Tag: pastries (Page 1 of 2)

A foodie in San Francisco: Juniper

Is this award-winnning San Francisco bakery worth the hype?

Juniper is a relatively new bakery and café in San Francisco which gained fame a couple of weeks ago when it won a croissant competition. It made the papers and my husband, a croissant lover, decided he had to cross the Bay and try them himself. When he first went, the day after the newspaper article came out, he had to wait 45 minutes in line before getting the goodies – he just went back yesterday, early on a Saturday morning, and the wait was gone. The stuff was just as good, however.

Order with chocolate croissants, butter croissants, Cubano croissant, chocolate brownie and black sesame kouign amann

Butter croissant.

These are large, airy but still very buttery croissants. The outside is flaky – too flaky, really, they’re a mess to eat – and the inside soft and buttery, and rather insubstantial. It didn’t need any extra butter. We enjoyed the croissants very much.

Butter Croissant Loaf

We got this our first time. It’s basically a loaf of very airy/light croissant dough topped with either crystalized sugar butter or black sesame. We got the former and I also enjoyed it a lot – I loved the sugar. I prefer it to the croissants themselves.

Chocolate croissant.

These were also great, made with high quality dark chocolate and not too much of it. Specially after reheating it, it just melts in your mouth. And a little croissant goes a long way.

Black Sesame Kouign Amann

This is similar to a cinnamon roll but with a black sesame paste instead of cinnamon (or in addition to?). I loved the butteriness and caramelized sugar, both in flavor and texture, and the black sesame paste was pretty good too. The pastry wasn’t as sweet as I feared. I’d definitely get it again.

Chocolate Brownie

In my old age, I’ve lost much of my taste for chocolate so I no longer gravitates to brownies. Still, this one was pretty good. It was lighter/airier than ordinary brownies without sacrificing the chocolate flavor. For that reason, it was also less sweet. I would have preferred some nuts or something else to add to the smooth texture, however. I probably wouldn’t get it again for myself, but that’s just because I’m no longer a chocolate fiend.

Hazelnut Florentine Choux

This was basically a cream puff with a crust atop the cream. This one had “rum diplomat creme, hazelnut toffee crisp” and it was good but not great. The flavor was more sweet than anything else and I didn’t like the crust. We wouldn’t get it again.

Juniper Lemon Choux 

This one had “lemon curd, juniper berry, meringue, mint”. It was better than the hazelnut, as you could actually taste the lemon flavor, but also not compelling. It really felt like a generic dessert. I also wouldn’t order it again.

Cubano Croissant  

One of the awards Juniper won was for their Cubano croissant, which comes with “mojo pork, ham, pickle, whole grain mustard.” We enjoyed this very much. The light, airy croissant worked well as a base for the fillings. The mojo pork in itself was very tasty and had a melt-in-your-mouth texture I enjoyed. However, I actually preferred the croissant without it. The flavor and mouthfeel of the ham and cheese was too perfect and did not need the pork. The mustard could be a little overwhelming in some bites, they should use less. Still, I’d definitely order this again.

1401 Polk St,
San Francisco, CA
Daily 7:30am to 3pm

L.A. Chow: Porto’s Bakery & Café

This Cuban Bakery is All the Rage in Southern California

Judge by the hype Porto’s has been getting in recent years, you would never guess that Porto’s Bakery has been around at its original location in Echo Park since 1976. Perhaps its expansion into six locations hit the Southern California zeitgeist at just the right time. Affordable prices at a time of high food inflation is certainly a draw. All I can say, is that when the co-founder died a couple of weeks ago this was news worthy of a “have you heard?”.

This was my second time at Porto’s. The first time I was less than impressed. Don’t get me wrong, I loved their prices but the baked goods? Not so much. Camila got a cinnamon coffee cake ($10.25 a small ring cake) that was quite good, mostly because of its cinnamon pecan streusel, and I’d had high hopes for the guava strudel ($1.25), but it turned out to be no better than what I could make myself with some puff pastry and guava jam. Later, my sister got the refugiados ($1.35) for her baby shower, which are guava strudels with the addition of cream cheese, and these were marginally better. Still, this is the one place my mother will go out for breakfast to, and I was happy to oblige her.

