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WHO HAS THE BEST BAGUETTE IN THE BAY AREA ?

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Joule Thomson Jul 18, 2003 03:02 AM

Bay area hounds..... I LOVE crispy artisan bread.
In fact..... I am currently living where there is only so so bread and VERY little in the way of cheese.

I am thinking about moving back to the area (I use to live one valley over from Nappa)....just so I can get my bread cravings satisfied.

Whose baguette is most like the ones you find overseas?

Thanks for any suggestions.....I may be making a trip to the area in a few weeks.

Oh yeah.....and pardon my spelling.

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  1. v
    vespaloon RE: Joule Thomson Jul 18, 2003 08:44 AM

    i like acme's baguette. thin crust, fairly small cylinder, airy (but not too much so) inside. no need for it, but oh so good with fresh, sweet butter. when fresh, it reminds me of the ones in paris.

    i, too, would be very interested in hearing what other hounds think of as the best baguette. when we first moved up here, i was on a quest to find this, but then i decided to *try* to reduce the carbs, so i'll have to save my splurges for that which the hounds decree as the best! ;)

    1 Reply
    1. re: vespaloon
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      Windy RE: vespaloon Jul 18, 2003 01:08 PM

      I also love Acme's stick baguettes, especially the sourdough with a little cheese on it, but they are very crusty--they're all crumbs if you get them too late in the day.

      For traditional baguettes, I often prefer Bakers of Paris (which closed its retail stores a few years ago--the employees bought the one on Taraval and 21st). Unfortunately my local supplier just went under too. Their baguettes are very airy and soft in the middle, with a thin crust. Wrap Delight uses them for their bahn mi.

    2. m
      mcchowhound RE: Joule Thomson Jul 18, 2003 12:36 PM

      If you'll be in the Far East (Bay) try the Cheeseboard on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. I think their baguettes are the best by light years.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mcchowhound
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        Stanley Stephan RE: mcchowhound Jul 18, 2003 01:46 PM

        I second the Cheeseboard for best baguette. They can also be found at Arizmendi in SF.

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        god of cookery RE: Joule Thomson Jul 18, 2003 01:53 PM

        for a baguette, i prefer Artisan for perfectly golden brown crust that's not too toothy, mellow yeast smell and a clean flavor.

        1. s
          svL RE: Joule Thomson Jul 18, 2003 05:49 PM

          I think Noe Valley Bakery's regular baguette is excellent if consumed within a couple of hours from purchase time. When fresh, I would rate their baguette higher that similarly fresh Acme, Artisan, etc. NVB has been knocked about on this board but their breads in general and baguettes in particular are still up there. Their pastries, however, are quite mediocre, IMHO.

          1. d
            Dennis RE: Joule Thomson Jul 18, 2003 06:26 PM

            I'll also go with Cheeseboard. But a note for those visiting their baked goods: the baguettes (and a few other items they make with the same dough; city batard, cheese thing [the correct name], etc.) are their only reliable baked product. They overmix their scones and their muffins aren't great, though each is pretty much the best you can get in the neighborhood. The whole wheat bread is pretty good if you like it really dense. Overall I love the place.

            1. w
              Wendy-san RE: Joule Thomson Jul 18, 2003 07:13 PM

              I love the baguettes and Parisian sandwiches at La Baguette at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

              1. m
                Margot RE: Joule Thomson Jul 18, 2003 07:19 PM

                I hate to say it, but the tastiest baguette I've eaten is from Los Angeles. Whole Foods Berkeley has just started selling La Brea's breads -- sometimes they're so warm they seem fresher than the locals. I'm not certain if it's more or less authentic than the various Bay Area's artisan baguettes, but its crust is beautifully golden/creviced, its interior perfectly chewy. La Brea's pecan(walnut?)/raisin bread puts locals (Fred Bread, etc.) of its ilk to shame, too. Not too sweet, not too rustic. Spread with some cream cheese/extra nuts/raisins/dates/dried cranberries, and a green salad, it's almost enough for a light dinner on a warm evening.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Margot
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                  baker RE: Margot Jul 18, 2003 07:26 PM

                  freshness- that's the whole deal with most modern baguettes

                  la brea par bakes and freezes them for shipping that way the supermarket can bake them throughout the day so you can get one just out of the oven

                  makes *all* the difference in perception of taste, texture, aroma, etc...

                  1. re: baker
                    m
                    Margot RE: baker Jul 18, 2003 07:33 PM

                    I didn't know that about La Brea. Wondered why they were so fresh! Grace Baking does the same thing now -- but for the comparable breads, I still think La Brea's are better.

