Bread is eternal, the staff of life. If you are tired of making your own sourdough or just need a break from cooking, a few new or reimagined businesses have kept the starter — and the sweet love — going.
After her family’s Sausalito restaurant was forced to limit hours or close entirely to comply with shelter-in-place restrictions, pastry chef Tera Ancona set up as a pastry bar where booze once (and will again) flowed. Open Wednesday–Sunday for pre-order and to-go, the bar features tea breads, tartes, traditional Genovese foccaccia, quiche, and Ancona’s renowned croissants.
Covid delayed the opening of Lisa Block’s new gluten-free bakery business in San Rafael’s Terra Linda neighborhood, which opened for walk-ups last summer. The shop’s focus is on savory, flaky biscuits (plain, rosemary and sea salt) and sweet buns like chocolate, cinnamon sugar, and double-glazed lemon as well as coffees and teas. Her shop is now open for full-service and a new market stand at the Thursday farmers market in San Rafael is operating.
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Anticipation in Mill Valley peaked in January when this Parisian style French bakery with three San Francisco locations hosted a pop-up at its new storefront near downtown. An assortment of take-and-bake favorites like cinnamon buns, butter croissants, and kouign amann, garnered long lines. Freshly baked items and a “breakfast all day” menu, such as at other locations, is anticipated after the permit to open is secured.
The San Rafael Sunday farmers market is where to find the bagels, horseradish schmears, chocolate babka, and challah loaves until the Marin Country Mart location is able to reopen.
Long lies for the naturally leavened breads pulled from the built-in Alan Scott oven became the norm shortly after this Mill Valley restaurant returned to its roots as a bakery. Daily sandwiches, such as squash, caramelized onions, caper relish, and gruyere on a olive levain are served griddle-hot and bread loaves are available by the whole, half and quarter. “We sell out every day,” says owner Ged Robertson, who recently added a full-time pastry chef.
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Though there is no storefront for his business, chef and former co-owner of L’appart restaurant, Alexandre de Jesus, is pursuing his passion for pastry with a home-based baking business. Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie is 100% American while Quiche Lorraine is all French. Flan, cakes and tartes are also available.
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Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract Publishing, Sunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon Society, PEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.