Category Archives: Bakeries

In Praise of Petit Fours

Petits fours that taste as good as they look.

Petits fours that taste as good as they look.


Like so many little girls before me, I grew up with a play kitchen set.

Like you’re surprised, right?

I guess enjoying good food and cooking it — even if only in my pretend world back then — has always been integral in my life.

So, it was with great pleasure that I spent many an afternoon cooking up a storm on my pint-sized stove after pulling out ingredients from my matching mini fridge, then cleaning up in my would-be sink that actually had running water. Well, if you remembered to fill the hidden reservoir.

I remember my parents even bought me “food” for my beloved kitchen. There was a plastic fried egg with strips of plastic bacon attached to it. A plastic golden-browned chicken with its drumsticks looking so plump and enticing. And a big pink ham that looked like you could practically carve it.

But what I would have given to have had these instead: Divine Delights petits fours.

Pretty pastel-hued and resembling the most precious little gifts, they’d make any little girl’s play kitchen a whole lot sweeter.

Of course, the best part is even if you missed out on enjoying these cute little confections as a tot, you can easily enjoy them now as an adult.

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My First Close Encounter with A Certain Vegetable

Classic leeks in vinaigrette.

Classic leeks in vinaigrette.


When I was a senior in high school, my friends and I saved up our money to dine at Chez Panisse in Berkeley for the very first time.

We four thought ourselves so grown up and so in the know.

Of course, that feeling of confidence dissipated immediately when the first course arrived.

A platter was set before us, containing mystifying long, tubular things that looked for all the world like overgrown green onions. They had been simply grilled with good olive oil, and finished with salt and pepper. We glanced at one another, perplexed, wondering what they were and just how we were supposed to eat them.

Yes, that was my first encounter with leeks.

And I admit that I didn’t necessarily appreciate them then.

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Run, Don’t Walk, to B. Patisserie

Front and center, the incredible kouign-amann from B. Patisserie, as well as a croissant and an apple brown butter coffee cake.

Front and center, the incredible kouign-amann from B. Patisserie, as well as a croissant and an apple brown butter coffee cake.


It’s a good thing I don’t live close to the new B. Patisserie in San Francisco’s lower Pacific Heights neighborhood — or I’d be 300 pounds.

If I lived within walking distance, it would be a far, far dangerous thing.

That’s because these are pastries worth every single calorie.

Pastry Chef Belinda Leong and business partner Michel Suas have created a very special place.

That’s because Suas, founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute, is a master of bread, which star in the bakery-cafe’s open-faced tartine sandwiches. And Leong knows her way with butter, having trained in Paris with Pierre Hermé, and staged at Fauchon in New York. She’s also headed the dessert side of the kitchen at Manresa and Gary Danko restaurants.

The result is the perfect neighborhood bakery that feels like a slice of Paris.

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Joanne Chang’s Brown Sugar-Oat Cherry Muffins

Cherries and oats galore in these hearty muffins by Pastry Chef Joanne Chang.

Cherries and oats galore in these hearty muffins by Pastry Chef Joanne Chang.


These muffins are loaded. With oats, cherries and a whole lot of goodness.

They fill the pan with an avalanche of batter, rising up with bountiful domes.

Joanne Chang, the Harvard grad-turned-baker extraordinare with four Flour bakeries and the Myers + Chang diner, all in Massachusetts, has done it again. If you loved her first cookbook, “Flour” (Chronicle Books), you’re sure to treasure its follow-up, “Flour, Too” “Flour, Too” (Chronicle Books). The second cookbook, of which I received a review copy, includes 100 recipes, not just for sweets, but savories, as well, including apple-wood smoked BLT, “Mama Chang’s Hot and Sour Soup,” and mushroom and leek lasagna.

Of course, having the sweet tooth that I do, I couldn’t resist zeroing in on the pastries first.

FlourTooBook. jpg

“Brown Sugar-Oat Cherry Muffin” is like a nourishing bowl of morning oatmeal — only in muffin form. Which means it’s just a little naughty, as a result.

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La Boulange Celebrates PRIDE, Santa Clara City Library Card Perks and More

(Photo courtesy of La Boulange)

(Photo courtesy of La Boulange)

Macarons for PRIDE Month

All through June, La Boulange bakeries throughout the Bay Area will salute PRIDE month with a limited edition box of rainbow-hued macarons.

What’s more, La Boulange will donate $1 from each box sold to the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation, which raises funds for AIDS service organizations through the production of entertainment programs.

The limited edition box of seven macarons is $12.50.

Santa Clara City Library Card Perks

And you thought a library card was only good for checking out books?

Not the Santa Clara City library card.

Now, show that library card at participating local businesses to reap discounts such as 10 percent off at Athena Grill, $10 off a tab of at least $50 at Justin’s Restaurant, 10 percent off at Fuji Florist, free coffee with purchase at Stan’s Donut Shop, 10 percent off Mission City Creamery and many more. For a full list, click here.

StarChefs SF Rising Star Chefs

StarChefs will salute its 2013 “Rising Star” award winners  6:30 p.m. June 13 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

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