Cibo on a rainy Sausalito day
Most people wouldn't expect that I'd end up at Cibo (pronounced "chee-bo"). First, I live in the city and there are certainly treats to be had in my own neighborhood. Second, my immediate family, after waiting a good five minutes for a drip-to-order coffee, vowed never to come again. My mom just doesn't get the concept, and while I try to explain how much better it tastes, she tells me to call someone else when I want to go to Cibo. OK, so there's that. Then there are my friends who are confused as to why I'd brave Sausalito cyclist-hell to get my hands on a pop-tart and a perfect cappuccino.
Lingering at Cibo on a quiet Friday morning
So given these few hiccups, why do I go? It's a fair question. First, between working part-time in Sausalito during the week and visiting family in San Rafael and Larkspur--I'm in Marin a lot. And many of you may be familiar with the rather grim (although getting better each day) cafe scene there. So when Cibo opened, I raced right over. And while I'm often alone (thanks, mom and co.) let's clear up the cyclist myth once and for all: yes, it can get a little hairy on a sunny Sunday, but for the most part the cafe is a great locals spot--a modern, airy space where folks meet up with friends, bring in their laptops to get a little work done, and have quick meetings over the best coffee in town. The space itself, a 120-year old brick building, has concrete floors, massive windows, and exposed brick walls. It honestly just feels good in there. It's conducive for coming in off the busy street and taking a legitimate break. I bring in a book and find that all of a sudden I've read fifty pages without the urge to check my iphone. For me, that's huge.
While not necessarily speedy, Cibo baristas make a mean latte using Blue Bottle espresso
The infamous homemade Pop-Tart
Now on to the food. I've only been to Cibo once for lunch, and tried that infamous wild mushroom panini. It's worth every penny and stands up to the hype. But for me, the real draw are the pastries and sweets that Tera bakes each day for the cafe. The pop-tart has been a standard item from almost the very beginning. It's a relatively thin, crispy treat made with polenta so it has a delightful golden color and simultaneously flirts with both sweet and savory. Tera plays around with different fillings, but lately they've been doing apricot--the perfect antidote to a strong Americano. I tell you, your day will improve the second you bite into one of these. They do sell out though. I've come in a few hours too late on numerous occasions and, with hopes dashed, have had to settle on something else. Which is always a blessing in disguise as it's led me to the cinnamon-sugar muffin (or some of the locals call it the donut muffin). It's a small, light, airy little muffin doused, dusted, and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. It tastes, quite literally, like childhood--the most comforting little breakfast morsel around.
To celebrate spring, pastry chef Tera Ancona brought back the sticky bun!
Then a few days ago, I noticed a new item: a small sticky bun studded with nuts and strewn with layers of cinnamon inside. While I had just planned on getting a cup of coffee and finishing the paper, I was sucked in. The thing I really appreciate about all of Tera's treats are their size. Nothing is huge, overly sweet, or doused with frosting. When I spoke with her last week, she mentioned that there are a million places you can go to get a one-pound pastry if that's what you're looking for. Cibo isn't that. Instead, Tera wanted to create more of an opportunity for people to try a few sweets without feeling too committal or guilty about it. The size is also conducive to try a little something in conjunction with breakfast or lunch or take a few treats home for later. It's all about ease and pleasure: Tera and her husband Alfredo (of Angelino's fame) truly want for people to slow down, taste the options at Cibo, and treat themselves without feeling like it needs to be a major decision. And for me, it never is. I order freely and happily (albeit alone), cyclists or not.