Archive for the ‘Bakery’ Category

Festivals and Farmers Markets

June 3, 2017

Spring may have come late to Seattle, but this year’s food truck festival and farmers markets are right on time. If you’ve never checked out Fremont’s glorious Food Truck Rodeo, put it on your bucket list – it’s one of Seattle best foodie events. After thoroughly scoping out all the offerings available, I had lunch at It’s Bao Time and dessert at Street Donuts. Not only are the donuts fresh out of the fryer, they have all sorts of clever topping combinations.

I wanted the Dulce de Leche but they were out, so we went with Nutella and powdered sugar.

These were seriously addictive – some of the best minis I’ve ever had. This is a truck worth seeking out if you can track it down.

Several weekends later I lucked out again at the Madrona Farmers Market with a new stand – Sweet Season Bakery. They are actually based in Arlington but should be at the Madrona market all summer and I can safely say you will love anything you buy. I can say it safely because I bought everything.

Okay, maybe not everything, but you can see homemade “oreos,” fudge, peanut butter sandwich cookies, pretzel cookies, and shortbread cookies. They freeze really well so I was able to stop myself from eating everything in one sitting and instead allow myself one or five treats a day. Get thee to the Madrona market next Friday afternoon!

Hood Famous Bakeshop

February 26, 2017

When you’re too much of a foodie to eat at the Cheesecake Factory but you still want that creamy, tangy goodness (and you’re willing to deal with parking in Ballard), check out Hood’s Famous Bakeshop. Instead of Snickers and Pumpkin flavors, you’ll fall in love with more interesting Filipino flavors like ube and guava. The shop itself is little more than a hole-in-the-wall, so choose your cakes (mini size and up) and go. I went all mini for a family dinner:

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The red top left is the white chocolate guava, the orange next to it is mango, the purple is the ube (purple yam), the green is coconut pandan (a green leaf used in southeast Asia for flavor), and the brown is Vietnamese coffee. The big hits were the coffee and the mango, but I preferred the ube which is what Hood is famous for. It doesn’t taste like yam – the flavor is pretty close to vanilla – but the ube gives the cake a lovely texture (the color ain’t bad either). If you’re throwing a summer dinner party for out-of-town guests (or, for that matter, a winter dinner party for Seattleites) these will be big hit. The ube cake is also sold at local grocery stores so there’s really no excuse for going to the Cheesecake Factory (unless, like me, you really like that Oreo Cheesecake!).

Pike Place Bakery

February 5, 2017

This old-school bakery has staying power – it’s been at The Market since the 80s and draws in the tourists thanks to a solid location close to the fish-throwing action.  They get mixed reviews on Yelp, and the sign could probably use an update, but I can’t deny the attraction of their “Texas Donuts” – literally a donut the size of a small child.

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I doubted my ability to eat a Texas Donut, so I asked the saleslady for her recommendations (okay, I WAS confident in my ability, which is why I didn’t get one). I was told to try the buttermilk bar, a sort of donut/pastry with a sweet buttermilk-flavored filling:

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It turned out to be quite tasty. A little too sweet, but it was fresh, buttermilky, and decadent. I ate half and dunked the other half in my coffee the next day – both experiences were highly enjoyable. I also got the Chinese Almond Cookie at the saleslady’s recommendation:

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Now, I don’t love almond flavor so I wasn’t sure I’d like these. And truthfully, they were a little “almondy” for my taste, but I recognized that the buttery texture was on point, the chocolate filling was a nice counterpoint to the sugary almond cookie, and that the cookies were fresh and made with care. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised  – this bakery is not the tourist trap I was expecting.

Sweet and Savory

January 17, 2017

The only way to get through Seattle’s winter is to get out. I made myself do just that last Saturday – it was sunny, so I decided to visit the U-District Farmer’s Market where I found the delightful new stand Sweet and Savory Catering by Cynthia Brock. Huddled in the freezing temperatures, she was selling her homemade cookies and pastries along with more savory fare like her “winter jam” – a sort of chutney with nuts, quince, and spices that is amazing on sandwiches or paired with Stilton cheese. I chose an assortment of treats, including an apple-fig galette, lemon bar, and apricot bar:

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The lemon and apricot bars were spot-on with a lovely shortbread crust and flavorful topping. The galette was a bit heavily spiced for my taste, although the crust was solid. This woman knows her way around a stick of butter.  Just as amazing were her Christmas cookies:

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I didn’t share. I ate them all myself and didn’t feel bad about it at all – they were that good. Plenty of butter, sweet but not overly so, and tasting so incredibly fresh. This catering company is worth checking out while Cynthia is still at the U-District market!

Sea Wolf Bakers

October 9, 2016

If you’re more concerned with substance over style, or just want to grab some of the best bread in Seattle to up your dinner party game, check out bare bones Sea Wolf Bakers in Fremont. They do one thing, and do it really well – bread and pastries. They have a warehouse/wholesale type space with a couple tables and minimal service, but the folks there are friendly and hardworking and most importantly, excellent bakers of bread.

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I bought a baguette and a loaf of sourdough rye, as well as a couple pastries. The baguette was of the traditional French variety – meaning it cuts up the roof of your mouth and has a high crust to dough ratio. The rye was dark, very like Russian black bread, with a wonderful fermenty-tasting bite to it. As for the pastries, one was a chocolate croissant and the other a huckleberry danish. 

