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Friday, April 2, 2010

S.F. Rising: Tartine's Purported Sesame Bread

Posted By on Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 11:49 AM

What? You don't see it? That's right.
  • What? You don't see it? That's right.

A weekly

survey of bread in San Francisco ― the baked

and the steamed, the artisan and the novelty.

Sesame Bread
Source: Tartine Bakery, 600 Guerrero (at 18th St.), 487-2600
Price: Unknown
Toast-appropriateness: Who can say?

I was at a dinner party a few weeks ago, and the hosts passed around a loaf of what looked to be the standard crusty, round Bay Area pain de campagne. I took a bite, and there was a familiar but unfamiliar nuttiness to the flavor ― a taste I knew I loved, but not one that I'd encountered in French-style artisan breads. I looked closer, and the airy crumb was speckled with black sesame seeds. Where was this magical substance from? I asked my hosts. The reply: Tartine.

I thought about the sesame bread for the rest of the weekend, and finally decided to brave the Tartine line to buy some.

Attempt 1: Tuesday afternoon

Me: I'd like to buy a loaf of your sesame bread, but I don't see any on the shelves.
Counterperson: Oh. Yeah. Today we only have walnut bread.
Me: So you only sell the sesame bread on certain days?
Counterperson: Yeah. It's a little complicated. So we sell the sesame bread every other day from Wednesday through Sunday....
Me: I'll be back!

Attempt 2: The next afternoon, 3:30 p.m.
Me: I'd like to buy a loaf of your sesame bread.
Counterperson: Well, we're about to put it in the oven, so it's almost ready! It should be out at 5.
Me: I just came across town looking for this, but unfortunately, I can't

stick around. Your bread is only available after 5 p.m.?
Counterperson: Yeah. We'll be selling it until 7, though it sometimes runs out before that. If you'd like to come back, you can reserve a loaf. Just call us up and leave your name, and we'll set aside one for you.
Me: I have dinner plans. Another time, though.

Attempt 3: Another time, 5:15 p.m.

Me: I'd like to buy a loaf of your sesame bread.
Counterperson: Um, we're out.
Me: But it's only 5:15! Did everyone reserve their loaves ahead of time?
Counterperson: Yeah, that's been happening a lot.

You know what? When your job involves running all over town, eating out several times a day, scarcity is not a virtue. Screw Tartine for making this so difficult, screw the counter people for not explaining the entire system on the first attempt, screw that damn sesame bread for being so delicious, and screw all of you cult-of-Tartine members who use your insider knowledge to screw walk-in customers out of one little loaf of bread.

From here on out, I'm sticking with Acme. If I can't buy a loaf of its bread at the bakery, I'll just walk to my nearest grocery store.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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