This week marks the end of our visit to San Francisco's Gastro District, which is really just one block long, between Guerrero and Valencia on 18th St. In previous segments we spent time at Pizzeria Delfina, Bi-Rite Market, Bi-Rite Creamery, and Tartine Bakery Cafe, and now we head upstairs from the bakery to the apartment of baker Eric Wolfinger, who makes us a wonderful pizza on Tartine's Country French dough in his home oven--yes, great pizza can come from a rinky dink oven as long as the dough is great--and this was definitely great dough! (And make note of his cool trick of adding the basil, tossed in a little olive oil, just for the final minute of baking--can't wait to try that!)
The most significant take-away for me during our two days of filming in The Gastro was how influential a few places, committed to quality, can have on a neighborhood and even on a city; how quality is like a magnet that draws more quality and pretty soon you have a vortex of quality that is so compelling that people of all types just want to be a part of it. This is the kind of energy that creates what I've identified as the difference between good and great, and I define greatness by one word: memorable. Every place we visited in this one block neighborhood was memorable. How do I know it's memorable? Because I can't wait to go back, to tell my friends about it, to bring people there, to see those passionate Gastro folks again; to get those unbelievable pork rinds at Bi-Rite Market, the pizzas but also the one of a kind side dishes at Pizzeria Delfina, the croissants and especially that Country French loaf at Tartine, the salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery -- I can't get that neighborhood out of my head!
As we continue questing in the coming weeks and months we will keep uncovering more such memorable people and places. Some of them are well known and some aren't (yet). But they all share the traits we witnessed at Pizzeria Mozza and LaBrea Bakery in LA, as well as at all the places in The Gastro: a fire in their bellies to do something extraordinary, to please people, to push the boundaries of flavor, and to support sustainable practices that do, in fact, create the best possible flavors imaginable.
Our next webisode series, which will begin in two weeks, takes us to the Central Coast of California, to the town of Cayucos where Jensen and Grace Lorenzen are doing in a small town, at the Cass House Inn, what Craig Stoll, Nancy Silverton, and the folks at Tartine are doing on larger stages in major cities. Will they have as much impact in their little village that the bigger names have had in San Francisco and Los Angeles? Time will tell, but I believe in the saying that we should think globally yet act locally, wherever we are planted. The rest takes care of itself, as you will see when you watch the upcoming webisodes.
But for now, enjoy with us our final pizza in Gastro, and join us again soon ("get back on the bus," as Russ Parsons put it at Mozza) as we head down the coast for a whole new set of adventures that continue to define, and redefine, the whole notion of memorableness. See you there….