ve seen that combo for years but it’s in fine form here. Flavors rotate whether rocky road with pine marshmallow and candied walnuts or one they’re working on: house spumoni (chocolate, cherry, pistachio).
Despite uneven lunches, service and setting are consistent while dinners better showcase the promise inherent in this latest, more casual Patterson effort, strategically located on this ever-changing stretch of Market Street. Though comparing Coi and Alta is comparing apples and oranges – one cannot truly experience the imaginative perfection of Patterson’s cooking without visiting the former – Alta is a welcome addition to his family of restaurants. It’s not about the fine dining inventiveness of Coi, but neither is it completely predictable. The high points are reason enough to keep an eye on it – or to head out for dinner now.
THE FOOD SEEN Heritage Radio Network
THE FOOD SEEN explores the intersections of food, art & design, and how chefs and artists alike are amalgamating those ideas, using food as their muse & medium across a multitude of media. Host, Michael Harlan Turkell, talks with fellow photographers, food stylists, restaurateurs, industrial and interior designers all the players that make the world so visually delicious, that want to eat with your eyes.
Episode 411: That Photo Makes Me Hungry with Andrew Scrivani
On today’s episode of THE FOOD SEEN, Andrew Scrivani, our only 3x guest (Ep1, Ep238, and this one), has become one of the most recognized food photographers in the field today. From his work for the New York Times, to numerous cookbooks and ad campaigns, Scrivani now adds author to repertory, with his tell-all handbook to the biz: “That Photo Makes Me Hungry”. Step-by-step tips which include: seeing the light, composing the shot, telling a story, and making a living by turning passion into profit.
Episode 410: Toothache Magazine with Nick Muncy
On today’s episode of THE FOOD SEEN, Nick Muncy is a pastry chef who’s dreams of being an artist was never lost on him. After a culinary arts degree, and stints in Healdsburg, CA, at Cyrus, under the patron saint of panettone Roy Shvartzapel, Muncy spent time with Matt Tinder at Saison, before joining Coi with Daniel Patterson, which earned him a James Beard semi-finalist nod. But Muncy had to step away from the sugar to satiate his sweet tooth, starting TOOTHACHE Magazine, for all those pastry chefs out there looking inspiration. Funnily enough, after focusing on publishing, and releasing five saccharine issues, Muncy’s back to the kitchen, now the executive pastry chef of Michelin-starred Michael Mina in San Francisco.
Episode 409: Colson Patisserie
On today’s episode of THE FOOD SEEN, in 2006, Yonatan Israel, a Parisian-born filmmaker, opened up Colson Patisserie in Park Slope, Brooklyn, as a New York manifestation of the original establishment in Mons, Belgium, owned by family friend Hubert Colson since 1986. Baking some of best of French and Belgian pastries the city has to offer, from croissants to macarons, even liege waffles, Israel, Andrew Hackel (Director of Sales), and Natalie Abrams (head baker), turn thousands of pounds of butter and flour into the most adorable Teddy Bear financiers and chocolatiest gâteaus, all there to sate your baked good sweet tooth.
Episode 408: Manresa Bread with Avery Ruzicka
On today’s episode of THE FOOD SEEN, after first meeting Chef David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos, CA, Avery Ruzicka was convinced to blindly move across country to work for him. While she begin in the front on the house, she eventually found her way back into bread baking, growing Manresa’s bread program. Even past the farmer’s market stalls, multiple brick and mortar locations of Manresa Bread no exist., and thousands of pounds of organic flour are milled in-house to make their naturally fermented sourdough loaves and laminated pastries. From levains to kouign amanns, and shipping to the contiguous 48 states, you too can break bread with Manresa.
On today’s episode of THE FOOD SEEN, the magnanimous Maangchi, aka “Hammer”, née Emily Kim, is a Korean food YouTube superstar. Her personal style, and style of cooking show, has been welcomed into the homes of over 3 million subscribers and countless more Maangchi fans. Now, her second book, Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking: From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine, expands on recipes like banchan, the side dishes that are cornerstone to Korean cuisine, and dosirak, the traditional lunchboxes Maangchi and her family grew up eating. Whether you have an H-Mart nearby or not and wonder what to do with all the marvelously dried pantry ingredients in this book, Maangchi is here to guide you through rice cake soup for New Year’s Day (seollal), or steamed rice cakes for the Harvest Moon Festival (chuseok). Whatever the celebration, make yours Maangchi-ed!
