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« Batter Chatter: Interview with Reina Miller of hello, cupcake in Tacoma, WA | Main | In Defense of the Coconut Macaroon: Ode to an Ugly Cookie »
Tuesday
Apr082008

Cakewalk Special: Seeking Sweetness in the Bay Area with a Professional Pastry Chef

Tartine, San Francisco
Recently, Cake Gumshoe Chris went to the Bay Area, and documented the bakeries she visited. Why should you care? Well, turns out Chris is not just any lover of sweets: she's a talented pastry chef herself, having churned out desserts in Wolfgang Puck's kitchens during her many years spent in Los Angeles. Luckily for us, now she's in Seattle--you may have sampled her goods at Remedy Teas (killer tea cookies!). Basically she knows a whole lot about desserts--and as such, her standards are...shall we say, high. So if she says it's good, we listen. On her recent trip to the Bay Area, here's what she saw, tasted, and adored (or deplored):

Bakesale Betty: A delightfully retro-kitsch spot in a becoming-gentrified part of Oakland, Bakesale Betty features old-timey desserts, but with a twist: the owner hails from Australia, so amongst the classic cookies and pies, you'll find pleasing pavlovas, Lamingtons, and other Aussie-inspired treats. And owner Alison Barakat has done her homework too--after having moved to the states she paid her baking dues by working at Chez Panisse for three years (oh, and by the way, we hear she has electric blue hair. Cool!). Forget Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, these are the imports we're all over. 5098 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510.985.1213; they can also be found at the Temescal Farmers' Market from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Sundays, Located in the DMV parking lot on Claremont Ave., Oakland; online at bakesalebetty.com.


Bette's Oceanview Diner: While this place drew Chris in with their adorable dog-shaped cookies, the taste was bland to her; however, even the cuteness couldn't save them for her, although she does relent on one point, saying that they came apart with a satisfying "snap". The rest of us aren't sure though--we think we might be able to power through one or five of these cute little cookies.

 

However, we wouldn't discount this spot: as Cake Gumshoe Nora adds, there's a bevy of other tasty baked goods, including delicious and deceivingly light-tasting scones (the Raisin Scone is highly recommended), a "first-class" Hazelnut Biscotti, and a simple but lovely Almond Teacake ideal for pairing with a cup of tea or coffee. Sounds good to us! 1807A Fourth St., Berkeley. 


La Boulange: With several locations throughout the Bay Area, La Boulange is an upscale sandwich shop / bakery; while the sandwiches all look wonderful, Chris reports that some of the pastries are better than others. She and a companion chose a cannelé and a fruit-studded crumb cake; while they found the cannelé mouthwatering, the crumb cake was only so-so. And as we all know, nothing's worse than a bummer cake. Say it in your most mobster-y voice: "Leave the gun. Take the cannelé." As a side note, they had adorable dishesLa Boulange, various locations; online at baybread.com.

 

Tartine: Ready for gougères the size of your head, creamy lemon tarts to tantalize the taste buds, and meringues that just might make you a believer? We thought so. Time to head over to Tartine, which not only did Chris love, but several of our other Cake Gumshoes count it as a favorite too! Also, as one of our buddies EB at Spicedish tells us, they get extra cuteness points for delivering bread between locations via Radio Flyer. 600 Guerrero St. (@18th Street), SF; (415) 487-2600; online at tartinebakery.com.

Chris also tried to hit up Miette Confiserie (check out our interview with the owners here!), but they were sadly closed when she tried to get her sweet on. Nonetheless, we still love both locations--have you ever seen a more beautiful princess cake than the one they sell at their ferry building location? But if you aren't able to hit them up you can get a sweet fix anywhere in the US--they ship several of their less-perishable candies by mail. Online at miettecakes.com.

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn't mention Rose & Radish, an upscale and cute as a button gift shop. Though many of their offerings are (alas) devoid of sugar and calories, they are no less sweet: we have our eye on these adorable cupcake jars which Chris spied in their window. Oh yes. 460 Gough St., SF, (415) 864-4988.

 

Reader Comments (43)

Oh my such a yummy post here...

Gosh which one would I choose - the lot me thinks they all look soooooo yummy *greedy me* lol ;)

Love the jars so cute!!