                  2. re: Margot
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                    todd RE: Margot Jul 19, 2003 04:59 AM

                    completely agree. La Brea is the best bread I've had in the bay area. The Chronicle once did a survey amongst food critics of SF and La Brea was also voted the best overwhelmingly.

                    the "Rustic" bread from Acme comes close (you can only get this at the Acme bakery itself).

                    1. re: todd
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                      vn RE: todd Jul 19, 2003 11:30 PM

                      here's another ranking

                      Link: http://sfbread.com/index.html

                  3. a
                    anton RE: Joule Thomson Jul 18, 2003 07:19 PM

                    arizimendi in oakland on lakeshore, by far.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: anton
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                      Ruth Lafler RE: anton Jul 18, 2003 07:34 PM

                      Okay, here's a question: I know the two branches of Arizmendi are offshoots from the Cheeseboard.

                      Is there any appreciable difference in their breads? Or are they using the same recipes and techniques?

                      La Brea won a Chronicle taste test a few years back (much to their chagrin). I personally don't like the airy style of baguette (or any bread -- tastes like cotton to me). I'm surprised no one has mentioned Semifreddi's seeded baguette, which is quite good, even if it is the only bread of theirs I like.

                      Maybe we should have a baguette tasting for the Chowhound picnic in October!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
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                        Windy RE: Ruth Lafler Jul 18, 2003 07:39 PM

                        The Semifreddis seeded is a delicious bread, especially grilled with goat cheese. Someone in Berkeley (courtyard off Shattuck?) used to offer a grilled goat cheese and baby spinach sandwich.

                        But for obvious reasons, it doesn't pass my plain baguette (with butter and jam) test. And their plain baguettes aren't that interesting.

                        I like their raisin bread a lot, preferably with cream cheese.

                        Did we ever figure out who La Note gets its stick baguettes from?

                        1. re: Windy
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                          Windy RE: Windy Jul 19, 2003 01:07 PM

                          The place off Shattuck was Panini--kept me up all night trying to remember the name. First place I tasted the Semifreddi's anise baguettes, in the late 80s.

                          An even better version of this bread is made at West Portal Bakery in San Francisco, with a slightly lighter crust and inside. They also have delicious sour cherry rolls that are essentially half-size sourdough baguettes with dried cherries.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler
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                          Stanley Stephan RE: Ruth Lafler Jul 18, 2003 10:30 PM

                          Trying to cut back on the starches, I don't get to Arizmundi SF that often. Howver a friend who lives in the nieghborhood commented that the bread is inconsistant. If they have new people training in the bakery, she said the quality is sometimes off. Not sure if that applies to the retail store however. The leftovers and, I guess, mistakes, go to the charitable organization that she works for.

                          I've never personally noticed a difference in quality between the Cheeseboard bread and Arizmundi, SF.

                          1. re: Stanley Stephan
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                            The Dairy Queen RE: Stanley Stephan Jul 24, 2003 09:37 AM

                            I find the staff at Arizmundi in SF a little curt, too. When I'm in Sunday morning mellow, I avoid the place.

                      2. m
                        Melanie Wong RE: Joule Thomson Jul 19, 2003 03:58 AM

                        Depends on what you consider a good baguette overseas...the rustic baguette from La Farine is what France's baguette's used to be. Allegedly can make old Parisians cry remembering the bread of their youth.

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                          Nancy Berry RE: Joule Thomson Jul 19, 2003 11:33 AM

                          I like the baguettes from Artisan Bakery in Sonoma. They're available at various stores in SF.

                          I also like the baguettes from Bay Bread. They have a number of stores in SF.

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                            Arthur Che RE: Joule Thomson Jul 21, 2003 02:58 PM

                            I personally love the baguettes from the Whole Foods on Franklin (and I think Pine? or Bush). The specific name escapes my mind for the moment, but they come in a brown/red wrapper with some clear plastic on it if I remember correctly. They're almost always out hot, crusty on the outside with sufficient "breadiness" on the inside. Go try em out...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Arthur Che
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                              jen maiser RE: Arthur Che Jul 21, 2003 03:13 PM

                              Kind of sounds like you are talking about their La Brea Bakery baguettes. My understanding is that they are baked at the Whole Foods.

                              1. re: jen maiser
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                                Arthur Che RE: jen maiser Jul 22, 2003 03:33 PM

                                Actually, yeah I think that's it. I didn't make the connection at first from the reply below.

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