A Quick & Dirty Guide to Sparkling Wine

As some of you know, recenty I started writing for VinePair, the leading online wine magazine for millennials.  Today they posted a piece I wrote on sparkling wines – a quick and dirty guide to common types of bubbles from Champagne to Prosecco to Cava to Lambrusco, and everything in between.

You can check it out over here.

 

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The Power of Pairing: Le Chateaubriand in Paris

I have had the pleasure of experiencing meals where the food was fantastic, and I have also had my share of phenomenal wines – sometimes even at the same time. But never has the art of the pairing been so apparent to me as on my recent visit to Le Chateaubriand in Paris.

I’d heard a lot about the restaurant, as well as Basque chef Inaki Aizpitarte, and I’d seen this crazy video so I knew I was in for something special. But I was completely blown away by the incredible, unusual and innovative way the staff paired the prix-fixe tasting menu with a variety of beverages, ranging from hard cider to Champagne to fino sherry to tomato liqueur. On their own, the individual pieces would have been delicious, but the combination took things to a whole new level.

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Here’s a transcription of the menu, with my translation and embellishment from the French:


Menu for Tuesday, October 14

Gougeres with black sesame seeds
Easy Cider, 2012 Cyril Zang

Avocado Ceviche
Liqueur de Tomates, L. Cazzotte

Crispy shrimps dusted with tamarind powder
Sea bream with salsa verde, greens and crispy pork skin
BB2, 2013 (Macabeo) Terra Alta, Laureano Serres

Saint Jacques Scallops, celery root, seaweed, oysters, hazelnuts
Sapience, 2006 (Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier), Champagne 1er Cru, Benoit Marguet

Bonito from Saint de Luz, figs, red cabbage, “juice from the wine merchant”
Les Damodes, 2011 Nuits-St-George, Frederic Cossard

Veal sweetbreads tandoori, nasturtium leaves tossed in lemon cream sauce, red currants
Fuori del Tempo, 2000 (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc) Venezia Giulia, Radikon

Buttermilk ice cream with elderflower
Sake Kaze No Mori, Songe d’une nuit d’été (sparkling sake)

“Tocino de Cielo”
Fino (Palomino) La Bota Equipa Navazos (sherry)


Highlights

Tomato Liqueur & Avocado Ceviche: Some crazy Frenchman is making liqueurs and eaux de vie from all kinds of wacky ingredients, including tomatoes. 72 (!!!) different kinds of tomato went into this specific bottling. It smelled like essence of tomato – that smell of dead ripe ones in summer, including the vines – with a kind of earthy hay quality as well. The ceviche arrived in small round bowls each holding a few tablespoons of pink liquid with a small square of avocado floating on the top. The juice tasted of fresh fish and bright limey citrus. The combination was incredibly improbably, and incredibly delicious.

Sea Bream & Macabeo: My mother was deeply skeptical when this dish arrived, announcing that she “doesn’t like raw fish.” But she had been totally converted by the first bite. Sea bream is not so commonly seen in the US, but is fairly common in France. It was almost sweet, the crispy pork adding texture and saltiness. With the Macabeo from Tarragona in Spain, it really brought out the fruitiness in the wine. I have never been such a fan of Macabeo frankly, but this wine changed my mind. It was expressive and exciting.

Tocino de Cielo & Fino Sherry: Fino sherry is a dry sherry most often served as an aperitif, with a taste of almonds, apples and citrus. It tends towards the savory end of the spectrum rather than being overtly fruity. One of the “rules” of wine pairing is that the wine should always be sweeter than the food, otherwise the wine will taste “flat”, it will be robbed of its flavors. Therefore, pairing a dry sherry with dessert is a highly unusual choice. However, this was also a highly unusual dessert. Tocino de Cielo is a traditionally Spanish dessert made from egg yolks, water & sugar. It looks like flan. It literally means “Bacon of Heaven”, but there is no bacon involved. Chef Inaki made his with a raw egg yolk, nestled on top of a bed of dacquoise (a nutty meringue) and a dusting of what tasted like toasted  marshmallow dust. The egg yolk was room temperature and it may have been raw, but it seemed like it had been lightly heated in some way because it had none of the slimy, egg texture one might imagine. In fact, looking at it on the plate we didn’t even know it was egg yolk until we ate it. It was incredibly dense with sticky protein and had a decadent, thick mouthfeel. With the sherry, it was incredible.

