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Five Top Bakeries To Get Acquainted with in San Francisco

Monday, 5. May 2014 5:26

The famed honey cake at 20th Century Cafe.

The famed honey cake at 20th Century Cafe.

 

Lovely fragrant honey permeates the 10 ethereal layers of honey cake and honey buttercream stacked high at 20th Century Cafe in San Francisco.

Not surprisingly, it’s the top-selling treat there.

That’s Pastry Chef-Proprietor Michelle Polzine hard at work, assembling a fresh one, layer by delicate layer.

Pastry Chef Michelle Polzine in her open kitchen.

Pastry Chef Michelle Polzine in her open kitchen.

The first slice.

The first slice.

If you haven’t had a chance to visit Polizine’s charming Central European cafe, there’s no time like now, especially with Mother’s Day around the corner. After all, what better way to spoil Mom on her special day than with some impeccable baked goods?

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Tartine Bakery’s Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies

Wednesday, 19. March 2014 5:26

Dark chocolate, rye and salt combine to make these fudgey cookies.

Dark chocolate, rye and salt combine to make these fudgey cookies.

 
There’s a reason why this “Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies” recipe is one of the most publicized ones from the new “Tartine Book No. 3.”

First, it’s one of the simplest recipes from the book (Chronicle) by Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery, of which I received a review copy. If you’re familiar with Robertson’s other two books, “Tartine” (written with wife, Elisabeth M. Prueitt) and “Tartine Bread”,” you know how painstaking his recipes can be, particularly the bread ones. “Tartine Book No. 3” is no exception, especially because it’s all about baking with whole grains such as flax, spelt and kamut. The master method for Tartine loaves spans eight pages alone. Even the fruit scone recipe requires the making of a leaven (or starter).

Second, these cookies are a guaranteed hit. They are extremely fudgey and chocolatey tasting with the perfect sophisticated crunch of sea salt over the top.

I had one more reason for tackling these cookies: the bag of rye flour taking up space in my freezer that was left over from making Nancy Silverton’s amazing pizza dough recipe.

The rye flour replaces whole-wheat in these cookies. Rye contains gluten. It also lends a slight malt taste to baked goods. With chocolate, it’s a natural.

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A Toot to Tout Sweet

Friday, 24. January 2014 5:26

Tout Sweet's Nutella brioche.

Tout Sweet’s Nutella brioche.

If you need a pick-me-up of the sweet persuasion while shopping in San Francisco’s tony Union Square area, duck into Macy’s.

That’s where you’ll find Tout Sweet – past the racks of women’s sportswear on the third floor.

It’s the cute little patisserie by Yigit Pura, the first winner of “Top Chef: Just Desserts.”

Done up in gumdrop colors, it’s a cheery place to pick up a treat or to sit for a spell while enjoying coffee, a glass of wine or even a savory sandwich.

That’s exactly what I did one day recently when I bought a few things to enjoy later at home.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Chocolate, Food TV, General | Comments (3) | Author:

Exploring California Gold Country, Part I

Monday, 20. January 2014 5:25

Karen Holmes of Karen's Bakery & Cafe in Folsom.

Karen Holmes of Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Folsom.

As a native San Franciscan, I sheepishly admit I haven’t explored much of California Gold Country.

I vaguely remember playing at panning for gold once as a child somewhere in the vicinity, but beyond that, Sacramento, Amador and El Dorado counties have largely been seen from the freeway on the way to somewhere else.

Thanks to the tourism bureaus in Folsom, El Dorado, Amador and Sacramento,  I finally had a chance to see that area up-close, when I was invited as their guest over three days late last year to taste, explore and experience.

Here are highlights from that trip, which I hope will inspire you to get to know that region better, too.

Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Folsom

Karen’s Bakery & Cafe is reason enough alone to stop in Folsom.

Karen Holmes opened this wonderful bakery in 2000, which has become so popular that you’ll almost always find a line to get outside, especially since it’s located near popular hiking and biking trails that bring famished weekend warriors right to her door for plum galettes, fig scones, and Tebirkes (a tradtiional almond paste danish).

The pastry case brimming with goodies.

The pastry case brimming with goodies.

Holmes is a former school teacher, whose mother took her family to Europe regularly, especially to its fine patisseries. As a teacher she baked banana bread for PTA events that became such a sensation that colleagues encouraged her to open a bakery.

A talent for baking and cooking obviously runs in the family as her son, Duncan Holmes is the chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s Sons & Daughters. In fact, in his teenage years, he’d ride his bike over to his mom’s bakery to help wash dishes after school before going home to hunker down to his homework. Both mother and son are self-taught.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Enticing Events, Fruit, General, Great Finds, Restaurants, Travel Adventures | Comments (4) | Author:

Four Places To Nosh in Los Angeles

Friday, 10. January 2014 5:26

Addictive Short Order spuds.

Addictive Short Order Spuds.

 

On vacation late last year in Los Angeles, my husband and I were all about spontaneity — meaning we dined without reservations or a specific game plan in mind. And yes, that made it feel like a real vacation, indeed.

Here are some of my favorite eats from that excursion:

Short Order

Often referred to in shorthand as “Nancy Silverton’s burger place,” Short Order was created by Silverton, who started an artisan bread revolution in Los Angeles before opening her now famous Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza with celeb Chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich.

Silverton planned to open Short Order in 2011 with Amy Pressman, once her former assistant pastry chef when the two worked together at Spago. But tragically, Pressman died of cancer shortly before the restaurant opened.

Today, Executive Chef Christian Page carries out Pressman’s vision of a gourmet diner serving food with top-notch organic ingredients.

Located in the popular Farmers Market on W. 3rd Street, Short Order is tucked in a quieter back corner of the complex. It’s two stories with seating both inside and out around glassed-in fire-pit tables.

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