Ponsford's Place Bakery - San Rafael
- Robert Lauriston Oct 23, 2011 10:21 AM
Newish place from Craig Ponsford of Sonoma's Artisan Bakers.
I believe he's using only whole grain flours from the Community Grains project.
Ponsford's Place Bakery
117 Shaver St, San Rafael, CA 94901
Good lord ... thanks. Don't have time to write more, but I'm having the savory turnover now and ... good lord. It is one of the best things I've had this year - black-eyed peas, dandelion greens, arugula and four cheese.
Super delicate buttery crust with comforting soft black-eyed peas and the fresh green taste of dandelion, spicy bites of arugula. You know how the Cheeseboard cheese rolls often have that crunchy cheese around the edges ... well, this is like that only thin and delicate
I'm supremely disappointed they didn't hear me about the pumpkin apple spice turnover with rose-water infused currants. It wasn't in the bag. I might just drive over the bridge again tommorrow.
The pumpkin cookie was pretty fab too with a touch of pumpkin in the icing the cake-like cookie chock full of nuts and raisins ... wonderful spice too ... not too much, not too little. On a cool autmunm night, my mouth feels like I'm sitting next to the warm glow of a fireplace. Sorry for the horrendous writing, but this was just so ... autumn .... and Thanksgiving.
Not everything I tried was that sucessful, but wow ... wow.
This place is a winner. I went there this morning and had a savory tart, a small quiche, a chocolate pastry, and then took home a loaf of their mixed-grain walnut bread. Everything was and is stunning. Try this place for yourself. Here are a few photos...
re: Melanie Wong
It is a place where you have to check their schedule for the week (scroll to the bottom)
They are usually open Thurs, Fri and Sat, but sometimes they are out teaching or consulting.
On the the good side, sometimes they hold special events such as pizza night.
I was asking if they make pies, specfically pumpkin for Thanksgiving and then said "I guess not, because you are closed Wednesdays'. I was really trying to hint it would be really swell if they would open that day. No such luck.
However, that's when they mentioned special event nights and check the website.
Sadly, they were also out of the jams which yelpers have been raving about. They should have some this week.
It is Thursday and they are open but unfortunately I can't make it over there this week.
The site says they use only whole-grain flour and primarily fruit for sweetening. That makes it even more amazing because except for the quiche crust, I'd never guess it.
They also sell bulk flour and sugar by the pound. Bins contained sorghum flour, millet flour, wheat bran, confectioner's AA sugar, powder sugar, whole wheat flour, rye flour, yellow cornmeal, and many more.
Not everything was successful. They had samples of the pumpkin bread. It is like a whole wheat bread, not sweet and just too dry for me.
I liked the chocolate croissant, but it didn't meet the Yelp raves. It was more bready than flakey. The chocolate was generous and very good. Given it was made from whole grain flour which I never would have guessed, it was quite the accomplishment.
I'm not sure if I liked the whole grain flavor in the light quiche curst. It was a bit of a surprise.
They seem to make challah a lot. They said to check their facebook page when they are open becuase they post as they take things out of the oven.
I picked up a box of Community Grains hard red winter wheat conchiglie (shells) that I liked a lot.
They offere two coffees - Graffeo breakfast blend and Weaver Etheopian. I never tried Weaver. It was a good strong brew, but my favorite is still Graffeo. The caffe blends some of the light roast with the dark roast to create the breakfast blend.
There are a few window seats, outdoor benches and an indoor bench for anyone wanting to hve a bite there. It is small, cozy and pleasant, like sitting in someone's kitchen.
Outside there's a man made of bread. When you see it, they are open.
It is a quiet residential street just off of Fourth Street and right after E St. Parking isn't too easy however as a lot of the curbs are painted in red.
They will also be offering cooking classes. Check the website.
My flickr photostream
There are also many photos on the website ... really ... I've never seen so many
The website also has a link to a 2007 Chow video about owner Craig Ponsford
I did drop in Friday early afternoon. Pumpkin bread was already sold out, and pumpkin cookies hadn't been baked off yet. But I did try the one other thing pumpkin-y, the apple and pumpkin turnover empanada-thingie. The whole wheat, nutty tasting, buttery crust was rolled impossibly thin, and didn't have much tensile strength, breaking in half crosswise in the bag. The texture was sort of brittle with a crunchy but fine granularity. Never felt anything like that in my mouth before. Loved the fruit filling, tastes like barely cooked fresh fruit with very natural flavor and not too candied.
Also impressed with laminated whole wheat dough and the shattering crispness achieved, didn't think that was possible. I had the morning bun with raisins that was heavily cinnamon'd and chockful of raisins. Also had the mixed fruit filled diamond that again handled the fruit component so well. I had a bite of each when they were fresh and then reheated a couple days later for breakfast. Polished off the last of the fruit diamond this morning, 3 days later, and am stunned at how well the whole wheat crust revives with a short time in the toaster oven. Can't think of any puff pastry that would come back to life like that, great keeping quality.
Since it was Friday afternoon and soon to be the Sabbath, I snagged one of the mini challahs, or maybe it's called a half challah. It's a nice bread with medium density, but doesn't feature the lightness I want in challah.
I really like what they're doing here. I had asked if they had any Thanksgiving baking plans and at that time there'd been no decision yet.
re: Melanie Wong
The schedule posted this week is that they will only be open Wednesday from 8am - 5 pm. Closed Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Nothing about what they will be making on fackebook yet. It does mention they will be on an episode Discovering America's Bakeries (still to be filmed). Also there was an article about them last week in the Pacific Sun.
Finally was passing through San Rafael when Ponsford's was open. Really great stuff. I particularly liked the turnovers, the "laminated" ham and cheese thing, and the pumpernickel.