Artisan bagel makers getting on a roll in San Francisco

In the wake of the announcement last month that Schmendricks was folding up shop on its Brooklyn-style-bagels pop-up operation in San Francisco, a couple of other local bagel makers are ramping up their operations.

The artisan bagels made by Dan Graf of Baron Baking (www.baronbaking.com), a staple at Saul’s Deli in Berkeley for 11 months with a growing number of East Bay vendors carrying them, are now available at two San Francisco locations: Shorty Goldstein’s deli in the Financial District and (as of May 15) Real Food Co. grocery on Fillmore Street.

Meanwhile, Danny Gabriner of Sour Flour in San Francisco (www.sourflour.org) is expanding his production. Beyond his giveaways of a few dozen bagels every Monday (yes, free!) at La Victoria Bakery in the Mission District, he is starting to make more bagels per week. Many are used in sandwiches for sale at La Victoria, and soon the bagels will be offered for sale and delivery on www.GoodEggs.com.

Both men say Schmendricks’ departure has nothing to do with their increased production, while conceding that it’s an interesting dynamic right now.

“There’s a large market in San Francisco of people who are looking for good bagels,” said Gabriner. “It’s not the easiest market, but I think there’s a lot of demand for something that is currently not there.”

“I hope this is the start of something bigger,” said Graf, who on June 1 will move Baron into a commercial kitchen located in a new microbusiness project in an industrial part of Berkeley. “There are a lot of opportunities across the bay. I could even see opening another small wholesale bakery in South San Francisco or the Peninsula.”

Graf and Gabriner have similar approaches: organic products, a resting period for the dough, hand-rolling, an overnight fermentation process and, of course, boiling before baking. Each baker has his own twists, such as Graf’s smidgen of lye in his boiling water and Gabriner’s hand-mixing of the dough.

Graf’s crispy, chewy bagels — part of a New York Times article last year headlined “In the Bay Area, Bagels as Good as Brooklyn’s” — are newly available at Local 123 café (Berkeley), Driver’s Market (Sausalito) and the restaurant Lungomare (Jack London Square). They also are featured in employee cafeterias at the Gap and Pixar, and are at Stag’s Lunchette and Chop Bar (both in Oakland) in addition to Saul’s.

Graf is making 600 bagels a day, up from 250 a few months ago, and with only one other employee, he is hand-rolling each bagel like a speed demon: 600 in 70 minutes, or 8.5 bagels per minute, he says. His delivery orders range from 24 per day (Shorty Goldstein’s) to 300 every Sunday (Saul’s).

Gabriner, the leader of a four-person staff, said his plan is to make about 50 to 80 bagels per day this month and see how it goes. In addition to Good Eggs, he said he’d like to get his flavorful, chewy products into some restaurants and cafés.

“Some people might call them a New York bagel,” Gabriner said. “But really it’s just a well-made bagel, naturally fermented, which can provide for some good flavor.”

 

A BIGGER HOUSE: Last month, the original House of Bagels in San Francisco purchased New York Bagels, a wholesale operation in Richmond that also makes cookies, pastries and breads and has about 250 accounts (grocery stores, cafés, bagel shops, etc.).

House of Bagels also bought Marin Bagel Co. in 2009, and for the last four years had been making those bagels at its Geary Boulevard location.

Now production has been shifted across the bay to the New York Bagels site. Each “brand” has retained its own name, but the bakery is pumping out more than 30,000 bagels per day, owner Mike Fuentes said. All are boiled before being baked.

Some places — including House of Bagels on Geary — prefer to have the raw-dough bagels delivered, so they can do their own boiling and baking and serve the bagels hot and fresh.

 

NO MORE PASTRANOMY: The Napa-based food truck Pastranomy is no more. “Our one-year lease on the truck expired and it went back to L.A.,” said restaurateur Michael Dellar, one of three owners of the business.

Dellar tells me Pastrami Boys LLC is looking for a brick-and-mortar location for the Jewish deli fare the truck offered. They are targeting Napa but also looking at high-traffic areas in San Francisco and elsewhere.

Dellar said pastrami and Reuben sandwiches and matzah ball soup were the truck’s biggest hits, along with items such as latke tots and Reuben balls.

“The experiment was an aesthetic success and gave us proof of the concept,” he said. “All of our feelers are out for the right place, and when we find it, we’ll come back with something more permanent.”

 

Save room for …

Three interesting sandwiches you can find in San Francisco:

The Sloppy Jew. Offered sporadically by the Bay Area’s Old World Food Truck. A takeoff on the Sloppy Joe, it’s brisket cooked in a tomato-based sauce with bread-and-butter pickles, pickled onion and mustard-mayo on an Acme bun.

The Spicy Blue Bird. Every Tuesday through the summer, Wise Sons Deli will have a different type of turkey sandwich at its Ferry Building pop-up. Last week it was turkey with avocado, pastrami bacon, harissa (a North African hot sauce), blue cheese slaw and a pickled onion on rye.

The Chicago Fresser. Devotees of Moishe’s Pippic in San Francisco know that the 25-year-old deli cooks up a mountain of beef brisket every Friday, the only day this sandwich is offered. It’s hot pastrami, hot corned beef and hot brisket on an onion roll.

 

Leftovers

Potential good news for people planning to attend Israel in the Gardens: As of this week, organizers were close to deals with two food trucks (the Old World Food Truck and La Falafel). The event is June 2 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens … Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen in San Francisco has been serving beer (and mimosas on the weekends) for the past few weeks, now that it has a beer-and-wine license. Look for bottles of Anchor Steam, Almanac Biere de Chocolate and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, with He’Brew coming soon. Wine will be available when Wise Sons starts dinner service in the coming months, and they plan to start producing breads and other baked goods at  their new 22nd Street location by the end of May … Max’s Diner and Bar in Oakland’s City Center, which was open only on weekdays and only until 7 p.m. at that, abruptly shut down a few weeks ago when the franchise owner “went broke,” according to Max’s World president Dennis Berkowitz. Max’s on the Square in San Francisco closed last year, and Max’s Café in Corte Madera recently switched concepts to a Mexican restaurant, but Max’s still has seven locations in Northern California. Berkowitz said the company is working on reopening and running the Oakland location (but first needs to reacquire a liquor license), and is also looking for a site in San Francisco’s Financial District … The buzz on Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland grew even louder recently when local Chipotle restaurants added Hodo’s tofu to its menu. Want to try Hodo in a Jewish setting? Order the breakfast scramble at Saul’s Deli in Berkeley; it’s Hodo tofu served with a North African sauce inspired by a recipe in the cookbook “Jerusalem.” Ingredients involved include asparagus, cilantro, sun-dried tomato, z’hug, roast garlic and paprika  … Because of some red tape, the Authentic Bagel Co. is no longer part of the Upper Haight Farmers Market, but now the shop at 463 Second St. in Oakland is open an extra day; hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays through Mondays … For a video trailer on an in-the-works documentary about the Streit’s factory in New York City, titled “Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream,” visit www.tinyurl.com/matzofilm … A video of the recent talk at the JCC of San Francisco given by Mark Russ Federman, of the famous New York Jewish eatery Russ & Daughters, can be seen at www.tinyurl.com/btyxmxx . — andy altman-ohr


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Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr is J.'s former managing editor and former Hardly Strictly Bagels food columnist. He lives and writes in Mexico.