The interview day was half over at 11:15 and the tram to the VA was scheduled to leave at 12:05 – plenty of time to run the three blocks (this time in dress shoes) to Arizmendi Bakery - having missed The Cheeseboard on my trip to Berkeley and reading about the small worker-owned co-op with their amazing pizzas, morning pastries, and artisan breads I knew that the experience would be worth the walk. Walking past the small craigslist.org building I had to chuckle at the neighborhood and at first I actually walked past Arizmendi despite its rather obvious sign. Entering the doors I was instantly greeted by the smells of yeast, sugar, and garlic and wondered how I managed to walk past given the large crowd waiting inside.
Browsing the myriad selections I must admit that everything looked good, but knowing my foodie agenda for the day was to be pretty gluttonous I promised to reserve myself to one savory and one sweet. Watching the numerous bakers toss pizza crusts in the back while others rolled out dough and brought out warm baked goods from the back to reload the quickly diminishing supply the first item that caught my eye was the fresh/piping hot Forcaccia with Roasted Garlic Sauce and Cheese. Charged on a “per pound” basis, the single slice cost $4.40 and weighed in at a hefty 11oz – an 11oz that I greedily inhaled on my walk back to the bus. Creamy Mozzarella, wonderfully ripe tomatoes, and whole cloves of whole roasted garlic – Amazing and filling…and thank goodness I had a pack of Orbit Sweet Mint with me since I had more interviews to go!
For my sweet, the brioche knots and Wolverines originally caught my eye but my love of cornbread quickly won out when I saw the words cornbread and scone in the same sentence…along with the word cherry. Cherry Cornbread Scone – done deal! Sweet yet hearty, soft yet with that characteristic cornbread texture, a bright balance of the lightness of a scone with the density of a cornbread – all enhanced with wonderfully tart black cherries. Hands down the best “designer” cornbread I’ve ever tasted – and a better “dessert cornbread” than the pseudo-famous Cornbread dessert at Symon’s Lola.
Friendly (and clever) servers poked fun at my photo taking, but not in an obnoxious way – one even offered to take a picture of me with my pizza (I should have accepted) and prices were a bargain for the quality. While I will admit that the cash only policy ended up costing me $30 the next day when I didn’t have cash to pay the “toll” to Napa (What an asinine rule that is – who carries cash??) I certainly can’t fault Arizmendi for that – I only wish I could’ve spent that $30 on some more of their baked goods!