We hit the Porto’s in Northridge mid-morning on a Tuesday. I thought this would allowed us to beat both the breakfast and lunch crowds, but apparently everyone else thought the same, as the place was packed – just as packed as when I went for the first time earlier in a weekend morning a couple of months before. It is, fortunately, quite a large locale, so we were able to find a table to accommodate the four of us (+ newborn baby) fairly easily. This was also my opportunity to learn how Porto’s actually works.

You see, Porto’s has four different counters, and you have to go to the correct one to order what you want. At the Cafecito counter, which is located to the far left of the entrance, just next to the dining room, you can order coffee drinks, smoothies and juices – they do have fresh orange juice. They also have a small selection of baked goods. After you order, you need to hang around as they will call your name when your drink is ready.

I ordered a dulce de leche latte ($5 for a small), and I liked it quite a bit. For me, it had the perfect amount of sweetness and coffee flavor. It tasted as caramel rather than dulce de leche, however. My daughter also had one and she didn’t like at all – she thought it was too strong and not sweet enough; adding more sugar didn’t help. She is not a coffee drinker, however. My sister had the passion colada smoothie ($5.5), “mango and passion fruit ice-blended with a touch of coconut cream” and it was quite good, it did taste strongly of passion fruit.

At the Café counter, along the main wall facing the front door, you can order food, pastries and drinks. They have a breakfast menu, salads, sandwiches and main dishes as well as cold drinks. If you order a food dish you can also order any drink from the Cafecito offerings. If you just order a pastry, you’ll have to go to the Cafecito for your drinks (except for the beverages in the Cafe’s menu). The line here was quite longer than at the other counters, but they will bring your food to your table (as well as any Cafecito drink you order here). They give you an electronic device which allows them to locate you.

If you are only interested in getting pastries, then just head to the Bakery counter. The lines are shorter here and they go faster. You will be able to eat your goodies in the dining room, or any of the tables along the wall or in the patio outside.

Finally, at the end of that counter, you’ll find the Cakes counter, where you can pick up their cakes. They have some coffee cakes, loaf cakes and portioned caked desserts at the other counters, but round, decorated cakes are the Cake counter.

I wasn’t extremely hopeful about Porto’s, after my experience last time we visited, but I was willing to give it another college try. As it was mid-morning, neither breakfast nor lunch time, I decided to hit both at the same and get a little from each menu. Thus I ordered a croissant chocolate twist ($2.75) as it sort of reminded me of the wonderful torsades-aux-pepites-de-chocolat we used to breakfast with in Paris a whole lifetime ago. I won’t say it was that good, it lacked the wonderful pastry cream for one, but they were better than I expected. I appreciated the small chocolate pepites, much smaller than chocolate chips, and the dark chocolate flavor – which contrasted nicely with the mildly sweet pastry. It’s served cold, so it was better when I microwaved it later. I’ll definitely get this again.

I also got a baked ham & cheese croissant ($3.25), which I left for breakfast the next day as I wasn’t hungry enough for that and the rest. It’s also served cold so it does need to be microwaved, but it stood very nicely to the microwave and the pastry didn’t get too chewy, as often happens. I liked it even more than the ham & cheese croissant I get at my local bagel shop, and those are $6. This illustrates why Porto’s is so popular.

