Recs for Good Loaves of Bread, the Crusty Kind
I live in the South Bay, near Japantown. The Japantown farmers' market only has Beckmann's. I am getting so fed up of that bread -- lightweight, lacks crust, poor taste. I've even started traveling to San Francisco farmers' market to buy fantastic bread from Della Fattoria (their Pullman Loaves are out of this world).
But last time I got to the market in SF, Della Fattoria had one loaf left. Kind of a bummer given the trek from SJ to SF.
So, does anybody have any recommendations for decent, tasty, crusty bread in the South Bay. I'm not talking about sweetened breads like cinnamon and raisin bread and such. I'm talking about decent, farmhouse bread from a real baker that doesn't put it in plastic bags.
Any help would be appreciated. I'm an immigrant Brit, and this situation with Beckmann's might drive me back home to Blighty! Please help!
The Japantown farmers' market isn't much as farmers' markets go around here. I don't know specifically about bread, but the Friday market in downtown SJ is better, and I've never been, but I hear Menlo Park is excellent. I don't think we have an upscale, dedicated bread bakery in San Jose but Il Fornaio bakery in the Ste. Claire used to have excellent bread. I haven't been there in a while, but it's worth checking.
As others have suggested, Whole Foods has a pretty good bread selection, and so do Cosentino's and Lunardi's. If none of those options serve, try heading up the peninsula to Andronico's or possibly (maybe somebody knows) AG Ferrari's.
Whole Foods, Trader Joe, and Cosentino in Campbell/San Jose all carry Acme and Grace bread... some others too, I can't remember them off the top of my head... they're not on par with Tartine, but they're good. There's definitely no need to travel more than a few miles for a good loaf (although it may be necessary to travel for a superlative loaf).
I'm not familiar with Beckmann's, but I think that East Asians generally tend to value light, white, and sweet in bread. I wouldn't give up on South Bay bread based on what's available in Japantown : )
BTW, the Mountain View Farmer's Market is the best of the South Bay Farmer's Markets that I've been to (haven't been to Japantown's, can't comment on it). Most of the others are more street fair (baked goods, prepared foods, crafts) and less farmer's market. Acme sells there... can't remember seeing any other bakeries. I miss the zucchini guys the most - it was great to have a reliable source of inexpensive zucchini blossoms.
Maybe not what you are looking for, but try the Portuguese bakeries on Alum Rock. Not fancy-dancy like Acme, but good old-fashioned versions of bread.
Farmers markets are good to explore. It has been a few years since I've explored South Bay farmers markets, but hope you will report back on your finds.
Usually the specialty markets like Cosentino's have a good selection of bread. Milk Pail in uh, Mountain View? has a good selection of artisan bread that might avoid the trek to SF.