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Acme Bread Company/Ferry Building/Embarcadero

Pros: Organic artisanal breads, open weekdays at 6:20am, inexpensive killer lunchtime sandwiches
Cons: Seriously addictive baked goods
Best For: Slathering with butter and jam in the morning, cheese plate accompaniment in the afternoon, bruschetta at midnight

Acme Bread CompanySteve Sullivan, founder of Acme Bread Company, started his food career busing tables for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse and baking bread in his Berkeley dorm. Today his bakery (main facility still in Berkeley) turns out artisanal breads and pastries that the faithful wait patiently in line for, every single day. Items like green onion slabs and croissants sell like hotcakes. The traditional crusty, Pain Au Levain rivals the loaves of century-old breakmakers in Europe. Ingredients include organic flour, butter and milk from selected farms. Acme's recipe for sourdough bread entails 35 hours of work before the loaves slide into the oven.

Here's how they do it:
Take yeast from the mother starter and blend it with more flour and water to create a 60 lb sponge
Refrigerate for 12 hours
Blend the sponge with 240 lbs of additional flour, water and salt and shape the loaves by hand
Bake in a brick oven with a rotating slab and steam humidifiers til the crust is crusty and the interior is like silk with holes

What's in the Acme cheese sandwich? A heavenly pairing of fresh baguette, Cowgirl Creamery's Mt. Tam triple cream cheese, fig jam, arugula and black pepper. And by the way, the Creamery is next door and there's nothing wrong with buying an Acme baguette, some Creamery cheese, and other assorted picnic accoutrements from the marketplace, and going outside to sit by the Bay to have yourself one awesome midday picnic.
Acme Bread Company
1 Ferry Building, #15
San Francisco, 94105
Open Mon Tues Wed 6:20am-7:30pm, Thurs 6:20am-8pm, Sat & Sun 8am-7pm