Finally, I got a ropa vieja sandwich ($8.7), which comes with crispy fried plantain slices. I was a little afraid when I ordered it. Ropa vieja – shredded beef cooked in a tomato sauce flavored with onions and bell peppers -, is one of my all-time favorite dishes. It’s a pain to make (well, to shred the beef), but it’s absolutely delicious. I got my recipe from a Frugal Gourmet cookbook ions ago, and I was a bit afraid about just how it would compare to the “real thing” – assuming that the ropa vieja at Porto’s would be that. And I was also afraid that Porto’s ropa vieja would just not be that good. I needn’t had worried. Porto’s ropa vieja was almost exactly like mine. It had a subtly bitter element – perhaps a different choice of wine? -, but it could have fooled me. So the ropa vieja sandwich was absolutely delicious. The soft bun had the right amount of filling and was a bit hard to maneuver, but I managed not to spill any on myself (a huge accomplishment). For less than $9, this was also wonderfully priced and oh, so delicious. I had the other half the next day for lunch, and it held up very well to the microwave. I’ll certainly be ordering this again. They also serve it as a plate, and I might do that instead.

Camila, had a chicken milanesa sandwich ($9.6), which comes with mozzarella cheese, tomato, smashed avocado, and spicy jalapeño spread, all in a Medianoche roll. She was quite happy with it, strange given everything the sandwich had inside it. But then again, this girl just loves milanesas.

My mother tried the Napoleon slice ($4.45), a cake consisting of layers of puff pastry covered with vanilla pudding and topped with puff pastry crumbs and powdered sugar. This is a pretty mild tasting dessert, which somehow manages to be more than the sum of its two parts. I think it’s because it’s comparably light and not too sweet, thus appealing to both the very young and the middle aged or older. Now, it won’t win any bakery awards, but it was pleasant enough.

My sister ordered the fresh fruit tartlet ($4.45), which was a little unwieldy and broke when she tried to take it out of the box, but she otherwise liked. It has a lot of fresh fruit, including apple slices. This is a good bet for people who are pretending to be healthier.

Given that Porto’s is the one place my mom will go ut to for breakfast, I will no doubt be returning. But I would return anyway after this experience.

Porto's Bakery & Café
19467 Nordhoff St
(818) 534-5210
Daily 6:30 AM - 8 PM
Part of a Southern California chain

NYC Food Adventures: Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip
blueberry knish

What the heck is a Knish?

I’ll be honest, before planning this trip to New York City, I had never heard of knishes, and had no idea how to pronounce them (the K is not silent). But while researching the neighborhood around Katz’s Deli, I came across Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery and I knew we had to stop and try a knish.

Yonah Schimmel’s has been on this tiny store on Houston St. (pronounced “HOW-ston”) for over a hundred years. Schimmel, a Romanian rabbi, started selling knishes from a cart in Coney Island back in the 1890’s, and eventually was able to open a brick and mortar store in Manhattan. The shop is now owned by his grand-nephew.

Knishes are baked dumplings, consisting of a thin flour dough enveloping a filling, often mashed potatoes with onions, but it may also include ground meats. They seem similar to pierogis, but as the latter are usually boiled or fried, the texture is different. There are also sweet, fruit knishes. As we had just had lunch at Katz’s, and as we had no method to reheat a savory knish back at our hotel, we got two sweet ones to eat as dessert later.

I got the blueberry cream cheese knish ($8.50). It was exactly what it sounded like: a thin pastry surrounding slightly sweetened cream cheese and cooked blueberries. It was very rich, not very sweet and very tasty. A very grown up dessert – and one knish is certainly enough for two people. Mike got the apple strudel knish ($8.50) and that was less successful. It was basically apple pie filling in that same, thin dough, but it wasn’t sweet enough for his liking. He was terribly disappointed.

If we went back to NYC, I’d be curious to try to savory knishes, and I’d get a blueberry one again. Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery does ship nationwide through Gold Belly. A 6-pack of knishes will cost you $80, shipping included.

Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery
137 E. Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-2858
MON - SUN 11AM - 6PM

NYC Food Adventures: L’Amie Pierre

Notes from a New York City Foodie Trip

Real French croissants!

We had a lot of great food in our trip to New York City, but I wasn’t expecting having so much great French food. Then again, why not? The enormous day population in Manhattan means there is market for all sorts of food, and enough competition so that not-so-great-restaurants probably don’t survive for long.