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Both were outstanding (especially since they were still warm), with crispy, flaky outsides and buttery but light innards. There is definitely a level of perfection and hand-made care that sets Sea Wolf apart from lesser, grocery-store ready spots (ahem, Essentials) and makes their bread worth seeking out whenever possible. I know I will.

Marketing in Magnolia

September 18, 2016

I’ve lived in Seattle for a decade and somehow I’ve never been to Magnolia – not even Discovery Park. I decided to rectify this situation while also checking a couple bakeries off my list, including Cereal Box Bakery. Cereal Box doesn’t have a storefront, but operates a delivery service (baked goods and fresh baked bread delivered to your doorstep!) and has a booth at the Magnolia Farmers Market. That’s where I found them, and selected a peach muffin top and a jam-filled scone.

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Both were notable in their lower-than-usual sugar levels, which I actually appreciated. It was more like breakfast and less like dessert, which was fine… because my next stop was Petit Pierre Bakery. No shortage of sugar here!

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I started with a homemade pop tart, which was nothing like the grocery store variety. Flakey, with a lovely jam filling and homemade icing – you don’t need to be a kid to appreciate these. For later, I got a raspberry chocolate brownie type thing, which was less impressive but still enjoyable:

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It was a little on the dry side. I would stick to the pastries and more traditional French desserts – their lemon tarts and macarons looked pretty good. The cafe itself was cute and popular, with excellent espresso and friendly service.

Market Treats… Again!

August 3, 2016

It’s market season in Seattle and once again, my goal is to visit each and every one. It’s a great way to explore small, artisan bakers and dessert makers, and on my recent trip to the West Seattle market I found tiny Shambala Bakery, specializing in vegan and gluten-free desserts. Now, I’m not a huge fan of either category, but I have friends who are so I bought a few items for them:

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That’s a banana muffin and a lemon sugar cookie – both vegan and gluten-free. I missed the wheat more than the dairy – both seemed on the gritty side to me. But my vegan and gluten-free friends said both were really good.  Next up was the South Lake Union Saturday Market, where I found Macadons – Macarons by Donna. The fun part of this macaron stand was that they sell ice cream sandwiches (macaron style, naturally). I got the lychee:

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Mild and sweet, it was an interesting twist on the typical macaron – but I got some of those too:

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Let me take a minute to talk about the durian flavor – the yellow cookie on the left. As most folks know, the durian is a foul-smelling tropical fruit – not your typical macaron flavor (they are packaged separately to avoid contaminating the flavors of the other macarons). Honestly, I took a bite and threw the rest out – I was happy to try it but it wasn’t for me. Much friendlier to the palate was the tutti fruity (red) flavor, the nutella (brown) flavor, and the oreo (grey) flavor. But all (minus the durian) were excellent and recommended.

Choukette

July 9, 2016

I don’t spend a ton of time in Pike Place Market or downtown Seattle, but for various reasons I’ve found myself there several times in the last few weeks. I’ve been surprised to discover the many hidden gems to be found below the market, on Western, including the newly opened Choukette – a bakery specializing solely in eclairs. Apparently, however, it’s not secret enough, because the shop was almost sold out by noon thanks to some unexpected publicity from Seattle Met and an eclair-loving populace.

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There were, luckily, a few eclairs remaining and I was able to try the lemon curd and the salted caramel flavors.

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To be sure, these works of art are meant to be appreciated by aficionados – while they are neither large nor cheap, neither are they bland, stale, or overly sweet. The pastry dough was light and pillowy and was the perfect accompaniment to the cream. The best part, however, were the toppings. The lemon curd was bright and tart, and the salted caramel was the right notes of sweet-salty. Hopefully this little shop can keep up with demand so that I can come back and try other flavors!

Amandine

May 2, 2016

I probably didn’t need another French bakery in walking distance, but after tasting the macarons at Amandine Bakeshop in Chophouse Row (Cap Hill) I decided it didn’t hurt to have options. And Amandine is an excellent option. Macarons are definitely the reason to come here, although the pastries are also good (I enjoyed my fresh, perfectly crackly danish). Let me say, first of all, that I don’t especially LIKE macarons because I don’t especially LIKE almond flavored desserts.  But I got a black currant macaron to be nice, along with my Danish and madeline.

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All were enjoyable, but the macaron was MUCH more enjoyable than what I was expecting. There was no taste of almond paste, and the texture was not air, and the flavor was not sugar. There was more of a cookie element than I was expecting. And I love cookies. So naturally I had to return to the counter and get a few more to-go:

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On the left is lime mimosa, on the right is grapefruit sage (most of their flavors are equally creative). Both were phenomenal and again, intensely flavored and not too delicately textured. If you need more reason to go to Amandine, they serve Empire Espresso and have free wifi… and they’re near an ice cream shop. What more does one need?

Two Tartes

April 22, 2016

This Georgetown lunch cafe and bakery is only open on weekdays, which meant I had to have pretty much one of everything during my one visit. This included a VERY LARGE cinnamon bun, which I meant to only have a portion of.

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Easier said than done – once I started munching, I couldn’t stop. The soft, doughy insides were caramely, gooey, and buttery. I did eat the whole thing and didn’t regret it – not for an instant. But it did keep me from going too crazy with the other goods for sale. I only ate a small part of the blackberry scone and mojo cookie (oatmeal, coconut, and chocolate chip).

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That doesn’t mean they weren’t amazing – especially the mojo cookie, with it’s oaty flavor and chewy texture.  Two Tartes has to be one of the top breakfast bakeries in Seattle – I just wish they were open on the weekends…