Leah Garchick, San Francisco Chronicle
One recent Saturday, we drove over to Alameda for a tour of the Semifreddi bakery, conducted by brothers-in-law Tom Frainier (whose card calls him "chief boot licker"), and Mike Rose ("mad scientist"); along with Barbara Rose, Mike's wife, they own the place. I'd met Frainier a few weeks before, and his invitation to see bread bakers at work was irresistible.
The 44,000-square-foot bakery - grown from 440 square feet when Semifreddi's was founded, in Kensington in the '80s - is in an industrial park, a kind of gourmet factory ghetto in which their neighbors are fellow foodies, including Peet's, Pacific Rim Produce and Dunsuemor madeleines.
The wonders of the visit included a glimpse of a person-size blob of raw dough being plopped down by mechanical device, fleshily settling with a figurative sigh onto a surface on which it was to be kneaded. To me, this evoked a scene in an old Italian movie in which a bare-bottomed woman of a certain age and a certain size got into bed. Keeping this image in mind was useful in maintaining deliberate speed in the consumption of the biscotti with which we left the factory.
On Monday, distribution manager Craig West dropped off four boxes of pastries, which arrived just about the same time as the news that state Sen. Loni Hancock had named Semifreddi's Small Business of the Year in her district. My reporting that news, of course, has nothing to do with those boxes of pastries. I am doing my best to avoid getting crumbs wedged between the keys of my computer.