After seven months as a tent in front of its brick-and-mortar space on Divisadero, The Mill officially opened its doors this morning. By its second hour the line was stacked deep and looking antsy. The new spot from Josey Baker and Jeremy Tooker (Four Barrel) is a combination bakery/cafe, a welcome marriage of Four Barrel's reliably delicious coffee and Baker's well-loved repertoire of baked goods.
If you're the type who'd rather be caught dead than drinking 7-Eleven coffee, but still want to show your support for your favorite presidential candidate (the convenience store chain claims that their unofficial coffee cup poll has successfully predicted the presidency in the last three elections), you're in luck: The Laughing Squid discovered that Feel Good Bakery in Alameda is selling loaves of sourdough bread stenciled with the likenesses of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
It may be hard to believe, but Josey Baker is an artisan of toast, that insert-bread-into-slot standby that even 5-year-olds can handle. Every detail is lovingly attended to, from heating up the toaster to carefully spreading almond butter on every corner of the bread, and by the time he finishes up with a theatrical flourish of salt it seems (almost) a shame to eat the masterpiece.
Baker debuted his signature toasts today at The Mill, his still-under-construction collaboration with Four Barrel on Divisadero. The bakery/coffee shop won't officially open until September, but the crew has set up a makeshift tent café in the active construction site. A saw whined in the background as Baker cut a healthy slice of this morning's sunflower-pumpkin-flax-sourdough bread and held his hand over the toaster to see if it had reached the optimal temperature.
What: Schmendricks bagel pop-up
Where: 780 Café, 780 Valencia St.
When: Sun., March 18, 10:30 a.m.
Cost: 50 cents off with a cafe beverage
The rundown: Schmendrick may be Yiddish for a stupid person, but the bagel masters at Schmendricks are anything but. They're hosting a sold out New York bagel education event at 18 Reasons this week and sold out of their signature hand-rolled Brooklyn bagels within an hour at their first pop-up last month.
Plain, onion, sesame, poppy and garlic bagels so good they don't need to be toasted are on the menu just in time to heal your St. Paddy's day hangover. Schmendricks has assured SFoodie that they'll have more bagels ready at this, their second pop-up at 780 Café's new location, but early arrival is suggested. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for more scheduled pop-ups.
When food carts began to spread across San Francisco like some kind of tasty parasite, one local blogger joked that the next step would be for culinarians to start simply throwing food at people. They weren't far off, if Bread SRSLY's Sadie Scheffer is any indication.
Each week, Scheffer bakes up dozens of loaves of gluten- , dairy- and egg-free bread - in flavors from sourdough to fig-and-fennel - and hops on her bicycle to deliver them in San Francisco and the East Bay.
She also recently launched a line of only-in-San Francisco sandwiches, such as "The Flying Machine," with pork belly, arugula, and apple butter on savory slices of gingerbread, or "The Candyman," with pickled apples, black-bean cake, beet salsa, and yogurt on cornbread.
"As a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, I've always done the NY bagel snob where I complained and complained and complained," says David Kover, one of the cofounders of Schmendricks Bagels, "Until another friend told me to shut up."
That was when the four neighbors decided to go into the bagel-baking business. Bakers from the two households have been shuttling back and forth, testing batches, for months, and the two couples took an exploratory trip back to Brooklyn, hitting 13 bagel shops in one morning. A few months ago, they signed a lease on a commercial kitchen. Subramanian quit her job as a corporate lawyer to serve as Schmendricks' head baker. Now they're trying to scale up their recipes to work with the larger ovens.
So what are the characteristics of a perfect bagel, according to Kover?
This weekend, SFoodie picked up golden pan de muerto ($1.60) coated in sesame seeds at Panaderia La Mexicana (2804 24th St.). We peered through the display glass at the giant holiday breads at La Reyna Bakery (3114 24th St.), which are covered in multicolored sugar sprinkles ($20 for a skeleton, $15 for a round), before walking out with a smaller round ($2) coated in a fine layer of frosting and caster sugar so that it takes on a glittering, ghostly cast.
La Victoria (2937 24th St.) also confirmed on the phone that it sells pan de muerto today and tomorrow, as does Royal Bakery (4773 Mission, at Russia) in the Excelsior. And on the west side of town, Arizmendi Inner Sunset makes denser, larger skeleton loaves ($5.50) flavored with aniseed and candied orange rind to sell today and tomorrow. (The Valencia street location will only offer pan de muerto on Nov. 2.)
Just as we begin to tire of kitschy boulangeries and lackluster Italian coffee shops, a place like Rose's Café reminds us how cozy a true European-style cafe can be. Absent are the colorblocked Perrier posters and premade paninis, with simple bistro chairs, velvet booths and house-made pastries filling the space instead.
Primely situated on the corner of Union and Steiner streets, it's no surprise Rose's has become a favorite brunch spot for Marina residents -- but it's worth traveling across the city to experience the charm yourself. Huge windows with gold letters calling out "Wine Bar" and "Trattoria" invite customers inside, and though there's always a wait during brunch hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), the sunny sidewalk and cheerful vibe make it easier to swallow.
Chez Panisse's 40th anniversary celebrations crested last weekend with educational activities, dinners, and celebrations, but the party favor that really caught our eye was the new Edible Schoolyard Levain ($3.55) at Acme Bread.
The bread is named after Alice Waters' program as a means to increase awareness by creating a loaf that embodies the spirit of eating locally produced foods. Steven Sullivan told SFoodie that he had been working with whole grains after some discussions with Alice Waters about creating whole wheat bread for Chez Panisse.
"She really forces you to re-examine things and brings a strong vision and responses," said Sullivan.