Vital Statistics:
Location: 129 Avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris
Metro: 11 to Goncourt
Website: www.lechateaubriand.net
Prices: 65€ for dinner, 130€ with wine pairings

The Aperitif Hour

‘Tis the season for aperitifs, at least in my book. Although, who am I kidding, I pretty much always want to drink aperitifs. But as the weather starts to warm up (at least on the West Coast….) they become particularly relevant, the perfect thing to sip as day fades into night.

It could be a bitter Campari & Soda, an Americano (Campari + Sweet Vermouth), or just some vermouth on the rocks.  Grab some herbs, a few pieces of citrus or seasonal fruit, muddle it up in a glass, add ice and your fortified, aromatized wine of choice (Lillet, Dubonnet, vermouth, Cocchi Americano) and, ta da! Cocktail time.

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Here are a few of my favorite brands to get you started:

Imbue Bittersweet Vermouth from Oregon defies traditional vermouth categories with stronger flavors that a typical dry vermouth, but not quite into sweet vermouth territory.  It has a distinct herbal nose along with a healthy does of orange, elderflower and pear.  Delicious on the rocks with a lemon twist, with some seltzer or add a little gin for an “Inverted Martini”.

Vya Vermouth is based in Central California and produces one of the best underrated vermouths I know of.  I love their dry and their sweet versions.  Both are more delicate and nuanced than many others.  The sweet vermouth is great in a 50:50 Manhattan, with Campari, or on its own over ice with an orange slice.

Cocchi Americano, from Italy, is somewhat similar to Lillet, with strong citrus, orange and quinine.  It has a more bitter flavor profile, and more sweetness too, to help balance it.  It is one of my #1 favorite bar items and I always have some around.  It’s delicious on the rocks with some lemon & lime, with seltzer or in a Vesper (which is how my boyfriend Jake likes it).

If you’re interested in some of my other musings on vermouth, check out my “Intro to Vermouth” post on Dipsology.   I also just wrote an article on “Low Octane Cocktails”, which are basically aperitif cocktails with low alcohol.  They are great for day drinking and pre-dinner quaffers, and I got some fun recipes from a few heavy-hitting bartenders for those more adventurous souls.

Falling in love with Mosel Riesling

Today I fell in love with Mosel Riesling.  For months I’ve been hearing about its exquisite balance, its electricity on the palate, the fruit, the minerality.  I tasted some back in January, and I thought they were nice.  But today I finally got it.

vineyards in the Mosel

This afternoon a group of my classmates and I gathered after school for a tasting of one of Mosel’s premiere producers, Clemens Busch.  Johannes Busch – whose family has owned the winery since 1802 – is visiting California, and was kind enough to share his wines.

At the first sip, all the words I had heard about Mosel Riesling came to mind.  The wines had a honeyed aroma to them, along with varying levels of peach, apricot, sweet orange, magnolia, lemon, spice and lots of slate.

Slate is the predominant soil type in the Mosel (where it comes in three colors: blue, red and gray), and is commonly used to describe Rieslings from that region.  You might wonder how something can smell or taste like a rock, but next time you come across a slate paving stone (or one of those trendy cheese boards), try putting a few drops of water on it and smelling it.  It really does smell!  And you can taste it in the wine.

the Clemens Busch Marienburg Rothenpfad Riesling

The wines also had elevated levels of acidity.  Think of acid levels as you would think about lemonade, ranging from cloyingly sweet to undrinkably tart.  In this case, there was just enough fruity sweetness to balance the acid in each wine, so you get the refreshing tartness, but also the delicious fruit flavors.

I have heard great Riesling described as “walking a tightrope between acid, minerality and fruit”, and that pretty much sums up these wines.  They seem alive on the palate.

Here’s a run down of what we tasted:

  • 2011 Clemens Busch Grosses Gewächs Marienburg Rothenpfad Trocken Riesling
  • 2011 Clemens Busch Grosses Gewächs Marienburg Fahrlay Trocken Riesling
  • 2008 Clemens Busch Marienburg Falkenlay Trocken Riesling
  • 2010 Clemens Busch Marienburg Felsterrasse Riesling

You’ll notice that all the wines except the last one are labeled Trocken, which is German for dry.  This is because 2010 was a very cold year, which means the acids in the grapes were very high, so leaving a bit more sugar actually serves to balance it out – just like the lemonade example above.

