Eat Thiebaud, drink Blue Bottle, see Avedon at SFMOMA
Working from a small kitchen next to the espresso counter is his wife, Caitlin Williams Freeman. She makes all the goodies — a selection of them inspired by the museum’s art. The unmistakably Mondrian cake, for example, deliciously coated in ganache.
Then there’s her Wayne Thiebaud collection; and other sips and bites inspired by what’s showing in the galleries downstairs.
Caitlin Freeman left high school with dreams of being a photographer. She enrolled at UC Santa Cruz to learn how. A few months into her course, Freeman saw a Wayne Thiebaud exhibition.
Inspired by the work of the California artist famous for his luscious paintings of mouth-watering pastries and other sweet temptations, Freeman decided she wanted to learn to bake and decorate cakes so that she could photograph them.
It was the start of a new career. She gave up photography, became a pastry chef and subsequently the co-founder of Miette Patisserie and Confiserie, , an acclaimed cake, sweet and pastry shop in San Francisco’s trendy, food-filled Ferry Building. She sold her share of the business in October 2008.
Since the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art opened its rooftop sculpture garden in May this year (2009), with a Blue Bottle espresso bar as an attraction, Freeman has found a way to combine her artistic talents and her baking skills.
Inspired again by the art of Thiebaud — and also by items both in the museum’s permanent collection and visiting exhibits — she is giving SFMOMA visitors a chance to see their art — and eat it.
From the current show Richard Avedon Photographs, 1946 – 2004, which runs through November 29, the image of Avedon’s beekeeper grabbed her (Ronald Fischer, Beekeeper, Davis, California, 1981). Freeman was inspired to make an artistic dessert that has honey in it, and frozen mousse, and comes in a white chocolate box decorated with bees. She had an artsy friend reproduce the bees to look “a little more illustrated and less buzzy” and “I got to figure out how to create (cocoa butter) chocolate transfers,” which she orders on sheets.
Blue Bottle Coffee Bar: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Tuesday and until 8 p.m. on Thursday. While you can go eat at SFMOMA’s cafe at street level without visiting the museum, museum admission is required to reach the rooftop cafe, except on the first Tuesday of each month. So make a day of it.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St. See how the first straw was made aardvarkstraws.com/history.php