When you’re standing in the aisles of Bi-Rite Market, looking at the faces of guests to your left and right, do you consider that you might be looking at the very producers of the food you’re buying? Well, you should! Turns out many of our guests have over the years become producers of the food we sell (just like many of our guests have become staff members). The list goes on: Michelle Manfredi’s SFQ BBQ sauce, Michelle Pusateri’s Nana Joe’s Granola, Cristina Widjaja’s Hey Boo Jams, Josie Baker’s Bread….and the newest on the list, Atsuko Watanabe’s Sunbud Bakery Buckwheat Cookies!
Atsuko, the founder of Sunbud Bakery, lives a few blocks away in Noe Valley and has been visiting Bi-Rite several times a week for years. My guess is that a lot of those visits were spent musing over her future cookie line, because these cookies are the result of many years as a pastry chef and food marketer. After training at the Cordon Bleu and working in Parisian pastry kitchens, she moved back to the US and managed the marketing for Donsuemor, famous for their French Madeleine Cookies.
But she always wanted to create her own cookie, so after tasting her way through bakeries around the world, it was her characteristically Japanese attention to detail that led her to test hundreds of batches and endless recipes before landing on the right cookie. What’s neat about Atsuko’s cookies is that she chose buckwheat as the main ingredient not because it’s gluten free (although that’s a bonus!), but because it tastes so good! Atsuko’s ties to buckwheat run deep, from the soba she grew up eating in Japanese dishes to crepes she made as a pastry chef in France. Buckwheat is a super source of protein and magnesium, and we love it for its nutty, earthy, toasty goodness.
To the buckwheat base she adds almonds and dried unsulphered apricots (for the apricot cookie) or dried unsulphured currants, unsweetened chocolate and organic cacao nibs (for the chocolate currant cookie). For sweetness she uses agave nectar and coconut palm sugar (low glycemic and hinting of caramel), and she uses coconut oil, which is high in healthy lauric acid.
Atsuko and Jennifer, her Sunbud partner, will be here to share their cookies with other Bi-Rite guests on Sunday August 12th from 2-5. Come by for a taste of Sunbud—with rich almonds and tangy dried fruit, you’ll see and taste her wholesome ingredients taste in each bite.