L’Amie Pierre, a casual eatery serving French pastries for breakfast and salad, soups, sandwiches and quiches for lunch, was located very near our hotel. I’d scoped it out online before the trip, but Mike saw it on the taxi ride from the train station. He was excited to hit it our second morning in NYC, and it proved to be just as good as its reviews.

In all, we ate breakfast there once, and got take out twice more. I didn’t take any photos of the fare, but you know what a croissant looks like. My description will have to suffice my memories.

We can’t say the plain croissants ($4.2) were as good as any we had in Paris – because it’s been too long since our Paris days to actually remember them – but they were the best croissants we’ve had in the US. They were flaky, buttery and soft and everything you want in a croissant. The flavor was on point, and they were delicious with the butter and jam available at the store.

The ham and cheese croissants ($7) were even better – but only when warm. They have a good ratio of ham to cheese, they are not overwhelmingly salty and they were just very tasty when warm. Cold, however, they were just OK.

Perhaps my favorite treat, however, was the baguette with butter and jam ($3.50). The mini baguette also had great flavor and crunch, and the butter was very high quality. The jam is Bonne Maman strawberry preserves, if I recall correctly. They give you a little jar of it. I’m not sure if there was a choice, as Mike was the one who ordered.

The restaurant itself is very casual, with some regular tables, counter space facing the window and other tall tables, that I think are meant to be shared. Their coffee and cappuccinos were good, but not particularly remarkable. You really come here for the pastries – and bread.

L'Amie Pierre

149 West 51st Street
New York City
Monday - Friday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Saturday: 09:00 am - 5:00 pm

Pasquier Macarons – Ooh La la

I’ve finally found a brand of macarons worth the hype

My oldest daughter loves macarons – which really the only reason I ever buy them, or eat them. I’ve tried a few here and there: frozen and fresh ones from the supermarket or specialty stores, gourmet ones from French bakeries, both in the US and in Paris, and I’ve even made them myself – but I never have really gotten the point of them. They usually consist of a too-dry-cookie with an underwhelming filling. I’ve never been impressed, until now.

I’m pleased to say that Pasquier makes the best macarons that I’ve ever had and that they are easily available and not too expensive (as far as macarons go, these are very expensive pastries to begin with). The cookies are moist while still having a bit of crunch, and the flavors of both the cookie and the filling are explosive. They are just delicious.

The macarons come in six flavors: vanilla, pistachio, caramel, raspberry, lemon and chocolate, and I can’t say I have a favorite (OK, maybe pistachio, but maybe lemon). They all hit the right spot, albeit with a tiny bit too much sweetness. They are tiny, I’d say the size of a silver dollar if I remembered just how big those were. But if you can resist not emptying the box, you do get a lot of flavor for your buck. They are made in France, they are refrigerated and you must consume them within 2 days of opening the box. I don’t think you’ll have trouble.

I found them at Grocery Outlet for $5 for a box of 12 (5.6 oz total), but they also seem to be available at Sprouts and Good Eggs for $7-8 and at Target for $11.

 San Leandro Eats: 85°C Bakery Cafe

Nice and affordable Chinese pastries.

Since 85°C Bakery Cafe opened in San Leandro Plaza, I’ve been a devotee. This Taiwanese bakery chain has over a thousand locations worldwide, with 75 of them in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Texas. I’m sure they’ll continue expanding. They offer Chinese inspired pastries with global flavors. The pastries tend to be light and airy with cream fillings, and they usually range from good to delicious. This will be an ongoing review, where I add new pastries as I try them, for my own future reference of what I liked a lot and what I liked less. As we shouldn’t be eating too many carbs, we only get pastries from 85°C Bakery for special occasions – but that makes it even more important that we choose the right ones.

85°C also serves drinks, from flavored coffee and tea drinks to smoothies, slushies and boba (if you always wanted to try a boba latter, this is the place to have one), but I have yet to have one there. Next time. They do have tables to eat inside (but no outdoor sitting), but due to the pandemic we’re avoiding all indoor dining.

