Monday, July 18, 2011


Tartine Bread
Originally uploaded by ghetto of our mind
It's been a little over a year since our summer-long sojourn in the Bay Area, and till today, we talk about our time there fondly and longingly. And one of the reasons for this was just simply some of the most wonderfully interesting and just downright delicious food we've ever had the privilege to try. From ramen to ice-cream, oysters to sausages, nothing we ate in that three months disappointed us. But one of the things that lingers most vividly in our memories is Tartine Bakery. Oh yes, the Tartine of luscious pastries and earthy breads- how I miss you...

So Jude came back from a short trip to the Bay Area on Friday, and boy did he come back bearing sweet gifts for both Sophie and I. For the little one, he bought a fairy garland dress-up set from Paxton Gate in the Mission District (the moment Sophie puts it on, she starts pretending to fly- it's quite delightful...) But while it's really adorable and Sophie does love her gift a whole lot, I think I'm the one who's more spoiled by my gifts- Tartine Bread and four pastries lovingly smuggled in his suitcase across 2000 miles. Like I told Jude as a bit into the Frangipane and Berry Tart, nothing that has traveled that distance should still taste this good... And don't even get me started on the Chocolate Hazelnut Tart.

But it's the book that has gotten my heart all aflutter. It's not a recipe book- it's a bread bible, a Tartine bible if you will. You will not find exact formulae in here- but what you will find is a love story written by a man about how he came about making the perfect loaf of bread. It's about the most elemental and visceral aspects of making bread- the yeast cultures, fermentation, the kneading, etc. There's nothing frou-frou or pretty about breadmaking per se, but the black and white photos-- all taken while flooded in natural light-- make it seem like the most alluring process in the whole world. Reading through the book, I can almost imagine the smells of the bread wafting right through to me (yes, "smells", plural- if you get good bread, the croute, in French-- or crust-- smells different from the inside-- the soft mie or crumb).

I've been slowly savoring the book- reading about the painstaking journey towards that perfect baguette or that country loaf, and am looking forward to the later chapters of the book that features a few recipes for sandwiches and other uses for bread (croutons, bread soups, involtini, etc.). I will probably never make every single thing-- bread or otherwise-- or even a quarter of the things highlighted in this book, but for now, I'm loving the memories it's bringing back and the love it's reviving in me for a simple, soulful loaf of Tartine bread.

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