Just like these guys, we love bread and butter. So, as we’re writing our menu, we’re making sure to put these two honest foods right at the fore of every guest’s meal (unless, of course, a whole table is truly celiac…more on that later on in the post).
Now I’m sure you’re thinking, dudes, that’s, like, not special at all. I can get bread and butter at Denny’s. And this is true. But not our bread and butter.
In our opinion, the best bread is made with wild sourdough starters. That is, you combine flour and water and let it sit for a few weeks to attract wild yeasts that are present in the air. From there, you must feed the starter, just like a pet, every day. During the first month or two, you’re not going to get truly great bread from this starter. There’s just not enough activity going on–not enough life. But then–after you’ve hired house sitters to watch your pet yeast and have, on multiple occasions, suddenly woken up in the middle of the night panicked because you forgot to feed Mr. Sourdough–you realize making bread is simple. And it really does become a source of personal pride; something completely unique that evolved from the yeasts floating in your pantry. Anyway, the day we moved here, we began a sourdough starter, and have been taking care of it ever since. It is a true Santa Barbara sourdough. A perfect expression of place*.
an early version of our bread from the fall of 2013
Similarly, our butter is something that could not exist anywhere else. The French scoff at Americans, as our commercial butter is just not good. And the reason for that is simply because we’ve abandoned culturing butter. Culturing takes time. And in America, time is money. But for us, really great food is also money. So we’re going to culture our cream for about 24 hours and then churn it ourselves. Every day. We’ll mix this delicious, tangy butter with slow-cooked garlic and serve it with our rustic sourdough, to create our version of garlic bread. It is truly humble. But at the same time, it is one of our most complex dishes, full of delicious life and an amazing amount of flavor from a grand total of six ingredients (flour, water, salt, cream, whole garlic cloves, and the olive oil in which we cook the garlic). Although it is just bread and butter, we hope it will get you thinking a little bit, and bring you to appreciate this common food in a new way.
Oh and if you are gluten intolerant, or think gluten makes you fat, you’re right. We are all somewhat gluten intolerant. In fact, gluten is a slightly toxic to the human body. So why has bread played such a big part of the human diet for so many thousands of years? And why is it just now becoming such an issue? I could go on for hours about this, but I’ll try to keep it simple; a main reason for our modern day gluten-phobia goes back to the fact that we’re not eating actual bread anymore, as it has existed for the majority of humankind. Fermentation of anything is simply the act of (good, healthy) bacteria digesting food and emitting gas (basically eating and farting). When we ferment flour with water and wild yeast, the gluten protein is largely digested by these bacteria. The resulting bread is, in turn, much more easily digested by our stomachs. And that “wild” bread is what people have traditionally eaten. It wasn’t until the innovation of commercial, fast-acting yeast and single-strain, highly predictable white flours that we began incompletely fermenting dough, forcing our stomachs to do the work that microbes had always taken care of. So by serving traditionally made bread at the restaurant, we hope to give people who’ve had problems with bread in the past a chance to enjoy this staple food once again.
Horrible misuse of quotation marks? Or admittance that this is just an approximation of real bread?
*DO NOT buy commercial “sourdough” yeast starters (often claiming to be from San Francisco). They are bogus, and usually don’t work. If you want to start a sourdough of your own, either read Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson and do exactly as he says, or simply contact us–we’ll be happy to give you our starter to play around with. And although it’ll begin as our starter, it’ll soon become your starter; after about 10 days all of our pantry’s yeasts will be replaced by those of your pantry.