The other thing to point out are the words “Grosses Gewächs” which literally mean “Great Growths” and are Germany’s equivalent to France’s Grand Cru, meaning the very top quality vineyards.

Many NYC wine stores seem to have Clemens Busch in stock, and if you live in California, you can order directly from their distributor here, Dee Vine Wines.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Riesling PSA

As you have probably gathered from the above, not all Riesling is sweet.  A lot of Rieslings – including most of the ones we tried – are dry.  The way Germans label their wines is not very helpful in figuring out whether a wine is dry or sweet from the label, so here are some tips:

  • If the wine says “Trocken” on it, it is dry (trocken is German for dry)
  • Wines labeled Kabinett are usually dry
  • Wines labeled Spatlese can be dry or somewhat sweet
  • Wines labeled Auslese, Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese are increasing degrees of sweet
  • Some wines have a handy scale on the back label, where they rate where their wine falls on a spectrum from dry to sweet

Confused?  I know, and I agree, but unfortunately, for now, that’s the way things are.  When in doubt ask your server, sommelier or salesperson.

an example of the IRF Riesling Scale, sometimes found on the back label of wine bottles

 

Grape Focus: Cabernet Sauvignon

I started to write this post back in September … and then I got sidetracked for a few months.  Clearly blogging my way through wine school hasn’t quite panned out as planned!  Better late than never though, here is a look at Cabernet Sauvignon, perhaps the best known red grape, and one that commands very highest prices.  Back in the fall I did a short research project on where it comes from, what it tastes like and how it grows.   Here’s a recap plus a few of my favorite Cabernet-based wines at the end!

The Vine:

cab_sauv_vine

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes hang in loose clusters made up of small, dark berries.  The berries have thick skins & relatively large seeds, which are part of what makes its wine so dark with such intense flavors.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc (yes, really, a white grape).  Cabernet Sauvignon’s name comes from the French “sauvage” which means wild, likely because of its natural vigor.  It was not until 1997 that scientists discovered the genetic provenance, which probably occurred spontaneously in a mixed vineyard in Bordeaux around the 17th Century.

Although we might think today that Cabernet Sauvignon would have proliferated due to its superior flavors, evidence suggests that it was the vine’s resistance to disease and hardiness that led to its dominance in its homeland.

Cabernet Around the World:

Cabernet prefers warmer climates, which allow the grapes to fully ripen, and well drained soils, and it is grown in almost every major wine making region around the world.

legendary Bordeaux Chateau Pichon-Longueville

The main Old World region for Cabernet is Bordeaux, where it was born.  Here, it is typically combined with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot to create the classic “Bordeaux blend.”  Historically, different varieties of grapes would have been planted in the same vineyards in order to decrease risk if the harvest of any one was negatively impacted one year.  It also adds complexity to the wine, drawing on the various aromatic traits of each variety.

More recently, Cabernet has also been planted in Tuscany, where it is blended with Sangiovese and other grapes to make “Super Tuscans”, as well as in Spain.

In the New World, California Cabernets are perhaps the best known, and most highly regarded.  It thrives in Napa Valley, where the climate and (some of the) soil is similar to that of Bordeaux.  Because California is warmer than Bordeaux, Cabernet is more able to fully ripen here and develop deep fruit flavors.  As a result, California is able to produce 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines instead of blends, although many vintners also make classic Bordeaux blends here.

You can also find Cabernet in Washington state, Chile & Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

What does it taste/look like?

Cabernet has very distinct characteristics, so you can recognize a wine as Cabernet no matter if it comes from Bordeaux, from California, from Chile or from Australia.

  1. cab_glassIt is very intense – in flavors, in tannins & in acidity – all of which also make it very age-able
  2. It has a great affinity for oak, and is almost always aged in oak barrels, especially French
  3. It is a great vehicle for showcasing the other components of the wine growing and making process including the terroir of the vineyard, the winemaking techniques used, and the individual climate traits of each vintage year.
  4. Common descriptors include cassis, dark cherry, earth, tobacco, cigar, eucalyptus and herbs such as bay leaf.
  5. The color of the wine in glass is usually very dark – think deep ruby to almost black.

