We've been searching for years for anything that approximates San Francisco sourdough bread in our area (southern Chester County, PA).
For a while we found loaves that actually had the sourdough tang -- oddly enough, at the Safeway in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. (Note that no other Safeway we tried in N. Wilmington, West Chester, Dover, etc., had the same dough, so the taste was completely different. And nowhere near as good.)
But now the Rehoboth Safeway has changed sources, apparently, and their "sourdough" is just awful.
A friend who grew up in SF, and now lives in N. Wilmington, says there's something about the air out there, and we'll never find anything remotely like good sourdough here. Frankly, we'll settle for "remotely" at this point. Anyone know of a local source of decent sourdough?
Failing that, anyone have a favorite place to order sourdough from the West Coast, with the ultimate cost less than about $9 a loaf? We want it for toast and sandwiches.
I used to order from Boudin in SF and thought it very good bread. Freezes well too.
Around here I go to St. Peters Bakery, Le Bus, and Metropolitan and I don't know if those will have that tanginess but they all have good bread. Saranac Sourdough in Lake Placid is good if you're ever up that way.
Also around here, Giant and Acme (ugh) apparently carry LeBrea which I liked. They describe it as "mildly tart" and it won't measure up to a bread like Boudin but will get you by.
I don't think it's the air, I think it is that the sourdough tang isn't as welcome around here so it's not made that way. Similarly a Big Sky bakery opened in Wilmington some years ago and the news reported that they don't do a traditional crusty bread because people in Delaware don't like crusty bread. Sadly, too much truth to the statement.
I'm not sure why Big Sky would be classified as "not doing crusty bread," but they do in fact have several varieties, including sourdough. It's probably not as sour as the SF kind, but it's good--that was my standard bread choice for my chicken salad sandwich when I used to work up that way and ate lunch there all the time. (Their chicken salad is superb, too. And the chocolate chip walnut cookie is the best cookie EVER.)
Interestingly, I got a grilled cheese sandwich on real sourdough last week at Cafe Reve at Lantana Square in Hockessin. I was quite happily surprised at the quality of the bread. You might give them a call and ask where they source their bread.
I think Country Butcher in Kennett Square has bread, and I'm sure it would be high-quality. I don't know where it comes from but it's worth swinging by, or calling, to check.
RC, Yes, LaBrea is a decent substitute. Our Giant (near Longwood) does not do LaBrea. But I'm beginning to think ordering from Boudin is the answer. As you say, I can always freeze in quantity.
TM - I've tried the bakery at Country Butcher, which said the sourdough came from Philly -- not good. I've had a couple other bad experiences with that bakery so would not agree it's high quality! Far from it. . .
There was a franchise baker in Kennett Square (perhaps Big Sky, can't remember) that said they were working up to sourdough, but they went under first.
I'll have to look up Big Sky in, I presume, Wilmington? And maybe call Cafe Reve.