On today’s episode of THE FOOD SEEN, for nearly a century, at 8 Rue du Cherche-Midi in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés district of the 6th arrondissement, the surname Poilâne has been synonymous with bread and Parisian life since 1932. Pierre (Poilâne) began making his family’s signature 5-pound stone-ground wheat miche in wood-fire basement oven with a red brick facade, and since then, his son, Lionel, and now daughter Apollonia, have kept that flame alight. After decades of service, and guarded secrets, they finally share their recipes with the world in the eponymously named cookbook: Poilâne.
The 100 Best Bakeries in America
While life for many has been put on pause, bakers have baked on&mdashmost of the places on this list are open for business and need your support.
There are so many strange things about our new normal, but on a recent Sunday in Los Gatos, California, a pleasant town hugging the sunny side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, little appeared out of the ordinary, with one notable exception. Manresa Bread, the best bakery in Los Gatos and also for some miles, seemed to be closed, but it was actually open. Anybody with their heart set on some of the Bay Area’s finest bread could easily have it—so long as they learned the new rules.
And they are: You order online, days ahead, because everybody else is going to have the same idea, and they will sell out. Then, on your appointed pickup day, which will be Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, you head down, not to the cute little café across from David Kinch’s Michelin three-star restaurant of the same name, but to the utilitarian commissary, a few blocks over. You park your car wherever, you put on your mask, and you line up behind everybody else on the west side of Industrial Way, a line that will often stretch out one, two, maybe even three auto body shops back.
And then you wait, shuffling six feet at a time, finally turning left at the dumpsters, and picking up what you came for. Hopefully, you’ll have had the good sense to book yourself in for the $30 bag of bread, filled with four of the most beautiful sourdough loaves you can buy with American money. By now, after weeks of eating too much supermarket bread, perhaps occasionally interrupted by your own admirable investments toward becoming the world’s next top bread baker, you𠆝 take almost anything, and be happy with it. Anything that will make you feel like everything is going to be alright, even if perhaps not today.
Across the country, similar versions of the scene in Los Gatos have been unfolding on a daily basis. There are the New Yorkers waiting in their own long lines, for bâtards and baguettes from cult-favorite She Wolf Bakery, diligently delivering their little works of art to greenmarkets throughout the grieving city. On any given morning in the Los Angeles suburbs, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people will wait in their cars for curbside pastelitos from Porto’s, Southern California’s treasured Cuban bakery, which is also now shipping nationwide.
For the most part, the Kringle bakeries of Racine, Wisconsin, have yet to dim their lights there has been no grave shortage of po’ boy bread in New Orleans, of pan dulce in San Antonio. These simple, attainable things𠅊 crackling baguette, a square of rosemary-scented focaccia, a loaf of soft milk bread, a scone slathered in fresh jam, that cascade of sugar crust as you bite into the perfect concha, the spider’s web hidden inside a perfectly-laminated croissant—they have have seen entire civilizations through their share of dark times, and they lend great comfort to us now. Life may have been put on pause, but in so many of our towns and cities, the bakers have baked on.
Before everything became strange, baking was already enjoying a big, fat, butter-drenched moment, and simply because so many of us now have the time we always thought we wanted, America is now decidedly off of the competition show-binging sidelines and into the flour, providing we can find any. We are nursing starters, we are clearing the shells of baking chocolate, we are sometimes sitting down to eat too much cake, because there are no rules in quarantine, apart from making it through.
Out beyond our front doors, too, baking is bigger, and often better than ever. We are learning about grain, and the way it is grown, stored, and supplied. We are discovering just how much work goes into better bread, into the best breads, and how much things like labor, good butter, and new commercial ovens cost. Many of us are tasting truly great, naturally leavened breads for the first time in our lives. It’s a beautiful thing, all of itr from perfect, but that’s progress, ever a mess.
