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Say hello to the newest San Francisco foodie craze: It’s toast, but not as we know it

Say hello to the newest San Francisco foodie craze: It’s toast, but not as we know it

“Whipped ricotta toast for Ellie?” said my waitress, putting a plate of toast – but not as I know it – on the table in front of me. It was a work of food art: a double-doorstop-thick slice of buttermilk bread, slathered in soft white ricotta cheese, topped with glossy orange marmalade, a drizzle of lavender honey, a handful of purply-green pistachios and some edible nasturtium leaves.

I took in its beauty for a moment before tucking in, tentatively, not wanting to disturb the creation. It was surprisingly spongy and more cake-like than I’d imagined, the golden crusts ever so slightly crispy. The tangy sweetness of the marmalade and slight sourness of the ricotta complemented each other beautifully. This is toast at its most decadent, putting the usual waify, done-to-a-crisp, British offering to shame (and, at $14 a slice, giving my wallet a run for its money, too).

It was 9.30am on a Saturday morning and I was in one of San Francisco’s legendary artisan bakeries, Tartine Manufactory, in the eclectic Mission District. The high-ceilinged whitewashed warehouse space I sat in was buzzing and starting to fill up. Fifteen minutes since I arrived, already a line had begun snaking out the door. The distinctive scent of sourdough filled the air. As I savoured my toast, I watched a baker coaxing batches of fresh loaves out of an industrial-sized oven onto a conveyor belt and into crates.

(Ellie Seymour)

This was my first stop on a mission to explore the city’s gourmet toast – and artisan bread – scene that my stateside friend, Jeneane, had alerted me to. She lives in lush Marin County across the Golden Gate Bridge, but loves bringing guests here specifically for the toast.

“The bread in San Francisco is so good that when my parents visit me from Chicago, they fly home with San Francisco sourdough in their suitcase,” she said, before mentioning she’d booked us a table at a place called State Bird Provisions. “It’s such a fun restaurant, with a surprise on the menu.” Could it be toast, I wonder?

Read more on California travel:

Although soured bread can be traced back to Egyptian times, sourdough has a rich history in San Francisco, dating back to the Gold Rush era of the mid-19th century. At this time, it was a snack of choice for prospectors. Since then, the city has become a magnet for artisan bakers, which some say…

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