Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
While researching a story for our August food issue, I’ve been on a whole-grain tear. I’ve eaten whole grain breads, whole grain pastries, whole grain cookies, whole grain pastas. I’m not talking about things made with the average whole wheat flour, which traditionally is made by taking white flour and mixing the germ and bran back in. I’m talking whole milled, whole grain. You’ll have to pick up a copy of our August issue feature to read more about the nutritional merits of this old-world style of milling—not to mention heritage wheats, bread fermentation, and more. Let’s just say that this whole wheat thing is complicated. (And you gluten intolerants are going to want to listen in.)
Eating, however, does not cause my brow to furrow. In the line of duty, I’ve consumed so much healthy bread that, if it isn’t good for me, I’m in trouble. I've had bread from Ponsford's Place in Marin, plus Acme, Tartine, and The Mill here in SF. However, Mike Zakowski of De Bejkr—a slightly elusive Sonoma-based bread baker made cooler by that "jk" and the fact that he only sells at the Sonoma Farmers Market—makes some of the most excellent including a stone-milled Red Fife and a hearty rye that seems to call out for some sharp cheese and cured fish. The cracked kamut covered in sesame seeds is my favorite though. I think anything with sesame seeds has a leg up.
On the sweet side, I got a preview taste of some of the goodies that will be available at Barkada Bakery + Café starting tomorrow when they have their soft opening in the Temescal neighborhood in Oakland. Co-owner Christina Bondoc came by our offices to let me sample their heritage wheat cheddar chive scone made richer and even more delicious with lots of butter (produced by grass-fed cows!) and crème fraiche. Scones are so often a travesty—dry, crumbly, and hard—but not this one. It’s tender and rich and I ate the entire thing while pretending I was just going to taste it. Just as the caloric guilt was setting in (guilt does hit, even with heritage wheat and grass-fed butter products, I now know), Bondoc presented me with her hefty chocolate chip cookies made with brown butter and a mix of toasted hard white and soft white wheat from Community Grains. Fantastic. Amazing. And despite my belly warning me to take a deep breath, I finished that off too (and it wasn't even 10:30 am yet). Bondoc’s partner Rick Yarussi is a coffee geek and he’ll be serving up coffee from locally-based Scarlet City to go with these treats. I advise getting over there before the rest of the Bay Area figures this one out.