The name Tartine lends about as much excitement as you’ll ever see attached to the word Bakery. San Francisco’s premier artisanal bread and pastry shop, Tartine Bakery has captured the food world’s imagination with a combination of expertly made pastries and rustic bread loaves, often composed of wild yeasts and heirloom grains.
5525 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla
What started out as a compact Mission District shop attracting lines to rival Boudin Bakery, the sourdough tourist destination in Fisherman’s Wharf, has become a fixture atop every best bakery in America list, and an international phenomenon. Major expansion plans for the bakery include a major presence in Los Angeles and — no, not San Diego — Seoul, Korea.
However, what’s better than a cult brand from another major city expanding to America’s Finest? How about an artisanal bakery of our own, founded by a pastry chef who cut her teeth working at Tartine, as well as also-reputable Proof Bakery in Los Angeles?
Enter Crystal White and Wayfarer Bread & Pastry. The shop launched in Bird Rock, La Jolla this spring, and has garnered positively Tartine-like reviews from enthusiastic local food fans, even faring its way into New York Times coverage.
At Wayfarer, schooled pastry chef White has conjured the same style of flavorful country loaves she baked at Tartine. The naturally-fermented dough yields almost spongy soft interiors and thick, delightfully chewable crusts. Her sourdough offers light tang that complements a whole wheat, malty sweetness, as opposed to the acrid, sour-additive pungency of processed, white, store-bought loaves. The crusts don’t threaten to scrape the roof of your mouth, rather they add to the enjoyment, giving you something tasty to gnash your teeth on, the entire loaf held in the tight embrace of caramelization.
Wayfarer’s homey storefront is dominated by a shaded dining patio, and while you might notice the loaves of bread sitting on a shelf behind the front counter, the first things you’ll likely see upon entering are the daily assortment of pastries available.
As with Tartine, these include gorgeously sugar dusted morning buns, preferably stuffed with fruit jelly (I particularly enjoyed one made with passionfruit and ginger). Their crispy exteriors belie delicate rolls of buttery pastry within. The croissants likewise prove flaky yet rich, whether plain, chocolate, or almond, a beautiful specimen engulfed by slivered almonds and powdered sugar.
A sheet of butcher’s paper reveals a daily menu of prepared foot items, often paper-wrapped sandwiches a cut above typical grab-and-go fare. I’d suggest rewarding yourself by visiting in the morning, when everything is at its freshest, and indulging in a breakfast sandwich made on the best English muffins you’re ever likely to find in this county. For $8.75, it’s topped with regionally sourced, runny fried egg, cheese, and your choice of thinly sliced ham or avocado (for an extra 75 cents, you get both).
Whatever you order, don’t forget to grab a loaf of bread on your way out. They run a about ten bucks, but you can order a half, and should keep well for several days.