Ok, so what should I drink?

One of the struggles with Cabernet Sauvignon is that because it tends to need more aging time, and because it really likes to be aged in oak, good examples are often expensive.  (Side bar: oak is expensive.  One barrel can run $1,500 new, which translates to about $2/bottle.  Start thinking about everything else you need to make wine, and things start to add up pretty fast.)  That being said, there are still some great deals out there.  Here are some of my favorites!

PACKSHOT_CHATEAU_LANESSANChateau Lanessan, Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux: A solid French producer whose property is just across the line from the swankier St Julien.  A bottle will set you back $15-20.  We have bought a bunch of vintages of this at K&L and will probably buy a bunch more. It’s a great wine to have on hand for every-day drinking.

Chateau Marsac-Seguineau, Margaux, Bordeaux: We tasted the 2010 vintage of this wine in class when we were studying the region and it was one of my favorites.  Strong graphite, cassis and clove spice on the nose, followed by a chocolate-covered-dark-berry palate with some black tea and cigar thrown in for good measure.  Wine Searcher says you can get it for about $40.

Arkenstone NVD, Napa Valley: This wine is a more expensive option, but compared to many others of its caliber (and price!) it is still an outstanding value.  It tends toward old-world style — no jammy monsters or whack-you-across-the-face-oak here — made with beautiful new-world fruit — think raspberries, cherry pie and sweet tobacco supported by elegant tannins.  It runs about $250 for a 3-pack.  (Full disclosure, this is my boyfriend’s wine.  Yes, I chose well.)

Wine School Part 1

Photo Sep 10, 8 19 43

the CIA campus in Napa

Yikes! It’s been a whole week since I started classes and I haven’t blogged about anything yet.  This isn’t because I haven’t been learning anything.  On the contrary, I have been learning too many things!  So many things I haven’t had time to share them.  So without further ado, here are some fun nuggets from Week 1:

Where does wine come from?

The most compelling evidence for the birthplace of wine points to the Caucasus Mountains in modern day Georgia, Armenia and Northern Iran.  The first physical evidence of wine is some reddish residue on pottery that dates from 5400 BC.

The Greeks and the Romans loved wine and brought vines to southern Italy, which they called “Oenotria”, or “land of wine” because the vines did so well there.  Wine was an important status symbol, as well as a unit of exchange in these early economies.

The Ancient Romans liked wine bars too!  You can see the remains of many in Pompeii, where wine was mixed with various additives like honey, flowers, spices or even seawater to make wine “cocktails.”

What are the basic requirements for growing vines?

Minimum average temperatures of 50 degrees F
1300 hours of sunlight per year
Water

As a result, most grapes are grown between 30-50 degrees north or south of the equator.  This area includes most of the continental United States, southern South America, South Africa, southern Australia, New Zealand, southern Europe and northern Africa.

What is terroir?

Terroir is a word that is bandied about but not always well understood.  The idea of terroir (which is translates loosely from the French as a “sense of place”) is that wine that is made from grapes the grow under the same conditions will exhibit certain common characteristics independent of the winemaking techniques used, or even the type of grape grown.

Its exact definition is a topic of intense debate, but for basic purposes, it is an expression of the soil, climate and topography of the vineyard in a wine.  Soil has to do with soil type – is it clay, sand, silt or stone – and as a result, the mineral content of that land.  Climate is pretty self explanatory, but things like average temperatures, rainfall, amount of sun, fog and the predictability and homogeneity of the seasons are all factors.  Topography includes elevation, slope (how steep is the hillside?) and aspect (what direction is it facing?).  In the Northern Hemisphere, south facing vineyards are preferred to maximize sun exposure.

Fieldtrips!

