January 30 is Croissant Day

[Updated: January 2021. This post is not sponsored.]

Nespresso Café in San Francisco

In 2019, I learned that January 30 is National Croissant Day in the United States from the Starbucks mobile app!

Starbucks app

I couldn’t find the origins of this “national day” to celebrate the flaky, buttery French pastry, but as a fan of all things French, I’m glad someone made it up.

Just for fun, here’s a round-up of my favorite croissant-related content, followed by a few pictures of my favorite croissants!

  • This is a funny Vine. They call it the “croissant drop” #relatable
  • I admit I say “kraw-Sohnt” because to me, saying it the French way (with the nasal “kwa-Soh”) outside of France sounds pretentious. Here’s a short video showing how to pronounce croissant in English

Canvas tote bag I got from a boutique in Toulouse

In southwest France, chocolate croissants are called chocolatines. Imagine my delight in asking for one by name at a Farmers’ Market near Toulouse:

from the farmers’ market near Toulouse

When I returned to California, I noticed chocolate croissants being sold as chocolatines at a local bakery:

from La Farine in Oakland, California

from CDG Paris airport

from La Châtaigne in Lafayette, California

from Tartine in San Francisco

from Urth Caffé at LAX

from Steak & Lobster Restaurant at London Heathrow

from CDG Paris airport

Ah, if only I could, I’d have a croissant in Paris every day!

Back to reality… I love the mini croissants from Safeway:

pack of mini croissants in a clear container

Signature Kitchens natural butter croissants from Safeway

I like to eat them plain or I fill them with Nutella, apricot jam, or chicken salad. These mini croissants may not be made in France, but they satisfy this Francophile just the same.

Enjoy your Croissant Day! 🥐

Michoko Noir: Dark Chocolate Covered French Caramels

Disclosure: If you make a purchase using the affiliate link below, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, views expressed are my own.

I love Michoko Noir, the dark chocolate coated soft caramels made in France. I discovered them in France and, thankfully, I’ve even seen them at my local French pâtisserie sold by the piece (for $0.75 each)!

They’re buttery and delicious and totally worth it, but I wanted bags of the stuff!

Recently, I ordered a couple of bags of Michoko Noir through French Wink, the digital multivendor marketplace and store located in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. They feature many made-in-France items: beauty products, kitchen linens, toys, and more.

Of course, I suppose I could just eat another popular chocolate covered caramel candy that’s widely available here in the U.S.

But one reason I prefer Michoko Noir is that it has a higher cacao content (64%), so it’s less sweet, but more intense. Plus, it just feels a bit more special knowing that it was made in France — I’m a Francophile, after all!

Have you seen the movie “Ratatouille” where Rémy sees fireworks after taking a bite out of cheese and strawberry at the same time? 🧀 🍓💥

Ratatouille GIF by Disney Pixar - Find & Share on GIPHY

Well, that was me after dinner one night! I savored a Michoko Noir and then took a sip of a California Cabernet Sauvignon and the combination tantalized my tastebuds!🍷🍫

Get some Michoko Noir from French Wink today!

Donut Petit in Alameda, California

I learned about Donut Petit a few years ago when I spotted their float in Alameda’s 4th of July Parade in 2017 (see above). This weekend, I finally got the chance to visit the cute little bakery.

A little word about petit

Recalling the handy acronym BAGS (beauty, age, goodness, size) that I learned in my French classes, I know the word petit (meaning small or little) should go before the noun.

So while I’m tempted to call the charming little donut shop Le Petit Donut, I just tell myself, “Do not (be) petty!” (Donut Petit!)

Just a guess, but perhaps the name is supposed to sound like “bon appétit”…?

The pale blue paint, gold accents, and wicker bistro chairs give the shop an elegant, French-inspired appearance, as well as an inviting atmosphere. However, due to physical distancing protocols, there’s currently no dine-in, only take-out.

Behind the glass, I could tell they had creative flavors, such as lavender, lilikoi (passionfruit), and Mauisadas (Hawaiian sugar donuts filled with pineapple).

They looked appetizing, but I wasn’t in an adventurous mood. Instead, I ordered pastries that looked familiar: a brownie croissant, a chocolate twist, and a pair of French crullers – one glazed and the other with chocolate icing sprinkled with rainbow nonpareils. As a lagniappe, they gave me a blueberry cake donut.

I’d never seen a brownie inside a croissant before. It tasted OK, but it felt a bit strange to bite into a baked good inside another baked good. Sadly, the glazed French cruller was disappointing. I was expecting it to be light and airy, not greasy and dense.

