Dear Owners of La Farine:
I’m sorry. I’ve misjudged your bakery.
It’s nothing that you did, or said. I just fell into that bad habit some of us humans do now and then when we, yes, judge a book by its cover. Well, in your case it was judging a bakery by its bread display.
A few years back, I walked into your bakery with a friend, who swore by your baked goods. But as I walked through your pristine little shop on College Avenue (not too far from my Rockridge apartment) and saw your display of rustic baguettes and loaves, I said to myself: “Am I in Disneyland? This looks too perfect. It looks so fake.” (Actually, I think I said this out loud to my friend as well.)
Granted, it was in the afternoon so the shop was quiet and the shelves seemed a bit bare. But in my mind, along with thinking the food would not taste good because it didn’t look like real food, I admit I assumed it would be really expensive.
So I left, without a purchase. And really never thought about you again.
But then a year ago I went to a baby shower (yes, I was the only single guy there), and the hostess served a beautiful fruit tart from your bakery. I loved it! And that made me think that maybe I was a bit too quick to judge you, La Farine.
Then a few months ago my friend Valerie gave me a gift card for your place. So now, I had no reason not to go back.
Last weekend, I came by to use my gift card. Your bakery looked pristine, as usual, but this time I arrived before lunch so it was more bustling and the counters seemed to overflow with color and a variety of choices.
I picked up one of the rustic baguette, and then headed to the refrigerated counter and ordered a slice of the Gateau au Citron and a seasonal fruit tart (3-inch individual size). (Everything totaled up to the $10 gift card I had.)
At home, I ate the baguette with a carrot-ginger soup I made earlier and it was amazingly crusty but soft in the center. I enjoyed the baguette throughout the week, and when toasted it still held up well.
I had the Gateau au Citron (translation: citrus sponge cake), which really tasted more like a lemon cake. It was a bit too tart for me (and I’m a lemon lover), but the texture was light and airy. And yes, it was very pretty.
Later that night, I ate the fruit tart. And this was when I started writing my apology to you, La Farine, the master of flaky pastry and creator of beautifully arranged fresh fruits.
The tart looked like a crown jewel, with its beautiful circles of raspberries and blackberries. And the custard filling was creamy and not overly sweet. With each bite, I dreamt of eating more and more until I had no more and all I felt was thanks for having had such a wonderful treat.
So I’m sorry, La Farine, for misjudging you. And I thank you (and my friend Valerie for the gift card!) for the wonderful bread and tart, which I will return in the near future to try again.
The Single Guy
La Farine French Bakery, 6323 College Ave., Oakland. (Other locations at 3411 Fruitvale Ave. in Oakland and 1820 Solano Ave. in Berkeley.) PH: 510.654.1025. Open seven days a week. www.lafarine.com