surveyof bread in San Francisco ― the baked and the fried, the
artisan and the novelty.
Artichoke Garlic Herb Bread
Source: Arcangeli Grocery Co., 289 Stage Road, Pescadero, (650) 879-0147.
Some works of art draw their power from their site-specificity. Would Andy Goldsworthy's "Drawn Stone" resonate outside the courtyard of the de Young? Would Joe Goode's "Traveling Light" be as effective on the stage of the Herbst?
And could there be a more perfect way to mark the end of a long bike ride around Pescadero than a loaf of Arcangeli Grocery's famous artichoke-garlic bread? I admit: I wouldn't have ended up in the grocery store had I not intended to give it a look, but when I placed my hand on the bread rack and felt the warmth of the loaves ― almost too hot to hold, their aroma pulsing with garlic and dried herbs ― the sale was immediate. (Good thing: The Fremont Harley Owners Group, leathered-up and white-haired, swarmed the store just as I walked to the checkout.)
Ripping off great hunks of the bread on the drive back to San Francisco, with the sun pushing the fog back to the eastern hills and Helio Sequence bright and buzzy on the stereo, I demolished half of the loaf. The frenzy was sparked by the warm crust ― crisp and heavily dusted with cornmeal, salt, and herbs ― and the pocket of pickled artichokes at the center. And the frenzy died just as quickly as it began. A few hours after sitting on my kitchen counter, the fluffy white crumb quickly grew dense and stale, and it was difficult to cut the bread into slices, given the artichoke pocket. But so what? French fries that have been out of the oil more than an hour are disgusting, and a sliced peach won't last more than a few hours out of the refrigerator. Arcangeli's bread must be consumed within a few miles of Pescadero ― reason to go back, I suppose.