Category Archives: Bakeries

Sweet On San Francisco’s Artisan Macaron

Prettily boxed French macarons for gift-giving to friends -- or yourself.
Prettily boxed French macarons for gift-giving to friends — or yourself.

Looking for an host/hostess gift this holiday season that’s sure to impress?

San Francisco’s Artisan Macaron has exactly that.

Best yet, these crunchy, cream-filled meringue confections are readily available at Whole Foods and Nugget Markets to pick up on the spur of the moment.

Chef Alex Trouan started apprenticing at a pastry shop in his native France when he was only 15 before going to work for legendary Pierre Herme in Paris. In the 1990s, he moved to California, started baking macarons, and never looked back.

Read more

Chewy-licious Blueberry & Apricot Bars

Chewy, sweet, and loaded with dried fruit, there's a wonderful old-fashioned quality about these tasty bars.
Chewy, sweet, and loaded with dried fruit, there’s a wonderful old-fashioned quality about these tasty bars.

There’s a lovely wholesome taste to these chewy-soft fruit bars, which is not surprising, given that the recipe hails from a baker who got his start selling farmhouse-baked treats out of an old red truck.

“Blueberry & Apricot Bars” is a recipe in the new “The Red Truck Bakery Farmhouse Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

It was written by Brian Noyes, founder of the Red Truck Bakery in Marshall, VA, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and at the King Arthur Baking School in Vermont.

In his previous career as the art director at the Washington Post and Smithsonian magazines, he would spend his free time baking pies and breads at his Virginia Piedmont farmhouse, which he sold from that vintage red truck that he bought from none other than designer Tommy Hilfiger.

Noyes now operates two Red Truck bakeries, both in historic buildings, and has fans in Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama.

Read more

Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late: Santana Row Farmers Market

Behold the Roli Roti chicken and potatoes.
Behold the Roli Roti chicken and potatoes.

It’s not big, but it’s mighty — as in good.

That’s what the farmers market at San Jose’s Santana Row is — all one block of it on the main drag between Olin Avenue and Olsen Drive), with vendors on both sides plying fresh produce, flowers, and gourmet prepared foods.

The market, Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., is seasonal. So, if you want to check it out, you have until the end of this month before it’s gone until next year.

Because it’s an evening market, it’s an ideal place to pick up dinner or the fixings for it. Just follow your nose to find the Roli Roti truck parked in the center of the Row with spinning rotisseries packed with whole chickens and sides of ribs.

Just be warned that on a hot day before sunset, this truck is parked in full sun with heat radiating off the rotisseries, so bring a hat and a cool drink as you wait in line, as there almost always is one.

The Roli Roti rotisserie.
The Roli Roti rotisserie.
The farmers market on the Row.
The farmers market on the Row.

Who can blame people for flocking here when the rosemary-flecked chicken is so juicy, bronzed, and succulent that you barely need a knife. A whole chicken ($15.50) gets wrapped up hot off the rotisserie, ensuring it will still be warm by the time you dive into it at home.

Read more

Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late: Eataly

A whole ball of burrata atop Roman-style pizza at Eataly.
A whole ball of burrata atop Roman-style pizza at Eataly.

The Bay Area’s first Eataly opened last month. And it’s a doozy.

Spanning three floors and 45,000 square feet of the Westfield Valley Fair shopping center in San Jose, it is the eighth Eataly in the United States and the 41st in the world.

Having visited the ones in New York and Las Vegas, I had a sense of what this one would be like. But it definitely dwarfs those two in scope and size.

Even on a Tuesday at 4 p.m., the place was hopping with plenty of folks checking out the wares.

On the top floor, you’ll find La Pizza & La Pasta, and Terra, Eataly’s two restaurants. Having heard how impossible reservations are to come by, I bypassed them.

A mere portion of the second floor that's devoted entirely to wines, beers, and spirits from Italy.
A mere portion of the second floor that’s devoted entirely to wines, beers, and spirits from Italy.

The third floor is also where you’ll find more than 1,000 gourmet specialty food products — everything from house-baked bread, handmade pastas and fresh-pulled mozzarella to shelves of olives oils, cheeses galore, tinned seafood, cured meats, and fresh produce.

Read more

Hand Pies — With the Best Peaches In the World

The best peach hand pie made with the best peaches.
The best peach hand pie made with the best peaches.

Once you try your first one, there’s no going back.

I’m talking about Sun Crest peaches, the heritage variety so poetically immortalized in farmer Mas Masumoto’s famed book, “Epitaph for a Peach” (Harper One).

A freestone, yellow peach, it explodes with juice. Not too sweet, not too acidic, but just right, it has a full, well-rounded, harmonious taste . It reminds me of the nostalgically of cling peaches in a can, but way more intense and vibrant, and devoid of any syrup to mask its natural flavor. In short, it is the quintessential peach.

The Masumoto Family Farm in Fresno County lets folks adopt a peach tree, giving them rights to pick to their heart’s delight from their designated one when in season. But it is a commitment, an undertaking, and more peaches, perhaps, than most folks’ can handle at once.

Luckily, I’ve also spotted them at retailers such as Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco. Last week, when I saw a half flat was available (20 peaches for $34.99) via GoodEggs delivery, I jumped at the chance to buy some.

Behold -- the Sun Crest.
Behold — the Sun Crest.

Nothing beats just eating them out of hand over the sink. However, I also wanted to do something a little more grand, too. I found the perfect vehicle in “Peach Hand Pies,” a recipe by the gifted Southern baker Cheryl Day of Savannah’s Back in the Day Bakery.

The recipe is included in “Black Food’ (Penguin Random House, 2021), of which I received a review copy, that was edited by James Beard Award-winning chef and educator, Bryant Terry, who is the chef-in-residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.

Read more
« Older Entries