Maybe next time, I’ll get out of my comfort zone and give their matcha or guava donuts a try! 🍩

Do you like donuts? I love maple bars. 🍁 Tell me your favorite flavor in the comments below!

Halloween Costume: Coco Chanel 🦁

For Halloween this year, I dressed up as the one and only Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel!

To imitate the fashion legend’s style, I wore the hat I bought from a souvenir shop in Montmartre:

… and the black and white blouse I wore in Toulouse:

me at Le Capitole in Toulouse | photo by my dear friend, François

Then I added a faux pearl necklace and earrings.

I got a sample of Chanel No. 5 Parfum and put some on my inner wrists.

Finally, I bought some mints, sugar cookies, and mini chocolate bars from a party store and glued on a clip-art logo.

Voilà! DIY Coco Chanel-inspired costume and sweet treats!

What was your Halloween costume? Tell me in the comments below! 🎃

Gift Ideas for the Francophile in Your Life

[Updated: October 7, 2019. This post is not sponsored.]

Do you have someone on your holiday gift list who’s a fan of all things French? Need help finding something they’ll love? Look no further – I’ve made a short list of gift ideas that are sure to please!

  • Fleur-de-lis bookends, like these:
  • advent calendar: 24 limited-edition mini jars of jam, spreads, and honey (like these by Bonne Maman, available through Simply Gourmand)
  • chocolate-covered caramels (like Michoko, available through Simply Gourmand)
  • for budding Francophiles/Francophones — French first words language workbook for kids in Grades 1-3. I bought one from Target:
  • subscription to a magazine (like this bilingual English/French magazine, France-Amérique)bilingual magazine
  • blank journals and notebooks (like these by Rhodia)
  • Paris notecards, like these:

  • triple-milled soap (like these by Le Petit Marseillais, available through Monoprix or Amazon)

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these soaps have a light and fresh scent and make lots of bubbles

  • short stories or novels set in France (available at bookstores everywhere)

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bargains at Barnes & Noble

  • Celebrating France’s World Cup 2018 victory, these reusable drawstring bags are both stylish and useful. I found these at Soccer Post, but you can purchase them from online stores, like eBay

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  • Another one for budding Francophiles — Children’s books, like the Fancy Nancy series:

Need more ideas? Check out my related posts:

  • Are You Looking for Things with a Paris Theme?
  • French Perfume
  • Got ideas for gifts that a Francophile might appreciate? Let me know in the comments below!

    Two French Bakeries and the Blue House in San Francisco

    In my blog post, If You’re Going to San Francisco, Be Sure to Watch These Videos Filmed There,” I described how a blue house in San Francisco inspired Maxime Le Forestier to write a French song entitled, “San Francisco.”

    I recently got the chance to see the house on 18th Street made famous by the song:

    I happened to walk past la maison bleue en route from one French bakery to another French bakery! Quelle coïncidence!

    Tartine (600 Guerrero Street)

    Ever since my colleague told me about Tartine, a French bakery in the Castro District that he and his wife liked to frequent for brunch, I’d been wanting to go. Thankfully, I relied on my Maps app to find it.

    There’s no sign on the building with “Tartine” on it, but you’ll know you’re at the right place when you spot the line out the door. Was the patisserie trying to be unassuming or anonymous? Either way, I figured it added to the mystique.

    Once inside, it’s a tight squeeze. I did notice that people were pretty good about eating then promptly leaving so other patrons could have a seat. There were a few tables and chairs outside, too.

    While you wait, you can read their laminated menus while you hum along to pop music they play inside at a deafening volume. (Maybe that helps clear the tables…Brilliant!)

    Don’t expect service with a smile, though. I got the impression that the people behind the counter and pastry case take themselves too seriously. Fortunately, I have the superpower to tune out the ‘tude and focus on what I came here for:

    The pain au chocolat was divine. A billion buttery and flaky layers with gooey dark chocolate inside. My cafe au lait was served in a bowl, like they do in Paris!

    Le Marais Bakery (498 Sanchez Street)

    I had read positive reviews for another French bakery called Le Marais Bakery. It was three blocks away from Tartine, so I decided to check it out while I was in the neighborhood.

    This chocolate chip cookie was delicious:

    On that note, have a sweet day! 🍪

    Oui Oui! Macaron

    la vie en rose (et verte): rose macaron sprinkled with matcha green tea

    The nursery rhyme, “This Little Piggy” came to mind when I saw this macaron shop! Housed in a powder blue shipping container in the Emeryville Public Market, Oui Oui! Macaron is a good place to pick up a small dessert after having lunch or dinner from one of the food stalls.

