And now: la microboulangerie

“Bread is part of our heritage,” says Pascal Rigo. “I’d like to restore that for my country.”

“Bread is part of our heritage,” says Pascal Rigo. “I’d like to restore that for my country.”

“THE PROBLEM IS with the economics of the boulangerie, not the bread,” Fillmore’s Pascal Rigo tells The New York Times today. “I’m going to show that you can make good bread and good money.”

Both older and richer than he was in 1999 when he began a bakery empire on Pine Street he later sold to Starbuck’s for $100 million — and then got back again — Rigo’s newest venture is back home in France.

Reports the Times: “Mr. Rigo, an ebullient baker with a seemingly perpetual gaptoothed grin, has embarked on a personal crusade to rescue this pillar of French cuisine one bakery at a time, starting with La P’tite Boulangerie du Ferret, a shop that he opened last summer. He sees it as the first in a nationwide chain of what he calls microboulangeries.”

MORE: “Let them eat cake

The wait is over

BBFlowers

FIRST PERSON | BARBARA WYETH

For us early morning folk, the long awaited opening of Blue Bottle Coffee on the busy Jackson and Fillmore corner is a blessing. In my mind, a strong cup of coffee is always a good thing, any time of day. That bracing dark, sweet shot of warmth and energy is one of life’s simple pleasures. Sometimes it’s also a necessity, a predictably effective motivator if I am going to accomplish anything the rest of the day.

We in the Jackson and Fillmore pro-coffee faction mourned the day the friendly, patient staff at Tully’s closed their doors. Once a beacon of light, warmth, and caffeine — especially in the winter months — the corner remained dark for two years. I would often see  members of our tribe looking wistfully at the closed doors and the posted notices on the papered-over windows. It was especially difficult this last very cold and very wet winter. Sloshing through puddles to a distant cafe early in the dark morning was not an ideal way to start the day. I would occasionally catch the eye of a former Jackson-Fillmore regular scurrying up the hill with soggy paper cups and trays.

When the sparkly new Blue Bottle Cafe opened, I saw many of those same folks standing patiently in the line, looking relieved, and eager to enjoy the much-acclaimed coffee. The cafe is modern, bright and open, with wrap-around windows to watch the comings and goings on that lively intersection. The cheerful staff seems eager to make friends of all the neighborhood folk. And those meticulously prepared espressos and macchiatos and pour overs are are gradually clouding my memory of the long wait for that early morning elixir. Truth be told, they take a little too long for me, at least most mornings — but damn, it is mighty fine coffee!

Jazzfest celebrates the Summer of Love

FJF2017

By JASON OLAINE

Summer of Love Revisited. That’s the theme of this year’s Fillmore Jazz Festival on July 1 and 2, in honor of the 50th anniversary of that impactful, inspired time in 1967 — its epicenter in San Francisco, with the Fillmore being ground zero.

Seminal albums were released by Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Who, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and many more, while a number of important bands were being formed — including Santana, Fleetwood Mac, Sly and the Family Stone, NRBQ, Chicago and Credence Clearwater Revival.

The Human Be-In took place here with spoken word by Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary and music by Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.

Perhaps this summer is the time to collectively take a page from our past — to embrace this unifying message of compassion and community, as important today as it was a half-century ago.  Just as the artists of that generation distilled a consciousness or portrayed optimism in the face of serious cultural and worldwide troubles, artists of today give us something to think about, to feel, so we can go back to our daily lives inspired to be a part of the ongoing struggle to live and love.

This year’s artists will honor the spirit of  ’67 by performing songs from that period, showing how jazz can embrace other musical genres, with uplifting results.

ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE

Jason Olaine is artistic director of the Fillmore Jazz Festival and director of programming for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

A private guide to modern art

Jean Halvorsen leads private tours of the SF Museum of Modern Art.

Jean Halvorsen leads private tours of the SF Museum of Modern Art.

CULTURE BEAT | PAM FEINSILBER

For 35 years, Jean Halvorsen has traveled between her home in the neighborhood and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Back when the museum was in the Civic Center, above the Herbst Theater, she volunteered as a docent. In 2000, once the museum was ensconced in its own building south of Market, she was asked to set up a private tour program and hire the guides.

Now she’s one of 15 private guides on staff, each week leading paying groups that select the focus of their tour — whether paintings and sculpture, photography, architecture or, between now and October 9, the just-opened exhibition Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed, featuring 44 paintings by Norway’s most famous artist.