We have also visited a number of wineries in Napa.  We went to Chase Cellars to see their 110 year old Zinfandel vines:

Old Zinfandel Vines at Hayne Vineyard, Chase Cellars

Then we visited Charles Krug, one of Napa’s oldest wineries, and checked out their Sauvignon Blanc.  Here’s a shot of their vines:

Photo Sep 13, 11 44 16

We tasted their 2012 vintage, which is a very light, acidic version, nice for summer drinking.  We also got to try their 2013 vintage, which is currently in barrels fermenting.  The juice was hugely aromatic and smelled like tropical fruit juice – pineapple, mango, overripe bananas – and was cloudy and slightly effervescent because it is still fermenting:Photo Sep 13, 12 35 27 (1)

Finally, we went to Frog’s Leap, a vineyard that is biodynamically farmed.  Here, we learned from proprietor John Williams to “think like a grape”.  The property is stunning.  In addition to grapes, they grow 50 commercial crops including squash, peppers, raspberries, pumpkins, peaches, pears, apples and more.  They also have chickens.  The entire property is designed to be its own self-sustaining ecosystem.Photo Sep 16, 9 29 17

In addition to their current releases, we got to try their 1986 Zinfandel (the year I was born, which makes it extra special).  Whereas the young Zin was bright and acidic with ripe cherry & red fruit aromas, the old Zin was mellow and honeyed and smelled of stewed fruits and baking spices.  Here’s a picture of us tasting the wine (we also got to take home some produce!):

Photo Sep 16, 10 41 42

And now …. in class tastings! 

Photo Sep 17, 10 28 42Today we tasted three whites and three reds.  The first white was made from a native American wine grape called Scuppernong from the Carolinas.  I’ll try to get into this more in another post, but for now, suffice it to say that all Old World wine comes from native European vines.  There is a reason for this.  Unless you are deeply curious, I’d avoid the Scuppernong which smelled and tasted like “lemon Pez” according to one person in our class and also what I imagine a wild boar might smell like.

The second white was a hybrid grape known as Seyval Blanc (hybrid means it is a combination of a native American species with a European species; they are often grown in otherwise inhospitable regions of the US) from Augusta, Missouri.  I found it very light & acidic with a nice nose, but not much body.  Some of the New York state wineries also use Seyval Blanc, and I have had a pretty nice sparkling made with it (I will try to remember the winery it was from!).

Finally, we tasted a fully European grape-based wine: Sauvignon Blanc from Spottswoode here in Napa.  It was pretty closed on the nose at first, but then opened up to aromas of melon, grapefruit and flowers with a good dose of minerality.

For the reds, we tasted a Concord Grape wine.  Again, there is a reason they are used for jelly, not wine.  Next up was a red hybrid – Marechal Foch – from Wisconsin.  It was aged with 1/2 French and 1/2 American oak and the only thing I could smell was toasted coconut from the American Oak, but the rest of the class also got notes of red, underripe fruits.

Finally, the European variety: Cabernet Sauvignon from Beringer vineyards, again here in Napa.  It smelled of bright cherry, earth, dried dark fruits and even some green olive.

Tomorrow we learn about Sensory Analysis and how to correctly taste wine.  Stay tuned!

 

Hello, Napa!

Photo Jul 07, 14 54 42

In about two weeks, I will begin the Accelerated Wine & Beverage Program at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) at Greystone in the Napa Valley.  The program lasts 8 months and is designed to prepare students to pass the Certified Sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Photo Jul 06, 12 40 35

Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies: aka my classroom

Needless to say, I will be tasting A LOT of wine over the next year or so, and I plan to blog about all of it right here.  I will also be on hand at my boyfriend’s vineyard, Arkenstone, during harvest, so make sure to follow them on Twitter for lots of fun photos.  (I’ll also try to post some of them here.)

My first assignment for school is to read “A History of the World in 6 Glasses” by Tom Standage.  The premise is that beverages have played a significant role in shaping civilization, with a focus on six of them: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea & soda.  He explains how beer developed as part of the shift to sedentary, organized agriculture from hunting & gathering; wine was central to Greek & Roman society, as well as early Christianity; distilled spirits were able to travel well during the Age of Exploration; coffee fueled the Age of Reason; tea was an integral part of the United Kingdom’s rise to dominance in the 19th Century; and, finally, Coca Cola has been the hallmark of the rise of the United States’ consumer capitalism in the 20th Century.

It promises to be an interesting and fun read.

Cheers!
Adrienne

me with my boyfriend Jake in the vineyards at Arkenstone

me with my boyfriend Jake in the vineyards at Arkenstone

Anomaly

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting Anomaly, a boutique winery in the St Helena AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Napa that makes some fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon.

anomaly2

original vines & the Anomaly winery

The story of Anomaly is rather unique: a family moved up to Napa from San Francisco, bought a house that included a small vineyard and, after unsuccessfully trying to sell the grapes, picked up a copy of “Wine for Dummies” and made some themselves in their garage.

