Alas, I can't take credit for this beautiful, golden-brown sourdough loaf with a wonderful cell structure -- though one day, perhaps I'll be making breads like this in my home. Actually, a few colleagues of mine were attending the optics conference in San Francisco late January, and I had one of them agree to bring me back a full Tartine sourdough loaf. That's right! A sourdough loaf traveled 3600 km in the cabin of an airbus just to get to my dinner table!
My favourite part of the whole ordeal, however, was on the way back home after I had picked it up from a fellow researcher. When I was about 2 blocks from home, I was instructed to pull to the side of the road by a police officer conducting a RIDE program (for those outside of Ontario, this is a random police check to catch impaired drivers). The officer asked the typical question "where are you coming from this evening?" to which I replied, "from a friends house, to pick up a loaf of bread he brought me from San Francisco." The puzzled officer repeated my words, "your friend brought you a loaf of bread form San Francisco?". "Yes," my simple reply. "Carry on."
The loaf of bread was actually incredible, fully living up to the hype that I had built up in my mind. The crust was beautifully done, almost to the point of being burnt, but not quite. As a result the crust had this very earthy taste. The crumb itself was creamy but springy and wonderfully sour. Laura and I devoured the thing pretty quickly though, sharing it with some family members, using it for sandwiches (wonderful fresh steamed pacific salmon salad). It really toasted nicely. Next year, I'll make a special point of attending the SPIE conference, and will bring a suitcase one size larger than usual, so I can pack it full of bread.