The first time I went to Liguria Bakery in North Beach was during my first week in the city. The sign hanging in the window read “We will be closed for vacation from Aug. 2nd thru (sic) Aug. 22nd.” Well, how very Italian of them, I thought. Taking almost the entire month off. Must be nice.
I came back after August 22nd, and it was closed again. They close at noon. It was 12:25.
So I came back again another day, not sure what time it was but it was probably around 11:30 or so because I distinctly remember giving myself enough time to be there before noon. Closed again. This time because they sold out and went home for the day.
These people are really making me work for this damn focaccia, aren’t they? I thought to myself. I’m gonna come back one more time, and if they’re still not open, I’m never coming back ever again. Screw their focaccia.
So I went back. A fourth time. And finally, it was open.
The focaccia were either raisin, plain, tomato or a few other kinds, ranging in price from $4 to $4.50. Cash freakin’ only. I checked my wallet. Three singles and a bunch of coins that added up to $1.05. For four bucks my choices were plain or onion focaccia. I wasn’t really in the mood for onion but plain was out of the question, so onion it was.
I was expecting a piece of focaccia about the size of my palm (fingers included) but when the woman I ordered from disappeared into the back, to the kitchen I presume, she came back with a piece that was about the size of a legal pad. It was glorious, and when she wrapped it in white paper and tied it closed with a string bow, I thought, oh boy, this is gonna be like Christmas.
I ran home and slipped off the bow and carefully opened the two sheets that wrapped the huge piece of focaccia. (I’ve always been a cautious gift opener.) It was beautiful. Really, it was. The undulating surface was a warm gold color, with green flecks of chopped scallion peppered on top, the whole thing glistening with olive oil.
I tore off a piece and ate it, and then another, and then another, until I had eaten about four times what I had planned on. It reminded me of Florence, of schiacciata, my favorite bread in Italy, a wonderful doughy soft bread that oozes golden green olive oil if you were to squeeze it hard enough. In a city that doesn’t salt its traditional table bread, schiacciata was a Godsend during my time in Florence. A piece of schiacciata the size of a sheet of paper was the perfect lunch, a gift from the carb gods, and here it was again, a little different and flecked with scallion bits, but just as good.
Maybe it’s not the third time that’s a charm, but instead the fourth. Either way, I’d say it was worth the wait.