Yesterday, I received my first paycheck from Tartine Bakery. It still seems unreal that after being a fan of this bakery from afar for the last few years, I get paid to show up there five days a week. Yes, right now, that means 4:30 in the morning. And no, there’s no “combat pay” for the early shift. But I love it. One of the reasons I chose San Francisco was to have proximity to Tartine. Maybe to stage (apprentice) there. But to be placed there for my externship, and then get offered a job? It’s a dream come true. It’s work – let me be clear about it. But it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s energizing and it’s delicious. I’m learning so much, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to hone my skills as a baker.
However, after about a week as an employee, I needed some time off due to an influx of family coming into town. This was all planned before I knew I’d have a job after school ended. So, I played tour guide for six straight days, for three different pairs of family members. It all began the last Saturday in June…
Saturday afternoon was my official graduation from SF Cooking. It was kind of weird, since we hadn’t been in the school formerly for over two months. While the completion of the externship marked the actual end of our education, being out of the classroom (kitchen) itself for so long made this seem like something connected to a different experience. Nevertheless, it was a ton of fun to see my pastry classmates and their families, as well as catch up with our culinary counterparts. Some ended up with jobs at their externship spots, like I did, and some are looking for new adventures.
It was an adventuresome walk from school, through the Civic Center area and the Gay Pride Weekend festivities, to our celebratory dinner at Zuni Cafe. This San Francisco institution is known for their roasted chicken (for two), and that’s why I chose it. It did NOT disappoint.
On Sunday morning, we headed to Tartine. This was the first of three visits to the bakery during my time off. My mom had been there before, but it was before I started my externship. Michael had never been. There were some items they’d had their eyes on for a while, and I think they enjoyed their breakfast.
I gave them a tour of the bakery, and Michael – who can sometimes have trouble finding things he enjoys eating – was eager to take some additional items with him. While he loved the banana cream pie, I got him a morning bun and a croissant. The croissant made it safely back to LA that afternoon, but it didn’t take long when we returned to the hotel for him to devour the morning bun. That sugary, caramelized core is impossible to resist once you get started.
My dad and Laurie got stuck in the traffic created by Gay Pride parade Sunday afternoon and its various street closures. They finally made it in, after hours spent in SOMA, and we met for dinner near their B&B in Pacific Heights.
The next day, it was time to take my dad and Laurie on the tour. They visited my apartment for the first time, and seemed to like it. (I certainly do!) Then we stopped by my (now-former) culinary school and I showed them around, before we proceeded down to the Mission. They decided they’d prefer to have lunch before Tartine, which may or may not have been a bad decision. Depends on your perspective – they were pretty full from lunch that they didn’t get much at the bakery!
We then walked over to Tartine, where they only wanted a few bites: a chocolate chip cookie and a slice of the lemon poppyseed tea cake. Both good choices…but there was so much more there! Oh well. Their loss!
We took some time off during the afternoon to rest, then met up again for dinner with Laurie’s East Bay cousins for an Italian dinner. It was a fun time, although I didn’t need to eat much more!
Tuesday, I had some time to take care of some appointments and other obligations, and then prepared for my sister and her boyfriend, Ben, to arrive. Then it started getting really intense! They came to conquer San Francisco, especially the food scene.
Then it was time to wander around town. We started by visiting my school (again), and I took them through and gave them a bit of a tour.
We walked around the Civic Center area, through the farmer’s market and purchased our first food of the day: sweet potato tacos from the Hella Vegan Eats food truck. Maggie and I shared them, and Ben decided to wait.
We hopped onto BART and headed down into the Mission. Ben and Maggie had been to the famous La Taqueria before and wanted to go there again. Ben dreams of their burrito, and that was his go-to item. Having already had a taco and knowing we had more in store (and I can have La Taqueria whenever I want), I got a taco and Maggie went with a quesadilla. We walked to Dolores Park and sat in the grass and enjoyed our lunch. Then, it was off to Tartine.
Things got a little crazy at Tartine. They’d done their research and knew, generally, what they wanted. But having some time to explore the pastry case led to quite a bit of ordering.
Keeping in mind that Maggie and I had both just had Mexican food TWICE, her Hail Mary pass to order a hot panini was stunning and, in the end, incredibly wise.
The meal was followed by a tour of Tartine – my third in a five days – and hopefully my co-workers didn’t want to kill me after all the traipsing through. It was so much fun to show it to them, especially since they’d been to Tartine before as “outsiders” and now had a closer connection.
With bellies full, we…wait, what? We got more food? Yes, indeed we did. We walked down the street and got ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery. I held myself to a small, single scoop of their seasonal peach flavor. Maggie and Ben…they lived it up a little bit.
Now, with bellies really, truly full, we made our way back to my house for some decompression. The original dinner plan was pushed back, and then aborted, and we switched it up to a neighborhood place with more approachable food.
It was a delicious dinner, which we were able to enjoy sitting at one of the few tables they had set up on the sidewalk. On the way home, as we walked by Lush Gelato…we got some. Yeah. More food. Like I said, they came to party.
Thursday morning was much more low-key, as our pushed-to-the-max bellies needed to regroup. We had breakfast/brunch in the middle of the morning and commenced to walking around town. We started at the Ferry Building, then proceeded north along the Embarcadero, stopping at interesting spots along the way. Ben was excited for the Musee Mechanique at Fisherman’s Wharf, and I think we were all excited he found it. Plenty of very old, mechanical pinball and arcade games (with a few new ones thrown in) filled an enormous old warehouse space. It was a ton of fun to check out these machines, all still in working order.
I gave Maggie and Ben the option of a very steep walk home with great views, or a longer but easier walk. They chose the view, and the exercise, and while we took our time, it was a wonderful journey.
Exhausted and pleased with our day, we spent a little time back at my apartment before our final venture in San Francisco: dinner with one of my Maggie’s closest college friends, Talea, and her husband, at 4505 Burgers and BBQ. We shared another delicious dinner outdoors, before the four of them headed to a nearby bar and I, after a brief period of time amid the loud noise and drinking, decided to head home. We had an early-ish start to our drive to Los Angeles the next day, and I was going to get some rest before the big trip!
As for the road trip itself, that’s a story for another day.