This idea of trying to capture America’s baking culture in list form was set in motion some time ago it is a project that has pulled me back and forth across the country, from the forward-thinking flour mills of the Pacific Northwest to Florida’s oldest Cuban bakery, from nearly every Little Italy back East to the seat of modern American bread, San Francisco, where I was fortunate enough to spend a good chunk of time last year.
I&aposve learned that our country has a bread problem. We buy a lot of it, but for most of us, the product is compromised. Too often, the very best has become something akin to a luxury item, nearly the sole province of the privileged. This relatively new pursuit of perfection, of grain purity is certainly admirable, but have we asked ourselves, who really benefits? Does it matter that the bread is the best we’ve ever had, if nobody else can afford a loaf? Is there some middle ground to work toward𠅊 better bread for everyone, rather than the best for a fortunate few? And how do we get there? What must give? History reminds us that wars have been fought over flour perhaps we are about due for another one.
Consider us in a state of flux. The foremost question on our minds right now is what small, independent bakeries will be like, and how many will be sustained in future, but while we fret, there are also hopeful signs. While America stayed indoors, the bakers have been hard at work, often partnering with their generous customers to put bread in the hands of those who cannot afford to buy their own. Countless amateur home bakers are discovering the simple pleasures of their own breads, from simple no-knead to the long-fermented wouldn’t it be the craziest thing, if a wave of fresh talent emerges from the lockdown?
Before all of this, and hopefully after, there was and will be the project based out of the important Bread Lab at Washington State University, challenging the industry to offer at least one simple, affordable, high-quality loaf to their customers, every single day. There’s more good stuff, too𠅊 demand for in-house milling capabilities is putting even more makers to work, while a renewed focus on regional and heritage grains is helping smaller farms thrive, keeping more money local. Of course, there are the bakeries themselves, so often more than a place to buy bread, or cakes, or pies𠅊t their best, they are focal points, touchstones, gathering places, improving the quality of life in their respective communities. These last few years, more and more towns, cities, and neighborhoods have been fortunate enough to discover this for themselves. Hopefully, every one of them will be back, and soon. And we&aposll get better at everything in time. For now, there is much to get out there and celebrate, even if we do so with masks on.
Wed. July 31, Sacramento – Eat Local, Bee Local: A Panel about Protecting Local Honey Bees
Passionate about bees and the colony collapse crisis? Join this panel discussion with local experts at the Urban Hive to discuss increased bee deaths, city ordinances and beekeeping in Sacramento, then take what you learn home to your communities!
Wed. July 31, San Francisco – Franny’s Crostini Extravaganza and Book Signing at Tartine Afterhours – FREE EVENT
Join Franny Stephens and Andrew Feinberg of FRANNY’S BROOKLYN to celebrate the release of their cookbook, Franny’s: Simple Seasonal Italian. Inspired by this breathtaking book, esteemed chef Samin Nosrat be passing around a panoply of Franny’s crostini on Tartine breads, sweets baked by lovely Tartine bakers in the style of our favorite Brooklyn pizzeria, and a seasonal drink or two. Each ticket entitles you to crostini galore, a cocktail, and sweet bites. Wine and more drinks will be offered at the cash bar. Swing by between 8pm and 11pm to have a bite, a drink, and get your book signed!
Jul 28 – Aug 4, San Francisco’s Union Square. SF Chefs Food Festival
One of the best food weeks of the year, SF Chefs celebrates it’s fifth anniversary, featuring the best and brightest from the San Francisco’s food scene including Grand Tasting Tent events featuring top chefs, cocktailians, wineries and artisans. There’s cooking, cocktail and wine classes and demonstrations too. Laiko highly recommends SF Chefs, and fyi, she was a part of the original team who created this now iconic SF fest.
Laiko’s picks on Saturday at SF Chefs : Tasting Tent “Fête to the five tastes” benefitting La Cocina, Regional Devotion Panel with Sean Brock from Charleston, and Quince’s Michael Tusk, The Eater Chef Challenge: Winner Takes the City with chefs David Bazirgan, Fifth Floor & Mark Dommen, One Market VS Omri Aflalo, Bourbon Steak & Mark Sullivan, Spruce.
Sat. Aug 3 afternoon – Enter or Judge the Pie Contest at Omnivore Books, San Francisco.
