May 7, 2016 – Lunch at Bob’s Well Bread

On my way to Santa Cruz I got off in Los Alamos to check out this little town that has a Western feel. I just got a croissant and a coffee but knew that I had to come back and really give the whole menu a try.

Former Hollywood executive, owner Bob Oswaks had been coming to Los Alamos for many years to get away from it all. He was a high-powered executive at Sony Pictures Television for 11 years. He lost his job in the middle of the recession and started baking his own bread at home. People started eating his bread and loving it! He gives credit to the men and women who believed in Los Alamos early on and took a chance opening businesses there years ago and hung in during the lean years. Oswaks said. “As a food and wine enthusiast, I think of it as an explosion. We’ve been in this town for 12 years and waiting for something like this to happen.”

Bob’s Well Bread is on the site of an early 20th Century enterprise that was a roadside “filling station/cafe/overnight cabins”. Bob’s Well Bread started construction on February 14, 2014. They are keeping the property’s charm and architectural integrity, bringing it into a new century; modernizing the facility while maintaining the charm of the period in which it was built.

There is a nice patio with vineyards around it, and a small windmill, right on the main drag. The people next to me live in nearby Nipomo and love the food here. Others were enjoying their brunches outside amongst the beautiful trees and scenery.

Bob asked me what I wanted to select off the menu, but I felt more comfortable leaving it up to him, so here’s is what he selected for me to try:

Lemonade, made fresh with great lemon, and lots of zest.

Ice Tea, very refreshing with a nice floral flavor.

Egg-In-A-Jar with Purple potato puree topped with Gruyere cheese, poached egg, bacon lardons, chives, and crème fraiche. Served with toast soldiers. The colors just pop out at you, then this dish reaches your taste buds and you are completely enamored. The egg is poached to perfection and the crème fraiche adds to the overall delicate flavors.

Avocado Toast Tartine, with grilled pain au levain topped with smashed avocados, toasted pumpkin seeds, Maldon sea salt and chili flakes, served with seasonal salad. This is a great dish for a vegetarian. The toast is quite good and the avocado combination with the pumpkins seeds is hearty and rich in its own way. The salad is tangy with very fresh arugula.

The Well Bread BLT Tartine with grilled pain aux lardons with heirloom tomato, seasonal local lettuce, a poached farm egg and bacon lardons. For the BLT lovers this will blow your hair back. The lardons are thick pieces of bacon cooked with all of the yummy rich pork fat oozing on top of this very delectable bread. What more could you ask for.

Special Soup: Tortilla Soup. Kind of like Jewish Chicken soup but with a Latin kick, and the strips of tortilla chip and fresh avocado will make you come back for more.

A day at Bob’s Well Bread Bakery begins early in the morning, when the bakers arrive to scale the ingredients and mix the dough. Many recipes call for a “starter,” a fermented mixture of water, and a combination of white and whole grain wheat flour that infuses the bread and provides a natural preservative. The baker must keep this mixture alive by “feeding” it, which for them means twice daily, once in the early morning, and again in the evening. Their high hydration, combined with long fermentation and baking in stone-deck oven creates an irregular and open cell structure in their loaves. Artisan breads are a labor of love, made by old-world, European-inspired traditions. Although the ingredients couldn’t be simpler (flour, water, yeast and salt), the process of creating the finest quality bread is long and somewhat complex.

Here’s their process of making this terrific bread:
They allow their loaves to take their time. They practice European traditions and techniques to make the very best breads and baked goods they can. Once the dough is mixed, the baker divides the dough into batches and sets it aside for several hours for the process called “bulk fermentation” Later, the baker will divide the dough by weight, pre shape each piece and set it aside after its final shaping, in baskets or couches for many hours for the final proof. Finally, the baker checks these proofed loaves, scores them with marks to identify the types of bread they are, and then they get baked in their custom-made stone-deck oven. With stone decks, these ovens maintain a constant high heat, which when combined with a burst of steam, causes the gas to rise in bubbles within the dough, and form a delicate crust. Baking this old fashioned way creates the perfect crust and an even brown color. After baking, the fresh loaves are cooled, and ready to be sold, or packed or delivered. The process from beginning to end, of preparing a loaf of bread for baking takes in excess of 15 hours and as many of 20 or more. But the results make it worthwhile, and every bite of this wonderful bread will prove this to the consumer.

Bob’s Well Bread uses the best ingredients, products are hand-made with natural starters. No added preservatives will be found in any of the things they bake, and strive to source their ingredients locally using farmers and growers who practice the purest growing initiatives.

Los Alamos is a lovely little city and now that Bob’s Well Bread is part of the landscape it gives a passerby all the more reason to stop and try their bounty.

Bob’s Well Bread Bakery
550 Bell Street
Los Alamos, CA 93440
805 344 3000

* note some content was taken directly from Bob’s Well Bread website.



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