Friday, October 29, 2010

Breaking Bread at Tavern

When I first tasted the sourdough bread at Tavern in Brentwood, it reminded me of the sourdough bread I used to eat as a child in San Francisco. The texture, flavor and consistency was almost identical.
If you’ve been a reader of this blog, you know I'm a bit of a bread snob—and I couldn’t believe that bread of this caliber was being made in Los Angeles. So I reached out to my friend, chef-owner Suzanne Goin, to see just who was doing the baking.
Goin told me his name was Nathan Dakdouk and that I might want to meet him in person to get the gestalt. Boy, she wasn’t kidding. Nathan is probably one of the most passionate breadmakers I have ever met, with a personality to match.

First, he took me into the wine cellar to show me the sourdough starter he uses to make all his breads. He affectionately calls it la Madre. He brought this starter to L.A. from Connecticut, where he had owned a bakery. A real sourdough starter is so important when making bread. Each loaf Nathan bakes is made with love and personal attention, even though he makes the bread for all of Goin's restaurants—Tavern, AOC and Lucques. He also bakes bread for the Hungry Cat, Goin’s husband’s restaurant.

The thing with any sourdough when made with a real starter is the bread isn't dead after the first day, whereas most fresh bread you buy is either stale or too hard after one day. Good sourdough should last a week—just reheat in the oven, and it comes back to life.

Nathan also makes a special AOC loaf, which is great; blueberry bread, which toasted is my favorite bread for breakfast; and a variety of others. But his sourdough is one of the greatest food finds L.A. has to offer, and I don’t hesitate to drive across town to get my loaves no matter what the traffic. 11648 San Vicente, Brentwood, 310-806-6464,


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