Make the best pie and take home dough! Use summer fruit to make pie, crumble, buckle, cobbler, crisp, tart…you get the picture. Cut it into as many pieces as you can so the most people can sample it and come a little before 3:00. Anyone just eating can pay $5 at the door, and the idea is to judge as many pies as you can. Everyone picks a favorite, and the one with the most votes splits the door money with us! The more the merrier.
Sat. Aug 3, Mendocino. Tara Duggan Root to Stalk Dinner at Windblown Farm
Our friend Tara Duggan is the cookbook author of the new “Root to Stalk Cooking” book. To celebrate, Tara’s family is hosting a dinner featuring dishes from the book at their Windblown Farm Greenhouse in Mendo. Tara is a James Beard award-winning staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle and she trained as a chef at San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy, she has written several other cookbooks, including The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee and The Working Cook. If you can’t make this she’ll be doing another event at Omnivore Books in August and at the CUESA Kitchen later in the year.
Sun. Aug 3-4, Clarksburg – Wine Cheese & Bread Faire 2013
The Old Sugar Mill hosts the Wine Cheese & Bread Faire, Saturday and Sunday, August 3rd and 4th from 11-5pm. This is the “Ultimate Gourmet Wine & Food Shopping Experience” in the Sacramento Region, a great excuse to check out this historic area. Cheesemakers from local producers and local Bakers will showcase the region’s best cheese and bread pairings for our local Wines. Purveyors of specialty chocolates, olive oils, nuts, coffee & teas, spices, and other delicious locally made products will also be featured for tasting and available for purchase.
Thurs. Aug. 8. Taste Talks: Stepping Out: The 21st Century Pastry Chef. $20. San Francisco Cooking School
A few of the city’s top pastry chefs (Lincoln Carson, Bill Corbett, Belinda Leong, Nicole Plue, Michelle Polzine, Matt Tinder and William Werner) will be talking about what it means to be a pastry chef today — and how SF is a hot bed for pastry right now. It’ll be an industry heavy crowd — and should be a lively conversation.
Sun, Aug 11, St. Helena, Wine Country, Cochon Heritage Fire at Charles Krug Winery
Meat lover’s, bring your appetite to THE celebration of live-fire cooking and heritage bred whole animals. A wide variety of heritage breed animals including goat, lamb, pig, beef, rabbit, birds, and cow are cooked over an open flame by 25 top chefs and butchers all from traveling Cochon family. 2000 pounds of different heritage breed animals, as well as cured meats, wood-fired and craft cheeses, hand-made sausages, heirloom vegetables, and boutique brews all in an effort to raise awareness of sustainable farming and heritage breed animals. This is not for the faint of heart — but is an event like no other around the US. We’ll be there — and hope to see you too!
Tues. Aug. 13. San Francisco – Knife Skills at San Francisco Cooking School
We’ve taken this class to brush up our knife work and found it really useful! The class provides you with lots of repetition to get you cutting, slicing, and chopping comfortably. Using vegetables as your guide, you will learn the proper, and safest, ways to use, store, and hone your knives.
Thurs. Aug. 15. Soba Making with Sonoko Sakai, San Francisco Cooking School
Our friend and colleague Japanese cooking teacher Sonoko Sakai, the founder of Common Grains, is back in SF! For this class (which is expected to sell out BTW), she’ll review the Japanese pantry, and instruct how to make and serve Soba, the traditional hand-rolled and cut buckwheat noodles. One of her secrets is she hand-carries the milled buckwheat flour from Japan and combines it with Anson Mill’s buckwheat flour.
Sat. Aug 17. San Francisco’s Mission. La Cocina Street Food Fest – FREE
We HEART La Cocina’s San Francisco Street Food Festival! It brings together all of the best ethnic and interesting food makers we love, who make a living doing what they love to do. Get there early – it is a hugely popular fest. Learn more about La Cocina’s incubator program.
Sat. Aug 24. Alameda County Master Gardeners. Planning & Planting a Winter Vegetable Garden – FREE
It’s your chance to eat really locally with this free workshop. Learn what you can grow year round and how to produce great fall and winter vegetables.
