When I think about San Francisco, the images that pop into my head aren’t of the iconic fog tumbling across the Golden Gate bridge or its famously steep hills—after all, I hate those parts of the city. In my mind, San Francisco is a little corner bakery in the Mission District that smells of freshly baked bread and dark roast coffee called Tartine Bakery.
Tartine Bakery plays as much of a role in my past as the city of San Francisco does herself. Or maybe the two are one and the same in my mind. You see, Tartine was a constant in my life during a time when every aspect was undergoing evolution. In a world of confusion and turmoil, I could always count on a lemon cream tart from Tartine to make my day.
My former boyfriend and I discovered Tartine years ago while visiting San Francisco to see the opera. We’d read about it online and made a special trip to the Mission District to try their famous pastries. It was love at first bite. As we continued to visit the city again and again, Tartine was always on our to-do list, even if it was an urgent stop on the way to the airport before we headed home.
When my then-boyfriend moved to San Francisco later on in our relationship, he moved a few blocks away from my favorite bakery. Of course one of my firsts stops once I arrived in town each month was to grab a lemon tart, with its perfectly sour curd and lightly flaky crust, and sink into its sweetness. The first bite would always take me back to the time when we were just visiting the city, happily here on vacation and not living our separate lives in separate cities and pretending our relationship was working. In those brief moments at Tartine, all was right in the world.
When I found myself at Tartine during my recent trip back to San Francisco a few weeks ago, it seemed a bit surreal. I never thought I’d be back at my favorite bakery, flanked by my best friends instead of my former boyfriend. Funny how something change… and how some stay constant.
The lemon tart was even better than I remembered. And as I savored the last bite of it, quite possibly the last Tartine tart I’ll ever taste, I realized how thankful I am of the journey my life has taken me on and how I wouldn’t change any of if—not even a single bite.