I tried to sample as many treats as I could — including perfect espresso, paper bags stuffed with pastries, tri-fold sandwiches, and delicate salads — and nibbles of everyone else’s cakes and cookies. (Though I was foolish enough not to order that ridiculous-looking croissant, shown above. What is going on with that croissant?? Is that butter?)
Fortunately, the experience didn’t end in San Francisco. I’ve been lucky enough to eat Tartine’s infamous pain levain (shown above) — quite possibly the best $7 you will spend, ever — on two separate occasions in Montreal, courtesy of these two wonderful people and their home baking wizardry (Anthony’s loving essay on the fabled loaf is a must-read). One instance of its consumption was even in my own home — we ate it sliced, slathered with salted butter and served with oysters and caul-wrapped sausages — and its presence at the dinner table was one of the best hostess presents I have ever received.
In any case, the Selby photo essay is the final nail in the coffin — I must own my own copy of Tartine Bread.