Our last visit to 85°C Bakery was on the fourth day of my Birthday Week Extravaganza (TM). I had told my daughter how I preferred the pastries from 85°C Bakery to those we’d had the day from As Kneaded Bakery, and she wanted to try them. I sent Mike to get them – but I had mistakenly texted the list of what we wanted to a friend – so Mike got to chose what he brought home.

85°C Bakery has a huge variety of pastries, cakes and other desserts. Many are serve yourself, but more delicate ones – or ones needing refrigeration – are behind the counter. Pastries are individually wrapped, which is not environmentally friendly but it’s safer from a food handling perspective. While they concentrate on sweet pastries, they also offer some savory ones.

Aussie Meat Pie (vegetarian)

This is a light bun with impossible ground “beef” sautéed with peppers.

Ham & Cheese

This is a light bun filled with ham and American cheese. It’s quite tasty, and I liked it as much as the ham & cheese croissants I get at Main Street Bagel.

White Chocolate Strawberry

This bun is filled with a very light white chocolate and strawberry custard. It’s a tad too sweet for my taste, and maybe not one of my favorites, but it’s quite good.


Mango Custard Bun

This bun is filled with a creamy mango custard. It’s quite tasty and light.

85°C Bakery Cafe
San Leandro Plaza
1299 Washington Ave. C-1
San Leandro, California
M-Th 7 AM - 7 PM, F-Sa 7 AM - 7:30 PM, Su 8 AM - 7 PM 

San Leandro Eats: As Kneaded Bakery

I don’t know what all the fuss is about

I had long heard great things about the As Kneaded Bakery in San Leandro. Located on Victoria Court, in a space where many restaurants tried their luck unsuccessfully, it has gotten a buzz both on the press and on social media. I had long wanted to try it and my Birthday Week Extravaganza (TM) seemed like a perfect time to do so. So I sent Mike one Saturday morning to get some stuff so we could see what all the fuzz was about. And boy did he do it! He brought a wide variety of the noshes they had available so we got a good idea of what As Kneaded can do.

It is very clear that As Kneaded puts a lot of effort and high quality ingredients on their pastries, which they call “noshes”. Most are very substantial (and yet we managed to eat them all over a couple of days) and well made. However, all in all, we weren’t a huge fan of them and I wouldn’t go back to As Kneaded for pastries. I did like the loaf of bread we got, and I’m curious about trying others – so I probably will in the future.

The first pastry we tried was the large round thing. It’s not listed on their website right now, but based on what is listed, it seems to be some sort of danish. It had a custardy filling and slices of some red fruit (I couldn’t tell what) and we all really enjoyed it, it wasn’t too heavy and we love the filling. Unfortunately, it went down hell from there.

Our second try was the cardamom twist (“a brioche twist containing a cardamom poppy filling and topped with sugar pearls”). This was light enough and I appreciated the poppy seed/cardamon filling, but those are flavors that I like. They are less popular in my household so I’m the one who finished this one of.

The chocolate chip brioche (top left) competed with the banana tahini muffin (top right) for the biggest waste of calories and carbs. They were both dry and had very little flavor. The latter is vegan, but that really is no excuse. The former is directed to toddlers, so perhaps the point is not trying to please adult palates. In either case, we would not bother eating these again.

Finally, the chocolate croissant (top middle) was unremarkable. The chocolate was good quality, but the croissant itself lacked the flakiness and buttery taste of the best exponents. I fell in love with chocolate croissants during college, where I’d treat myself with one from Le Petit Boulangerie, a now defunct bakery chain, and this one was inferior to those.

The saving grace for both the blueberry maple walnut bostock and the raspberry bostock were the crumble topping. These were both thick pieces of challah , one topped with sugar, apricot jam, walnuts, butter, blueberries and maple syrup and the other dipped in simple syrup and then topped with raspberry jam, almond cream and sliced almonds. They were both very heavy (literally) and dense, a little bit dry but otherwise quite tasty. But neither were worth what are likely to be an astronomical number of calories and carbs. They tasted far healthier than the ingredient list suggested they are. Again, I wouldn’t turn my nose away from them, but I wouldn’t seek them out.

