Goodbye to the Vesta truck...

Goodbye to the Vesta truck...
April 2013: We're sad to announce that the Vesta Flatbread food truck's last service will be April 13th. We are tremendously grateful for you, our amazing customers. Your support, loyalty, and positive feedback kept us going while we grew our business from a humble pop-up tent at two farmer's markets to a flashy brick oven-bearing food truck serving 4-5 days a week in three different cities. It's been an incredible ride. Vesta will be on hiatus for the remainder of the year, but stay tuned for more Vesta news in the future, as our quest for a brick and mortar project progresses.

Della Fattoria visit

We have both been courting Della Fattoria for years. I was first introduced to the bakery through my weathered Artisan Baking Across America book, which lovingly details a quaint brick oven bakery in the backyard of Petaluma couple Kathleen and Edmund Weber. And while I don’t remember the restaurant, I do remember the revelatory experience of tasting Della Fattoria’s bread for the first time. It was the best I’d ever eaten. I asked the staff about it, and tracked down their products at Whole Foods in Mill Valley.

One of our most exciting (and dangerous) discoveries at our Thursday San Rafael Market has been the Della Fattoria stand, where the array of morning pastries is VERY hard to resist. Even when I bring my own oatmeal, it often goes uneaten, a sad second compared to a perfectly-executed almond croissant. Their breads are gorgeous works of culinary art. Since we can be found standing in their line a few times a day, we got to talking to Edmund, who invited us to come shape and bake bread one afternoon.

The place is just as idyllic as it sounds on paper. The bakers shape bread on two enormous marble tables set in a converted barn filled with sunlight, enjoying pastoral views complete with sheep and roosters. The Webers have a huge plot of land with several buildings, including their childrens’ homes and a dorm for visiting interns from the Culinary Institute of America. The land and bakery breath life. The rhythm of bakers shaping and firing loaves, the friends dropping in and out throughout the course of the afternoon, the pot of dinner cooking in its nook between the two giant ovens. While clean and professional, it lacks the soulless, sterile aesthetic of most commercial bakeries. Can we live here?

It is not surprising that such sublime bread would have sprung up organically. The oven was originally constructed with help from friend and brick oven-builder Alan Scott, as a vehicle for neighborhood BBQs and cookouts. About 15 years ago, when son Aaron was working at the Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, Kathleen got to know Aaron's executive chef, Mark Vann. Mark offered feedback on Kathleen's bread, and soon offered her the restaurant's account. She went from baking forty loaves three times a week (for pleasure) to sixty to one hundred loaves every day.

Working with the baking staff of Della Fattoria was like stepping into the middle of a performance by a well-rehearsed dance troupe, moving with quick grace and precision. We tried not to get in the way of their choreography, but they patiently showed us their methods and by the end we'd learned some nifty new techniques. Their style of shaping and baking is unlike any other we'd encountered, and watching the loaves loaded on long peels into the ovens as the sun sank low, we had the feeling of watching a ritual  unfold just as it's been practiced for thousands of years: baking with only wood, stone, and fire. The next day as we ate our beautiful pan au levain we marveled at how good it still was; as we dream about baking our flatbread in a hearth oven, we discovered one of the many benefits: the high heat radiating from all sides cooks the loaves quickly, allowing them to stay fresh and moist for much longer than gas ovens would. That's our theory, anyway. The rest is all magic.

Vesta Flatbread's Alameda debut!

This afternoon, for the first time in Vesta history, we'll be taking Bessie the trailer through the Webster street tube. Why? To feed wild revelers at the Crab Cove concert series tonight. The free concerts are presented by the West Alameda Business Association. Today's is the first of the year, a duet by Open Opera, a group dedicated to bringing opera to the public.
Music and flatbread for the people!