Category Archives: pastries

Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

Don’t you hate it when something doesn’t live up to the hype? The iPad is something that comes to mind, with the majority of press calling the much-anticipated tech product “overpriced and disappointing.” As a food lover, few things are as annoying as overhyped eats. I’ll be bold and say that local Los Angeles fave Casa Bianca falls under that category (in my opinion folks, so please keep the tomato-throwing to a minimum, thank you!) mainly for their use of canned mushrooms on their pizza. I can’t be down with canned mushrooms. Ever. On anything. I mean, it isn’t like we live in Antarctica where canned mushrooms might be your only choice. El Coyote is another L.A. landmark regularly filled to capacity, but if I wanted gloppy, overcooked Mexican food, I could just get some Taco Bell and put it on a plate (sorry Taco Bell, actually you’re not bad for the late night, post-drinking 4th meal). Although I’ve enjoyed the occasional bowl of tangy Pinkberry, the frozen concoction served in cutesy, colorful shops hardly lives up to the hype. I mean, c’mon people- it’s frozen yogurt, not the second coming of Ghandi.

That said, there are certainly places that deserve every last note of praise sung it their names by devotees the world ‘round. In N Out cheeseburgers with grilled onions are incredible and the maple bacon donuts at Nickel Diner are worth every, indulgent calorie. Ultimately, food is subjective, so it comes down to matters of taste, likes and dislikes, but these two things really do it for me. I recently found another place that does indeed live up to the hype- Tartine Bakery in San Francisco.

J and I went up at the end of last year (again, catching up on my blogging!) and I insisted we go and see what all the internet love was about. The line snaking out the door at 11:00am was a good sign, and we dutifully took our places while I craned my neck above the crowd to see what on earth smelled so ridiculously heavenly. I had to resist the urge to elbow my way up to the front and stick my face on the glass like some little kid, but my eyes darted around the room taking in all of the lovely goodies resting in front of the lucky bastards (ok, too harsh) that were already seated. Let’s take a looky-loo, shall we?

Some berry pastry that every other person seemed to be eating

Giant discs of chocolate chip goodness…

Smaller discs of equally delicious goodness…

Luscious lemon bar…..

Yummy-looking scones……

If you’ve never had a gougere, your life is incomplete…..

The last part of the line runs right along the glass case filled with a gorgeous array of breads, cookies, pastries, puddings, bars and other carby goodies so you have plenty of time to try and accomplish the impossible task of choosing what you will eat. It’s times like those that you wish for a larger stomach (I mean, when do we girls EVER want for a bigger tummy?!) and do the tough negotiating in your mind while the register looms closer and closer. “If I got cookies I could get a few since they’re small….but then I’d miss the bread pudding…but the lemon bars seem really popular so maybe they are the best thing…what’s that berry pastry that looks so good?” But then, you see IT. The sea of fools part (sorry, I’ve had Jeff Buckley ringing in my head all week) and you know you’ve met The One, otherwise known as the Tartine Croissant. OhMyLordWhatAThingOfBeauty. The minute I saw the pile of huge, flaky croissants I KNEW at least one (if not two) were destined to be in my mouth:

Why, hello, beautiful!

J, who feels the same way about bread pudding as I do about croissants, practically dove into the gigantic chafing dish filled to the brim with a peach and blueberry version.

Did the croissant live up to the hype? Let me just say this: Best Croissant I Ever Had. No doubt about it. The outside was shatteringly crisp and buttery, while the inside was layered with soft, nicely baked layers of the same rich pastry. One of my pet peeves is buying what seems to be a beautifully baked croissant only to find a raw, doughy middle. Ew. No raw dough to be found here, as every delicious layer led to another. Croissant heaven.


J’s bread pudding was also stellar; moist, custard-soaked brioche studded with slices of fresh peaches and dotted with blueberries was just sweet enough, letting the fruit really shine through. Our only regret was ordering a cup instead of a bowl of it since it was gone in just a few, short minutes.

J’s cup ‘o bread pudding…

We bought a couple of sweets to take back to our hotel, but I can’t seem to recall what they were because the only things swimming in my mind at the time were the smell and taste of that perfect croissant.

I could take that guy…you distract him while I steal those criossants!

Believe the hype.

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110-1528
(415) 487-2600

The Little Flower Candy Co. – Pasadena

Have you ever dreamt of a fantasyland filled with piles of giant, sweet-smelling cookies and buckets of fruity, shiny lollipops in all the colors of a rainbow? A place where big, homemade marshmallows in chocolate and coffee billow out of bags and perfectly wrapped sea-salt caramels fill every shelf? If you have, it probably looked a lot like The Little Flower Candy Co. – a small store/café located just south of the 134 on Colorado Blvd, which also happens to be less than five minutes from my house. How lucky am I? This is the kind of place I think of when I hear the phrase, “Visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.”