Finally, the ham & cheese danish was also a disappointment. It was tasty enough, don’t get me wrong, and the ham and gruyere were obviously good quality – but the flavor was diluted by a completely unnecessary bechamel sauce. In all, this pastry did not compare favorably to the ham & cheese croissants I get at Main Street Bagels, which no one would accuse of being high brow

I didn’t actually take a photo of the bread but found one of it in the background of another picture I took that day.

In addition to the pastries, Mike brought home a loaf of sesa miche, a whole wheat rye sourdough bread baked with sesame seeds. This was a very dense, heavy bread but it was also quite tasty. I wasn’t completely blown away by it, but I liked it and I’d have it again if I was a big bread eater. As it is, none of us are, and the loaf went hard in a couple of days (my fault, as I didn’t refrigerate it or tried to preserve it.

Now, I don’t really want to throw shade on As Kneaded Bakery. Lots of people love it and more power to them. At this point, I’m writing my food blog more to remind myself of what I thought of a place in case I’m thinking of going back than for anyone else. What As Kneaded offers is basically rustic breads and pastries, and I have to admit that we are just not big fond of this style of baked goods. But you might be. So give it a try.

As Kneaded Bakery
585 Victoria Court
San Leandro, CA
(650) 503-9285
W-Su 10 AM - 3 PM

Review of a Bunch of Items I just Bought at Sprouts

I have never been to a Sprouts in person, but I’ve become quite fond of the supermarket since I subscribed to Instacart during the pandemic. Still, I hadn’t ordered from there in long enough that I’d forgotten what things they had that I liked and disliked. Thus this post – to remind me of what to get again, and what to avoid. I’ll be adding items to this review as we consume them. Note that the prices are Instacart prices.

Sprouts Pastrami on Multigrain Bread Grab & Go Sandwich

Sprouts Pastrami on Multigrain Bread Grab & Go Sandwich ($5 for an 8 oz sandwich)

I got this for my husband to replace a chicken salad croissant sandwich that wasn’t available. He thought it was “ehh,” the sort of pre-packaged sandwich he’d expect to get at a convenience store. He felt it was dry, probably as it doesn’t seem to come with condiments. He wouldn’t order it again.

Black Garlic Chicken And Mushroom Saute ($6/lb, tray was 1 3/4lb)

I bought this thinking it was a ready-to-heat meal, as others I’ve gotten at Sprouts. Instead, it’s a ready-to-saute meal which requires you to dump the ingredients on a saute pan and cook for about 10-15 minutes. The chicken is raw, so don’t be tempted to use your microwave.

While it was very simple, it was surprisingly tasty and served two people adequately. I’d get it again.

Chocolate Custard Twists ($4 for 6 small twists)

This has to be my favorite item from Sprouts. When we spent a month in Paris, a lifetime ago, my husband would go to the bakery every morning and get us a very similar pastry. These are just as delicious – which is amazing, giving how badly even the best American bakeries do at imitating French pastries. At 70-cents each for the pretty small pastries, this is not a cheap treat, but mostly because it’s just impossible to eat just one. Still, they are great so get them!

Lakewood Organic Pure Orange Fresh-Pressed Juice Not From Concentrate ($6.5 for a 32 oz bottle, on sale for $5)

I’m always in the quest for the best commercial orange juice – something that tastes as close as possible to fresh squeezed but that I can buy already squeezed. Unfortunately, fresh squeezed OJ is not available at any of my local supermarkets, though they do have it at the Saturday’s farmer market. Alas, we don’t always make it.

So far, my favorite commercial orange juice is Costco’s Kirkland Signature Organic Orange Juice. However, the last two times I’ve gotten it, it tasted like it was already going bad – I’m sure you know what rotten oranges taste like, and this was half way there. So I’ve been looking for an alternative – I’ll give Kirkland another try in winter, but it’s obvious the OJ can’t handle the summer heat.

