January 21, 2015

Francophile Me! {Review of Tartine Bakery}

When I visit Tartine Bakery, as I am waiting in line (which takes a while because the line is always long), I like to imagine the following conversation that must have occurred before the bakery opened:

Tartine owners: "How do we know if Americans will like French pastries? There is no precedent. French pastries are so delicate and less sugary."

French baking consultant: "Oh, mon dieu, compared to your American pastries, anything would be better, no?!"

Tartine owners: "True, but still..."

French baking consultant: "If they are good, then people with refined tastes will come. And for the people without refined tastes, just make sure that your pastries are BIG, actually HUGE. The bigger the better in America, no? I saw the movie by Michael Moore..."

Tartine owners: "So how BIG exactly?"

French baking consultant: "Obscenely BIG, you know like a Big Mac or a Super-Size Slurpee. An entire day's worth of calories in one croissant!"

Tartine owners: "Ok, good idea! French pastries for American customers." 

Croissant from Tartine Bakery (with dollar bills to show scale)

Chocolate Chip Cookie from Tartine Bakery (with dollar bill for scale)
In all seriousness, Tartine Bakery is one of the best French bakeries in San Francisco. In fact, the owners of Tartine, Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, were both awarded the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2008. Tartine Bakery is a must-visit place for anyone who loves desserts. This is a fact already well known to the local population—judging by the line winding down the street that you will see every Saturday and Sunday.

Hazelnut-Chocolate Tart
Tartine offers delicious pastries as excellent as the version you'd find in France, along with desserts that cater to more American tastes. Of the classic French desserts, one of my top choices is the chocolate-hazelnut tart. This pastry is absolute perfection: rich, creamy dark chocolate ganache with whole roasted hazelnuts in a flakey butter crust. The balance of flavors is wonderful and not too sweet. Definitely try the lemon tart, an amazingly citrusy and creamy custard on top of crisp butter crust.

Lemon Tart

Fresh Fruit Tart with Bavarian Filling

Tartine also offers a selection of lunch options, including several different quiches, grilled sandwiches and its namesake "tartine," an open-face sandwich. Every option is filling enough for a meal. The sandwiches are made with Tartine's handcrafted rustic country bread, similar to the hearty pain de campagne that you get in artisan bakeries of France such as Poilâne in Paris (one of my favorite places anywhere!) If you want to have the authentic French experience of picking up your fresh baguette for the day from the bakery, you can call Tartine to pre-order your bread and skip the line! Bon Appétit!

Tomato and Shitake Mushroom Tartine (open-face sandwich)
Copyright © 2013-2015, Lisa Alexander. All rights reserved. 

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