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Saturday
Jul252009

Cakewalk Special: Trip Log From A Long, Sweet Weekend in San Francisco

Miette's Old School Cupcake
Like, whoa. We weren't in San Francisco for long--just a long weekend to sell some CakeSpy artwork at the Renegade Craft Fair and visit Cake Gumshoe Bridget, our SF correspondent--but we certainly did get our sweet on during the long weekend. Here's a little log of some of the highlights and delicious discoveries from our trip:

Chocolate tart from La Boulange, San Francisco
Trip Log, Day 1: Shortly after we landed and dropped off our bags chez Cake Gumshoe Bridget in Cole Valley, we hightailed it to La Boulange. Apparently they are a mini-chain and have a few locations throughout the Bay Area, but Bridget assured us that this one was the best location--not only because it was the cutest but because the pastries for all the locations were baked here. We went for the most serious-looking tart in the case: The chocolate ganache. When you put this tart on the table, the aroma of chocolate is redolent in the air--and every bite is just as dreamy, silky and rich as we hoped it would be. Le sigh.

Macarons at Miette
Walking down to the Ferry building, we managed to find an appetite for Miette, the cutest little patisserie around--though it's now under new ownership, no major differences seem apparent as you walk in. We picked up the "Old fashioned" cupcake (pictured top), which is pretty as a picture and like a high-quality hostess cupcake riff.
Interesting cookies at Bluebottle coffeeCuppie on Octavia Street
In the Ferry Building we also saw some intriguing sweets at Bluebottle Coffee (absinthe cookies!) and Frog Hollow (where we tried a sample but didn't actually buy any of their gorgeous fruit pies, tarts or homemade pop-tart-like treats)--but believing in some modicum of moderation, we said "next time". We also had some fun on our walk leaving some sidewalk-chalk Cuppies in our wake.

The day got even awesomer though, when we dropped by the Foodbuzz offices for Friday Happy Hour with the awesome crew, who fixed us some very classy pinkies-out drinks consisting of champagne, fresh peach puree and basil. Yum.

 

A perfect croissant at Tartine
Trip Log, Day 2: We began with a trip to Tartine, a famous bakery about which we've never managed to hear a bad review. Happily, it lived up to all expectations, both on the sweet and savory side: the quiche was like no other I've ever tasted, almost custardy in texture. The croissant had perfect crispy edges which shattered when you bit into it, giving way to soft, buttery, flaky layers. Although the chocolate chip cookie (which was probably 6 inches across, by the way) was crispier than we both generally like, we both had to admit that the flavor--buttery, rich with brown sugar--was impressive.

Spending the morning vending at the Renegade Craft Fair started to give us a respectable appetite, so we were so pleased to have our booth right next to Cynically Delicious, a custom cupcake business; as mentioned in a previous post, they had some seriously sweet (and delightfully tongue-in-cheek), pop-culture reverent cupcakes. Yes.

Cookies N Cream from Frosting Bake Shop
But as anyone knows, three cupcakes are never enough, so we couldn't have been more delighted to receive a surprise visit from Karen Tripp, owner of Frosting Bake Shop in Mill Valley, who came by bearing boxes of delicious cupcakes. We'd sampled their cake bites in the past so it was exciting to graduate to full-sized cupcakes. What really haunted us about these cupcakes was the delicious frosting, which was generously applied but somehow had a lightness about it--the strawberry and cookies n' cream frosting were our favorites.
CakeSpy art at the Renegade Craft Fair
Trip Log, Day 3: After starting out with a very generous breakfast from Reverie, you might think our appetites for sweets might have been dampened, but you would be wrong. After a morning of selling some sweet CakeSpy art and getting a pick-me-up from Cynically Delicious, we explored the craft fair area for some other sweet treats (all the while also browsing some awesome artwork by Mati Rose, Lisa Congdon, Eleven Eleven Industries, Ugly Baby Shower Art and more!).

Date Bar from Greens, San Francisco
Nearby the craft show at the Fort Mason Pavilion Center is a cafe called Greens to Go, and as intensely unsexy as they might sound, their date bars are truly incredible: a firm crust topped with a thick slab of date puree (I know, just trust me on this one!) and all topped with a crumbly, oaty, slightly salted crumb. Not sure if these were made in house or from Artisan Bakers (per their website, some of the pastries do come from there). Once again, just trust me on it: they're good.

A delicious treat from Clairesquares, SF
The day got even better with a surprise visit from Claire Keane, proprietress of Clairesquares--who I have done artwork for many times in the past but never actually met. She's adorable and wonderful, and she came bearing Clairesquares--a decadent and completely addictive confection consisting of a shortbread crust, a thick layer of caramel, all topped with chocolate (she does both milk and dark chocolate). These are no common millionaire's shortbread--Clairesquares are really something else. Excitingly, they're adding to their offerings, too, with deep fried and chocolate covered squares. The original ones are available for purchase online.

Me n' LeighMe and Melisser
Can I also just pause to say that while it didn't involve cake, it was so fantastic to meet so many cool CakeSpy readers and other food writers at the show--including (but not limited to) Leah, Kimberly, Deanna of Occasional Sugar, Sarah, and Melisser of the Urban Housewife? (P.S. isn't that an awesome shirt she's wearing?)