As most of you know, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, although I have been known to enjoy a good cookie or pastry now and again. Luckily for me, The Little Flower Candy Co. has lots of things that would fill my non-sugar fantasies- several kinds of homemade soups each day, two different quiches, a nice selection of salads and, most importantly, a fantastic sandwich menu.

Now you know I love me a good sandwich. Sandwiches rank near the top of my favorite food list but as common as a sandwich is in this world, a good, well-made sandwich is a rare breed, which is unfortunate. I love the sandwiches at Europane, although it’s a bit of a drive to grab a quick lunch, and although Nicole’s uses amazing baguettes on all of her sandies, I sometimes need a bit more selection. This is where The Little Flower Candy Co has come into my life and filled that emptiness and I seriously couldn’t feel luckier. I could LIVE on their veggie wrap. I know, I know- now before you start accusing me of being a Crunchy Granola Hippie, I gotta tell ya- this wrap is so good it’d satisfy any meat eater, myself included. I don’t order it because its veggie- I order it because I NEED it. Crave it. Require it. It’s no longer a want, it’s a habit. The elements couldn’t be simpler- a nice, large whole wheat tortilla blankets a garlicky green hummus, fresh cherry tomatoes, crisp English cucumber, shredded carrots, lettuce and a mound of warm, tender brown rice. The warmth of the rice is KEY- no one wants to eat a burrito full of cold rice- and it just wakes up the garlic in the hummus which mixes with the cool veggies and combines into one perfect flavor combo. My husband J can’t seem to bring himself to order anything else as he, too, is an addict.

The tempeh sandwich (I know, AGAIN with the vegetarian option!) is also divine- thinly sliced, nicely seared tempeh piled on wheat bread with lots of veggies, perfectly rip avocado and tapenade (which, hello- I don’t even LIKE olives but it works so well here!). Can’t live without meat? The pulled pork sandwich is piled high with wonderfully meaty, tender pig and I love that the flavor of the pork is as prominent as the flavor of the BBQ sauce. On most days they offer a pulled chicken sandwich as well if you’re not into pig (but seriously, why would anyone NOT be into pig?). Although I’ve yet to try it, the egg salad sandwich seems to be one of their most popular items, along with the meatloaf sandwich (thick and tender) and the roast beef (bring an appetite!) made with arugula and house made aioli. Every sandwich comes with 2 pickle sticks- one pickle is “new” and greener, less tart; the other is older and has been pickling longer, so you get to try both. There are daily specials ranging from a Dal bowl to bahn mi, and you can get all of this, in addition to their soups, to go.

……which brings me to what made the Little Flower Candy Co famous in the first place- their sweets. If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen their sea salt or vanilla caramels and giant, homemade marshmallows in boutiques and specialty shops for years. Both are delicious and taste nothing like their mainstream counterparts. If you haven’t had a homemade marshmallow, you haven’t had a real marshmallow. I prefer to grab a cookie after finishing a sandwich, my favorite being their cutout butter cookies which are flavored with liberal amounts of lemon or lime zest (or oil?) and the citrus flavor lingers in my mouth long after I’ve eaten it. YUM. It’s pretty hard to choose between those, their enormous chocolate chip cookies, mini red velvet cupcakes topped with a dollop of cream cheese icing, the frangipane tart with fresh raspberries or the chocolate croissants….I mean, what on earth is a girl to do?

The shop is filled out with tables boasting more sweet treats and a small selection of children’s books and cookbooks. I can just imagine how a kid must feel when they walk in (and many do), seeing the bars of chocolate and bags of candy filling the shelves. I feel that way when I look over the sandwich menu!!!

I have to say, it’s always great to see a small, local business thrive, but The Little Candy Co is doing so because they are putting out quality product made with great care, love and attention to detail. It’s evident in the faces of the staff- whether it’s owner/chefs Christine Moore and her husband or one of the nice ladies running the register. They always have a good recommendation if you can’t decide what to order and take the time to greet everyone, give a smile……as jaded as I can be sometimes, I gotta say…’s lovely. And it seems their love is spreading- the place gets pretty packed during lunch hour and you may have to wait for a seat, but it’s totally worth it. Just grab a cookie and cup of coffee- there are worse ways to wait, after all!

Little Flower Candy Company
1424 W. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105

Hours of business
Mon-Sat, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sun, Closed