Read more »

Poetica finds its community

Traci Teraoka is the proprietor of Poetica Art & Antiques at 3461 Sacramento Street.

Traci Teraoka is the proprietor of Poetica Art & Antiques at 3461 Sacramento Street.

LOCALS | FRANCINE BREVETTI

There was no place to put 1,000 Monks. Artist Andrea Speer Hibberd was frustrated when trying to find a store or a gallery to exhibit the giclee prints of her drawing.

Until she walked into Poetica Art & Antiques on Sacramento Street.

There she found the proprietor, the expansive Traci Teraoka, only too happy to show and sell the luminous work in her store. Hibberd had created the drawing in tribute after her father died in 2001; her son had the original and encouraged his mom to make prints.

The creation was just the right fit for Teraoka’s eclectic and wide-ranging collection of furniture, art and decor at 3461 Sacramento Street. After six years in business, Poetica has drawn a devoted following.

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Sherith Israel completes retrofit

A crane hoists roofing material to the temple's historic dome.

A crane hoists roofing material to the temple’s historic dome.

ESPECIALLY SWEET MUSIC will rise up into the freshly repainted and retrofitted dome atop Congregation Sherith Israel’s historic home at California and Webster on June 9 at a special Shabbat service celebrating the end of a long-running renovation.

“We did it!” exclaimed David Newman, co-chair of the seismic retrofit campaign. “The Sherith Israel community has risen to the occasion.”

“We are in compliance with all of the city’s seismic requirements,” said former congregation board member Ellen Schumm, who has been involved with the project since its inception. “This building is so stable, it’s awesome.”

The $16 million project to strengthen the 1905 building — which survived the earthquake and fire the next year and served as a temporary courthouse during the rebuilding — was spurred by new standards established after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

The first phase of the project, completed in 2011, included an innovative engineering plan to reinforce the exterior walls of the sanctuary without affecting the elaborately painted interior walls. It also stripped away the salmon-colored paint that had been unwisely applied to the sandstone walls half a century earlier.

The second phase, just completed, involved reroofing, repainting and waterproofing the dome, removing the last vestiges of salmon paint and returning the dome to the color of the sandstone on the base. It also added solar panels on the roof and included work on nearly every other part of the building.

“Our beautiful sanctuary will be here — and be strong — for generations to come,” said senior rabbi Jessica Graf.

EARLIER: In a video from January 2011, the retrofit project was underway.

A classic cake lives on

Photographs of the legendary Coffee Crunch Cake by Frank Wing

Coffee Crunch Cake photographs by Frank Wing

CLASSICS | FRAN MORELAND JOHNS

Ask any true San Franciscan with a serious sweet tooth what tops the list of local culinary delights and the answer you’ll likely hear: Coffee Crunch Cake.

For more than three decades, customers have found this delicacy at Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop, tucked away inside Super Mira Market at 1790 Sutter Street in Japantown.

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The art of neighborliness

Suzanne, wearing a hat from her collection by a local milliner, and George Burwasser.

Suzanne, wearing a hat from her collection by a local milliner, and George Burwasser.

LOCALS | BARBARA KATE REPA

Longtime locals Suzanne and George Burwasser practice the fine and gentle art of neighborliness.

Together for more than half a century, most of that time only a few doors from Fillmore Street, they have made it a priority to shop local and get to know the people who live and work around them.

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Cottage Row Zen garden moves forward

Issei

A PLAN TO CREATE a Japanese Zen rock garden at the foot of Cottage Row has been green-lighted by the Planning Department and is scheduled for a go-ahead vote on June 15.

The garden would honor the first generation of Japanese residents in San Francisco, the Issei, who established Japantown in its current location 110 years ago after the 1906 earthquake and fire.

The memorial was proposed last year by leaders and supporters of the nearby Japanese Cultural and Community Center, who enlisted renowned gardeners Shigeru Namba and Isao Ogura to create a garden on the Sutter Street side of Cottage Row that would honor the Issei generation.

“Cottage Row is the only place in Japantown they would recognize,” said Paul Osaki, director of the center, because the rest of the neighborhood was torn down and remade during redevelopment in the 1960s.