Lemon Bar from La Boulange de Cole
Trip Log, Day 4: Once again we started at La Boulange, picking up some croissants and a most delicious lemon tart, which was sweet and tart at the same time.

 

Heading over to Berkeley, we took a walk through the Gourmet Ghetto, stopping to check out the Cheese Board and marvelling at the original Chez Panisse (kind of like a foodie's equivalent to seeing Mount Rushmore or something).

Salted Caramel cone from Bi-Rite, San Francisco
In the mood for ice cream now, we headed back to the city and over to Bi-Rite; we had heard that either this spot or Humphry Slocombe were the places to hit (alas we did not have time for both!). Bi-Rite actually reminded us a lot of Seattle-based Molly Moon's; they had a lot of the same flavors including Salted Caramel and Strawberry Balsamic. The salted caramel at Bi-Rite was just as it should be: creamy, smooth, and salty-sweet; we also picked up a chocolate chip cookie (just 75 cents!) which was respectable too--once again, a little crispier than we generally prefer but flavorful and delicious. Curiously, they also had a confection for sale called chikki--got to try that next time!
Chocolate chip cookie from Bi-Rite, SF
Heading over to the airport and back to Seattle, we may or may not have indulged in another Clairesquare--but arriving home, little bellies taut with delicious treats, we were happy to reflect that this trip was utterly, completely, totally sweet.

Places Mentioned:

Bi-Rite Creamery, 3692 18th Street, San Francisco, (415)626-5600; online at biritecreamery.com.
Bluebottle Coffee, multiple locations; online at bluebottlecoffee.net.
Clairesquares, available at the following Bay Area retailers or via their online shop.

Cheeseboard Collective, 1512 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; online at cheeseboardcollective.coop.
Cynically Delicious, by custom order; online at cynicallydelicious.com.
Frog Hollow, Ferry Building; online at froghollow.com.
Frosting Bake Shop, 7 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley (415)888-8027; online at frostingbakeshop.com.
Greens to Go, Fort Mason Center; online at greensrestaurant.com.
Humphry Slocombe, 2790 Harrison Street; online at humphryslocombe.com.
La Boulange, multiple locations (we visited 1000 Parnassus Street in Cole Valley); online at laboulangebakery.com.
Miette Patisserie, multiple locations (we visited the one in the Ferry Building); online at miettecakes.com.
Tartine, 600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco (415)487-2600; online at tartinebakery.com.

 

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Reader Comments (16)

I think I just gained 5 pounds reading about all the goodies...... mmmmmmmmm

July 25 | Unregistered Commenterjulie

I really really really want to go to that lemon tart.

July 25 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

It is safe to say "sweet" trip. Love the cupcake in front of the water shot. Brilliant!

jessie!! you're too cute. san francisco is such a fun city. i've been to miette but never tried that crazy puffytopped cupcake-- what does the white puff taste like? is that a cherry candy on top? do tell...

also totes wanting to try humphry slocombe after reading about it in "dwell." ! "secret breakfast" sounds insane.

xo

July 26 | Unregistered Commenterlyndsay

Thanks so much! My mom and I are planning to go to San Fran in September (I've never been!) and aside from vising historical spots large and small, we are planning a tour of bakeries and sweet shops as well! Thanks so much! I'm going to add those to my list (that I've complied from your blog already ;))!

July 26 | Unregistered Commenterandrea

I'm surprised you didn't check out Ici, one of the greatest ice cream shops in Berkeley! Next time you are here, I would love to show you; it will blow your mind! Seasonal flavours in a homemade cone made fresh daily! Add some candied cacao nibs and you're set!

July 26 | Unregistered CommenterDeppified

omg, i missed all these slices of heaven on your blog!! thanks for making my day!

July 27 | Unregistered CommenterDhanggit

Thanks Jessie! I now have a huge list of places to visit :)

July 27 | Unregistered CommenterBear Silber

Wow! I"m so hungry now! How could you possibly eat all that though? Do you weigh 300 pounds? I would. Oh, well. Diabetes, here we come!

July 27 | Unregistered CommenterJane

This made me pine for SF so much. Agreed, Boulange in Cole Valley IS the best. I used to go up there very early in the morning on weekends, in the quiet hush with hints of fog and golden light. Loved it. I miss the Cheeseboard, the Ferry Plaza market, the views. All the "tastes." This was truly a great post.

Oh my mouth is watering just at the look of the buttery croissant. I want one!

Chikki's an Indian version of peanut brittle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chikki

I was intrigued and had to look it up :)

July 27 | Unregistered Commenterwix

what a yummy time! going to have to check out some of these places next time I visit!

July 28 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Baker

It was SO great to finally meet you! We HAVE to get together again soon & you have to try Sugar Beat Sweets! xo.

What a fun weekend! I love the looks of the oreo cupcakes, might need to try to make them.

What a fun weekend! I love the looks of the oreo cupcakes, might need to try to make them.

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