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Monday, December 10, 2007

A Bakery Unlike Any Other

MAKE LOAVES, NOT WAR, says the banner stretching the width of the Arizmendi Bakery in San Francisco. Two cyclists in serious riding gear are filling their travel coffee mugs. A woman in the corner is reading The Art of Persian Cooking as she sips her coffee. I’m munching the most amazing cheese roll, ever… and pondering how it is that San Francisco has such an abundance of wonderful bakeries. My neighbor back in Chicago told me about Arizmendi, and now I understand why she and her family come every day when visiting friends here.

That cheese roll, for example. Chewy and yeasty, with a golden crusty top, it looks like it is made with whole wheat flour. I’m hungry now, just thinking about it.

For years, there was one cheese bread which held first place in my heart. It was a cheese and bacon roll, mind you, so it had that bacon thing going for it. My friend, Darcy, introduced me to it one day when I was visiting her in London. She lived a few blocks from Harrods and we’d wandered through the legendary food hall, where she steered me to the baked goods. We bought two Cheddar Bacon Twists – gorgeous, golden brown, knotted rolls speckled with cheddar and bacon – and proceeded to a park bench nearby. There was silence as we ate. I announced that this was the most delicious bread I’d ever had. Darcy guiltily admitted to eating them on a regular basis during her first few months in London. I was prepared to move there, just to be near the Cheddar Bacon Twists. Well, more plotting trips to London, just to have one of those twists. I'm all about this tiny, worker-owned, cooperative bakery in the Inner Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. Made in the U.S.A. baby!

I move on to the currant scone.

Oh my. The scone is sensational. Not too dense, with a gorgeous, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth top. I've drifted away from scones these past few years, but this! This scone will renew one's faith in the power of baked goods to produce pure, elemental joy!

I'm still sitting there in a state of quiet, scone-induced happiness, thinking I really should get going, when I hear a woman in line telling her friend about the incredible pizza they make here come lunchtime.

Wait, they make pizza too???
Hmm, maybe I can work out my schedule to be able to return tomorrow, for lunch...

Arizmendi Bakery
1331 9th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 566-3117

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