Tartine, San Francisco

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I fell completely in love with San Francisco. Walking along, I smelled great Mexican food mingling with marijuana, drank excellent coffee (it’s taken VERY seriously here) and blissed out looking at the psychedelic colours of the painted Victorian mansions in the Haight Ashbury district, once home to the Grateful Dead. I revisited my teenage years gazing at all the tie-dyed Led Zeppelin and Doors T-shirts in the shops – the very same ones that I used to wear – and went for pitstops in cafes run by earnest anarchists and hippies. 

And then I found Tartine – a wonderful bakery in the Mission district that churns out not only the famous San Francisco sourdough bread, but fabulous cakes and possibly the best toasted sandwiches I have ever eaten. Here, they call them ‘hot pressed sandwiches’ – great craggy slabs of sourdough holding gooey molten fillings, with crusty char marks on the outside. The portions are enormous – we managed to finish them off for breakfast the next day, and they still tasted great under the grill.

Unsurprisingly, Tartine is extremely popular – queues stretch around the block, even early on a Sunday morning. If I lived anywhere near this bakery, I think the unrelenting queues would be the only thing stopping me from getting Type 1 diabetes from over-consumption of their wares…

Here are those hot pressed sandwiches – ham and gruyere, with a side of delicious pickled carrots: worth every penny of the $11 price tag:

 

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Fontina cheese with broccoli pesto and dry cured ham – super pokey:

 

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For dessert, we had a ‘Tres Leches’ cake (light, creamy and coconutty) and a darkly sinful Valhrona chocolate and walnut drop cookie:

 

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The rest of their wares – I was gutted not to be able to try absolutely everything:

 

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The only chocolate they use in the cakes is Valhrona (Lordy!) and the co-owners of Tartine, Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Pruett, are revered as some sort of demi-gods on the American food circuit. Makes sense to me!

 

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street @ 18th
San Francisco
www.tartinebakery.com

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