If you ever happen to find yourself in the vicinity of Healdsburg, make a beeline pronto to the Downtown Bakery & Creamery.
You will not regret it.
And your stomach will thank you profusely.
Started in 1987 by three Chez Panisse alums, this bakery makes everything from scratch — breads, ice cream, cookies, and pastries. There’s even a cafe menu if you want to sit for a spell to enjoy breakfast pizza, cheesy scrambled eggs or a Croque Madame that’s a croissant topped with herbed ricotta cheese and ham.
My husband and I can never resist the sticky buns ($2.25 each). This version is simply sublime — a flaky, buttery croissant-like dough formed into a muffin shape that has a crunchy topping of sugar. You also can buy them frozen to bake up fresh at home.
My other fave is the Fig Newton ($1.25 each). It’s ginormous as far as Fig Newtons go — a slab of tender pastry almost as big as your palm that enfolds a generous amount of pure fig filling. For Fig Newton lovers, it’s the ultimate version. For those who aren’t fans of Fig Newtons, this one will blow your mind.
Downtown Bakery’s focaccia ($4.75 each) shouldn’t be missed. They are baked in rounds about the size of a small individual pizza. The olive one is studded all over with Kalamatas. The tomato-Asiago is a dreamy blend of sweet and sharp.
If Healdsburg is out of your way, the Downtown Bakery also sells its delicious offerings every Saturday at the Ferry Building Farmers Market in San Francisco. Just get there early, though, before it’s all sold out.
Another Irresistible Bakery: The Cheese Board in Berkeley