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Thursday, May 13, 2010

S.F. Rising: Liguria Bakery's Focaccia

Posted By on Thu, May 13, 2010 at 1:37 PM

As good as it ever was. - J. KAUFFMAN
  • J. Kauffman
  • As good as it ever was.
A weekly survey of bread in San Francisco ― the baked and the steamed, the artisan and the novelty.

Focaccia

Source: Liguria Bakery, 700 Stockton (at Filbert), 421-3786

Price: $4

Toast-appropriateness: in toaster, 3/10; brushed with olive oil and rewarmed, 9/10

One of the pleasures of buying focaccia at Liguria Bakery is being reminded how much of the old North Beach still burbles and flows underneath its grotty, touristy surface. Indeed, it takes a minute to catch the attention of the women who work there after they once-over us at the door, note our unfamiliarity, and return to kibbitzing with a neighbor who's stopped by for a long afternoon gossip. The pause gives us a welcome chance to look over the room, unchanged since before our birth, and spy into the back room at the trays of bread. Garlic, rosemary, or plain focaccia? We waver. Strike the rosemary: "We only have garlic, plain, onion, and pizza left," the younger of the two woman announces.

Once we order a square of plain, she heads to the back, where she takes a large knife and snick-snick-snicks a rectangle into strips. She lines them up and bundles them neatly in parchment, which stains transparent on the trip home, absorbing the almost-invisible sheen of oil off the bread. We brush a little more extra-virgin olive oil on the bread and stick it the oven, then pluck it out when the corners crisp.

It's been a while since we've eaten focaccia; its 1980s renaissance petered out when low-carb hit. But warm and just-crisped, smelling of yeast and olive oil, with its spongy, bubble-shaped interior, Liguria's focaccia reminds us that some pleasures are sublime enough to weather food trends, dietary fashions, and the evolution of a city.

Follow us on Twitter at @SFoodie. Keep up with Jonathan Kauffman at @jonkauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman

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