Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bakery in the City - Boudin Museum and Bakery Tour

Boudin - Flagship store bw
In the many years that I've lived in the city and eating sourdough breads, I never set foot in Boudin's museum. Before this month, I didn't know their museum existed. 

What I discovered was an eye opener. Not only I learned about the beginnings of Boudin, I also learned about their sourdough. A bakery tour was a bonus!

As a background, Boudin bakery is famous for its sourdough bread. Sourdough is a quintessential San Francisco bread. It has a slightly sour taste caused by the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeasts. Boudin Bakery has a flagship store in Fisherman's Wharf.

I took my friend Edison to the Boudin's flagship store for a late lunch in 2010. When my mom was here in 2013, I also took her to that same flagship store for clam chowder bread bowl lunch. In both occasions, I never stepped beyond their cafe completely unaware that Boudin's flagship store extends to the other side. They also have a full service dining, an oyster bar and a museum upstairs.
Boudin - Store

It is by accident that I got to the other side of the cafe and noticed the sign that says museum. The gods of museums and sourdough breads were with me and this was meant to happen. Maybe they've all decided it was time for me to know more about my favorite bread and see how they are made. If you know me, I love these kinds of things - food, bakery, tours, history and how things are made.
Boudin - Stairs

The cost to go in is $3. I overheard that they waive the cover charge if you are dining in at their full service restaurant. Please don't quote me on this.  The smell of the sweet aroma of freshly baked breads greeted me right away.
Boudin - Museum and Bakery Tour entrance

You'll see a San Francisco timeline next to the entrance. The timeline shows the major events in San Francisco as well as in Boudin. The bakery started in 1849 on Dupont Street by Isidore Boudin. During the Great Earthquake in 1906, Louise Boudin saves the original mother dough in a bucket. An artisan baker from Italy named Steven Giraudo, or Papa Steve, bought the bakery in 1941. In 2005, the Boudin flagship location opened in Fisherman's Wharf.
Boudin - Museum and Bakery Tour logo

In 1873, Boudin bread is home delivered by horse drawn wagon.
Boudin - Museum and Bakery Tour wagon

In 1974, Primo Angeli was commissioned to design Boudin's unique logo which blends American style and European heritage.
Boudin - Museum and Bakery Tour bread logo 

From the museum, you can see through the glass walls these giant mixers. Baking is truly an exact science. I noticed the baker has a recipe and painstakingly measuring and weighing the ingredients. One of the ingredients is the mother dough. 
Boudin - Museum and Bakery Tour giant dough mixer 

I learned at the museum that the San Francisco climate is also responsible for helping the mother dough take on distinct characteristics as the lactobacillus in the grain reacted to the local climate. This is the reason why the San Francisco sourdough taste cannot be exactly copied elsewhere because the climate is one of the factors.
Boudin - Museum and Bakery Tour bakery view 

Tourists are gathered outside to view the bakery from the street level while the bakers try to concentrate on their different production tasks. It is amazing how they can concentrate on their jobs while being watched on the other side by people oohing and aaahing. They also look good while doing it.
Boudin - Museum and Bakery Tour tourists 

Here's what it looks like from the street outside. One of the staffs put a big slab of gooey dough into what looks like a molder. It shakes for a couple of seconds and then the dough comes out as small round doughs rolls.  It is amazing what the yeast and fermentation can do to flour, salt and water.
Boudin - Bakers window

It was like watching a cooking show. They make baking look easy.
Boudin - Bakers window view

I guess these are the ovens?
Boudin - Museum and Bakery Tour ovens 

All those watching made me hungry. Mijo and I went to the cafe to get us something to eat.
Boudin - Flagship store 

 Voila! Bread bowls of clam chowder and tomato bisque. They are truly delicious! 

The visit to the museum gave me a different point of view about the sourdough. I have more respect to the bread because of the ardous process to make them.
Boudin - Bread soup bowls


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