artisan and the novelty.
Source: Moscow and Tbilisi Bakery, 5540 Geary (at 20th Ave.) 668-6959.
Price: $4 for a large, $0.85 for a small
Toast-appropriateness: 6/10, if you cut it to size
The photo doesn't do this loaf justice: Moscow and Tbilisi's challah could double as Divine's beehive in the original Hairspray. It could plug a manhole. It could feed a family of 10. If you're holding a two-person Sabbath dinner, you'd be better off picking up a mini challah, which is the size of a man's hand. (However, the bakery is not kosher.)
Source: Grand Bakery, purchased at Tel Aviv Kosher Meats, Deli and Restaurant, 2495 Irving (at 26th Ave.), 661-7588.
Toast-appropriateness: 4/10 (good, but why would you want to?)
Irving Greisman may no longer bake each loaf by hand, but his Irving's Premium Challah still carries the aura of handmade. He's a local software engineer who turned a knack for baking challah into a business about a decade ago. Irving's challah is glossy, pillowy, seemingly fragile; walking out of the Jewish Community Center store, you find yourself cradling the bread in your arms, almost as much for yourself as the bread. The challah seems engineered for tearing up instead of slicing, each tug pulling away a hunk with long strands that resembles a comet with a tail. Less eggy than Moscow and Tbilisi's, the bread has a whispery sweetness to it. If you're not saving the challah for dinner tonight, you may find yourself returning to the table where you've left it, pulling off just a bite or two, until you find it's long past lunch time and you have forgotten to eat a proper meal.