Starts Aug. 26. Cooking Fundamentals, San Francisco Cooking School, Six Week Series
Maybe you’ve thought about going to culinary school full time — but just want to see if it’s really a good fit? Then we recommend you think about this popular 6-week series. Each week you’ll build on new skills with this hands-one class at San Francisco Cooking School. By the end of this Series, you’ll be able to shop the farmers’ market for ingredients and transform those ingredients into tasty dishes without being entirely dependent on recipes. You’ll save money on your grocery bills when you start breaking down meats and poultry at home, and you’ll make sauces, pastas & desserts from scratch, effortlessly.
August 28. CUESA Yacht Rocks! Cocktail Benefit.
Like last year, Team Epicuring will be hosting and judging the Photo Contest. Don your favorite inspired yacht-ware. It’s a fun summer time party with great bites and cocktails –all supporting the fantastic CUESA organization. Join us and come aboard mateys!
Free every Sunday in August, San Jose. Chef Demo’s hosted by Food Gal Carolyn Jung at Santana Row. 10:30-11:30 am.
Each Sunday will feature a different chef from one of the restaurants at Santana Row.
First up on Aug. 4, renowned Chef Chris Yeo of Sino and Straits will showcase Asian cooking.
Aug. 11, the talented Chef Thomas Ricci of LB Steak will teach you how to prepare the perfect steak.
Aug. 18, Chef Bradley Cenyowa of Pizza Antica, who grew up a stone’s throw from Santana Row and cooked in Europe for many years, will spotlight a growing trend — gluten-free cooking.
Aug. 25, Chef Chad Greer of Lark Creek Blue will demystify seafood and show you the best way to cook it.
Also on hand at each session will be nutritionist Mary Toscano, who will answer questions on how to choose the most nutritious foods for your daily diet.
Progressive Charleston – Free wifi in Charleston County Parks
The definition of progressive is the ability to use innovation, technology and change to create a better way of life for a community or place. To be considered progressive is the ability to combine the forces of intelligence and creativity, develop a plan of action and bring positive change. Charleston, has embraced the notion of progression, including the growth and expansion of free wifi in the county parks. With the most current expansion of four new parks to the circuit of Free wifi options in Charleston, the county is bringing the world typically confined to the homes and classrooms to the outdoors.
Charleston parks are blessed with natural beauty, enchanted weather (most of the year) and a natural combination of community, wildlife, athletics, family and horticulture. With a continued focus on higher education in the Charleston area, the ability to take students out of the classroom and bestow a virtual classroom under the warmth of the sun is a sign of positive change.
In wasn’t until October 2014, through a grant from Google that San Francisco was able to offer free wifi in over 20 public parks. New York City has planned to transplant 7300 old pay phones into free wifi hotspots beginning in 2015 making them the most wifi friendly city in the world. In the summer of 2014, Los Angeles offered this option in six parks. Charleston has joined the ranks of the largest U.S. Metro locations along with such global cities as London, Tel Aviv and Seoul.
FIND OUT HOW MANY CITIES OFFER FREE PARK WIFI
- Why provide the option of free wifi to the Charleston county parks? It is simple.
- With the growth of mobile, computers now fit into our pockets. The ability to research events, restaurants and shopping while walking the dog or laying out will have a positive impact on the economy.
- Charleston strives to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles. The wifi offers the options to track exercise routines, monitor vitals and connect with friends for outdoor activity.
- The offering of park service will bring more of the community together in a concentrated area and promote more engagement in Charleston.
Have you spent a Spring, Summer or Fall in Charleston? Being outdoors is the place to be. Whether you want a tan or just people watch, the Charleston parks are fun.
- The city and the parks offer a limitless realm of imagination. By eliminating borders, we are opening up the creative process. From writers to inventors to digital artists, the outdoors opens up so many possibilities.
- Do you work from home? Now you don’t have to be stuck in a home office. You can be on the grass. We promise not to tell your boss.
You can Tinder and meet in a safe forum (if you are into that kind of thing).
- If you spend enough time working in the park, you may someday end up on Google Earth.
To the Charleston county officers who have fought hard to allocate funding for this expansion of Free internet throughout the county, we applaud your efforts and thank you for allowing all people the option to work, play, surf or just discover something new right at their fingertips while still letting the dogs run.