Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The final stretch...and the manuscript is done!

I'm finally back from my latest trip back to San Francisco. The main purpose of the trip was to do a couple of remaining days of photography for the cookbook, and finish the manuscript, but I managed to squeeze in some other fun activities as well.

As per usual, I hit up Tartine bakery my first morning there. As I stood in line for my gougere, I noticed that all the art on the wall featured bread in one way or another, a neat tie-in to the recent release of the (amazing) Tartine Bread book. I was completely smitten with this piece, which features baguette-as-surfboard:

On to work. We took lots of photos, both in the "studio," like this process shot of opening a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The aroma that wafted out once it finally cracked open was divine!

We also went on the road and visited some pretty special producers. Some of my favorites were:

  • Firebrand Artisan Breads.  This Oakland-based company is run by a husband and wife team, both under the age of 30, who make naturally-leavened bread (read: no packaged yeast) that they bake in a wood-fired oven. Here's Matt rotating the loaves to ensure even baking (and yes, that's flour all over the floor!)

  • Don Watson's Wooly Weeders. This man is a genius. He not only raises some of the most delicious lamb in the Bay Area, he's also figured out how to make money off of them before they're even slaughtered. He offers a "mowing" service to vineyards and, pictured here, the Infineon Raceway (which is surrounded by these gorgeous rolling hills). The pasture-raised sheep keep the vegetation in check and become ever-more delectable in the process. With views like this, how could the sheep not be happy? 
  • Saint-Benoit Yogurt. This yogurt is amazing. The milk comes from a dairy less than a mile away, and the yogurt itself is packaged in reusable (or redeemable) ceramic and glass containers. We were lucky enough to be there when they filled and sealed the crocks. Here's a tiny clip (you can't tell here, but they had the music blaring!) 

And after two weeks of photography and many, many final edits, the manuscript finally, finally was finished. With moments to spare, I got on a plane, came back to Honolulu, and popped open a celebratory brew. As they say here in Hawai‘i, hipa hipa!