Sunday, February 23, 2014

Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Café

"A slice of bread eaten is a million times more nourishing than a loaf of bread imagined." ~ Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Place: Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Café ~ Bakers Hall
Location: 160 Jefferson Street (on Fisherman's Wharf)
Hours: open for breakfast at 8:00am(?) daily (good luck trying to figure out their actual hours of operation from their useless web-site; I just know that they were open at about 8:05am this morning when I got there)
Meal: Vegetable Scramble ~ spinach, tomatoes, red pepper, Cheddar cheese, served in a bread bowl with potato wedges; and a medium cuppa Peet's® Coffee (I didn't catch the particular blend/roast, but they generally have Major Dickason's Blend®, House Blend, or Blend 101® for the daily café use)

(Get it? A "Bread" song 'cause I ate at a bakery… and a "Water"boys song, well, 'cause Coffee is made with water of course.)

I wouldn't normally think of eating at a bakery for breakfast, and particularly not one located in the of tourista country, but it is the off-season for most migratory touristas (I think they flock to Mexico or Florida this time of year) and Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Café is kind of a San Francisco institution. There are two locations on Fisherman's Wharf: the main (tourista) bakery/museum/marketplace right on Jefferson Street (which was the one I ate at this morning) and another one on Pier 39 (where you can share your breakfast with… and unfortunately smell… all the free-loading pinniped[1]). 

There are three different seating areas for the Bakers Hall café: the main (indoor) seating area in the atrium between the marketplace and Demonstration Bakery; an outside covered (and plastic-sealed) area with about twenty tables for four people (this is where I chose to sit this morning; and I had the entire area to myself the whole time I was there); and another outside area (uncovered, so you get to share your meal with all the local seagulls and pigeons) with about ten tables for four. Another really nice thing about this location is that it has an actual Peet's® Coffee & Tea counter where you can get a decent cuppa with breakfast.

the Wild Parrots of San Francisco Interlude

As I had parked at the end of Van Ness Street (hint: the parking is free all day long on Sunday and for four hours every other day of the week; just don't let this secret get out) underneath the tall Eucalyptus trees which overhang the street from Fort Mason, I saw and heard probably a couple dozen of the Wild Parrots as they roost in the trees there overnight (well, at least one major group of them now, probably 100+). One caveat: when parking beneath Eucalyptus trees, be very wary of Koala poop on your car.

As seen on one of the widows on the Demonstration Bakery area of the building:

What is Sourdough?
Ever since 1849, we have been baking San Francisco Sourdough according to the Boudin family's time-honored methods. Our secret: the mother dough, an ancient method of making bread rise using only the wild yeast present in the local environment, "caught" from the air and cultivated with a mixture of water and flour. Surviving only in our fog-cooled climate, our mother dough imparts a flavor and texture unlike any other bread in the world.

(In the top photo there are some sourdough bread alligators, turtles, lobsters, crabs, and bears that they display ~ which are also for sale ~ in the windows of the Demonstration Bakery. The bottom photo shows a basket of sourdough breads that are being cooled by circling above the heads of slack-jawed touristas in the marketplace store.)

The story also goes that the bakery still uses the same starter yeast-bacteria culture that it developed during the California Gold Rush. Supposedly, they just keep adding it to new batches of bread as they go along.

Boudin only offers a few items on their Breakfast menu (just eight items in all), and a couple of other ideas for me might have been: Sourdough French Toast (cinnamon sugar, whipped butter, maple syrup; however, I just had French toast yesterday, and sourdough bread used for French toast in San Francisco really isn't that original a choice) or Sourdough Belgian Waffle (fresh whipped cream, seasonal fruit, powdered sugar and maple syrup; now using a sourdough batter for waffles is very unique). This restaurant/bakery is a very decent optional place to go if you are a tourista stuck to the confines of Fisherman's Wharf for breakfast, I suppose.

The scramble was good enough (and extra kudos to the Boudin corporation for not calling this dish a "Veggie Scramble") and there was nothing to complain about, but really nothing special about it either; however, the idea of using a toasted sourdough bread bowl for the breakfastary receptacle was genius ~ plus, it tasted much better than a lot of paper plates I have eaten in the past. Additionally, the fork and knife were made of compostable materials, too (just not from sourdough bread; I asked).

I really didn't bother to ask what Boudin had to offer in the way of condimentary supplements; it's just a bakery, after all, but I figure they probably have bottles of Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce (the standard red) if you asked. I just ended up using some of my own El Yucatero® XXXtra Hot Sauce Salsa Kutbil-ik® de Chile Habanero (Thanks, Brian!) on the scramble mess and some Youk's Hot Sauce (Thanks again, Brian!) on the potato wedges.

Overheard along Fisherman's Wharf on my way back to my car by some "dude" on a bicycle talking to his pedestrian "dude" friend:

"Dude, I have been hit by four cars and a bus already…"

1) You are either the unluckiest person in the World (or maybe the luckiest to have survived being hit five times), or
2) You are the stupidest person on Earth for having been hit five times by automobiles; if it were me, I would have given up the stupid bike after the second or third accident (and, more likely, after the first time being hit), but
3) At least now the odds of me (or any other intelligent "dude") getting hit has been drastically reduced; Thanks, dude! (Sadly, the bicycle does not abide.)

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: Vegetable Scramble ~ 6.0; toasted sourdough bread bowl ~ 7.0; Peet's® (generic what-ever blend/roast) ~ 6.8

1. Microsoft did not recognize this simple word as a valid choice. Seriously, Billy-boy, you and your Nazi Spell-checkers really need to increase your vocabulary. You guys really should visit the Marine Mammal Center in Marin one of these days.

Stupid, useless cunning linguist (well, more etymological) pointer of the day:

"Pinniped" is from New Latin "pinnipēs", from Latin "pinna" (meaning "feather" or "fin") + "pēs" (meaning "rectangular-shaped fruit-flavoured candy").

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