A few years later a bottle made its way to the wine buyer at Dean & Deluca, who duly informed the “accidental vintners” that they had something special. Now, in addition to the six rows of Cabernet Sauvignon that came with the house, they’ve bought up adjacent and nearby vineyards and in 2010 produced just under 1,000 cases of what is now their flagship blend.

The winery itself is housed in a two-story stone building – the second smallest winemaking facility in Napa – with a cave beneath for barrel aging and tasting.  After walking through the fermentation hall on the first floor and admiring the vines out front,  we descended a flight of stone steps into the cave, and emerged into a small but charming room with barrels ranged along the walls and a table in the center.

The tasting room at Anomaly

The tasting room at Anomaly

Adjacent to the tasting room and directly below the fermentation hall above is a barrel aging room, which allows Anomaly to do gravity flow from the tanks into barrel. Gravity flow, rather than pumping, keeps the tannins from breaking up and makes a wine that is smoother & more approachable at a younger age.

The day we visited the winemaker, Mark Porembski, had pulled a 2011 barrel sample of Petit Verdot (PV) – often used as a blending grape with Cabernet – for us to taste along with multiple vintages of the Anomaly blend.  It was fun to taste the PV on its own, since I’d only ever had it blended before.

The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon blend came next, which also contains PV and Cabernet Franc. This was probably our favorite of the tasting, with lots of blueberry & stewed berries on the nose, along with a bright acidity, and a nice long finish.

The ’09 had a similar nose to the 2010, but ’08 was something of a surprise, with lots of red fruit & warm baking spice – which Genevieve (our guide & hostess) explained was because in ’09 some new vineyard blocks came online which changed the flavor profile of the wine.  All the wines were very balanced and elegant – phenomenal examples of what Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon can be when done right.

Along with our flight of wine, there was a small bowl of bread with olive oil on the table in the cave that we learned is made by the owner’s brother in Italy. And when we departed soon after we did so with a bottle of that in addition to one each of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages.  All in all a successful visit!

Check out the Anomaly website for more information on their wines and how to order.

Tartine Bakery

I recently read about Tartine in Fool Magazine (which you should definitely check out if you are into food) and happily ended up in San Francisco with some time to kill earlier this week.

Tartine_Bakery_Morning_BunsThe bakery is run by Chad Robertson and his wife Elizabeth Prueitt and sells all manner of bread, pastry & cake, as well as savory selections such as quiches & croque monsieurs, and some really beautiful looking baby carrots.  Apparently there is usually a line around the corner but on the day I went – Monday at about 1pm – it was easy enough to snag a seat at one of the communal tables.

I really wanted to order everything in site, but finally decided on a slice of ham quiche – not exactly a Lorraine, but close – a small green salad and a glass of white wine. I pride myself on making a pretty good quiche, but whoa. This one was beyond delicious.  Light & fluffy with tons of flavor and a nice thick piece of ham through the center, the crust flakey & buttery.  Even the salad was great, with a lemony herb vinaigrette.

Tartine_Bakery_quiche

Lunch of Champions

Gougeres

Gougeres

I decided I’d load up on dessert items to take home and share – after all, when you’re sharing with other people you can buy lots & lots of things instead of just one.  So I duly departed with: 1 order of brioche bread pudding with apples & raisins; 1 piece of Tres Leches cake; 1 lemon cream tart topped with whipped cream; 2 gruyère-black pepper-thyme gougères about the size of my face; 1 slice of carrot loaf; and 1 slice of banana-date loaf.  And that was AFTER narrowing down my selection.

It was not a mistake – my boyfriend, who doesn’t even really like sweets, practically licked the bowl of the bread pudding, and everything else disappeared rather rapidly as well.  Especially those gougères – those were magical.

Inside the Bakery

Inside the Bakery

Vital Statistics:
Location: 600 Guerrero St, The Mission, San Francisco, CA
Subway: BART to 16th St
Website: www.tartinebakery.com
Prices: pastries range from $3-6 for one piece
Notes: the neighborhood is a little sketchy – not overly dangerous but be aware of your surroundings and don’t walk around alone at night