Unfortunately, Lakewood Organic Pure Orange Juice suffers from the exact same problem. The lid may say the juice doesn’t expire until 2023, but it already has the tell-telling bitterness of OJ going bad. It is also extremely sweet. I don’t know if this is a consequence of it being almost rotten, or if it’s made this way to hide the rotting flavor. Either way, it’s initial taste is disgustingly sweet, and its finish rottenly bitter. I would not buy it again and I have half a mind of writing to Lakewood and asking for a refund.

Clara’s Kitchen Chile Verde Breakfast Burrito ($5 for 10 oz burrito)

I had ordered the Clara’s Kitchen Cheese & Bean burrito but this is what Instacart brought me instead. My husband ended up eating it and he was quite disappointed. He felt it had very little flavor. He wouldn’t have it again.

Reds Organic Cheese Quesadilla Burrito ($3.3 for 5 oz burrito, on sale for $2.5)

Organic Cheese Quesadilla Burrito - Red's All Natural Burritos & Entrees

I got this and other Reds burritos for my cheese-and-bean-burrito loving teen daughter and it was a bust. She liked the tortilla well enough, but didn’t like the filling, it just tasted wrong for her. Won’t get it again.

Sprouts Cheese Puffs and Cheese Curls ($2.3 for 6 oz package, on sale for $1 each)

Sprouts versions of cheetos are not bad. They seem to have less of an intense flavor than the brand name, and less annoying orange powder to get all over your hands, but they are tasty enough. The puffs are, IMHO, better than the curls. I’d order the puffs again, particularly at the sale price.

Roast Beef ($13/lb)

This was pretty generic deli roast beef, which means it was perfectly acceptable without being remarkable good. I’d buy it again.

Canelés de Bordeaux – French Canelés Review

Canelés are a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France. These small pastries are made from eggs, milk, flour, butter, sugar and rum in special molds that make them look like a tall mini bundt cake (but they don’t have a hole in the middle). I first came across them almost two decades ago when I started researching Bordelaise cuisine. For years, I considered making them until finally giving up on the idea – buying a mold for something I’d only make once seemed too wasteful. Still, my curiosity about them stayed.

Then a week ago, I found that Costco was selling these “Made in France” canelés. They were quite expensive, almost $10 for a package of 16 (each weighing a bit over 1 oz), but I had to see what they were like. Unfortunately, they weren’t very good.

The pastries are pretty dense, though I liked their airy, somewhat chewy consistency. They didn’t have much flavor, however. The rum masked whatever else was there, without really adding that much. And while I enjoyed the consistency, they were a bit too dry. All in all, I wouldn’t get them again. Now, if I ever find myself in Bordeaux, I might give a bakery-baked one a try.

Sister Schubert’s Cinnamon Rolls – Review

I really wanted to get a treat today, but Grocery Outlet didn’t have much to choose from.  I’d seen Sister Schubert’s Cinnamon Rolls before, but for some reason they hadn’t really drawn me.  Still, with no other real choices I got them. Lord, I’m glad I did.

I don’t tend to like refrigerated cinnamon rolls (at least the Pillsbury kind) because they have a weird metallic flavor (I imagine it’s the preservatives). They are just not that good.  These rolls, however, were delicious.  They were moist, not too sweet, with lots of cinnamon flavor and came covered with sugar frosting.  They may not be as good as homemade cinnamon rolls or the rolls you get at Cinnabon, but for being a frozen product they are very good.

You can cook the cinnamon rolls directly from the freezer, it takes 25 to 30 minutes in a preheated oven, or thaw them first and cook them for 15 minutes or so.  I did the former.

I think they sell in regular stores for $3.50 or so (but I don’t know who carries them), but they’re current on sale at the San Leandro Grocery Outlet for $2. Tomorrow I’m going to go and get a few packages – they are frozen, so I can keep them in the freezer until I need them.

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