Wednesday, February 29, 2012

a tale of two cities

So there was more to San Francisco than one momentous dinner--there was also Tartine.

I am half-kidding here. The truth, the full truth, is that i love Tartine. And San Francisco. And that Tartine is in San Francisco, so that if i ever moved to the city i love, i could go to the bakery i love--every day; kinda like we did when we were there.

My family will tell you i "dragged" them there each of the four days that we were in San Francisco; made them stand in that never-ending line out the door to hope for a seat in the fittingly small, fittingly energized, cafe. What they may not tell you is how wonderful it was each time. Just ask them about the bread pudding the next time they complain about my obsession; just ask them about the bread.

Oh that bread--the reason i went. i learned to make Chad's bread (we are on a first name basis as i talked to him while there--albeit in nervous rapidity; he doesnt know my name, but that is besides the point) the new years i was in Vancouver. Thats right, i rang in the new year not with champagne and good-fortune kiss, but a surprisingly risen, tangy, big-hole-laced-bread-of-my-dreams. His book went from being a source of lusty bread photos to a bible of sorts, the way i was devoted to his words and ideas.[note: if you have not seen this book, i suggest you track it down. You will think of bread in a whole new way--the way you should think of bread.]. And then i tasted his--the bread i was striving for in my little humble oven--and i was re-awed. My intense love of this place intensified. The loaves were enormous, with a not-too-thick but shockingly crisp crust, texturally perfect with an obvious chew, the sourdough flavour a pleasant surprise, and the holes as large as i long for them to be in my own loaves, lightening the slices to a stunning crumb. The sesame loaf, beyond this, was riddled with seeds and intense in such flavour, not an afterthought, but the sheer purpose of taste of this rendition of his basic country. Just ask those "complainers," though they may have been in greater awe of the sweets; the lemon square, my first Tartine love from the first Tartine book was a layer of thick, vibrant, zingy lemon curd that i have not been able to find or even conjure since Halifax (where i had a slice, and i mean a big ol slice, of double lemon flan at least three times a week in fear that i may die before having another...). And i discovered their walnut cookies, a sable with a surprising, and most welcome hint of cinnamon. Like "why hello cinnamon, how nice of you to join me and my walnut cookie." Yes, cookies so good you want to talk to them. So you do, in private, because Chad already thinks your crazy for how you poured a wee bit of your heart out to him without giving your first name in exchange, and you dont want to give him reason to ban you from the place you hope to visit everyday when you move to San Francisco.

That is: if i were actually moving to San Francisco. I wish i were.The city felt so much like home in those four days, that it seems only natural that i do. Really, it was so natural being there. I knew where i was going the whole time. Me. I dont even know what direction North is from where i am standing, in my own home, right now. Yet there i knew where we were in respects to where we needed to go, and where we had been. I made friends with strangers. I reunited with a beautiful friend. We went to a farmers market full of priceless produce (literally, a kind vendor gave me a sprig out of a large rosemary bundle just for that nights dinner). We bought more groceries at a store that is the epitomy of what grocery stores should be, finding it by chance of ranunculus. Just being in Bi-Rite made me feel a part of the community there (so much so that i could dedicate another entire, lengthy paragraph to it, but i will spare you this time). I would have held on to that feeling for anything, cozied down, said so long to the tacky tourist bits of the trip we did--and to my return ticket.

To home i had to go though, but not without a trip to Vancouver to see Cindy and celebrate my actual birthday first. And that lovely gal made me the most lovely cake. Between eating and dancing, coffee shop hopping (with Cind, then Adam, then Torr, and some solo...alot of espresso... Note: nelson the seagull wins hands down), donut testing, and shopping, i found i was less celebrating 25 and more celebrating the gal that means so much to me. I am so lucky to have this person it feels as if i have had all of those years, when really it was been a few months past one. I cannot describe my relationship with Cindy the way i can a loaf of bread--just know that i am as in love with it was that, that it brings me as much wonder and, more.

I leave for home-home soon, where there likely wont be nearly as much bread and pastry; where there isnt Dolores park to while away the day at, the Golden Gate bridge to bike over (yay ma!), a windy beach to run across, turretted homes to possibly call home, or a person so much of me as a person. Just me, a lot more enriched from the (two-really) trip (s), as satisfied as filled with dreams. Waiting to write more tales.

(ps, i realize what i wrote here was less about the trip and more about, well, bread. But bread is life, and this is my lifes stories. Perhaps it would be more sensible if you had a bowl of that bread pudding... no really, i had intended on describing both visits in detail...but, well, i love Tartine. It fits into my life almost as well as Cindy)

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