Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mission Accomplished: Tartine Bread

Readers of the blog know that I'm pretty obsessed with Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread.  This vacation, my sisters, MB and KB, traveled to San Francisco and brought me back a loaf of Robertson's signature bread (thanks so much!).  I was impressed with the loaf, especially the crust.  His mixing and baking methods leave the crust with a beautifully dark caramelization.  The interior was also great, with a deep mix of sweet and sour notes.  You could tell that Robertson uses premium flours that are freshly milled.  That said, I did not have the transcendent experience I was expecting.  After such great anticipation, it was likely impossible for the bread to live up to my imagination.  Especially of note, the sour was more pronounced than I expected.  But rather than foster dissapointment, I think this type of experience indicates that our bread (and bread that you might find at Loaf for that matter) is not multiple standard deviations away from what Robertson and his crew produce.  It reminded me of a time in my post-college days when I was reading so much (I was briefly flirting with the life of a writer) that I began to believe I could see into the intentions of the minds of the authors (Hegel, Hemingway), and so took them down from the mantlepiece of idolatry. I saw that their intellectual product, while certainly not within my reach, had been produced by a living organism and not a deity.

I think the thing that struck me most about the Tartine loaf was its handcrafted-ness.  In a food world where every moniker you read these days is small-batch, artisinal, made by hand, dock-to-door, farm-to-fork,  most of these cliches don't signify superior taste, and here was a product whose production method I understood completely as having the highest form of integrity and attention to detail.  The large score across the top was etched by a trained hand.  The highly-hydrated dough was folded with great care.  Holding this two-pound bread in my hands (which had traveled 2,800 miles by plane), I was overcome with a feeling of kinship.

Tartine Bread Crust


  1. One of your most beautifully written posts ar =)

  2. So very well written. And Berenbaum's bread is the hands down winner for me.