This is the only sourdough bread I could find in the large supermarket near our house in Moline. I wonder if this bread bears any resemblance at all to “San Francisco Style” sourdough bread. It certainly looks nothing like it. The “soft” label on the package assures us that the bread doesn’t have a thick, chewy crust like SF Sourdough.
One of the most striking differences we found between the Bay Area and the upper midwest was the absence of really good artisan baked breads. We did find a restaurant in Iowa City (an hour west of Moline) that served decent bread with their meals. But the closest we came to really good bread was the frozen dough that one of the local grocery stores baked off on a daily basis. It would do in a pinch, but didn’t exhibit the rich flavor of a true sourdough.
We developed a little community of friends who started baking the bread recipe that Mark Bittman featured in his blog on the New York Times. That was a big step forward in bread flavor. And I started cultivating my own sourdough starter from which I drew a few tasty loaves over the past year. But now — hallelujah — we’ll be close to some real bakeries and good sourdough bread.