This post isn’t like any other I’ve ever written before. This involves hands-on experience I don’t ordinarily get from my day-to-day dealings with restaurants. Generally, I’m on the receiving side, not the making side. However, I’m getting ahead of myself here, so let me start from the beginning.
About seven years ago, I was at Tip Top Deli in Carlsbad and picked up a loaf of olive bread by Bread & Cie. I remember devouring it in the car with my then 7 year old wishing we had grabbed another loaf for later. Through the years, I have seen their artisan breads at various farmers markets around San Diego and have even introduced them to native San Diegan friends.
Recently, I stopped into a neighborhood market in Golden Hill before going to dinner nearby and found some granola from Bread & Cie. I fell in love with it immediately and went on a mission to find out more about it. After several emails with Bread & Cie founder and owner Charles Kaufman, the native New Yorker-turned-San Diegan invited me down to his cafe in Hillcrest to make the granola with them.
The minute I stepped into Bread & Cie, I felt a sense of familiarity, like I had been inside before. It took me a minute or two before I realized that the style and layout was just like Huckleberry’s in Santa Monica. This success to this almost 20-year-old establishment is definitely its people, starting with Charles. His sense of humor is infectious. I watched him joke around with his staff spreading the camaraderie to everyone he comes in contact with.
As we walk through the restaurant into the back, I noticed the variety of breads on display including brioche, fougasse, olive to name a few. Bakers Eloisa and Lorena were making soda bread this day, and I watched as they molded the bread by hand, then cut the top, brushed it with buttermilk, before moving onto the next tray. True artisan bread is just that, all made by hand.
When they were done, the process of my beloved granola began. Charles cracked me up as he asked that we make a face with the granola ingredients. Of course I obliged.
The wet ingredients are mixed in a separate bowl by Eloisa and set aside. Then, the first of the dry ingredients are placed in a large vessel to be mixed with the wet. At this point, Charles gave me some gloves and asked me to get right into it as he took over my camera and deftly snapped away. I gleefully combined the oats, almonds and pumpkin seeds together. It took about five to seven minutes for it to possess an even coating.
Then we laid the mixture out on a baking sheet and placed it into the oven for 10 minutes at 275 degrees. It is allowed to cool before cranberries, golden raisins, and others are added with remainder of the wet ingredients given another mixing. Another 20 minutes in the oven and there you have it. That’s the granola that I’ve grown so very fond of.
Charles then brought me to the front of the house and put me to work. I bagged a few items for customers before venturing off to explore everything Bread & Cie had to offer. This is where I watched him interact with his customers, again with charm and humor. He is indeed the foundation of this establishment.
Bread & Cie makes everything in-house including biscotti, scones, cookies, macaroons, macarons, cupcakes, chocolate eclairs, the list goes on and on. If you want breakfast, there is also French toast.
But that’s not all. If savory is your thing (it definitely is mine!) then choose from an array of sandwiches, quiches, pizzas, salads — all salad dressings are made in-house as well. I was amazed that this little cafe creates so much in such a small space.
My time at Bread & Cie came and went rather quickly. I left with a sense of satisfaction, enveloped by a feeling of extreme warmth and happiness. The art of feeding is one that always brings pleasure, at least in my world, it does. After spending the morning with Charles Kaufman, I knew without a doubt, that in his world, it does as well.
Bread & Cie
350 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103