• Toast with a Twist

    Standing in line for…toast? Yes, that’s the new normal at The Mill in San Francisco, one of that culinary capital’s most popular coffeehouses. Of course The Mill’s toast is worthy of a Michelin star, starting with the fresh, crusty artisan bread made on premise—hearty, wholesome loaves like dark mountain rye and whole wheat with sesame and poppy seeds.

    Just north of San Francisco, a Kelly-green truck parked on a side street in the wine country town of St. Helena lures a midday crowd for bruschetta—Italian-style toast with creative, seasonal toppings. Named for its tasty specialty, Bruschetteria switches up its toppings daily—mushrooms and Fontina is a favorite—but each possibility includes the option of a farm-fresh egg on top.

    Whether you call it bruschetta, crostini or just plain toast, it’s trending. Diners can’t resist the retro appeal of hot, crusty bread, especially when paired with an imaginative topping. And as the bruschetta truck’s customers know, eggs make the magic.

    Today’s toast relies on top-notch bread, often whole grain. Don’t forget about non-loaf options, like focaccia or Middle Eastern flatbread. Bruschetteria uses local bread baked in a standard loaf pan, then sliced lengthwise to make long slabs—dramatic and easily divided into shareable portions. Any bakery with a slicing machine could do this for you.

    At Barbacco, a busy San Francisco trattoria, the kitchen prepares a half-dozen different bruschetta each day. Diners can order a single type or a trio. As chefs and home cooks are discovering, toast is a tantalizing blank slate for creativity. Ten topping ideas:

    • Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs
    • Scrambled eggs with crumbled chorizo, avocado, and cilantro
    • Prosciutto and a fried egg
    • Scrambled eggs with asparagus
    • Egg salad with salmon roe or caviar
    • Aioli, sliced eggs, and salsa verde
    • Braised kale with a poached egg
    • Egg salad, capers, and smoked paprika
    • Heirloom tomatoes, turkey bacon, and a fried egg
    • Feta, roasted red peppers, and a fried egg
    • Braised rapini, hot Italian sausage, and a fried egg