Osaki presented the proposal last year at a series of five sometimes raucous neighborhood meetings. Some neighbors disputed the Japanese heritage of Cottage Row and insisted that any memorial should honor everyone who had lived in the area.

A subsequent review of census records showed that Cottage Row was in fact occupied almost entirely by Japanese-Americans until they and the other residents of Japantown were interned during World War II.

After committee review on June 1, the Cottage Row proposal is slated to come before the city’s Recreation and Park Commission on June 15. The commission agenda describes the plan as “an in-kind grant valued at approximately $56,000.”

A staff report notes that the garden plan is supported by 100 nearby residents, 23 community organizations and 463 people who signed petitions, in addition to supervisors London Breed and Aaron Peskin. Ten nearby residents and one other person registered their opposition to the plan.

EARLIER: “Zen garden sparks a fight

A view of the bay helped lure the maestro

Photograph of San Francisco opera music director Nicola Luisotti by Cory Weaver

Photograph of San Francisco Opera music director Nicola Luisotti by Cory Weaver

CULTURE BEAT | PAMELA FEINSILBER

Maestro — and neighborhood resident — Nicola Luisotti opens the San Francisco Opera’s summer season this month, conducting eight performances of Verdi’s heart-wrenching Rigoletto.

Italian to his core, Luisotti, who’s been music director of the opera company since 2009, is particularly renowned for conducting the works of his most famous musical countrymen. He will open the fall season conducting Puccini’s beloved Turandot in early September and Verdi’s romantic La Traviata later that month.

But if not for the charms of the neighborhood, he might not be in San Francisco at all.

You’ve worked in opera companies all over the world. What brought you to San Francisco?

I will never forget that important moment of my artistic life. I was in L.A. in 2005 conducting Pagliacci, by Leoncavallo. I’d been invited to conduct La Forza del Destino, by Giuseppe Verdi, in San Francisco, and I had to start the rehearsals. But I was so tired, I was close to canceling my engagement.

I decided to come here for two days; my wife, Rita, remained in L.A. When I entered the apartment S.F. Opera had arranged for me in Pacific Heights, the windows provided a spectacular view of the bay and Alcatraz — a view I couldn’t have had in any other neighborhood. I immediately called Rita and said: “You will love this city!”

And it was one of the best musical experiences in my life. The S.F. Opera orchestra and chorus were just amazing. Four years later, when I was asked to become music director, I was in paradise.

And back in Pacific Heights.

I fell in love with what the neighborhood first gave me — that view. Our apartment building in Pacific Heights was built in 1932, and I thought it was truly fate, since that was the year the Opera House opened. And Pacific Heights is so quiet, beautiful and elegant — just a perfect place for a musician to be inspired.

You began your career at age 10, playing the organ in your village church in Tuscany, learning to read music by watching the priest — and a year later you were conducting the church chorus. How did you become an opera conductor?

The first time I attended an opera, it was Madama Butterfly, when I was 12. But the first time I fell in love with an opera was La Bohème, when I was 21. When I saw it, I understood that one day, I could become an opera conductor. For sure, a bit of talent, a lot of work and some luck can contribute to achievement. Perhaps being Italian is why many theaters ask me to conduct Italian works, and so it can be said that I bring my Italian traditions to the music.

What exactly does an opera conductor do?

My colleagues in the orchestra pit and on stage each knows his or her own role intimately. But the conductor brings his knowledge of the entire opera, acting almost like a medium, channeling the composer through the score. When everything works, we have magic.

What do you enjoy on your time off?

Rita and I love to cook and we do not eat out very often, although we have been many times, either on our own or with visiting friends and family, to Pizzeria Delfina. We walk all over Pacific Heights and shop at Sur La Table on Union, the Apple store and Lucca Deli on Chestnut, and go to Whole Foods on California several times a week. We love the services of Deluxe Cleaners on Laguna, and Rita attends Pilates classes at the Dailey Method in Cow Hollow. We bike from home to Crissy Field and beyond and like to hike in the Marin Headlands.

Alas, you’ll be moving on after next season. What are your plans?

I have just been named director asociado at the Teatro Real in Madrid. I will also conduct a lot in New York at the Met, and in Paris, London, Munich, Rome, Turin and many other places around the world.

What you will miss?

I will simply miss everything about this fantastic, charming city that gave me so much. But I will come back here as a guest, and sooner than expected. Remember that all who have lived in this city have left their hearts in San Francisco!