    “This little piggy went to Public Market…

    This little piggy took some Oui Oui! Macaron all the way home!”

    I took home a box of six:

    Top row: strawberry balsamic, coffee

    Bottom row: churro, lavender vanilla, vanilla, matcha rose

    I was excited to try the churro macaron, which tasted and smelled like the cinnamon sugar fried donut, but I found it to be a bit chewy!

    Once again, the vanilla macaron was a winner for me! The shells were crispy, but not too chewy. The filling was light like a whipped cream, but tasted like rich buttercream!

    Overall, I say, yes to Oui Oui! Macaron!

    If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in my other posts about macarons:

    Tous les Jours: French-Korean bakery in Dublin, California

    This photo was taken at the Dublin, California location of Tous les Jours, a French-Korean bakery:

    baguette and a chocolate flaky pastry

    Have you been to a Tous les Jours bakery near you?

    According to their website, “Currently, there are more than 50 stores in the United States and more than 1,500 stores all around the world.” Tous les Jours bakeries have been in the U.S. since 2004, and for the first time ever, I recently visited one! I went to their Dublin, California location (about 35 miles/ 56 km east of San Francisco).

    When I walked in, it was instantly familiar. I had been to similar bakeries before where you take a tray, place a piece of wax paper on it, and take a pair of tongs. Then you walk around the pastry cases, take the baked goods that you want and place them on the tray. At times, however, the offerings looked better than they tasted.

    But at Tous les Jours, I was pleased with all of my selections! I picked up a baguette, a chocolate flaky pastry, and six macarons.

    The baguette was soft and delicious. I didn’t need to put butter or jam on it.

    The chocolate flaky pastry (feuilleté au chocolat) was so good, I practically inhaled it!

    There were around 14 flavors of macarons. In general, my favorite macaron flavor is vanilla, so I got one of those, along with coffee, blueberry lavender, rose, lemon, and Earl Grey tea flavors.

    coffee, vanilla, blueberry lavender, rose, lemon, Earl Grey tea

    I could tell the macarons were fresh. When I bit into the vanilla one, there was a delicate crunch. The filling was light and flavorful. It was just the right size to satisfy my sweet tooth.

    Overall, I enjoyed my first taste of Tous les Jours bakery!

    If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in my previous posts:

    La Farine: French bakery in Oakland

    La Châtaigne: French bakery in Lafayette

    Macaron in My Carry-On

    Leave the Gum, Take the Cannoli

    these napkins are 100 percent recycled

    First of all, I mean no disrespect to all of you diehard fans of “The Godfather” movies. I know the true quote is:

    “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

    But it’s a bit too violent, wouldn’t you agree? So just for fun, I changed gun to gum!

    I took this picture at a Whole Foods Market in the San Francisco Bay Area. But the napkin holder, with its French message (“Save the planet and your smile, one napkin at a time”) along with an Italian chocolate chip cannoli made me think I was somewhere else, miles away from home…

    I imagined I was at a sidewalk café in Paris sitting on a wicker bistro chair.

    Next I imagined what cannoli in Italy would taste like!

    Then lunch time ended…Back to reality.

    What foods do you eat at home have the ability to transport you to another place or time? Tell me in the comments below!

    Review: Oui Petites French-style Yogurt

    #notsponsored

    As a chocoholic and a Francophile, I was naturally charmed by Yoplait USA’s new Oui Petites French-style yogurt in Chocolate with Shavings flavor.

    First, the good stuff:

    • Snack sized (3.5 ounces / 99 grams)
    • Glass jars
    • Four flavors available (so far)
    • The foil wrapper has an inspirational quote on it
    • Gluten free
    • Each jar has 140 calories
    • Non GMO

    Now, here are a few things I didn’t like:

    I read that Yoplait USA is trying to get more people to eat yogurt outside of breakfast hours. I say, if the yogurt is good, don’t worry, people will eat it at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any time in between. I eat yogurt any time of day!

    Because of its fancy packaging, I was expecting a fancy dessert. Instead it’s just plain yogurt with chocolate syrup at the bottom and these things called shavings. Wood? Iron? Hair? Oh, chocolate shavings! Why didn’t you just say chocolate shavings?

    Why is it “Chocolate with Shavings?” It sounds like each jar contains yogurt, chocolate, and a third ingredient called shavings.

