Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Case of the Purloined Cruffin from Mr. Holmes' Bakehouse!

Recently I was made aware of a case of Bakery Burglary in a curiously effected shoppe in San Francisco that is perplexing investigative experts and patrons alike for this theft pointed only towards the removal of BAKERY RECIPES from the eponymously coined 'Mr. Holmes Bakehouse'!
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse on Urbanspoon
What, mind you, could be of such VALUE and found inside a ring binder that the alleged transgressors thereby bypassed every other single item of value inside said Bakehouse (iPad, expensive equipment, cash register and cash, Holmes-names accessories!) and focus singly on four binders containing the ingredients and cryptic instructions towards the preparation of baked goods alone?

Coffee Cream Cruffin with Marshmallow Square
Were these purloined recipes the written Magna Carta of all bakery morsels - never to be found or baked again?  The pop-n-fresh Crown Jewels of the pastry trade and made so spectacularly that the very manner in which they are amalgamated drew the eye of the darkest in the flour and sugar underworld? Indeed this immediately beckoned my acute investigative sensitivities!

While I admit I have not (yet) been asked to participate in this particular investigation, San Francisco's finest doing their usual excellent work no doubt, my curiosity has still gotten the better of me if for no other reason than the very name of this splendid enterprise - which I've  discovered with a mirthful mouthful, has been named after the feline in residence of the owners own mother - a cat named SHERLOCK HOLMES! (Oh the humanity!)

This bake shoppe, open only three months, has apparently already driven the foodies of this culinary-crazed city mad as a hatter with dozens of divinely derived blessings yet it is a singularly named item that has caused all the stir and has brought the throngs Walking Dead-like to beat upon the doors of this Larkin St. storefront: The Cruffin; a swirling delight of soft and chewy croissant goodness spired tall into an accentuated muffin pouf.

courtesy jim wilson/nytimes.com
However, it is what is then done with this creation that has set the bakery world asunder for the Cruffin itself represents only the launching point of the imaginative baking spirit of owner Ry Stephens, whose incarnations have so far included styles such as the Strawberry Milkshake, the Peanut Butter Fluffernutter, Honeycomb Caramel, Sightglass Coffee Cream..... the list being limited only to whatever this Parisian trained pastryman can conjure.

And so it is with the introduction of this Cruffin that long queue's begin to form ahead of the shoppes opening in anticipation of this frenzied patisserie offering....some only to find that the Cruffin is not made available until 9 am and is also then limited to only 2 per customer until they are vanquished entirely - a point which usually does not last more than an hour on weekends and perhaps only slightly longer on weekends.

The facts of the case so far are known: The door to the Bakehouse was unlocked upon the arrival of the early morning baking crew....near 3:00 am, and with the owner himself responsible for securing the door the previous evening.
courtesy of www.cookiecaptain.com

Additionally,  a recently installed closed circuit recording system was not yet operational, a fact not yet known to the other employees of the bakery and further creating dichotomies in the case. The presumed reason to install a closed circuit system could point towards the proximity between the Nob Hill region to the north and arguably the 'toughest' neighborhood in San Francisco, the Tenderloin District just to the south (named many eons past for the cuts of meat afforded by the constabulary paid more for this rough and tumble beat). 

courtesy sf.eater.com
Yet none of this points to any such hooligan-type gaining entry solely for the opportunity to remove said recipes from their binders in the kitchen......visions of the 'Tampopo' homeless gaining entry to Tokyo's finest kitchens after-hours to prepare their own evening meals in stealth swirling in their heads......no, this was a job of cunning, thought, and conviction.

A disgruntled neighbor perhaps, upset with the constant traipses of the hungry and craven in search of the tantalizing deliciousness wafting nearby? Not bloody likely as the baked goodness vanishes as quickly as it arrives and no hours are kept past 3:30 pm on weekends or 2:30 pm on weekdays. 

The French Laundry
Yountville, CA
An employee (or former employee) with their own thoughts of grandeur towards the imaginary sugary riches that await a similarly coifed offering elsewhere...... a possibility yet also quite doubtful for Mr. Stephens avows his faith in the honesty and integrity of his employees and the dedication of those committed to this profession would abhor such an act. 

Yet this also appears a less fruitful lead in that the mere introduction of a renamed or reshaped 'Cruffin', like a stolen masterpiece by Van Gogh or Matisse, would call immediate attention to the very nature of such a beast and further warrant investigation into the derivation of the offering....no, this would not suffice.

And yet the theft of priceless art does continue in this era despite the pointless nature of such a crime (save one of an insurance related nature). Private galleries and collections sometimes burst with pilfered rarities, the satisfaction received simply in the ownership and not in the publicity of such ownership with many of these instances involving the transportation of these artifacts over great distances far from the original location. 

courtesy www.sfweekly.com 
Intriguingly, another such high profile heist was recently conducted where near $300K in fine wines were absconded from the famed 'French Laundry' in nearby Yountville, CA yet remarkably found several weeks later in a Greensboro, NC wine cellar with several bottles already missing (and presumably enjoyed most heartily). 

In that case, where a bottle of Cote-Rotie "La Mouline" is proffered  for $5,000 and Napa's own Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon near $29,500, the individual bottles were serialized and scanned with ultraviolet tags for easier traceability, a fact proving instrumental towards their timely recovery. 

Surely such heraldry is not warranted here as the 230+ recipes were further secured on Mr. Stephenson's computer along with the manner in which one would concoct a Cruffin, despite having the ingredient listing, was lacking.


The California Sushi Croissant


All said, the lines at Mr. Holme's Bakehouse have only increased since the theft with customers delivering the supportive structure any small enterprise needs to survive. And as this caper unravels, you can be sure I will be keeping a very close eye on this one!