Archives for posts with tag: San Francisco

Even though eating and cooking remain a firm part of my daily routine, blogging has admittedly taken short shrift this past month. Let’s chalk it up to my impending cross country move to the San Francisco Bay Area for a new job and adventure. The logistical and emotional preparation has sapped up my extra time.

Now that my ducks are in a row,  the writing wheels have resumed their turn. I’ve done a lot of thinking recently about food communities, what they mean, and how we develop culinary hubs where we live. Next Big City just picked up one of my Grid posts about community kitchens across United States cities, where I spoke to a number of their benefits, including:

  • Serving as an alternative communal site for food preparation and distribution
  • Easing the burden on small-scale and artisan food producers who want to deliver locally made food to city residents
  • Challenging the traditional notion that culinary pioneers need to front gobs of cash to open up their own gourmet storefronts
  • Offering shared, mixed-use production and sales facilities to accommodate more humble food operations

This alternative community venture supports new artisan food producersMy article highlights San Francisco’s Forage Kitchen, a work in progress food production and event space that typifies a successful food community. No one can argue that the Bay Area has a storied history of supporting alternative culinary ventures — just take a look at the Ferry Marketplace or the “Gourmet Ghetto” neighborhood in Berkeley, home to Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse and the cooperatively-owned Cheeseboard Collective.

Yet I’ve seen community food hubs develop more and more in smaller East Coast cities as well. In my home turf of Providence, R.I. a gourmet olive oil shop has opened up across the street from renowned Seven Stars bakery. Just over the city border in Pawtucket, R.I., Hope Artiste Village boasts a number of food-related ventures, including a top notch local coffee roaster, and a great wintertime farmers market.  And when I visited Portland, Maine two weeks back, I visited the Public Market House, which provides low-overhead business space for smaller food vendors who want to downsize from their own storefront. Together in this larger building, food producers are worth more than the sum of their parts.

This multi vendor hub brings foodies together in Portland, MaineThis type of cluster effect, and the food community that results, really excites me going forward. Owning your own food business no longer has to be an isolating adventure for the elite. And that means more opportunities to try new meals and savor the act of food production with your friends and loved ones. Cheers to that.

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I’m waiting to start my second attempt at bread-making — I’ve ordered my first oven thermometer to ensure that my dough is rising and baking at the correct temperature. I’m new to this accuracy thing. Regular old cooking doesn’t necessarily demand things down to the degree Fahrenheit…I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that baking does.

As, I wait, however, I keep drifting back to bread that inspires me. Saveur had a wonderful feature on breadmaking in its May 2012 issue, which I highly recommend to other novice bread makers. The website also has a drool-worthy gallery of artisan loaves sprinkled across the United States. If I ever need convincing that a cross-country road trip is worth it — this is it.

Make This Bread -- I wish.

I’ll be baking my second loaf in the next day or two, but to bide my time I’ve been re-examining a few key loaves that have influenced my love affair with bread over the years:

1) Seven Stars — When I was at school in Providence, R.I., Seven Stars was the go-to location for delicious bread (and a cafe without Internet access…perfect for getting work done without the distraction). The bakery’s durum stick is moist, airy, with a delicious dark crust. It’s reminiscent of a sourdough in texture, but doesn’t quite go there in flavor. I love slicing this bread lengthwise, hoagie-style, for one of my favorite simple meals — the tomato sandwich. What do you get when you cross ripe, summertime tomatoes, a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, plus the dreamy crusty bookends of the durum loaf? A delicious mess, with tomato dribbling down your chin.

This artisan loaf demands attention. A beautiful airy interior pairs perfectly with ripe summertime tomatoes.2) Acme Bread — Let me introduce you to Acme’s sourdough. Like most Bay Area foodie success stories, this bread’s origins has ties to the locavore Alice Waters movement. Acme Bread was founded by Steve Sullivan, one of Water’s former bus boys at Chez Panisse, who went on to become the restaurant’s in-house baker. The company has since grown from its Berkeley, C.A. store front to a year-round stall at San Francisco’s Ferry Marketplace, the one-stop shop for city visitors seeking out local and artisan food (think gourmet blood orange vegan doughnuts and delicious pour over coffee). I was never a sourdough fan until I had this little number. I mean, look at that crust. The sourdough’s distinct flavor is due to a naturally-occurring wild yeast starter instead of baker’s yeast.

This sourdough is made with a wild yeast starter instead of traditional baker's yeast.3) Buono’s — This is an old school, Italian bakery bread with a flaky, dark smoky crust. Don’t be fooled by their website — while other bread makers spend time creating sexy marketing materials, the Buono’s crew is busy churning out delicious authentic bread again and again. My great-grandmother lived around the corner of this bakery when I was little, and I remember always scarfing down Buono’s bread (and pepper biscuits). Buono’s is a beloved favorite.

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