Rosie x

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterRosie

talk about talent - and wow, she worked under Wolfgang Puck? impressive!

I had no idea that the Bay Area had SO many tantalizing treats - YUM!!

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

Darn! NOW I have to go into the City. This wold have been the perfect week b/c of spring break, but my kids would probably tell Alfredo how many sweets I really ate - it's best to go with one of the girls, they keep secrets so much better than kids (trust me on that one!).

xoxox Amy

April 10 | Unregistered Commenterfamiliabencomo

another yummy post and those cupcake jars!!! wonderful...have to get one...

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Evans

Now I'm not only going to visit Seattle for the coffee, but also to stop at each of those places. Caffeine and sugar high makes for a perfect trip!

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Sweet Sins: Chris said if they'd had the jar with pink "frosting" she would have gotten it for me :-)

How to eat a Cupcake: Aren't they? I love them, and they're not too pricey!

Scoopalicious: Thanks! Well, we can't wait to hear your ice cream review next time you visit!

Tempered woman: They're killing all of us. If you can get work to send you--do it!

Caked Crusader: Will try to include it soon if I get the crew all together on it! :-)

Deborah: You must! So wonderful for foodies.

Owl Chick: Not for lack of love, I think, but lack of time--Chris was only there a couple of days and "had other things" to do other than just go to bakeries. Whaaaat!? I say to that.

Jessy: Thank you!

Shannie Cakes: Ha! Our lips are sealed. And aren't those jars cute?

LyB: Come on...it's April! Buy yourself an "it's april" gift!

Eat Me Delicious: thanks! It all looks so good doesn't it?

Rosie: I'm with you--go for the lot! :-)

Veggiegirl: Yeah, she's the real deal! And really, this is just scratching the surface of the bay area.

Diana: Thanks, and hope you do get one!

Christina: Come to Seattle, but not for these treats! They're all in San Francisco and the Bay Area. :-)

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

i don't know why there aren't more dog shaped cookies in this world. i'm so excited to have all these new places to check out next time i'm in the bay!~

Everytime I read one of your posts I dream of quiting my job and just hitchhiking around the country trying desserts and pastries everywhere I land...sigh.

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Oh, I thought *you* went to San Francisco when I saw your Flickr and I was SO JEALOUS.
I had the ultimate macaron last night and will blog about it as soon as I get the pictures up. Watch (my blog) space.

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

I'm headed there in May. Is it wrong that I am plotting foodie stops along a map already?

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterRural Vegan

I want whatever those are beside Bakesale Betty.........did you know that I am related to Betty Crocker.....not THE Betty Crocker BUT A Betty Crocker.

I want, i want the tart on the first picture, looks so yummy! And i want the rest too, i'm having a feast just looking at the pictures! Gosh, and it's midnight with nothing to eat around. I'm doomed!

April 10 | Unregistered CommenterZen Chef

Can't believe I'm JUST getting around to commenting. When I read this the other day of course I was bouncing up and down in my seat. Such great picks!

April 11 | Unregistered CommenterEB

As an Aussie, I was very happy to see that Bakesale Betty is flying the flag for Oz in the Bay area.

April 12 | Unregistered CommenterCakelaw

Cara: Yes! I hope you enjoy them!!

Sarah: Well I'll say it is not a bad life at all.

Lydia: ooh, the ULTIMATE!? I am going to check it out now!

Rural Vegan: isn't that the whole point of vacation?

Obsessive Foodie: No way! It's in your blood then, "the" betty or not!!

Zen Chef: No sympathy--you're in NYC, and delis have that wonderful crumb cake all night long.

EB: Thanks! Glad to showcase some of your faves too!! ;-)

Cakelaw: We're happy to have her stateside! :-)

April 13 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

Tartine is indeed wonderful. If you come back to the Bay Area, check out Icing on the Cake in Los Gatos.

April 15 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

Icing on the Cake in Los Gatos is fabulous.
http://www.icingonthecakebakery.com

I make a stop every time I visit the Bay Area.

May 18 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Bakesale Betty has and electric blue wig. She is easy to spot for sure!

October 4 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous
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