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Monday, October 19, 2009

Blue Bottle Oakland is Due Tomorrow. You'll Have to Wait for the Bookmaker's Sandwiches

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 11:56 AM

click to enlarge A traditional letterpress: Good for wedding invitations, and also sandwiches. - CSCOTTA/FLICKR
  • cscotta/Flickr
  • A traditional letterpress: Good for wedding invitations, and also sandwiches.
It looks like tomorrow will see the dawn of primo caffeine in Oakland, as Blue Bottle's new roasting facility (with attached retail café) is slated to open at 300 Webster (at Third St.), a circa-1923 warehouse blocks from Jack London Square. The site will also house Blue Bottle's production kitchen (they've been renting kitchen space in Hunter's Point). Late last week, Blue Bottle was in the process of moving from its longtime roastery on Beach Street in Emeryville. "It's been kind of a long transition," said Blue Bottle's Michelle Ott. Hours at the Oaktown café are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.

Owner James Freeman told SFoodie the new kitchen should allow company culinary director Bryan Waites to expand Blue Bottle's food offerings, as well as do certain things in house -- like roasting turkey breasts for sandwiches. (Freeman's wife, Caitlin, will use the new kitchen to produce pastries for Blue Bottles, including the dessert café at SFMOMA.)

But the most exciting new food development might come in a few weeks, when Freeman hopes to unveil Blue Bottle's Bookmaker's Sandwich, inspired by Belgian truck drivers' food. "You take a crusty sweet loaf, cut it in half, put in your filling, and crank it down in this bookmaker's press," Freeman explained. After half an hour, what you get is something dense and compact, Freeman said, not quite like a panino. "It's surprisingly heavy," Freeman said, which is why Belgian truckdrivers took to it: They could pack multiple days of nourishment into a few hefty sandwiches. "It becomes like this mono-textured sandwich that's like astronaut food or something."

Experiments have gone on at Freeman's house with a 50-pound letterpress -- he called it a small one. Among the fillings so far: Prather Ranch steak, and a shiitake mushroom blend. Expect to see the first few experiments for sale in the next few weeks.

John Birdsall contributed to this post.

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