“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts,” James Beard.
Everyone should have good bread in their lives. Luckily for San Diegans, we have Bread & Cie, the first artisan bread bakery in San Diego, which opened in 1994. You can find their bread in a few places here on the island: Vons, Boney’s, and Smart & Final. Boney’s carries the best offering; in addition to the Boules and Baguettes the others offer, they also have Ciabatta rolls, granola, and biscotti. In addition to the markets in town, Tartine serves one of my favorite types of bread, the Epi Loaf.
Visually stunning, an Epi Loaf looks like the flower end of a stalk of wheat. This look is achieved by scoring the loaf with scissors before baking, making perfect portions. Try it with butter and a healthy amount of Chef Barbara Massey’s raspberry jam.
While having this bread available on the island is convenient, you only get a snapshot of what Bread & Cie is all about. You must go to the Café and Bakery on University Avenue in Hillcrest to get the complete picture.
Upon entering the bakery, your senses go haywire. The smell of bread baking evokes an almost primal response while the wall of bread stacked on wooden shelves keeps your eyes darting back and forth, trying to take it all in. There is so much to see and so many things to try. Here are some of my favorites.
Bread & Cie makes Pullman loaves, the rectangular bread we associate with sandwiches. These come in various flavors and can be sliced in the bakery. A sliced Pullman Loaf is what you want if you like to have good sandwich bread on hand.
One of my favorite loaves of bread, a Facile, looks like a Baguette but is only half as thick. This long thin loaf spurs creativity. I love to buy these for picnics or concerts in the park. Making a Facile into a sandwich will get oohs and ahhs from your friends and family. They don’t look like any sandwich you have ever seen. My favorite sandwich using these loaves is a simple Caprese with fresh mozzarella, basil, heirloom tomatoes, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. I wrap the sandwich up tightly until service, which helps it stay together when unwrapped.
Focaccia evokes a blank canvas; it is so versatile the possibilities are endless from panini to pizza. I like to use it for sandwiches, but I find it too fluffy. If you press it lightly on a panini grill before you make your sandwich the resulting slices have a crunchy exterior and soft, chewy center. The textures and flavor add depth to any sandwich.
Bread & Cie’s Challah brings back many memories as I used to do Shabbat for my children every Friday when they were little. The temple preschool they attended had a weekly Bread & Cie delivery of Challah especially for Shabbat. My children would come home with a loaf of Challah and candles, a tradition I miss.
Bread & Cie also makes Brioche, Ciabatta, and a whole host of sandwich rolls. The day before St Patrick’s, you will find me picking up Rye and Soda Bread at the Café in Hillcrest. I always place an order the day before pick up to ensure I get what I need for my corned beef sandwiches.
Bread takes center stage, but their play bill also features a lot of other supporting actors, like pastries, cakes, pies and a full restaurant menu. Mornings at the café you can find coffee and a whole host of breakfast items. The lunch menu features delicious food from soups and salads to sandwiches and panini made with their fantastic bread.
Bread & Cie’s website has a wealth of information, menus, catering information and styles of the bread that they offer. You can order Bread & Cie online for pick up, or they use several delivery services such as Doordash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub.
Take some time out of your day and meet a friend there for coffee. When you leave, stock up on bread for the week. Ask for freezer bags, as this bread freezes beautifully and comes back to life with a short trip through the oven. I often portion my loaves out and store in zip lock bags to keep them fresh while on the counter; air is the enemy and will harden your bread if it is left exposed.
I hope to hear you made the journey, you won’t be sorry.