    The chocolate bits remind me of the stuff you find in Stracciatella gelato. For a yogurt “inspired by our traditional French recipe” it had me dreaming about an Italian vacation instead.

    Conclusion:

    I say Non to Oui Petites in Chocolate with Shavings flavor. In my opinion, it doesn’t have a rich enough chocolate flavor. I’ll stick to eating the regular Oui yogurt.

    For more information:

    • Oui by Yoplait (link)
    • Press release (link)

    La Châtaigne: French bakery in Lafayette, California

    La Châtaigne is a French bakery located in Lafayette, California (about 22 miles/34 km east of San Francisco).

    Located in La Fiesta Square, the patisserie overlooks the parking lot, so there isn’t much of a view, but it’s perfect so you can enjoy your pastries and conversations.

    My family and I got to La Châtaigne around 12:30 on a Sunday. Maybe we should have arrived earlier because their display case was half-empty (or half-full for those of you who are optimists!)

    The cashier was quick to acknowledge the slim pickings, but apologized, and pointed out what was left: madeleines, a couple of leaf-shaped breads (fougasse), about a dozen croissants, several slices of Opera cake, and one slice of quiche.

    no brewed coffee, only espresso drinks here!

    the bakery also sold jam, caramels, and candies from France

    In a few ways, it was like being temporarily transported to a Parisian bistro. For example, there were small tables with wicker chairs. There were dogs tied to table legs by their leashes. There were a couple of well-dressed ladies clutching their designer handbags. You could hear the Madeleine Peyroux version of “J’ai deux amours” emanating softly from inside the bakery.

    I’d be reminded I was in California, though, when I’d see the occasional cyclist or 20-something in yoga pants come through. Also notably absent were ashtrays on the tables and cigarette smoke. Unlike Paris, smoking is banned in many public places in California.

    Overall, I liked this little bakery. I like how it has the grab and go feel of a donut shop, but with the sit-down experience of having your food brought to your table on actual plates and cups. The pain au chocolat was fresh baked, buttery, and flaky. The Americano was delicious, as well. I’d like to come back to try their other pastries.

    For more information, visit the La Châtaigne website

    Bonne journée / Enjoy your day!

    Have you been to La Châtaigne? Tell me in the comments below!

    Farmers’ Market Near Toulouse

    One of my favorite things to do with my family is visiting market halls and open-air farmers’ markets. I love the idea that many food vendors prepare their artisan cuisine on site using fresh ingredients produced by local farmers. I appreciate the abundance and the variety. Plus, I love the possibility of discovering something new.

    I’ll never forget the time I went with François, Rachael, and their boys to the Sunday Farmers’ Market in Tournefeuille (about 12 km/7.46 miles from Toulouse in southwest France). In addition to food grown locally, the market featured produce from other countries in Europe, as well as Asia, and Africa. Talk about a treat for the senses!

    I marveled at all kinds of marinated olives from Morocco…

    There were organic Medjool dates from Israel, fennel from Italy, and dried apricots from Tunisia. I also saw deep purple eggplants, bright green avocados, and Napa cabbage from Spain.

    I heard the tapping noise of a steel skimmer spoon as the chef scooped a generous portion of his aromatic paella from a 3-foot wide pan into a paper container for a customer…

    I was mesmerized by the machine making radiatori pasta. François got some fresh mushroom ravioli, which he made with a rich and creamy Parmesan sauce for dinner that evening.

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    I remember seeing jars of what looked like foie gras (fatty liver of duck or goose) and feeling a bit guilty. I know I shouldn’t have felt bad since the delicacy is not banned in France like it is in California. On the other hand, seeing the French-style salami had me hankering for a saucisson-beurre-cornichon (sausage, butter, and mini pickle) sandwich!

    B0BDF52D-0C4A-4EAF-8784-27779641120E

    One of the things I enjoy most at farmers’ markets is the aroma of fresh baked bread. When I noticed the man selling fresh baked baguettes and pastries had one chocolate croissant left, I had to have it!

    img_6596

    For breakfast, I usually have yogurt, a banana, and dark roast coffee with a splash of half-and-half. When I want to treat myself, I have a butter croissant. And when I really want to be indulgent, I have a chocolate croissant. I learned that, in France, these goodies are called different names depending on the region.

    pain au chocolat in Paris

    So when I ordered the chocolate croissant, I was delighted to ask for it by name the Toulousain way: Je voudrais une chocolatine, s’il vous plaît!