Est. 1941

San Francisco • Tartine Bakery & Cafe

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Date: 07-04-13
Location: 600 Guerrero St.
Photography by: Luis Valdizon
Words by: Luis Valdizon & M. L. Morriss

Every now and again, I come across someone's life story I wish were my own to tell. The autobiography of Chad Robertson, half of the genius behind San Francisco's iconic Tartine Bakery & Cafe reads beautifully. At heart, it's a tale of the relentless pursuit of perfection within one's craft. His desire to create the ideal basic country bread would take him and wife Elisabeth Prueitt on a journey spanning over the country and world, culminating in a shop with baked goods in such high-demand you would think they held a long-term Jordan account if you saw the morning and weekend line-ups.

I remember specifically being in my home lusting over the life and work of Mr. Robertson: early mornings spent creating the extraordinary out of the most humble food item on the planet, setting out to the ocean to surf while the bread rose, coming back to finish the process and selling each of the 240 loaves made daily. The thought of fragrant mornings filled with the aromas of freshly-made bread and brisk morning sea air eloquently interweaving in and out of Mr. Robertson's daily regiment is nothing short of inspirational. I'm a longtime admirer of Mr. Robertson's and Ms. Prueitt's work, but until this July, I was only a fan of what I had heard, seen and read. I had never been to Tartine.

With a few days break in between shows on the Young, Loved, Hated & Broke summer tour and the next stops being Spokane, WA and Seattle, we decided to take our time driving up to the Northwest and to spend Independence Day in San Francisco. My only request while in the city was to make it to Tartine. It was the only thing on my mind from the beginning of the trip to "The City That Waits To Die" until Matt and I stepped inside the bakery. Thankfully, Independence Day traffic didn't stifle our journey there and the holiday line wasn't long. It was almost as if the leaven gods had heard and answered my heavyhearted prayers.

Not only had the gods split the sea of probable patrons before my arrival, but they chose Daft Punk's Random Access Memories as the sound scape of my first experience. The stars had aligned. We ordered an Almond-Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Cake and cappucinos, and sat down. The bakery's interior is a well-balanced blend of industrial / diner and is quite cozy. With the standard fare of hustle and bustle momentarily removed, Matt and I enjoyed our afternoon treat in a calm ambiance. Elizabeth's tea cake is undeniable. For me, it completely elevated my concept of what pound cake could be, and I've yet to find one better. It's crust was the perfect balance of crisp and buttery, and the inside was better than you could ever imagine such a simple baked good being. It alone was worth the years of patiently waiting. I'm a little bitter that I didn't get to try Chad's basic country bread, but I like to think that it was the work of my subconscious setting up the subsequent chapter of my love affair with Tartine.

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